Pep lavishes praise, Jose accepts ‘poisoned gift’
PEP GUARDIOLA is not surprised Tottenham Hotspur are Manchester City’s closest pursuers in the early Premier League title race having previously been out- witted by Mauricio Pochettino, who he describes as one of the best managers in the world.
Leaders City will take their 100% record to White Hart Lane tomorrow but second- placed Tottenham are also unbeaten after six games and will be buoyed by having done the double over the Citizens last season.
Former Barcelona coach Guardiola was still in charge at Bayern Munich then, but he knows Pochettino well from when the Argentine was in charge of Barca’s local rivals Espanyol. Pochettino’s side beat the Catalans 2- 1 at Nou Camp in 2009, their first win in the derby for 27 years.
“We played against each other as players, then coaches, and I don’t just think he’s one of the best managers in England, he’s one of the best in the world,” Guardiola, whose side drew 3- 3 with Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday, said yesterday.
“There are similarities with Espanyol the way Spurs play. It was so aggressive ( at Espanyol) there was high pressing and many things and still the way they played is quite similar.
“And the quality of the players at Tottenham is good. He’s doing an amazing job in London at Spurs. The way they play I like a lot – they’re aggressive and have a lot of quality.
“They’re in second position so it will be a tough game. We will try to do our job,” he added.
Guardiola enjoys Spurs’ pro- active style and their desire to play on the front foot. “They want to create their own game. That’s why I like them,” he said, adding that he will send out his own side to try and seize the initiative.
City will be without injured Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph, but Guardiola says the international break will help ease the situation.
● Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described next month’s fixture list as a “poisoned gift” following Thursday’s Europa League 1- 0 win over Zorya Luhansk.
After the international break, United travel to Liverpool on October 17, host Turkish club Fenerbahce in the Europa League three days later before travelling to Chelsea for a league fixture on October 23.
“Well, we could play Liverpool on the Saturday, we could play Liverpool on the Sunday. We play Liverpool on the Monday,” Mourinho said after United’s slender win over the Ukrainian side. he added of tomorrow’s struggling league opponents at Old Trafford.
● Antonio Conte has called for patience as he attempts to implement his style of play and bring an end to Chelsea’s struggles that have seen them suffer back- to- back defeats against potential Premier League title rivals.
After a promising start to the campaign, the Blues’ progress under Conte has been undermined after they were thoroughly outplayed by Liverpool and Arsenal recently to leave them in eighth place on 10 points from six games, already eight points behind City. They will expect to stop the rot when they travel to face an out- ofsorts Hull City today.
“Never it is good when you lose two games. I think in these games we saw and we learned a lot of important things, Conte said.
“Don’t forget the past because it is there, and very clear. We finished in 10th last season... it means we had problems. We are trying to solve this situation but we need to work.
“We need to understand we don’t have a magic wand to change the situation in three or four months. We need to change the situation and we are doing this together.”
Chelsea captain John Terry will sit out again with a niggling ankle injury, along with John Obi Mikel. – Reuters