Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has expressed his admiration for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and claims that the German ‘makes world football a better place’.
Both managerial juggernauts will renew acquaintances when their respective sides lock horns at the Etihad Stadium for Sunday’s Premier League showdown dubbed as a title decider.
The Citizens currently sit top of the Premier League table, just one point clear of the Reds in second place with eight games remaining.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash, Guardiola has labelled Klopp as a ‘huge competitor’, but the Spaniard insists that he has ‘no problems’ with the Reds boss and joked about having a glass of wine with him after the game.
“I think Jurgen makes world football a better place to be. He is of course a huge competitor but it is good,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“I try to have a good relation with all the managers. He knows, we spoke together in Germany, the message and the way his teams play. He’s a good guy and I have no problems with him. As he says many times we are a rich club so the wine [after the game] will be perfect!”
Guardiola has also spoken about the ‘fascinating’ rivalry between the two clubs and believes they are both in a strong position to challenge together at the highest level for several years to come, comparing their potential longevity with Tennis legends Rodger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“Nadal, Federer and Djokovic was 20 years and we (Man City’s rivalry with Liverpool) are five years. Footballers run quicker and to maintain success is more difficult than other sports,” Guardiola added.
“When I retire and watch and play golf I remember here the biggest rivalry was Liverpool. When you achieve 100 points and 98 points you need someone to push from behind to be so close. You have to make another step.
“I think Liverpool, knowing our club and chairman, we want to grow. I’m sure Liverpool and other teams are going to try to do it. The most credit I give is consistency through the years. Both have had four or five years. That’s why Federer, Nadal, Djokovic have been at the top for so long. Arriving at these stages to win the titles, we try to do it.”
Guardiola head’s into Sunday’s contest having lost more games across all competitions against teams managed by Klopp (eight) than against any other manager in his coaching career.