Saturday 21 September 2019

Klopp commends Guardiola for not taking easy option

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Scott Heppell/Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Scott Heppell/Reuters

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admires Pep Guardiola for refusing the "easy" option of collecting titles in less challenging countries than England.

Guardiola is one of the few managers in the world in the privileged position of picking his destinations.

He won the German title every season at Bayern Munich having evolved the Barcelona blueprint during an era of global dominance in Spain.

The challenge of re-inventing Manchester City is proving more demanding, with tomorrow's trip to Anfield a potentially defining fixture in Guardiola's first season at the Etihad.

Klopp, who claimed he would buy a ticket for the game if he was not on the touchline, said Guardiola should be applauded for testing himself in a new environment.

"Pep came here with open eyes. He could have had easier jobs in easier leagues, that is for sure," said the German.

"He could have gone everywhere. He wanted to come here. He was probably aware 100 per cent of the big challenge.


"He knew he had a wonderful squad at Barcelona and a wonderful squad at Bayern but he had big influence on the way they played football.

"If you go to Barcelona as a new manager they will tell you: 'By the way, don't forget, we play like Pep Guardiola played.'

"That's the biggest influence you can have. Bayern loved the years he was there. He is a fantastic manager.

"Johan Cruyff started total football, but Pep made it perfect. He's an outstanding manager, 100 per cent. He's very influential. But the Barcelona style is not possible for each team you play. If a Sunday league team tries to play like Barcelona, they will find it difficult."

Klopp's head-to-head record against Guardiola is four wins apiece, although the balance of power in Germany swung decisively away from Dortmund once Bayern Munich starting buying their players.

Although Guardiola's preferred style is well established, Klopp says he knows from experience the City manager is much more flexible tactically than many perceive.

"Yes they [Bayern] changed their style of play against us a few times," said Klopp.

"A clear philosophy does not mean that you stick to it in each moment. If you have to adapt to your opponent then that is what we all do.

"The style of the game isn't everything, it is kind of important but in the end you only want to get your players looking forward with the ball. How you do it is not important.

"It is not about having 20 passes. If you have to play a long ball that is good and fighting for a second ball is good too. Then you want to have influence with the ball.

"It is not a big difference between the ideas, but when you look from the outside there is an image that Pep is kind of possession and I am counter-pressing.

"For me it is not important, I don't need names for things. We play the football we think makes sense and Pep does the same with his team and his ideas.

"I never thought too much about the ideas of other managers - only until before the game when we played them."

Whatever the outcome, Klopp believes the game will be a great spectacle.

"If I wasn't sitting on the bench, I would buy a ticket 100 per cent," he said.

"Unfortunately Man City are in good shape, so it'll be very difficult. I'm really looking forward to it. I love playing against the best and they are for sure in the group of the best in the world."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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