Pep’s winning the wars in spite of VAR

Hate is such a definitive term, an all encompassing emotion with no leeway for misinterpretation, no turning back from a position of hostility or a lust for revenge. It burns hot and it runs deep. It’s not a laudable sentiment, but it’s one of which we are all capable.

Pep summed up his anger and frustration in just three words: “This is Anfield.”

Depending on the level of enmity between two parties, such vehement passions can be diluted. Maybe it’s just a strong dislike, utter contempt or an entrenched disrespect, but whatever it is between Manchester City and Liverpool, it’s there for all to see.

Whether it be the hierarchies at the Etihad or Anfield, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, the players or the supporters, it’s pretty damn obvious there is no love lost.

When asked if the present day rivalry with Liverpool was becoming toxic, Pep replied: “I don’t think so, not from our side, I’m pretty sure of that.”

What could’ve been and what should’ve been as Foden and Haaland celebrate the goal that never was.

Now into his seventh season in English football, Pep is an astute operator when fielding questions from a media eager to make mischief and pander to the wants and desires of viewers, listeners and readers of differing red persuasions.

Exceptions to the anti-City narrative are few and far between. All too often, Martin Samuel stands alone as a paragon of perspective. It helps that he’s also the best sportswriter in the country.

With last Sunday’s clash at Anfield approaching, Klopp did as Klopp does, peddling propaganda and lies about City being able to spend what they want with impunity, whereas little old Liverpool could not compete.

City bought Haaland for £51.2m whereas Liverpool paid a minimum £64m for Nunez, but Klopp can’t stop complaining.

In the aftermath of City’s controversial 1-0 loss, Samuel – a West Ham fan – was the only national journalist with the balls to call Klopp out, categorically stating the German was wrong.

Samuel’s factual analysis was further bolstered by TalkShite/TalkSport – delete as applicable – who examined the transfer net spends of the ‘Big Six’ clubs since 2018. United were the biggest (£545.3m), Arsenal (£440.38m), Chelsea (£383.02m), Spurs (£331.45m), Liverpool (£216.61m) and City, the lowest (£203.9m) (Source: an independent sport media outlet).

The disappointment is palpable as Gundogan, Dias and Silva wonder how on earth City fell behind at Anfield.

Klopp’s claptrap doesn’t stand up to scrutiny for anyone prepared to look beyond the idiocy that he tries to pass off as facts. As to why he feels compelled to perpetuate the malicious falsehoods that City can do as they please without any financial constraints is anybody’s guess.

Perhaps he believes it enhances his achievements when Liverpool win or gives him an excuse when they don’t? Whichever it might be it’s petty and unbecoming – rather like the man himself.

Thiago challenges Bernardo, but quite how the Liverpool midfielder didn’t see red for a lunge on Rodri is down to the ‘dynamic duo’ of referee Anthony Taylor and VAR official, Darren England.

Pep is on record crediting Klopp’s Liverpool as the toughest opponents he has faced in his entire managerial career, more so than Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, during his days at Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively.

Liverpool are undoubtedly City’s principal adversaries. They pushed Pep’s team to the dizzy heights of having to amass 98 and 93 points to clinch the title by a single point in both 2019 and 2022.

All too often City lose their way at Anfield, but all too often those losses are tainted by controversy.

Frustration, incredulity, anger – you name it – City can’t believe Phil Foden’s goal is ruled out.

In the wake of Phil Foden’s ‘goal’ being disallowed after the intervention of VAR, Bernardo Silva quite reasonably observed; “What we expect from referees is consistency. When you go through a path of not whistling little contacts, you need to keep those decisions and keep going that way. If you want to whistle all of them, whistle all of them.”

Perhaps Pep didn’t quite get City’s tactics right or the players didn’t execute the game plan as well as they might, but the decision to chalk off City’s lead saw a huge swing in momentum, fuelling the febrile atmosphere.

The Nordic Meat Shield and KDB couldn’t get the job done – almost as rare as rocking horse poo!

When asked about referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to inexplicably go with VAR official Darren England’s call, Pep replied with three words that said it all: “This is Anfield.”

Off the pitch there was claim and counter claim from both sides; Liverpool accused City fans of ‘vile chants’ – claims which were suitably ambiguous and not independently substantiated. The City bench, specifically Guardiola, were targeted by coins thrown by home supporters and the team bus was attacked again, albeit media coverage placed huge emphasis on it being an alleged attack.

Deja vu – City’s team bus was infamously attacked at Anfield in 2018. It happened again last Sunday – quelle surprise.

Regrettably such conflicts and conduct are increasingly the norm nowadays. It’s a sorry state of affairs as hostilities escalate. Under the American ownership of FSG, Liverpool continues to be a prime mover in seeking to undermine City. They’re forever at the front of the queue pushing for UEFA or the Premier League to sanction City in whatever way they can, always conniving with the old guard cabal of self protectionists who resent City gate-crashing the party.

Klopp being Klopp and seeing red into the bargain.

Klopp’s mutterings and insinuations about state-owned clubs with limitless budgets (clearly aimed at City, Newcastle United and PSG, all with Arabic owners) leave a bad taste. If it’s a calculated ploy it’s cynical. If he actually believes the garbage he spouts it’s unfathomable.

Times change, but certain attitudes to City over the past 12 years haven’t. If anything, because of City’s success, they’ve become even more malevolent.

When this particular City blog was launched the Read But Never Red colour reference was squarely focused on the time-honoured – but post Sheikh Mansour investment – newly intensified, rivalry with Fergie’s bunch, courtesy of the 2011 FA Cup semi final and Sergio’s 93:20 heroics.

High flying Guardiola’s four Premier League titles in five years dwarf Klopp’s achievements.

The red half of Merseyside wasn’t on the radar. They were irrelevant. One could – at a stretch – speculate there may have been some truth in the adage ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, when United were the all-conquering force. If there ever was a scintilla of substance to such a scenario between City and Liverpool supporters, it’s long since been eviscerated.

Klopp and Guardiola’s teams have clashed on 18 occasions in England. The German has eight victories to the Catalan’s five, with five draws.

City are making a point of being acclaimed as Champions of England – just the four times in the past five seasons.

Klopp may have won more head-to-head battles, but when it comes to winning the ‘wars’ Pep has four Premier League titles to Jurgen’s one and that’s what really sticks in Liverpool’s craw.

By David Walker

Twitter: @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. October 21, 2022  9:31 pm by Tracie Wilson Reply

    Yesssss! Pep is a God 💙

    • October 21, 2022  9:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      That would've sounded Italian if you'd said Pep is a Good!Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      • October 22, 2022  10:37 am by Fred Nelson Reply

        The bitterness is very strong with Klippity Klopp, David. The 'greatest' Liverpool side in history have managed a single Premier League title under Klopp, and that tortures him and the Scouse scum supporters. 5 in 6 will do very nicely, thank you very much 💙

        • October 22, 2022  8:16 pm by David Walker Reply

          Great and humorous observations my friend. They really are an utterly classless bunch of uberknts aren't they? Thanks fella.

  2. October 21, 2022  9:56 pm by By Reply

    Lovely article as always.

    • October 21, 2022  10:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      A blog where I probably left more out than went in - stuff that would've been too controversial and an anecdote from a City executive that I couldn't share. Thank you.

  3. October 21, 2022  10:02 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    Nail, head, bang on Dave. It’s clear with each passing year their spite grows. Why? Pure unadulterated jealousy, long may it last. As much as it winds us up, when you sit back and think about it, the agenda clearly illustrates our dominance as also the universal fear. In the wise words of Walter Smith, Take it, take it, take it!

    • October 21, 2022  10:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      It beggars belief. The unrelenting propaganda which so much of the MSM is more than willing to soak up and regurgitate as part of the agenda. Thank goodness for the likes of Martin Samuel who helps my old profession maintain a shred of credibility. Thanks for your feedback.

  4. October 21, 2022  10:05 pm by Paul Barry Keys Reply

    The eternal pitiful whining of the "victims" has become their trademark, something they excel at, it doesn't matter if it's factual or not. As much as i'd like to win every battle with the new scum on the block as you rightly say its more important to win the war and long may we continue to do so, cos that really hurts them, wasn't it shankly who said "if you are first, you are first, if you are second you are nothing!"

    • October 21, 2022  10:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      When you step back and look at the endless shite that spews out of the Anfield propaganda machine it's nothing short of amazing as to how our club acts with such unbelievable and commendable restraint. Actions speak louder than even Klippity Klopp's claptrap and if those actions mean more titles and success for Pep & Co then a kind of silence will continue to be golden in the coming years. Cheers PK.

  5. October 21, 2022  10:08 pm by Will Linsdell Reply

    Clearly an attempt to give himself more credit for the gallant runners up (like Maureen did too) and discredit Pep. Pep will laugh last and longest for sure.

    • October 21, 2022  10:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      It was ever thus.There's so much more I could have written about the rank hypocrisy which emanates from Anfield, but as we're well aware they're offended by everything and ashamed of nothing. Thanks for commenting.

  6. October 21, 2022  11:55 pm by Superfun Happy Slide Reply

    This article was more entertaining than PSG-Ajaccio, which played in the background while I enjoyed the retelling of English football lore, myth, and bile remembered. So good, David!

    • October 22, 2022  8:29 am by David Walker Reply

      Better than Mbappe, Neymar, Ramos & Co - is Messi still injured? :-) Thanks for your observations and comments - much appreciated.

      • October 22, 2022  3:32 pm by Superfun Happy Slide Reply

        Messi looks much better than last season. Remember that first CL game between PSG and City last year? His abilitiy to stay on the ball in Ligue-1 has been like the highlight plays he used to stun City in Paris that evening. He is on the wrong side of 30, though. His pace isn't really any better than his first season away from Barca, so that reality of aging is probably the way that the rest of his career with trend. But the fitness necessary to fight off challenges (perhaps the willingness to do so) appears to be something he's worked on during the offseason. Even with the Mbappe Drama, they look so good. Verrati and Vitinha have looked great linking up the play to the galacticos.

        • October 22, 2022  8:32 pm by David Walker Reply

          PSG would appear to have all the components for success at the highest level, but when it comes to the crunch they are the opposite of the adage, 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts'. Long may it continue.

  7. October 22, 2022  6:49 am by David clare Reply

    You know how much better we are than them and so do their fans, otherwise they wouldn’t be all over our papers and sites. Never seen a scouser on these sites until aguero got us that first title in 2012.

    • October 22, 2022  8:32 am by David Walker Reply

      That's it in a nutshell. They can blather on about the Champions League, but the fact we've beaten them to the PL title in 2014, 2019 and 2022 when, each and every time they thought it was theirs, must hurt so much, but they'd never admit it.

  8. October 22, 2022  11:09 am by Fluffy Dave Reply

    Hey Dave, interesting allusion there, I'd love to know what you left out of the article.....!

    Anyhow, I'd be interested to know what you make of VAR's failure to spot that Salah, very deliberately, used his arm to control the ball after Cancelo had had his brain fart.

    • October 22, 2022  8:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      The stuff left out encompasses parts of a private conversation with a senior City executive, the addressing of which particular chants/songs from the away support at Anfield and the supporting arguments that Liverpool FC is riddled with hypocrisy, but apart from that...

      As for the assertion that Salah controlled the ball with his arm, I would've gone to town on it but I haven't seen anything definitive that shows he did, but that doesn't mean he didn't. Hope that helps?

  9. October 22, 2022  11:48 am by Pete Reply

    As long as the gurning German is supported by the old hacks whose mantra is, why let the truth get in the way of a good story, he will continue with his whinging.
    This narrative will change gradually in the future as City fans continue up the media ladder. In the meantime I will be more than happy if Pep remains and we continue to collect more silverware.
    Most supercars have a distant background whining.

    • October 22, 2022  8:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'm not overly mechanically minded, but do supercars still have 'big ends' that can go kapput? Hopefully the gurning b*llend will do likewise in due course. Yes, the narrative will only change when the MSM believe they are commercially better served by not peddling anti-City propaganda, because it will cost them money in the form of a loss of viewers, listeners and readers or whatever. Cheers PT.

  10. October 22, 2022  1:23 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Excellent piece again DW👏👏. All this stems from Klopp he starts every time before we play them. Remember the bus incident our fans will make sure City are given a welcome to Anfield, which is a game that shouldn't of gone ahead but that's another story. Then he's at it again with the usual City can do as they like crap. He portrays this mister nice guy image when along he knows exactly what he's doing. I never used to understand why utd fans hated them so much but I since fully understand why they do. The fanbase I pure scum not all of them I might add I have Liverpool fans who are great mates. Look at the other night a young whu fan attacked by a much of Liverpool fans for no other reason than being there. O how I would of loved to best them which would of produce more venom from Klopp and co. But Pep is definitely winning and always will do.

    • October 22, 2022  8:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      We are in total agreement when it comes to assessing the calibre of Liverpool FC and a high proportion of those associated with it. Like you I never understood why the fans of the Trafford Troglodytes were so against the red scousers, but it's so transparent now. Graceless, self righteous hypocrites - not all of them, but probably a sizeable majority - and it can only make City's success that much sweeter that it pains them so.

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