Two-time Champions League winner Steve McManaman believes his former club Liverpool could pull off a stunning victory in Europe’s elite competition this season.
Ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League clash against FC Porto in Portugal, McManaman has told Yahoo Sport that the competition is ready made for Liverpool to cause a shock and go all the way.
“Liverpool have been given a really good draw against FC Porto and while they will not be push overs, you’d fancy Jurgen Klopp’s men to get through so long as they don’t mess up the first leg in Portugal,” declares McManaman, who won the Champions League twice with Real Madrid after starting his career with Liverpool.
“You can see Liverpool going close in the Champions League this season because a lot of the top sides have a few problems to deal with and Liverpool, on their day, can beat anyone.
“They will not be up against teams who will sit back and try to defend against them with a defensive block, which is where Liverpool have struggled in the Premier League, but the Champions League games should be different.
“I look at the Man City match a few weeks back as a blueprint of what we might expect in the Champions League knock-out stages. Liverpool won 4-3, it could have gone either way, but they will score goals against anyone. They will not keep too many clean sheets, but they might just outscore most of their opponents and that could be a recipe for success.
“Also, the Anfield factor can be massive for Liverpool if they get to the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. The stadium is something else on European nights and it is a big plus for Liverpool to have that backing on their side.”
Meanwhile, McManaman believes Klopp will retain the backing of the club’s fans even if he finishes this season without a trophy, but he has warned that their loyalty is not unbreakable.
Klopp guided Liverpool to two major Cup Finals in his first few months as Liverpool manager back in 2016, but Liverpool are struggling to end a barren without major silverware this season after early exits in both domestic knock-out competitions.
Unless Klopp guides Liverpool to Champions League glory, he is likely to head into a fourth season as Reds boss without a first trophy for the club and Liverpool legend McManaman admits that run needs to end soon.
“Liverpool fans have invested a lot of faith in Klopp and while you don’t see them turning against him any time soon, things can change very quickly in the game now,” stated the BT Sport pundit.
“I’m not one of those who thinks managers should be chopped and changed too quickly because it is not always the answer unless things go disastrously wrong at a big club. Yet we all see how the game works these days. You are two or three defeats away from a crisis and everyone is in that position, including Jurgen Klopp.
“How he is regarded by Liverpool fans from this point forward will depend on how this season finishes and I think they have a great chance to secure a top four finish and have a good run in the Champions League.
“Of course, it could go the other way. If they don’t finish in the top four this season and get knocked out of the Champions League by FC Porto, the mood can change very quickly, but I’m confident he will turn this story the way we all want it to go.”
BT Sport is where the best in sport go head to head. Watch every game from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League exclusively live on BT Sport, online and via the BT Sport App. For more info visit BT.com/sport