Respectful Pep Guardiola warns Liverpool about the pressures of leading a title challenge
Written by: Anjishnu Roy
The Spaniard is also wary of his team’s recent dip in form having lost three of their last five games.
In the first big clash of the year, Liverpool FC who have found themselves with a comfortable lead on top of the Premier League take on last season’s runaway champions Manchester City. City have fallen off from the race over the last few games having dropped seven points recently and while there are doubts regarding their form, there can certainly be no questions about their quality which can take any opposition in the world by surprise.
Ahead of the dramatic and intense clash at Etihad Stadium, Pep Guardiola took to the press conference to remind Jurgen Klopp’s side about the intense pressure at the top and how difficult it actually is to hold on to that position considering the added expectations of everyone. Unbeaten Liverpool are looking to open up a 10-point lead at the top with a victory against City tonight who were themselves 15 points clear at the top at this stage last year and we all know how that turned out.
Pep Guardiola complimented the hunger and the desire he is seeing in Klopp’s Liverpool but also stressed how their past weighs against them negatively given their rich history and the fact that they haven’t won anything significant in recent times. “My feeling is last season it was a little easier to maintain that hunger because 80% of the players had not won anything in our lives.”
“I can feel what they feel, the Liverpool players. After 29 years not winning the Premier League, to be there to win the Premier League, I understand. I said to the players, that’s difficult to handle.”
He then went on to praise the Liverpool players and their manager’s astute style that brings the best out of his players. “They are solid in behind. In the positional game when the opponents defend deep they had problems attacking them but now they are able to attack them really well.”
“In the transition as always, they are so good. In the set-pieces, they are a massive, tall team. So it is a team that can control all areas. That is why I am saying what I am saying.”
“In front they play the same players, but in the middle, they have changed a little and especially at the back. They have changed a lot of players at the back. And they know each other better. They have had four or five seasons together.”
Pep Guardiola was also wary of his team’s recent dip in form having lost three of their last five games. “If it is different pressure, we have to live it, we have to handle it.”
“What do I think? Yes, we are ready. I personally don’t have any doubts, but honestly, I do not know for certain.”
He then went on to issue a message to his players regarding showing a statement of intent rather than concern themselves with what others are trying to do. “What you have to do is control yourselves.”
“The problem is when you are behind, which in my career I was many times, is you just think about what is happening to the people in front of you and forget what you have to do. That is a huge mistake. Once that happens, you cannot pick them up. It will be impossible. On Thursday, we have an opportunity to win three points and not allow them to do it.”
It must also be pointed out that Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have a mutual admiration for each other’s work and even in the recent press conference, the two gaffers eulogized each other’s teams as the best in the world. Klopp wasted no time in calling Guardiola’s City the best team in the world and Pep did the same with Klopp's Liverpool.
Published: Thu Jan 03, 2019 02:53 PM IST