Chris Wilder has hit back at Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after he claimed the Sheffield United boss was “selfish”.
Speaking to BT Sport after his side’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Brighton and Hove Albion, Klopp made it clear he was unhappy with the fixture schedule.
The German is annoyed that games are being moved for TV. The Reds kicked off at 12.30pm on Saturday after playing in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
As injuries among his players mount up, Klopp is also calling for five substitutions to be allowed in league games. It’s something Wilder is opposed to.
“Ask Chris Wilder how we can avoid that (injuries)” Klopp was quoted by BBC Sport.
“We had a talk between managers – a week ago now, I think – it was 15-5 if not 16-4 for five subs.
“Chris Wilder says constantly that I’m selfish. I think the things he’s said shows that he’s selfish. I was in a similar position at Mainz, all about staying in the league.”
Wilder hits back at Klopp
Later on Saturday evening, Wilder spoke to the press himself following the Blades’ 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
“Everybody has that right and there’s 20 votes in this league. Nobody is looking after Sheffield United right the way through, so we have to look after ourselves,” the 53-year-old told Sky Sports.
“I’m not really going into the nuts and bolts. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Liverpool as a football club, and for Jurgen. Whether it’s looking after the club, whether it’s ‘selfish’, or another word that anybody uses.”
After guiding his team to their first league win of the season against United, West Brom manager Slaven Bilic decided to get involved in the debate himself.
“We are all selfish, but not in a negative way. You have a responsibility to do the job and the responsibility is to find what you can do for your club better,” Bilic was quoted by the Evening Express.
“Klopp is also selfish from that point of view, wanting the best for his club, but he is not the only one. I understand Chris Wilder. The difference between three subs and five subs is a big advantage when we play those big clubs.”
Tension builds but respect remains
This back and forth between Klopp and Wilder is some way from the mutual respect they were showing each other even last month.
The Liverpool boss publicly defended his fellow manager ahead of their meeting in the Premier League in October.
Klopp even admitted he voted for Wilder to be LMA Manager of the Year in 2019/20 – an award the 53-year-old won himself.
Yet both men are now under more pressure. Klopp and his Reds side are trying to defend their title, but are off top spot after that draw at Brighton.
As for Wilder, he is trying to find a way to turn around the Blades’ awful form. Their defeat to the Baggies makes it nine losses and one point from their opening 10 games.
They’re rooted to the bottom of the table and are very much embroiled in a relegation battle.
However, while tension has clearly built recently, both Wilder and Klopp are just showing loyalty to their clubs. Respect between the two almost certainly very much remains.