Burnley star refuses to back down over Liverpool tackles

Matt Stead
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Joe Gomez of Liverpool with Ben Bee of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor on December 5, 2018 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Burnley’s Ben Mee has wished Joe Gomez well while defending his tackle on the Liverpool player and vowing that comments like Jurgen Klopp’s will not make the Clarets change how they play.

Gomez was left with a leg fracture following Mee’s challenge on him during Burnley’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool at Turf Moor on Wednesday and faces a spell of up to six weeks out.

After the game, Reds boss Klopp expressed his unhappiness about some of the tackles on his players – despite apparently having not regarded them as fouls – and specifically mentioned Gomez getting injured.

Klopp said: “With six or seven yards and then (slide) these times are over. We all want to win football games, and there are different ways of doing it. Somebody has to tell you to stop doing it, make two more steps and make a normal challenge.

“The boy with the ball is a bit unlucky because what can happen is what happened to Joe Gomez. I think the referee has to make sure that things like this don’t happen constantly. It’s not how it should be. Let’s play football.”

On Friday Klopp was quoted by a number of national newspapers as saying: “I understand 100 per cent that Mee did not want to injure Joe. Maybe that was the cleanest tackle of all.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on Thursday came out fighting in response to Klopp, commending his players for their tackling and saying only one challenge by Phil Bardsley was “questionable”, while describing Mee’s as “fantastic”.

And when Mee was asked about the matter following Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Brighton, which saw Burnley rise out of the Premier League relegation zone, the 29-year-old centre-back said: “There was nothing wrong with any of the tackles, maybe one.

“You can’t take tackles out of the game, it’s part of the game. I’ve seen Liverpool make tackles and get the crowd up and things like that. For me, you can play fair, but you can also play hard as well.

“I don’t think anything was wrong with my tackle personally. Obviously it was unfortunate what happened and nobody wants to see any players getting injured ever, but I think you play hard, you play fair.

“We’re at the bottom of the table and we need to get out of it, so we’re obviously going to work our socks off to win games.”

Mee added: “It (the tackle) was clean. It was just unfortunate and I send my best wishes to him (Gomez).

“I think the team… we’re in a fight and we need to get back to doing what we do.

“It’s part of the game and I think that’s how we play and we’re not going to change for someone saying we shouldn’t tackle. I don’t see the problem.

“We’re not good enough to let people play around us, we need to get about people. We’re in a fight and we want to get out of it.

“To be fair, I didn’t really hear much of what was said. I knew it wasn’t a bad tackle and I think anyone who knows football knows it’s not a bad tackle.

“It didn’t really affect me too much. The only thing that affected me was the fact that he’d hurt himself and obviously you don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Like I said, I send my best wishes to him.

“But I think anyone who knows football knows it wasn’t a malicious tackle. Sometimes things happen in sport, unfortunate things. I hope he gets well soon and has a quick recovery.”