Pep Guardiola claims his rivalry with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool is the most intense he has experienced during his managerial career
he Manchester City The manager is known to have clashed with Jose Mourinho when he and the Portuguese were the respective managers of Spain’s two greats, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However, he feels the level of competition City have faced from Liverpool in recent years was a notch higher than anything he’s faced while battling with Real for LaLiga and Champions League titles fought.
“They’ve been our biggest opponent for the last five years,” said Guardiola ahead of City’s much-anticipated clash with their title rivals on Sunday.
“They were an incredible, great contender with good games. I admire Liverpool and the way they do it but enjoy the challenge.
“Jürgen as a coach was the biggest rival I’ve ever had in my career and I think what both teams are proposing is good for football.
“The point is not a jibe for Jose. He’s an exciting manager and I was his rival but I’ve been here five years and played against Liverpool many times.
“Except for the year we scored 100 points, the rest was close. Because they are good and hopefully they think we are good too.
“I will remember my time here, when I watch and play golf in retirement I will certainly remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool.”
City are a point clear of an encounter at the Etihad Stadium that is widely billed as the title decider.
But while the game will no doubt have a huge impact on the race at the top, Guardiola was reluctant to say it would be decisive.
He said: “It’s going to be a massive, important three points but there’s still going to be seven games, 21 points and a lot of Champions League and FA Cup things (to play). But of course it is important.”
Contrary to Guardiola’s bitter rivalry with Mourinho, there is a great deal of respect between him and Klopp.
Klopp has even called Guardiola the best manager in the business, a compliment the City boss has modestly brushed aside.
“Thank you, but that’s not me,” he said. “I’d like to tell him I’m the best, but I’m not.”
Guardiola, on the other hand, liked to praise his opponent.
“Jürgen makes world football a better place to live with his message and he’s a big competitor,” he said. “He knows my admiration for what he does, the message and the way his teams play.
“He’s a good guy and I have no problems with him, absolutely not.”
Sunday’s game is the second of four City’s in an intense two-week period that also includes both legs of a Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid and another date with Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Yet if there is any pressure, Guardiola didn’t show it at his pre-match press conference.
The Spaniard joked that he would like to share a bottle of wine with Klopp after the game – should City win.
“If we win I would love it,” he said. “I’ll invite him! And he often said that we are a rich club, so the wine will be perfect and of high quality!”
Guardiola also offered a tongue-in-cheek response to a suggestion that City could settle for a draw to ensure they retain their lead.
The ex-FC Bayern Munich coach said: “We trained today to lean back for 90 minutes, to get 0-0, 0-0, 0-0!
“No, I’ve never thought about it in my life, except when there’s five minutes left and we have to defend to keep the result, absolutely not.”
A relaxed Guardiola also quipped that he was disappointed the game was played on Sunday as it would prevent him from watching the US Masters.
“I’m sleeping like a baby this year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Sunday, (but if it could be tomorrow, that would be better.
“I’m a bit upset with the Premier League because they’re setting the game if Tiger Woods is back!”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/premier-league/manchester-city-v-liverpool-jurgen-has-been-the-biggest-rival-ive-ever-had-in-my-career-guardiola-41534962.html Manchester City vs Liverpool: “Jürgen was the biggest rival I’ve ever had in my career” – Guardiola