Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said that Manchester United legend Gary Neville ‘had to apologise’ for his comments after the North-West Derby.
The Reds hammered the Red Devils 4-0 at Anfield in the Premier League on Tuesday, April 19. Hannibal Mejbri came on as a substitute for Anthony Elanga in the 84th minute of the game. He was booked soon after and made a couple more rash tackles that could’ve seen him get a second yellow.
However, Neville had earlier praised the youngster for showing at least some desire in the match, unlike other Manchester United players. However, he soon backtracked and admitted that it was ‘unprofessional’ to condone Mejbri’s actions.
Liverpool now face Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday at Anfield. Ahead of the game, Klopp spoke about Neville’s comments in a press conference, saying (via Daily Mail):
“He (Neville) had to apologise for that, rightly so. I understand where he is coming from; you want to see some aggression, but there is a difference between aggression and kicking players. That makes no sense.”
“Aggression in football means you are ready to hurt yourself, not the other player. I don’t blame the kid; he came on late, and the game was quick, and he wanted to make an impression.”
“He was a bit late here and there” – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Manchester United youngster
Klopp continued about the 19-year-old Manchester United midfielder. He talked about how being aggressive and physical is important but so is being respectful to opponents.
“He was a bit late here and there, all good. Aggression in football is fine, but you cannot sort your own problems by hurting opposition players. That is what I’ve never understood. I’ve played 325 professional games, and without aggression and physicality I would have played none.”
The Liverpool manager concluded:
“It was the only strength I had, so I am completely fine with that. But it’s about staying respectful, that’s all. Things can happen in football; it is a high-speed game, but not these kinds of things where you don’t care about the other player.”
As aforementioned, Liverpool are preparing for the Merseyside Derby to keep up with Manchester City in the Premier League title race. They are just a point below the leaders who will welcome Watford to the Etihad on Saturday.
Manchester United, meanwhile, have a tough test against Arsenal on Saturday at the Emirates. They will hope for a response after their 4-0 drubbing at Anfield to keep their top-four hopes alive.
United are sixth in the standings, three points behind Tottenham Hotspur (fourth) and Arsenal (fifth), but played a more game than both teams.