Klopp backs Ancelotti, ‘one of the smartest people I have ever met,’ to fix Everton

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Liverpool and Everton are set to meet in a Merseyside derby edition of the the FA Cup third round on Sunday (11 a.m. ET), marking the first time Carlo Ancelotti will guide the Toffees against Jurgen Klopp and the Premier League-leading Reds.

[ MORE: FA Cup third round preview, score picks ]

However, that hasn’t stopped Klopp from lavishing his Italian counterpart with praise ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Anfield, calling Ancelotti, the only manager to defeat Liverpool in any competition this season, “one of the smartest people I have ever met.” However, he doesn’t believe that Ancelotti has any sort of secret formula which would enable him to do so again — quotes from the Liverpool Echo:

“We lost that game in Napoli. There was a penalty that was not a penalty. We didn’t play that bad, you can lose a game. It was not that they outplayed us constantly.”

Klopp’s admiration of Ancelotti extends far beyond Sunday’s clash, made abundantly clear by his steadfast belief that Everton is a club and a squad with massive potential just waiting to be unlocked by the right manager.

“Carlo Ancelotti is one of the smartest people I have ever met and he would not have taken the job if he didn’t think the squad was any good.

“We are convinced that the Everton squad is really, really good. They have invested a lot in the transfer market over a few years. It didn’t work out for some reasons but the combination of a good manager and a good squad helps from time to time in football.

“Carlo is obviously someone who can lift a group in a moment when he enters a room.”

“They will do well, 100 percent — especially over the season — but it’s a big challenge in the Premier League as there are other teams doing not too bad as well.

“I’m happy to see him again. Without meeting constantly, we always have a good time.”

The first PL showdown between Klopp and Ancelotti is set for March 14, at Goodison Park.