Jurgen Klopp remains the best manager for Liverpool, says John Barnes, claiming Pep Guardiola could not do any more with the players at Anfield.
The Reds boss has been criticised for the first time during his Merseyside reign this season, with uncomfortable questions being asked of a side still struggling to keep clean sheets.
Liverpool have been unable to fire themselves into the Premier League title picture as yet, with a top-four finish looking like representing the peak of their ambition once again.
Barnes believes that is as much as can be expected, with Klopp having shown that he is as good as anybody – Manchester City boss Guardiola included – at maximising potential.
The former Reds star told the Daily Star: "All you can ask any manager to do, and I've always said this, is to maximise the potential of the team. That's all he can do, he can't do anything more.
"I think he has maximised the potential of Liverpool's team because maximising the potential of the team Liverpool have should mean they can finish, in my opinion, fourth or fifth.
“Klopp is doing the best he can with what he has at his disposal as well as any other manager in the world could do.
"If Guardiola was at Liverpool with these players - I'm not saying they're bad players, they are good players but of course Man City have better players - he wouldn't be able to do necessarily anything better than Jurgen Klopp.
"He may have done it in a different way but I don't think he would be able to do what he's doing at Manchester City.
"The fact we are four points off second place means that he's not doing a bad job.
"Now, we can do better defensively and be more consistent obviously when we get other players and when he works with the players that he wants but in terms of saying we should be higher up in the league at this particular point, I don't agree with that.
"In the future, if he gets the players he wants, like he did at Borussia Dortmund, he will make a bigger challenge. So I think he will be competitive enough to win the league but we can never tell if he will ever win it."