Roy Keane finally praises Liverpool as they defy his doubts by reaching Champions League semi-finals
Roy Keane suggested Europe's top teams would be 'laughing at Liverpool' in the latter stages of the Champions League earlier this season, but he has been forced to change his tune after they sealed their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
A 5-1 aggregate win in their quarter-final against Manchester City has seem Liverpool emerge as strong contenders to win the competition, with former Manchester United captain Keane now admitting they have a chance of winning the biggest prize in European football.
Keane told ITV Sport that he 'wouldn't watch Liverpool if they were playing in his back garden' back in November as he questioned their defensive abilities, yet he believes Jurgen Klopp's side have now made the improvements required to emerge as trophy contenders.
"We have always felt they were a goal threat, but I think they have improved defensively over the last few months and you have to give the manager and players great credit for it," stated Keane.
"The defence early in the season was always a concern for me. When you look at some of the performances away from home at Man City (lost 5-0) and at Spurs (lost 4-1)...you just felt they were going to concede against the big teams.
"You look at the start of the campaign, they had an easy group. Then we questioned how strong Porto were, but now they have beaten Man City, teams will have to take them seriously because of the goals they are getting.
"I still think if you are in the Liverpool camp, you will want to avoid Real Madrid."
Keane credited the January signing of Virgil van Dijk as a key moment in Liverpool's Champions League campaign, as he also suggested young full-back Andy Robertson has improved their defensive line.
"They have improved that over the last few months," he said. "With the signing (of Van Dijk), Robertson has come in and done really well, he is sticking with the same goalkeeper now and there is a lot of confidence in their back four. They deserve huge credit for it.
"He has come in and done well. He has been a big presence and helped the other players around him and that is what the really good players do."
Keane also offered up his verdict on Manchester City's slump on the last week, that has included the Champions League defeat against Liverpool and a 3-2 home defeat against Manchester United last Saturday.
"You have to give credit to United at the weekend and Liverpool over the two legs," he added. "Some big calls have gone against them, which has been hugely disappointing for them.
"If you look at the bigger picture, they have played some outstanding football and have just had a difficult week where things have caught up with them. They will still be content in a few weeks when they win the league."