Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that his duels with Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp have made him a better coach as the two prepare to face off once again in the Premier League on Sunday.
Guardiola and Klopp first came up against each other eight years ago in Germany while in charge of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, respectively, before renewing their rivalry in England.
“He (Klopp) helped me. His teams and he helped me be a better manager. He put me on another level, to think about it and prove myself . . . this is the reason why we’re still in this business,” said Guardiola.
“Some managers make a challenge to make you step forward. We did it in Germany, here in England we’re many years together. It’s nice because both teams have the same idea - score goals. They’re quicker than us but we both try to win the game.”
Both managers have got their sides off to a fine start to the season, with second-placed City a point behind leaders Liverpool after six games.
“It’s important to win at Anfield, but it’s difficult. Last season was the first time in many years. This is the challenge . . . for us, it’s an honour to be a rival with Liverpool,” added Guardiola.
City, who suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Paris St Germain in the Champions League in midweek, could welcome back Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden to the starting lineup following their substitute appearances in Paris.
Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko continue to remain sidelined and are expected to return after the international break.
Guardiola said: “The way we played the last two games makes me so satisfied . . . when we won the league I’m happy but in this period when we’ve played injured and Foden and (Kevin) De Bruyne trained for just two weeks, the level and consistency is so good.”
The Catalan native also backed forward Raheem Sterling, who has endured a difficult start to the season following the arrival of Jack Grealish, with the former Aston Villa midfielder being preferred on the left side that was once occupied by Sterling.
“Raheem played really good as a striker at PSG, created incredible chances, if we need a guy who runs right and left Raheem is the best in the squad. Depends how we want to attack and we need specific qualities,” said Guardiola.