Steve McManaman has been chatting to FourFourTwo about Liverpool's chances in the Champions League this season.
BT Sport pundit McManaman played for the Reds in the 1990s, before leaving to join Real Madrid on a free deal, in one of the earliest and most high-profile Bosman-style transfers of the era. While at the Bernabeu, the midfielder scored in the 2000 Champions League final, when he became the first English player to win the tournament with a non-English club. Two years later became the first English player to win the Champions League twice.
“I think if you look back to last year, I think we can easily see why Liverpool’s season turned out the way it did to be very honest and I think it will be completely different this year because of the personnel they have back,” McManaman said to FFT ahead of Liverpool's opening night match against seven-time winners AC Milan.
“I think if Liverpool's team from the year before had played Real Madrid last year, they would have won easily. We saw the gulf in class when Chelsea played Real Madrid. They could have won three, four or five at Stamford Bridge, and I was really disappointed when Liverpool lost to them because even though they had a number of injuries, I still thought they would have been quicker and stronger than Real.
“If they’d have gone through they would have played Chelsea and then it’s always a toss of a coin between English sides. So I was disappointed in that particular performance and I think Liverpool will be much better this year because of the side they’ve got back and there'll be back to being dominant like they were the year before.
“And even like they were two years ago when they ran Manchester City very close in the Premier League.”
A lot of talk about Liverpool this season is about the depth of Jurgen Klopp's squad, with the Reds having only added one new signing in the summer, in the shape of defender Ibrahima Konate. Klopp himself has said that he favours a smaller group of players in recent weeks - but with Harvey Elliott suffering a long-term injury at the weekend, McManaman says that certain players on the fringes of the squad have to contribute more to the side - including the last signing that the Reds made from RB Leipzig.
“In terms of improvement, I'd like to see a big year from Naby Keita, you know, who came in with a big, big price tag,” McMamanan says.
“I'd like him to stay fit and really impress this year. I've got no real qualms with any of the Liverpool players per se because I think over the last three or four years I think they’ve all been excellent.
“Last year they went through a disappointing spell. But I think the fact that they finished the job and qualified for the Champions League anyway was impressive. I think they'll be building on that, I think they'll be one of the title favourites and really do, considering, you know, recapture that form of two years ago, three years ago.”
BT Sport is the exclusive home of UEFA Champions League football. Watch every game of the 2021/22 competition live on TV, online and on the BT Sport app. For more info, visit btsport.com
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