Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lavished praise on his Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino on Friday, ahead of their sides’ Premier League tussle at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
City top the table after winning their first six games and Tottenham, last season’s runners-up, are four points back in second place with the only other unbeaten record in the division.
Pochettino’s first win as a coach came against Guardiola, the Argentine’s Espanyol stunning Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou in February 2009, and the City manager has been an admirer ever since.
“I don’t think he’s one of the best managers in England — he’s one of the best football managers in the world,” Guardiola told reporters at City’s training centre in Manchester.
“I enjoy watching Tottenham. Not (just) right now — since last year. I think what he’s doing is an amazing job. The way they play, I like a lot.
“He’s aggressive without the ball, has a lot of quality with his players. The team is the (England) national team, with (Eric) Dier, (Dele) Alli, Harry Kane, (Kyle) Walker. He has a lot of quality.”
Guardiola added: “If I had not been a coach, I would be just a fan. I would be a young coach who wants to become a coach, and I see Tottenham and I would say: ‘I would like to play that way.'”
City won their first 10 games in all competitions under Guardiola, before failing to win for the first time in Wednesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw away to Scottish champions Celtic.
They have kept only four clean sheets under Guardiola to date, but he said the scoreline at Celtic Park had given a misleading impression.
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“Of course to have a clean sheet is perfect, for the goalkeeper, for the team, but the most important thing is how many chances they (the opposition) create,” he said.
“That is I think the basis. When they arrive three times, four times, that’s good. Sometimes they arrive three times, four times and they don’t score goals.
“Sometimes they arrive four times, like the last game against Celtic Glasgow — the second half they didn’t have any chances, except the first goal in the first minute of the second half — and they score three goals. The problem is when they create more chances.
“For example, in the second half at Old Trafford (where City beat Manchester United 2-1), they created more chances than Celtic Glasgow.
“They didn’t score one goal and Celtic Glasgow scored three goals. I try to see how many chances they create, how many chances we produce.
“That is the balance. But of course, we prefer not conceding goals. We’re working on that.”
City remain without captain Vincent Kompany, midfielder Fabian Delph and playmaker Kevin De Bruyne due to muscular injuries, but Guardiola gave optimistic updates on their progress.
“We’re going to have 10 days without games (due to the international break), which will help us, I hope, because we need all of them,” said Guardiola.
“Maybe two weeks, three weeks, they’ll be ready. I don’t know if they’ll be ready for Everton (on October 15), for Barcelona (on October 19). I don’t know, we’re going to see.
“But the injuries are not so tough as in the first impression. They’re injured and muscular injuries are always three weeks, one month.
“But we’re going to wait and work with (them) and as soon as possible come back.”
At his previous weekly press conference, Guardiola had said he would not pick Yaya Toure again until the midfielder’s agent apologised for critical comments he had made about the City manager.
Asked for an update, Guardiola refused to be drawn on the matter.
“He’s training every day with us and training good. But I am not talking anymore about that case,” he said. “You know my opinion about that.” – Agence France-Presse