Jurgen Klopp admits he knew Everton would be Liverpool’s ‘next proper challenger’ when Carlo Ancelotti arrived, despite finishing a massive 50 POINTS ahead of their Merseyside rivals last season
- Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool take on Everton in Merseyside derby on Saturday
- Toffees unbeaten in Premier League and at the top of the Premier League table
- Klopp admits he thought they could challenge when Carlo Ancelotti took over
- German added that city rivals had conducted superb transfer business
Jurgen Klopp has admitted he thought Everton could be ‘the next proper challenger’ to Liverpool when Carlo Ancelotti took over at Goodison Park.
The Toffees are flying high atop the Premier League table ahead of Saturday’s early kick-off, the biggest Merseyside derby in years.
And Klopp is not surprised by the success of his side’s fierce rivals after they conducted ‘perfect business’ in the summer.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp leads his side against Everton in the derby on Saturday
He believes that the Toffees can be proper title challengers and they are top of the table
‘What I think about Carlo Ancelloti was never a secret. I couldn’t respect him more. He’s a wonderful human being,’ the German told BBC Football Focus.
‘When I heard he was going to sign for Everton I thought “Uhhh, the next proper challenger in line”.
‘They did the perfect business in the summer. They found exactly the players that they needed to improve an already pretty good football team.
‘Together, getting more used to what Carlo wants them to do makes them a pretty strong team.’
The sensational form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has scored nine goals already for Everton this season, is a key component but the whole picture is looking rosier at Goodison, says Klopp.
Klopp said he feared Everton would grow in strength under Carlo Ancelotti’s stewardship
He added: ‘Calvert-Lewin, I really expected him to make big steps in the next few years and he did.
‘And now it all works together – both wings have top-class players with James and Richarlison. Midfield, Allan plus whoever plays there, if it’s Sigurddson or whoever.
‘So it’s a really, really good team and the last line works better because in a good team it’s easier to defend. That’s what you see when you watch Everton, so it will be a really interesting game.’
Everton last won a Merseyside derby exactly a decade ago on Saturday back in 2010.
The likes of James Rodriguez (centre) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (right) signed for the club
The champions were humbled 7-2 by Aston Villa and are looking to bounce back in the derby
Klopp is full of admiration for Ancelotti and knew he would transform Everton’s fortunes
Many feel this is their best chance to end that barren run, particularly with Liverpool coming off the back of the remarkable 7-2 defeat by Aston Villa before the international break.
Klopp revealed he sent a long text to his players in the wake of that bruising loss to get his feelings and frustrations off his chest as he was unable to address the group as a collective.
He has never lost back-to-back Premier League games as Liverpool manager and will be desperate to maintain that record this weekend.
If Everton are to become ‘proper challengers’ then they will have to close an almighty gap from last season.
They finished in 12th place and a massive 50 points behind champions Liverpool and the last time they finished in the top four was the 2004/05 campaign.
Everton splashed the cash on the likes of Allan, who cost £22.5million from Napoli
Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has continually pumped money in
The Toffees last won the league back in 1986/87 but slowly declined in the years that followed.
David Moyes helped get the team back on an even keel when he took over for 12 seasons from 2001/02 but the club have not been among the wealthy giants of the game competing for trophies.
British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri’s massive investment in the club has been a significant turning point since 2016.
He owns a 77.2 per cent in Everton and has regularly ploughed funds into recruitment of players, with this summer being the latest example.
Ben Godfrey (£25m), Allan (£22.5m), Abdoulaye Doucoure (£20m), Niels Nkounkou (£250,000) and James Rodriguez (free) all joined Ancelotti’s promising side.
Moshiri is also planning to build a new 55,000-seater stadium on the Bramley-Moore Dock to help bridge the gap between the club and English football’s elite.
The club have started this season perfectly but face their biggest test yet against Liverpool, who enjoyed incredible recent success under Klopp, winning the Champions League and domestic title.
Saturday could show just how far Everton have come and still have to go to rise back to the top of English football.