Keith Hackett suggested Jurgen Klopp had one eye on Liverpool’s upcoming fixture against Chelsea with his post-match reaction to Burnley’s heavy-handed challenges.
The Reds boss was critical of Sean Dyche’s men following what he labelled “wrestling”-esque tackles in the club’s 2-0 victory at the weekend.
“Sorry Jurgen, I thought that Mike Dean performed well and, considering that he issued no cards in this game when his average last season was four yellows a game, this for me is an improvement,” the 77-year-old told Caught Offside.
“Over many years I have complained that football in England has allowed grappling (pulling, pushing, blocking) to go unpunished.
“Why was it that Klopp and other managers were not crying foul last season when these tactics were being applied at corner kicks and set pieces?
“With Dean refereeing well, I can only assume that Klopp has one eye on Liverpool’s upcoming encounter with Chelsea.”
Hackett’s comments reflected a claim made by BBC Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas who likewise accused the German of playing mind games ahead of the side’s pivotal meeting with Thomas Tuchel’s outfit this coming Saturday.
While we absolutely appreciate the desire to reduce interventionist officiating and promote free-flowing football, it’s difficult to make a case for some of the kind of rough and tumble challenges being issued by Burnley and other outfits.
There has to be a balance between protecting players and the flow of the game – it shouldn’t be a choice between one or the other.
It can be a difficult balancing act but it’s one that needs to be seriously considered, lest we end up in a situation where a player is seriously hurt as a direct result of leniency in officiating.