Roberto De Zerbi praised Jurgen Klopp after the Liverpool manager intervened to try and calm him as he protested against a refereeing decision during the Reds’ 2-2 draw with Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
The Italian was shown a yellow card by referee Anthony Taylor for remonstrating with the fourth official when his team were denied a penalty for a possible handball against Virgil van Dijk.
The ball struck the defender on the leg and bounced up onto his arm, with the manager insistent his side should have been given a spot-kick as they sought a way back from 2-1 down.
This team doesn’t give up. pic.twitter.com/WS43d1YxEb
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) October 8, 2023
Klopp went into Brighton’s technical area to try and sooth the situation, putting his arms around De Zerbi in what he described as “using his age” to try and assuage the situation.
De Zerbi, who saw his side come back to draw for the second time in three days after Thursday’s Europa League meeting with Marseille, said that whilst he felt his team were hard done by over the decision, he believed the foul by Trent Alexander-Arnold on Solly March from which Brighton later equalised through Lewis Dunk should not have been a free-kick.
“I love Klopp,” he said. “He can do what he wants because I have a big respect and I consider him one of the best coaches in the world. I like his behaviour, and when he says something, 99 per cent I agree with him.
“In that situation, I think there was a clear penalty and I told the referee, I think in a good way, what I thought in the moment.
“I think there was a penalty, but there wasn’t a foul when we scored the second goal. I’m honest, and I told Jurgen my opinion.”
Brighton are sixth going into the international break having won five of their first eight Premier League games.
De Zerbi has made an average of seven changes between matches this season as he seeks to navigate the demands made by a first season in Europe for the club.
Stand Or Fall. ? pic.twitter.com/Wb9jIozzHZ
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) October 9, 2023
Despite recording a fourth winless game in a row in all competitions the manager praised his players’ character, particularly in the context of bouncing back from the 6-1 defeat against Aston Villa to register two comeback draws.
“The most important thing for me has been the reaction after Villa Park,” he said. “We started the game in Marseille, one of the best stadiums in Europe, and we started losing 2-0. After that moment, there was only one team on the pitch – Brighton.
“To do it, you have to show character, to show the right attitude, the right behaviour and passion. The most important thing in my idea of football is passion, is the character.
“After that we can speak about tactical disposition, the quality of the players, recruitment. But without that part of football, in my opinion, you can’t play or work in football.”