Gary Neville was right to apologise for suggesting it was good to see Hannibal Mejbri fouling Liverpool players, insists Jurgen Klopp… with Reds boss insisting ‘there is a difference between aggression and kicking players’
- Hannibal Mejbri came on as a substitute in Man United’s 4-0 defeat at Liverpool
- He was quickly booked and was later nearly cautioned again by Martin Atkinson
- Gary Neville, commentating on Sky, praised the 19-year-old for showing desire
- But later pundit Neville said his comments about Mejbri were ‘unprofessional’
Jurgen Klopp has said Gary Neville was right to apologise for saying he was ‘proud’ of Manchester United’s Hannibal Mejbri for his combative cameo at Anfield.
Mejbri came on as a substitute in the 84th minute of his side’s 4-0 defeat on Tuesday. He was quickly booked for an overzealous tackle, almost cautioned again for another late attempt to win the ball and told to calm down by referee Martin Atkinson.
Neville, commentating on Sky, praised the 19-year-old for showing a desire that had been missing from many United players but later corrected himself and said he had been ‘unprofessional’ for suggesting it was good to see Mejbri fouling Liverpool’s players.
Jurgen Klopp has said Gary Neville was right to apologise for his comments on Tuesday
Neville said he was ‘proud’ of Manchester United’s Mejbri (L) for his combative cameo
Asked about the situation on Friday, Klopp said: ‘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, 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.
‘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.’
Mejbri was quickly booked and almost cautioned again for another late attempt to win the ball
The Merseyside derby has been pockmarked by flashpoints in recent years, notably the match at Goodison Park in October 2020 when Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara were sidelined after bad challenges, but Klopp insists he has not thought about that game.
‘We are ready for each kind of challenge,’ said Klopp. ‘But just keep it in a big frame of rules and stay there and everything will be fine. I wish them (Everton) the best that they stay in the league, it is a normal game and we both want three points, let’s see who gets it.’
Everton boss Frank Lampard said: ‘It is an important match for both for different reasons. We expect the players to be mature, to be committed but also to stay the right side of the line for the benefit of the team.
‘To get a result at Anfield is difficult enough. With 10 men, it’s nigh on impossible.’
Klopp insists he has not thought about the Merseyside derby when Virgil van Dijk was sidelined by a bad tackle
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