Liverpool are dark horses for the Barclays Premier League title thanks to the courage of manager Brendan Rodgers, according to Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen.
Fulham host Liverpool in league action at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night, the clash unaffected after London Underground strikes were called off.
Head coach Meulensteen has warned the Cottagers to steel themselves to face Uruguay goal machine Luis Suarez - the striker he rates most highly in the league.
But the former Manchester United coach also believes Fulham must beware Rodgers’ tactical acumen, which hands the Reds the confidence to pull off one of football’s trickiest styles.
“I know Brendan really well, we get along really, really well and we share the same philosophy, the same principles,” Meulensteen said.
“As Brendan knows, if you see him now with the progress he’s made at Liverpool, go back to the start and the criticism he was under back then.
“He tried to play his way, and it takes time and courage to play that way.
“Players need to be able to take the ball under pressure, to be able to find solutions in tight areas.
“That takes coaching, that takes practice, time and time again, before it eventually clicks.
“Yes you’ve got to have a very good football team, but credit to Brendan for sticking to it - he didn’t get sidetracked by anything, not any pressure, and that’s what you need.
“You need time to build, and a lot of that time’s not given.
“Credit to Liverpool for sticking with him, and credit to Brendan for his hard work.”
Liverpool smashed usually resolute Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday, stunning Arsene Wenger’s side with a performance brimming with precision and power.
Meulensteen’s Fulham produced a smash-and-grab of their own, heading away from Old Trafford with a 2-2 draw against Manchester United on Sunday.
Fulham’s Dutch boss claimed there was no such thing as a freak result in England’s top flight, and backed his side to heap pressure on Liverpool despite their emphatic weekend victory.
Hailing Suarez as the league’s form player so far this term, he said: “I have to say I think Suarez has been exceptional for Liverpool this year, with the goals he’s scored, the energy that he has.
“He’s so very good, but the others are not far behind.
“I don’t think that victory over Arsenal is a freak result because you get these so much more in the Premier League - it’s part and parcel of the league.
“They happen when you least expect it at times.
“But that’s what Liverpool are capable of, and that’s the most important thing for us to remember.
“That’s why I say they could still possibly be a dark horse for the league if they’re still up there coming into the second half of April and they’ve still got that momentum.
“In the Premier League, history has shown that, time and time again, nobody can predict results.
“There will always be surprises.
“Liverpool can draw at West Brom after hammering Everton and then do that to Arsenal.
“No-one can afford to take anything for granted.
“So whoever you are and whoever you’re playing against, you always set a team up going for a result.”