Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk saluted Jurgen Klopp as the “complete manager” as the Reds prepare to face Manchester City in their crucial Champions League quarter-final second leg on Tuesday.
Klopp’s men upset the odds to claim an impressive 3-0 win over City at Anfield in the first leg, with a rampant first-half performance catching the Premier League leaders off guard.
The result leaves Liverpool in charge of the tie heading into the return leg in Manchester, with Klopp and his side unsurprisingly receiving significant praise in response to their display.
And Van Dijk has no doubt Klopp is proving himself to be among the best.
“He is the complete manager,” the January signing told reporters. “He is a fantastic team manager, player manager as well, everyone is working hard together.
“Obviously that [Klopp’s rapport with the crowd] stays more in people’s minds because that is what you see, but he is much more than that.
“You don’t see all the hard work we put in behind the scenes. He has shown already that he is an outstanding manager.”
Liverpool have had some fitness issues in attack of late, most notably the in-form Mohamed Salah, who picked up a groin injury in the first leg.
Whether Salah returns or not, Van Dijk is confident he and his defensive colleagues can provide a solid enough foundation for it to not matter.
“If we defend the way we did the other night against them, it does not matter who plays as a striker,” Van Dijk said.
“If our players up front and midfield do what they did then it makes it a lot easier. Obviously, they have a lot of quality no matter who plays, and we need to be ready for anyone.
“But our guys work. The guys up front put the work in which is magnificent. If you look closely at what those three [Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane] do collectively and then the guys behind, it makes it so much easier for us, everyone putting in the work, and then on the training field with the manager.
“Everyone around us is fantastic and should be proud of how we defend and how many goals we have scored.”