Jurgen Klopp made no secret of his feelings towards Paul Tierney following Liverpool’s dramatic 4-3 win over Tottenham in the Premier League.
After racing down the touchline and hilariously pulling his hamstring on the way to giving the fourth official a piece of his mind as Diogo Jota bundled in a last-gasp winner, he then followed up his actions by doubling down on his issues post-match.
The shout and hamstring pull combination was one of many chaotic moments from a truly ridiculous 90 minutes, but you’ve heard enough about that. Instead, we need to trace the origin story behind Klopp’s deep-routed feud with Tierney as, the way it’s going, it’ll be headlining WrestleMania this time next year.
So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and have a look at where this feud all began…
A brief handball debate (2017)
Many assume the first instances of friction between the pair emerged around 2020 or 2021, but it appears as though Klopp first locked horns with Tierney all the way back in 2017.
Tierney chalked off a late winner from Dominic Solanke for handball when Liverpool drew 0-0 with West Brom that year, which prompted the German manager to confront the official at the full-time whistle.
And we’re off.
Project restart (2020)
In what was a fantastic season for the Reds despite it almost being called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Klopp’s newly crowned champions beat Aston Villa 2-0 in July. But that wasn’t good enough for the German.
Instead, he was fuming that a foul on Georginio Wijnaldum went unpunished and confronted him about it. With stadiums now empty, reports claimed Tierney’s response was: “I missed it Jurgen. I’m like players, I’m going to make mistakes. I missed it. Get over it.”
He apparently didn’t.
Another foul ignored (2020)
Peak lockdown football at this point. Karl Darlow put in a fine performance between the sticks to earn Newcastle a point against the champions, but was a tad fortunate not to concede a penalty after appearing to bring Sadio Mane down inside the penalty area.
We can let it slide, Steve Bruce definitely did too, but it appears Klopp added it to his lengthy receipt of issues with Tierney.
Liverpool vs Manchester United (2021)
Perhaps it was the empty stadiums that added fuel to the fire, because Klopp fumed again at Tierney the next month.
A drab, 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United could’ve looked much different if Tierney didn’t blow for half-time while Mane was running through on goal, blatantly denying him of a chance to score – five seconds before the minute for half-time was actually up.
If the first two were tedious, you can empathise with Klopp on this one.
Klopp takes aim (2021)
The feud officially began here, with Klopp finally making his feelings towards Tierney very clear after Liverpool drew 2-2 with Tottenham in December.
Harry Kane avoided a red card for a challenge on Andy Robertson, who himself was sent off with the aid of VAR for a tackle on Emerson Royal.
Following reports that Klopp waited for Tierney in the tunnel at half-time, he made a B-line for the official after the final whistle, heading onto the pitch and proclaiming he had “no problem with any referees… only you.”
“I really have no idea what his [Tierney’s] problem is with me. Honestly, I have no idea.” He later said, with Liverpool losing ground to Manchester City in a title race they would ultimately lose, adding: “I think we all agree it is a clear red card. You have to ask Mr Tierney.”
🗣 "I have no problems with any referees. Only you." 😡
Audio from Jurgen Klopp's confrontation with referee Paul Tierney after the game pic.twitter.com/jkcx4slwRk
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 19, 2021
Like talking to a microwave (2023)
Two years later, it felt like the German had accepted defeat and simply stopped bothering to argue with Tierney, following a 3-1 defeat against Brentford at the beginning of the year.
Unhappy with Brentford’s aggressive approach on set-pieces, Klopp claimed they were ‘stretching the rules’, but when asked if he had approached the officials about this – Stuart Attwell being in charge – he responded: “Yeah, but actually that’s exactly the same as I would talk to my microwave, you get no response, really. It’s always the same.”
While not a direct attack on Tierney, it most definitely felt like a swipe at his grievances with the referee over the years being completely ignored for the most part.
The linesman elbow incident (2023)
Oh Paul, you just can’t escape drama surrounding Liverpool, can you?
During a hotly contested 2-2 draw between the Reds and title-chasing Arsenal at Anfield, linesman Constantine Hatzidakis appeared to elbow Robertson after the two exchanged words.
Protesting after being elbowed by a member of referee Tierney’s team, he proceeded to book the Scottish full back for his complaints.
Did the assistant referee elbow Andy Robertson?!" 🤯 pic.twitter.com/CZQbDDDX0I
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 9, 2023
Liverpool 4-3 Tottenham (2023)
The Reds looked to be heading for another draw against a north London side at Anfield again when Richarlison’s injury time equaliser made the score 3-3 in April, but Diogo Jota’s even later winner ensured that was not the case.
As the stadium erupted in celebration, Klopp left his seat and bundled down the touchline. Many assumed in celebration, but it was actually him making a B-line for Tierney – fourth official on the day – before getting into his face and appearing to unleash a brief war of words on him. Rather hilariously, Klopp pulled his hamstring in doing so.
Acknowledging that the injury was perhaps ‘karma’, Klopp alluded to Liverpool’s ‘history’ with Tierney post-match: “It was unnecessary and I got punished for that immediately. I pulled my hamstring or adductor or whatever so fine. That’s fair but what he said to me then when he gave me the yellow card…”
Klopp would not reveal what Tierney had apparently said to him that had prompted the celebration at full-time, but insisted it was worse than whatever he had to say.
“What [Tierney] said to me then when he gave me the yellow card is not OK.”
Quite the storyline. WWE could only dream of something so intricate and meticulously executed over a number of years.
🗣️ Jurgen Klopp explains exactly what happened with Paul Tierney on Sunday:
1. Klopp admits his celebration (out of anger & emotion) was wrong
2. Tierney wanted to give Klopp a red card
3. 4th official said it was only a yellow
4. Tierney told Klopp he wanted to give a red pic.twitter.com/k3aYDXoQO3
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 2, 2023