Fernandes hits back at Klopp over penalty claims
January 16 2021 11:07 PM
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Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes

AFP/London

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has told Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to stop moaning about the number of penalties given to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. 
United have been awarded 20 penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, while title rivals Liverpool have had just 10.
Klopp highlighted the large amount of United spot-kicks after his side had two penalty appeals turned down in their recent 1-0 defeat at Southampton. United manager Solskjaer responded by saying Klopp and other Premier League bosses were trying to influence referees not to give his team penalties.
Now Fernandes has joined the United backlash ahead of today’s crucial clash between the bitter rivals as the Portugal star said Klopp should quit complaining. “You always see what people say, but I really don’t care. I’m not focused on what they’re saying. We have really quick players up front,” said Fernandes, who has scored 14 penalties for United.
“Anthony Martial is one of the best players one against one in the box, Marcus Rashford is another one who is quick and has quick feet, who can take the ball away from the defender at any moment. It’s normal that sometimes, because of that, they will be tripped and will fall and they gain penalties. 
“People can talk and say what they want. But for me and the team, the main point is continuing to do the right things and when we get a penalty, just scoring. I played in Portugal and when you play for Sporting Lisbon, Benfica and Porto are always talking about that kind of stuff — sometimes to put pressure on the referee.”
United are top of the table — three points clear of Liverpool — at this stage of the season for the first time since their last title-winning campaign in 2013. That was the last year of Alex Ferguson’s trophy-filled reign, but it is champions Liverpool who are the dominant force now. 
Fernandes is key to United’s hopes of ending Liverpool’s spell as English football’s top dogs. The 26-year-old has flourished since joining from Sporting Lisbon last January. Fernandes has scored 19 goals and provided 14 assists in the Premier League alone, with his outstanding displays leading the midfielder to win a record four Player of the Month awards in a calendar year.
That is already as many as Cristiano Ronaldo managed during his entire Old Trafford stay, but Fernandes wants the kind of team glory enjoyed by his Portugal teammate. “As I’ve always said, for me the most important thing is winning trophies — team trophies — because we’re a football team,” he said.
“I want to win trophies with the team. These kind of awards make you happy and confident and to work even more, and to get more and more from yourself. But, as everyone knows, I will be completely happy when I win a trophy with the club.”
Liverpool have surrendered top spot after three league games without a win and could drop to fifth place today if results go against them.  The last time United and Liverpool locked horns in a title race was 12 years ago. Back then United were hardened winners under Ferguson, who saw off Rafael Benitez’s challengers to win a third consecutive league title.  Now it is United who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits are the “hunters” chasing the champions. Ferguson, who arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 with United firmly in Liverpool’s shadow, once famously said his goal was to knock them “off their perch” and he went on to win 13 league titles. 
But United have been displaced as top dogs even in their own city by Manchester City. And fans have been forced to watch Klopp spearhead another era of glory at Anfield, winning the Champions League in 2019 before ending the club’s 30-year wait for a league title last season — putting them just one behind United’s record tally of 20.
But, in a strange and at times soulless season in empty stadiums, the relentless consistency shown by Liverpool in recent years has dropped off. Hampered by a series of injuries, most notably to talismanic centre-back Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have already dropped more points in 17 games than they have in either of the past two seasons.
That has allowed United to overtake them despite a slow start to their own campaign. Solskjaer’s men won just two of their opening six games, suffering a humiliating 6-1 reverse at the hands of Tottenham at Old Trafford. But, on the road, United’s form has been remarkably consistent. But, on the road, United’s form has been remarkably consistent. Come Sunday, it will be almost a year to the day since they last lost an away game in domestic competition - on their last visit to Anfield.



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