Football

I’ll keep ‘diving’, jokes Sadio Mane

Liverpool forward hits back at Guardiola's comments, says he will not change his style

Sadio Mane says he will probably be watched more carefully by referees because of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola's "diving" comments, but the Liverpool forward has no intention of changing the way he plays.

Guardiola said last weekend that Mane sometimes dives, after the forward was booked in the first half against Aston Villa for simulation, though the City manager has since backtracked on his comments.

English Premier League leaders Liverpool host champions City in a top-of-the-table showdown on Monday morning (Singapore time) and Sane said the timing of Guardiola's accusation was no coincidence.

"I think it's a bit clever from him to get the attention of the referee, but I will just play my football, like I'm always doing," Mane told British media.

The Senegalese, who is the Reds' top scorer with 10 goals in 16 matches, added that the comments mattered little to him.

"I don't pay attention to what he's saying because it's part of football," the 27-year-old added.

"If the 'dive' will give me a penalty then I will do it. Why not? But what manager Juergen (Klopp) said is correct.

"I do not dive."

Ex-Southampton defender Danny Higginbotham, meanwhile, believes that there is a reason Guardiola singled out Mane.

He said on Sky Sports: "He is an unbelievable player and at times he doesn't get the credit he deserves.

"He is starting to get more, but other players... tend to get a little bit more than him.

"He is an unbelievable player and, if Guardiola is talking about him, he is talking about him for a specific reason."

Considering that Guardiola's City will fall nine points behind Liverpool if they lose at Anfield, ex-England and Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson believes City's title challenge could be over by Monday.

He said on Sky Sports: "I don't see a way back for City if Liverpool win on Super Sunday.

DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOSE

"Liverpool will move nine points clear with a win at Anfield and, as we saw at Villa Park, they simply don't know how to lose.

"So, I just don't where they would lose three matches to let City back in...

"When you look at the way Liverpool are playing at the moment, scoring freely, I'd find it hard to look past them for the title, if they won."

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is also leaning towards the Reds, saying City's defensive vulnerabilities "could be a big handicap".

He said on beIN Sports: "We have seen in recent years that they are very tight games.

"We know Man City will take the game to Liverpool, and that Liverpool will be very dangerous on the counter-attack.

"I personally feel they could not afford to lose (Aymeric) Laporte, Manchester City.

"If you look at their results, they still play great football but they are fractionally a bit more vulnerable defensively. And that could be a big handicap against Liverpool."

Meanwhile, former England manager Fabio Capello compared Klopp and Guardiola on Sky Sports, saying: "Klopp, he made something magical for me.

"The atmosphere of Anfield is fantastic, the team are like the fans.

"The connection is fantastic between the team, Klopp and fans, it's a unique thing.

"Guardiola is different. I think he plays the team like a theatre.

"The show is really good but it's a theatre."

Football