Liverpool will face Manchester City in comparatively different circumstances to the prior campaign in which they were denied a second league title under Jurgen Klopp by a point.
The 55-year-old was nonetheless keen to emphasise his admiration for Pep Guardiola and all that he has achieved with the incumbent champions.
“I don’t know how often I have to say it, but he’s the best manager in the world, and he is proving that all the time, every day. What he is doing is special, really special, and I respect that,” the German told reporters at his pre-match presser (via Goal).
“Pep and I are not best friends because we don’t know each other, but I respect him and I know that he respects what we are doing as well. That’s fine.
“For a rivalry, you don’t need to be disrespectful. I always can admit brilliance when I see it, and that is the case here.”
There’s no question that the Catalonian is one of the top two managers in world football – and certainly has been for the last decade or so – though we’d argue that our head coach is a little off the mark when it comes to labelling his competitor the best in the business.
One stat shared by Neil Jones of Goal would illustrate the opposite: “Against Pep Guardiola sides, Jurgen Klopp has won 11 times and lost nine as manager of Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.”
Given the sides his opposite number in the blue half of Manchester has looked after (not to mention their comparative budgets), that’s no mean feat from the two-time Bundesliga winner.
It would take a planet-sized ego, admittedly, to claim that one was the leading tactician of our time, so we’re glad to see our manager lacking in the required arrogance.
Though the trophy cabinet will, of course, argue in Guardiola’s favour, we have to pay tribute to the accomplishments of our ‘Normal One’ under the constraints he’s been forced to work under across his time in Germany and England.
To have maintained such an impressive head-to-head record with such contrasting realities and fortunes in mind should speak a great deal about where the two coaches sit in the managerial standings as far as we’re concerned here at Empire of the Kop.