The Liverpool manager claimed the FIFA Best award for 2019, but he concedes that a rival at Manchester City has been among the finest of all time
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp may be the FIFA Best for 2019, but he admits that Manchester City rival Pep Guardiola has been easily the finest that he has coached against.
Two of the top tactical brains in world football have crossed swords on a regular basis in recent times.
Klopp was still at Borussia Dortmund when Guardiola arrived in 2013 to take the reins at Bayern Munich.
The pair then ended up becoming domestic foes again in England, with high-profile posts filled at Anfield and the Etihad Stadium.
The 2018-19 campaign saw Klopp and Guardiola go head-to-head in a battle for Premier League title glory, with the latter emerging successful as the former landed the Champions League crown.
That success was enough to earn a German boss the top managerial prize at the recent FIFA gala in Milan, but he admits that he faces fierce competition for such a standing.
Klopp, who edged out Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino to claim The Best gong, told FIFA’s official website: “I respect them a lot.
“What [Mauricio] Pochettino did last year was so exceptional. Many times when you don’t win a title, people don’t remember you but he was extremely impressive. He has built his team step by step, keeping the team together.
“Pep Guardiola… what can I say? He has won so many titles, the way his teams play. He’s so exceptional; hands down, the best manager I’ve coached against. It was an honour to be nominated alongside them.”
While pleased to have claimed a prestigious prize, Klopp has been eager to point out that any recognition that comes his way has been a direct result of the collective effort being put in on Merseyside.
He added: “Of course, absolutely. In terms of football, I am who I am because of my players but, as a person, I am who I am because of my family, and I am very grateful to them as well. They are everything to me.”
Klopp has been hoping to enjoy further success during his time in England, with an admission on his part that an influx of top coaching talent has helped to restore the Premier League’s image as the most competitive division in world football.
He has been not convinced that a trend has been set when it comes to those in the dugout, but has been happy to see the English game flourishing.
“The Premier League has a big influence from different managers,” Klopp said.
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“It’s not reflected in the results every time because that’d be impossible but, in the long term, we have been influential.
“I don’t think it’s a trend because football always changes but there are so many good teams in the Premier League fighting for something.
“It’s not that we have made Spain or Germany smaller, it’s that the competition can be of six or seven teams and that makes it really special. And those teams obviously have great managers.”