Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says Jurgen Klopp deserved to be named men’s coach of the year at the FIFA Best Football Awards, but is hopeful his team can spoil any planned party for the Liverpool boss.
The Premier League champions visit Selhurst Park on Saturday eager to extend their lead at the top after they replaced Tottenham at the summit earlier this week with a 2-1 win at Anfield.
Palace held Spurs to a draw last Sunday and will look to cause problems for the Reds, who needed a late winner from Roberto Firmino to claim all three points in this fixture last term.
“It is hard enough to be nominated on one occasion so to win it twice is quite incredible,” Hodgson said of Klopp winning the award for a second year in a row on Thursday.
“Tomorrow I’ll tell him how pleased I am for him and how deserved the award was for last season, which was a terrific season where he did so well.
“Of course what makes him a good manager is – what makes any manager a good manager – he has a clear idea of what he wants his team to do and he works hard on the training field to make sure his players understand what he wants from them.
“He is obviously very good as a man manager because you see the relationship he has with his players, it is a very warm and friendly relationship despite the fact I am sure he is always challenging them and pushing them in training.
“He doesn’t get success by being their friend, he gets success by being a top-class coach but he is able to also show those human qualities to make the players feel like they want to play for him.
“Lots and lots of qualities and a good choice in my opinion from FIFA on this occasion and we will have to do our best tomorrow to spoil any party he has planned.”
The Reds remain in the middle of an injury crisis with first-choice defensive pairing Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for the majority of the campaign.
It has seen Liverpool’s power wane slightly, but they remain the side being chased in spite of Tottenham, Southampton, Leicester, Everton, Manchester United and Chelsea being in close proximity to the leaders.
Hodgson added: “They will undoubtedly think it will be a bit tougher than it was last year where they swept all before them because the number of teams around them also competing for that top spot are getting more numerous and perhaps more powerful as well.
“Jurgen knows he has a tough job on his hands to bring the championship back to Liverpool for successive seasons, but he has made a good start because they are top.”
While the visitors are without several players, Palace also have availability issues with Christian Benteke suspended after his red card for two bookable offences at West Ham on Wednesday.
The Belgian had began to rediscover his form after scoring three in three, but will sit out the visit of his old club.
Defenders Martin Kelly and Mamadou Sakho (both calf) are also sidelined alongside Wayne Hennessey (thigh), Nathan Ferguson (knee) and Connor Wickham (thigh), but Gary Cahill, Nathaniel Clyne and Jeffrey Schlupp are available after being rested in midweek.
On Benteke, Hodgson said: “Since he came back into the team he has done extremely well and we have been pleased with him.
“He would have been a big weapon against Liverpool, I don’t think they would have been looking forward to playing against him in the form he is in, so it is a miss.”
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