Pep Guardiola paid a generous tribute to his great rival, Jürgen Klopp, saying that he and Manchester City would miss him when he left Liverpool at the end of the season.
Guardiola said that a part of City would be lost when Klopp departed, with the ferocity of the rivalry between the clubs helping to define what his own had achieved. The City manager, speaking after his team’s 1-0 FA Cup win at Tottenham, said he sympathised with Klopp, having felt the same need for a break after he left Barcelona in 2012.
Guardiola insisted that he remained full of energy and was ready to see out his contract at City which runs until 2025 – and possibly even extend it. “Do you want to sack me?” he said, with a smile. “I’m fine. There’s still one more year, I want to do it – and maybe I will extend.
“I will sleep better [when Klopp goes]. The games we play before against Liverpool were almost a nightmare. Of course he will be missed. It was a shock [to hear the news]. I felt when I heard it that a part of Man City … we will lose something. We cannot define our period here without him … without Liverpool. Impossible.
“They have been our biggest rivals. And personally he [Klopp] has been the best rival I ever had in my life – in Dortmund when I was in Bayern, then here. I think the Premier League are going to miss him – the charisma, the personality and especially the way his teams play.
“Maybe it’s my opinion and he will not admit it but he will be back. I know it. Football needs managers and personalities like him. And I hope … it was our dream when we were together … hopefully now from next season we can have time to go to dinner together. Or have the drink that we deserve to take.
“He loves the game but it is nine years in the same place, the demand is so high. Every moment you think I need to breathe. I didn’t speak with Jürgen but maybe he feels that. Take a break, take a step back and take a perspective on everything. I understand completely. I don’t want to compare with him but at Barcelona I had that feeling. I needed the time to find myself.”