By Danny Armstrong
Danny Armstrong is a Moscow-based British journalist, reporter and presenter for RT Sport. Follow him on Twitter @DannyWArmstrong
Andrei Kanchelskis has rejected Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s claims that Manchester United have been awarded an abnormal amount of penalties, claiming the German wouldn’t be complaining if he was top of the league, not United.
Man United are top of the league and now they talk about penalties, free kicks, corners, blah blah blah. This is not correct.
Klopp has made the point he believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who sit top of the Premier League table ahead of Liverpool by three points ahead of their game at Anfield on Sunday, have received an unusually generous amount of penalties during the Norwegian’s reign from December 2018.
Nevertheless Kanchelskis, who won two Premier League titles with United in the early 1990s in the early part of their domination of the league in that decade, says that Klopp is simply focussing on the topic out of frustration at not occupying top spot.
“I don’t understand Klopp,” Kanchelskis said. “It’s like concentration just for the penalties, not concentration for the game. This is [Man United] six penalties, Liverpool five penalties [awarded in the 2020/21 season]. If Man United six penalties, Liverpool one penalty – ok, this is big.”
Although the numbers are close this term, in the 2019/20 season, Manchester United led the penalty statistic charts with 14 penalties awarded, scoring 10 of those; Liverpool were awarded only 5, scoring all of them.
After failing to win what seemed a clear spot kick during his side’s defeat to Southampton on January 4, Klopp claimed United had received more penalties in Solskjaer’s short reign than his entire five-and-a-half years in English football, although at the time of that statement, the German had been awarded 30 penalties in 199 games, and Solskjaer 27 in 75 during their respective tenures.
“If Liverpool were top of the league – definitely no speaking about penalties,” Kanchelskis said. “Man United are top of the league and now they talk about penalties, free kicks, corners, blah blah blah. This is not correct.
“He’s more concentrated for the penalties, no concentration for the game. Just for the press, talking about penalties not about the game, for what system [to] play, attacking or defensive, in my opinion.”
The man converting those penalties for Manchester United has been Portuguese midfield magician Bruno Fernandes, who has been the catalyst for Manchester United’s upturn in fortunes that has coincided with his arrival in January last year.
After racking up 27 goals and 17 assists in 48 appearance in all competitions for the Red Devils, Kanchelskis says he would go as far as to directly compare him with the influential United penalty taker from his own playing days: his former captain Eric Cantona.
“He’s an important player for Man United, like Cantona when I was playing for Man United,” Kanchelskis, who also won FA Cup, League Cup and European Super Cup honors in a four-year stint at Old Trafford, said.
“Of course. He’s in good form. He’s great scoring goals. He’s playing great on the pitch. Great vision. great passing. Well done! Excellent. Hope that he score two goals at Anfield…maybe!”