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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp showed his steely side as he took the pundits - Gary Neville in particular - to task over their treatment of his goalkeeper Loris Karius.
In a row that threatens to add an extra layer of tension to relations between Liverpool and Manchester United, Klopp launched what The Guardian calls "a scathing attack on Gary and Phil Neville... [and] accused the former Manchester United pair of promoting an anti-Liverpool agenda".
Saying he was aware the English media enjoy being "harsh" on players, he then delivered a withering put-down to Gary Neville, who was sacked by Valencia in March after an ill-fated four-month period as manager.
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Klopp said: "The [Neville brother] who was the manager, he obviously should know that too much criticism never helps. But he is not interested in helping a Liverpool player, I can imagine, but that makes the things he says not make more sense. He showed he struggled with the job to judge players so why do we let him talk about players on television?"
Cutting words - but how did the row blow up?
Karius was heavily criticised after Liverpool's shock 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth at the start of the month, when he was deemed responsible for at least two of the goals.
Former Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher said the player was "miles away" from being the answer to Liverpool's goalkeeping dilemma and Neville added that he seemed to be transmitting "anxiety" to the back four.
Karius bites back
The matter would probably have been forgotten had Karius not given an interview to the Daily Mail a few days later in which he said he accepted Carragher's criticism but not Neville's.
He told the paper: "[Carragher] is probably still a supporter. I have to accept it... And I don’t care what Gary Neville said. He was a top player, then he was a manager for a short bit and now he is back to being an expert again."
Karius's comments didn't go down well with either of the Neville brothers.
Gary Neville responded to the interview on Instagram in sarcastic fashion, posting the comments of Carragher and saying he wouldn't "copy your great fan , pundit and club legend again".
He also became embroiled in a Twitter exchange with Daily Mail journalist Ian Ladyman, who had interviewed Karius.
Karius makes another howler
The 23-year-old goalie was back in the spotlight on Sunday, when he was blamed for one of West Ham's goals in a 2-2 draw that leaves Liverpool off the pace in the title race.
Things got worse when, on Match of the Day 2, Phil Neville took him to task for attacking his brother, saying: "Keep your mouth shut, do your job, go home, have your tea and play football."
Even Carragher joined in, advising Karius to concentrate more on his goalkeeping than responding to his critics.
Klopp rides in
The Liverpool manager stepped into the debate on Monday, dismissing the criticism of the Neville brothers, although he did not address Carragher's comments.
He said: "Obviously the Neville brothers don't like Liverpool. I have no problem. By the way, you can tell [Gary] I am not on Twitter, so if he wants to tell me something Twitter doesn't help."
Neville obviously missed that last comment as he immediately tweeted.
Daily Mail pleads for calm
The latest and perhaps most unusual episode in the saga involves Mail reporter Ladyman, who called for calm and said Karius's comments had been innocently delivered.
"So the context here is that Karius is not a guy looking to pick a fight with one of our most respected pundits. He is a guy merely looking to stick up for himself," he wrote. "Both Nevilles and indeed Carragher believe he should not have done this... I can see their point and I don't doubt their motives. They are honest men and part of a wave of modern analysts who have taken football punditry to a new level.
"But let's not kill a young goalkeeper for having the temerity to sit down and talk. And let's not pretend we all know why he said what he said."
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