Pep Guardiola didn’t need too long to come up with his answer when asked to name the toughest manager he’s ever faced.
Without hesitation, the Manchester City boss replied with his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, with the two recently sharing the spoils during their Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.
The Spaniard took part in a Saturday Social Q&A for Sky Sports, and upon being asked to identify his hardest-ever managerial opponent, he said: “Jurgen Klopp. First, we’ve faced [each other] a thousand million times at [Borussia] Dortmund and here [Man City].
“Second, because he beat me a lot and that was always a challenge to do it again and again and again. I respect him a lot, because I think his teams always play in Dortmund or in Mainz before or now, in Liverpool, it’s so attractive for spectators, it’s so positive.”
Guardiola added: “We respect each other; at least from my point of view, I respect him a lot and of course, we have argued. I don’t like to be beaten by him but [he] has been my biggest rival for [the] amount of times we’ve played, how difficult it was and the pleasure when you beat him, beat them because you know how difficult it is.
“Not for the pleasure because it’s football and you can win or lose it. It’s part of the game, it’s how difficult it is and we can play bad, good and I like it, that’s all.”
It’s no wonder Guardiola is in awe of what Klopp has done against his teams – the Liverpool boss has inflicted more defeats as a manager on the 52-year-old than anybody else, getting the better of him on 12 previous occasions.
For context, Jose Mourinho is the only other coach (seven) to have scored more than four victories against the current Man City boss (Transfermarkt), which makes the German’s accomplishment all the more remarkable.
Amid the evident rivalry which has built up between us and the Manchester club over the past decade, the managers of both teams evidently hold each other in very high esteem, and with good reason.
You can view Guardiola’s comments on Klopp below (from 9:17), via Sky Sports Premier League on YouTube: