Jose Enrique admitted his admiration for Burnley’s playing style following Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Sean Dyche’s men at Anfield at the weekend.
The Clarets came under fire from Jurgen Klopp for their rough handling of a number of the German’s players, with the former Dortmund boss questioning the lenient refereeing of Mike Dean.
“I understand him because he wants his best players fit,” the Spaniard told Empire of the Kop.
“Burnley have a way of playing and I actually like it, to be honest; it’s very difficult for the opposition and the other day they made it very difficult for us.
“Obviously, that’s why we have VAR, to check everything. If there’s a bad tackle, a bad elbow, or bad whatever, they should protect the players then.
“The players also control themselves a lot more now. When I used to play, in corners there was spitting, elbows, pulling of shirts, and a referee couldn’t see it. Now, VAR checks everything.”
The former Red did note, however, that a line had to be drawn in terms of the intention behind the challenge.
“I don’t believe there’s too much to complain about. This is football and it’s what we want to see,” Enrique added. “Not bad tackles but we want to see football. I like it a little bit hard but always with no intention to damage the player – that’s a different story.”
Klopp’s comments have since been seriously scrutinised by pundits, journalists and neutrals alike, with battle lines being drawn.
It’s somewhat frustrating to see a lack of nuance around the topic, with it appearing to many to be a black and white issue between protecting players or the flow of the game.
Realistically, it should be possible to favour both without casting the other off a cliff.
Certainly, we don’t want a situation where it takes a serious injury for neutrals to sit up and take notice – it shouldn’t be a binary choice between player safety and an enjoyable game of football.