Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool’s encounters with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are “not games you would imagine” between the giants of English football due to the “strange” obstructive approach of the opposition.
The rivals renew hostilities at Anfield on Sunday with the league leaders having only dropped points this season in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
In the aftermath of that October game, Klopp said: “It is just a fact when we come here, last year, this year, the year before, they just defend.”
And during his pre-match press conference on Friday, he reiterated that point.
“I don't know 100 per cent about the results but I know about the games and they were not games like you would imagine when United plays against Liverpool,” the German said.
“It's not about how games have been in the past. There have been good times for Liverpool, good times for Man United and there was always one clear favourite and stuff like this, but both teams try to win it.
“I think in the last two years the away games were especially strange from that point of view. I said it after the game and Ole got confronted with it as well, that I said, 'United only defended today'.
“I don't know exactly anymore if I said it, but probably it's true because I felt it in that moment.
“It's strange when you play against a high, high-quality team what United still is, and they play the way they play. That makes life really difficult.”
Klopp is yet to beat United under Solskjaer’s charge in two attempts, having also drawn away last season.
He will pit his wits against the Norwegian at Anfield for the first time this weekend and is expecting the visitors to count on their rapid breaks.
“The counter-attacks are the highest level in the world,” the Liverpool manager said.
“I don't say they only counter-attack, but it's a main thing for them to do. If people want to see that as criticism, I cannot change that.
“But it's just a description of the situation and that, of course, makes life for us more difficult. If it's an open game, then play football – here's space, there's space, stuff like this. But that's the way it is.”
Solskjaer brushed off Klopp’s analysis, choosing to view it as a compliment rather than criticism.
“I don’t think it’s an accusation,” he said during his own Friday briefing. “I take it as a compliment that we’ve defended so well that they’ve not really created chances against us.
“When the opposition manager is frustrated that’s a good sign for you as manager – that our boys have done well.”