Guardiola is best manager of my lifetime, says Liverpool’s Klopp

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. AFP

Jurgen Klopp on Friday hailed Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as the best manager of his lifetime as he prepares his Liverpool team for what could be the final chapter in their captivating rivalry.

City have won five out of the past six Premier League titles but Liverpool have been their main rivals over the last decade, snatching the crown in 2020.

The two teams are once again locked in a tussle at the top of the table, with leaders Liverpool ahead of the champions by a single point before Sunday’s clash at Anfield.

Klopp, 56, said Guardiola, whose team are chasing a second successive treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, was “outstanding in many aspects”.

“I know that, I do the job myself so I see excellence when I face it and Pep is definitely that so it’s just so many different things over the years he did with his teams,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.

“How can I judge managers from the past? But in my lifetime he’s the outstanding manager, definitely.”

Klopp, stepping down as Liverpool boss at the end of the season, has a winning record against Guardiola — coming out on top 12 times against 11 in their 29 meetings.

“In this moment I have a positive record against Pep,” he said. “I have no clue how that happened to be honest but it is all fine.

“I know I’m quite good at what I’m doing as well. I don’t want to sound like somebody who is happy to be here but you ask me about the best and for me he is the best.”

Guardiola, speaking at his own press conference, said he was looking forward to locking horns with Klopp for possibly the final time, though the teams could yet meet in the FA Cup.

“Always it was a pleasure — and Sunday will be too but we will try to win the game,” said the City boss.

“The way his teams play football, always you learn,” he said. “The way they play, the teams play.”

Guardiola, who also enjoyed an intense rivalry with Klopp when they were at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, said he had a feeling that the German would be back “sooner or later”.

“He is a man who loves football,” said the 53-year-old. “His passion is there.  He explained perfectly the reason why (he is leaving).

“In the Premier League it’s the last time but maybe in the FA Cup, we can find (each other) and we will see.”

Anfield factor

Liverpool have an eye-catching record against City at their home ground, with the visitors winning just once at Anfield since 2003 — in front of empty stands during the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.

Klopp said playing at home would be a “massive, massive” factor, though he added it was too early to label the match a title decider.

He was also asked about comments from defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, who said in an interview this week that trophies mean more to Liverpool than to Abu Dhabi-backed City.

City players Erling Haaland and Ruben Dias hit back by pointing out that Alexander-Arnold did not know what it was like to win the treble.

Klopp said: “He (Trent) was born in Liverpool… he played through all the youth teams. What would you think in that situation?

“One of our slogans, which I love, is ‘This means more’ and it means more to us. We have no clue exactly 100 percent what it means to other people.

“It’s just how he feels, how we feel and I’ve absolutely no problem with that.”

Guardiola refused to get drawn into the war of words.

“They defend the club not by responding to this guy but what they have done for many years on the pitch every three days,” he said. “That is the best way.

“I could answer him (Alexander-Arnold), but why? It is what it is.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have done and I don’t need that to prove to me what my players really feel and are trying to do it.”

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