Manchester United forward Wout Weghorst has provided further explanation as to why he touched Liverpool’s famous ‘This Is Anfield’ sign prior to last week’s 7-0 thrashing.
The Red Devils suffered their worst ever Premier League defeat at the hands of their biggest rivals on a humiliating day on Merseyside.
Finger-pointing was rife among fans and pundits post-match and when footage emerged of Weghorst tapping Anfield’s historic signpost, United supporters were understandably unhappy.
The Dutchman explained in a post on social media that he was trying to wind up Netherlands teammate and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who touches the sign before every home game.
In an interview with BBC Sport’s Football Focus – which will now not be aired on TV in the aftermath of the Match of the Day debacle – Weghorst was asked if he could provide further clarity behind his actions.
“Of course, I know Virgil from the national team and we are quite good [friends],” he began.
“With the [pre-match] handshake he was already starting the match and he was a little bit like…I can say ‘cool’, I think.
“And so we just in a coincidence walked [out of the tunnel] next to each other, he was a little bit in front of me and I remember he’s always touching [the Anfield sign]. I was trying to touch his hand from behind and trying to ignore him a little bit. I said to him ‘not today, I know your rituals but it’s not working today’.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t work. But it was actually the only meaning I had, the only intention I had. Of course, I saw later on, we had a free day, I saw the messages from Liverpool fans, that I’ve touched it to shield myself. Normally I don’t respond on anything about this but just because the fans from United are amazing, they have been really amazing with me and for me also, I just wanted to clarify that.”
When asked if he understood why fans were angry, he replied: “I totally understand because when you see a video like this or when you see pictures from behind, I see it also. Then it’s ‘why did he touch this sign?’, you know. It’s not a smart thing of me to do but we shouldn’t make it bigger than it is, I think.
“But I can understand for some people. That’s also why I wanted to explain it, so I’m happy you asked. I can explain it to the fans because it was nothing else than me trying to win already for United before the game started.”
On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette discuss Bruno Fernandes’ inspired response in the 4-1 win over Real Betis, concerns over David de Gea’s kicking ability and whether Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be recalled.
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