Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reveals his respect for "amazing" Sheffield United and Chris Wilder
Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, lavished praise on Sheffield United and Chris Wilder following the two club’s meeting at Anfield.
Speaking after goals from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane saw his team move 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, the German revealed he “couldn’t respect Chris and his players more” after researching their progress since the 52-year-old’s appointment three-and-a-half seasons ago.
Klopp, who also used his pre-match programme notes to praise the visitors, told The Star: “Before the game, I watched a story about where they have come from and it is a wonderful story, an amazing story, and I have so much admiration for them.
“They have some very good players and clearly a very good manager. When you consider the level some of those players were at not so long ago - and then look at what they are doing now - you can’t have anything but respect for that.”
Although Wilder was disappointed with United’s display - “I’m disappointed, we didn’t really lay a glove on them from our perspective” - Klopp insisted they had forced his team to produce their best football.
“I said it before, I couldn’t respect Chris and his players more,” he continued. “I do not mean this disrespectfully when I say I didn’t know much about Chris before the end of last season, when they were promoted.
“Obviously I had heard about their special set-up and their tactics, the things like that. But I certainly know about them now.
“I want to say, what they have done and what they are doing is just exceptional. It really is.”
Nine months after climbing-out of the Championship, United would have moved into fifth if they had become the first side to beat Liverpool in the competition this term. But they remained eighth after first Salah and then Mane edged the hosts’ a step closer towards the title.
Klopp, tracing United’s journey from League One to the top-flight under Wilder, said: “What I saw was a really good football game. We played the way you have to play against Sheffield United. The boys didn’t let them get anything into the game.
“Our passing was good, we broke the lines. Because of the way they set-up, it was difficult to press.
“But even then, you saw they (United) were not broke. Even after spending nearly 80 minutes without possession.”