Jason McAteer makes bold claim over Liverpool's progress as line-ups are confirmed for Sean Cox game in Dublin
Jason McAteer believes Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are a year ahead of schedule as they look to end the club's 29-year wait for a Premier League title.
Speaking at an event to promote the Liverpool Legends match in aid of the Sean Cox Foundation in Dublin next week (April 12th), former Reds and Ireland midfielder McAteer believes Klopp should be a contender for Manager of the Year even if his side second to Manchester City in the title race.
"The progression of Liverpool this season is beyond what he expected and probably exceeded the expectations of a lot of fans because Manchester City won the title by such a wide margin last season and it was always going to be tough to close the gap on them," said McAteer.
"I felt Liverpool needed another season of development before they could be in the kind of position they are in now, so there is no doubt they deserve a lot of credit for what they have done.
"Guardiola is doing amazing things at City and to keep their appetite and hunger there after everything they achieved last season is fantastic, but you look at Liverpool and they are right with one of the best Premier League teams of all-time, so that's a fantastic achievement."
McAteer believes the Champions League could be an 'easier' competition for Liverpool to win as they look forward to a quarter-final with FC Porto next week, but he admits the Premier League title is the one the club want.
"Klopp is a fantastic tactician in European football and it is amazing to think that he hasn't lost a single knock-out tie in the Europa League and Champions League since he has been at Liverpool," adds McAteer.
"It is a record worthy of respect and I would expect them to get through against Porto next week and then they will probably have to find a way past Barcelona to get to a second successive Champions League final.
"With Klopp in charge, I'd fancy Liverpool to beat Barcelona over the two legs because he will come up with a plan to beat them and stop Lionel Messi. We saw what he did against Bayern Munich in the last round and it highlighted his brilliance in that competition.
"On that basis, you could say Liverpool are closer to winning the Champions League than the Premier League, but if you ask me which one does the club want to win, it has to be the English title."
Meanwhile, the players who will be taking part in the game to raise money for the medical care of Liverpool fan Sean Cox have been confirmed, with a star-studded line-up coming to Dublin next Friday.
Liverpool fans are expected to flock to the Aviva Stadium in a game raising funds for Irish fan Cox, who was left with life changing injuries following an unprovoked attack from Roma fans ahead of last season's Champions League semi-final at Anfield.