Van Dijk as captain was players' decision, says Klopp

Jurgen Klopp joked it was a surprise to have two Dutch vice-captains at Liverpool after confirming he did not pick Virgil van Dijk himself.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says it was the decision of the players to have Virgil van Dijk as captain against Red Star Belgrade.

The Netherlands international wore the armband in the absence of midfielders Jordan Henderson and James Milner in the 4-0 Champions League win at Anfield on Wednesday.

Van Dijk has become a huge favourite among Liverpool fans since his reported £75million move from Southampton in January and admitted it was a "proud moment" to lead out the team.

Klopp, though, says it was the players who decided on the back-up captains behind Henderson and Milner after he granted them the chance to vote.

"It was not my decision," he told a news conference on Friday. "I decided Hendo and Mili will stay [as captains], it's the 100 per cent logical thing to do. I said about the next two, the players can vote. 

"Our two Dutch guys are next in the row, so the team decided number three for Virgil and number four for Gini Wijnaldum. 

"If somebody had told me that would happen in my life, a German, two Dutch guys in such an important role...! It was the players' decision."

Van Dijk has helped Liverpool to keep seven clean sheets in all competitions this season as part of a defence that has improved significantly, particularly from set-pieces.

And Klopp has confirmed they have been working hard at improving from opposition corners and free-kicks since pre-season.

"It was clear we wanted to focus on it because it was not a proper strength of ours and that's what we tried to do, and we do it week in and week out. It doesn't work all the time," he said.

"I would say it's a different approach. We have different runs, never the same routine, but that's it, we put more focus on it and that's all.

"I didn't speak for a while about the weather because it was so good, but it's rather cold and in Germany similar. In Spain you could work five hours a week on set-pieces, that's not a problem, but in England, Germany, it's quite difficult because you cannot stand around. It's very lively, everyone is 'you go here, you go there' and at the end, every one is, 'it's so cold!'. But we did a lot and it's good to see it worked out somehow."

Liverpool take on Cardiff City on Saturday as they seek to stay level on points with champions Manchester City at the top of the table.

Klopp has called on the Anfield crowd to get behind the side and ensure there is no danger of complacency against a team who recorded their first league win of the season only last week.

"Again, this game is a challenge. If we have to talk about who should win the game, it should be Liverpool, but football is football," he said.

"But they are really creative, really strong, they are 100 per cent concentrated in each of them, they have long throws coming from nearly everywhere, two or three players with unbelievable long throw-ins so that makes it really difficult, that's not our ball-on-the-ground stuff like that and even that is difficult against a compact formation.

"I say it again: we need the crowd. It must be the difference. For the players, it will never happen that they go into a game thinking 'it will not be that difficult' and then 'wow, it's really difficult'. It's really rare that that happens but it happens with the crowd sometimes.

"A bad pass is a bad pass, against Cardiff and against Paris Saint-Germain. A good challenge is a good challenge, a blocked ball, a counter-press against PSG, the crowd is used to it and go on their toes. I'm not sure it will happen against Cardiff but it should."