Jurgen Klopp feud with Paul Tierney – why doesn’t Liverpool boss like referee
‘We have our history with Tierney, I really don’t know what this man has against us. He has said there are no problems but that cannot be true.’
That was Jurgen Klopp on referee Paul Tierney after the dramatic finale to Liverpool’s win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.
A few minutes earlier, Tierney had shown the Liverpool manager a yellow card for a sprint down the touchline to confront fourth official John Brooks so explosive it left him with a pulled hamstring.
That was in response to Diogo Jota’s 94th-minute winner, the seventh of seven goals in a thrilling encounter at Anfield.
In the eyes of many, including Alan Shearer on Match of the Day, Klopp was fortunate not to have been sent to the stands for the few seconds that remained of Liverpool’s win.
Jurgen Klopp gets a dressing down from referee Paul Tierney after his sprint down the touchline to confront fourth official John Brooks (left) following Diogo Jota’s late winner
The Liverpool manager received a yellow card from Tierney for his latest touchline antics
Klopp had sprinted over to the fourth official to celebrate Diogo Jota’s winner in his face
Klopp appeared to pull his hamstring during the touchline dash, admitting afterwards he ‘got punished’ by the painful injury
But he is likely to be hit with an FA charge anyway for his post-match comments about Tierney, with Klopp alleging the referee said something ‘unacceptable’ to him while showing the yellow card.
PGMOL, the referees’ body for the Premier League, responded in strong terms late on Sunday night, accusing Klopp of lying after reviewing audio recordings and insisting Tierney ‘acted in a professional manner throughout.’
But Sunday was just the latest instalment in a feud between Klopp and Tierney that has been running for some time now.
The 42-year-old official, who hails from Wigan, has taken charge of 23 Liverpool games in the Premier League and two in the FA Cup in total since January 2017.
Tierney has taken charge of more Liverpool games than any other club, with Manchester City (20) and Manchester United (18) the next most regular.
Liverpool won seven of their first eight league matches with Tierney in the middle, but after a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in July 2020, they have won just six of 15, and there have been a series of flashpoints.
The first came during Project Restart in July 2020 when Tierney was blasted by Klopp after apparently missing a foul on Georginio Wijnaldum in a game with Aston Villa.
Emotions ran high despite Liverpool winning 2-0 having already been crowned Premier League champions.
According to reports at the time, Tierney replied: ‘I missed it Jurgen. I’m like players, I’m going to make mistakes. I missed it. Get over it.’
Klopp has been accused of lying as PGMOL refuted his claims about referee Tierney
Klopp argues with Tierney following the 2-2 draw against Tottenham back in December 2021
Klopp said afterwards ‘honestly, I don’t have a problem with any referees… only you’
With Anfield empty amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the exchange was more audible than usual.
When Liverpool hosted Manchester United in January of the following season, Klopp was left looking stunned on the sidelines when Tierney blew a few seconds early for half-time with Sadio Mane about to run through on goal.
A minimum of one additional minute had been signalled but the clock was short of that as the whistle sounded with Mane away. The game finished goalless.
Another clash came during a dramatic 2-2 draw with Tottenham in December 2021 when Klopp marched up to Tierney and said he had ‘no problem with any referees… only you.’
Klopp strongly felt this tackle by Harry Kane on Andy Robertson deserved a red card
Klopp felt Harry Kane should have been sent off for a tackle on Andy Robertson – the striker was shown a yellow instead – and later Robertson was himself dismissed for a reckless hack on Emerson Royal after Tierney checked VAR replays.
It was reported at the time that Klopp waited for Tierney in the tunnel at half-time.
The draw meant Liverpool, in the midst of a squad Covid outbreak, lost ground to Man City in the title race and with emotions running high, Klopp said: ‘I really have no idea what his [Tierney’s] problem is with me. Honestly, I have no idea.
‘You just need an objective ref who sees the situations and trust them.
‘I think we all agree it is a clear red card. You have to ask Mr Tierney.’
Klopp took an indirect swipe at Tierney earlier this year after Liverpool went down 3-1 to Brentford.
Insistent that Bryan Mbeumo had pushed over Ibrahima Konate in the build-up to one of Brentford’s goals, Klopp was asked whether he’d spoken to the match officials about it.
Liverpool were annoyed when Tierney blew his whistle early for half-time with Sadio Mane clear on goal in their January 2021 game with Manchester United
Liverpool’s Andy Robertson complains to Tierney during the game with Man United in 2021
‘Yeah, but actually that’s exactly the same as I would talk to my microwave, you get no response, really, it’s always the same,’ he said.
Tierney then found himself in the eye of the storm again when Liverpool drew 2-2 with title-chasing Arsenal at Anfield last month.
Assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis appeared to elbow Robertson as they walked off at the end of the first-half, with the Liverpool defender booked for his protestations.
Hatzidakis was cleared to return to duty by the Football Association following an investigation.
Tierney was the man in the middle when Andy Robertson alleged he’d been elbowed by assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis last month
Liverpool remonstrated with referee Paul Tierney after the alleged incident with the linesman
Sunday’s madcap game at Anfield has become the latest episode in this manager-referee feud.
Liverpool led 3-0 inside the first 15 minutes and looked on course for a cricket score, only for Spurs to claw it back to 3-3 when Richarlison equalised in the 93rd-minute.
Klopp was furious Spurs were awarded a free-kick in the lead-up to that goal and when Jota won it, he felt the need to scream at fourth official Brooks.
The German admitted the pulled hamstring was instant karma for his actions – ‘I got punished’ – but you suspect even that painful moment won’t quell this ongoing argument with Tierney.
Klopp’s referee rant: Full transcript
Sky interviewer Patrick Davison: How emotional was it to get the winner?
Klopp: Yeah very emotional, very emotional. Especially the situation before their third goal, especially how he [the referee] can whistle a foul in the situation up front against Mo Salah.
The linesman is not really there (and kept) their flag down and the ref whistles that. So that’s one thing. The next situation (Spurs equaliser), that wouldn’t have happened.
Free kick there and yeah and then the ball is in there obviously. That’s not cool. We’ve had our story, history with Mr Tierney. I really don’t know what this man has with us.
Davison: Did your frustration build throughout the game?
Klopp: He will always say there’s nothing but it’s not true. It cannot be, I don’t understand that. It cannot be. I’m really not sure if it’s me, how he looks at me. I don’t understand it.
I really have no problem with any people, not with him as well. But I say again. He was reffing at Tottenham when Harry Kane didn’t get a red card. And Harry Kane, I love this player, what a player, crazy, I don’t want him to get a red card – but it was a red card in that game.
And it was Mr Tierney and nobody asked him about it because they don’t have to clarify situations. So it’s really tricky and it’s difficult to understand and my celebration towards the fourth official I didn’t say any bad words.
It was unnecessary and I got punished for that immediately. I pulled my hamstring or adductor or whatever so fine. That’s fair but what he said to me then when he gave me the yellow card…
Davison: Go on?
Klopp: That’s not possible. But it’s not OK as well.
Davison: You don’t want to say anymore but you said it was unacceptable?
Klopp: I said already what I wanted to say so there’s no extra question.
Davison: Okay well I’m just wondering – I didn’t bring it up, you did?
Klopp: Yeah but I stopped then.