Klopp praises ‘really special’ Guardiola but says he will not miss their rivalry

Jürgen Klopp says he will not miss his rivalry with Pep Guardiola and is looking forward to the day when they can have a drink together. The duo go head-to-head competitively for the 26th time on Sunday when Manchester City visit Anfield with Klopp again preparing to face the man he describes as “the best manager in the world”.

The German and Spaniard have coached teams against each other for more than nine years, since Borussia Dortmund defeated Bayern Munich in the 2013 German Super Cup. Klopp has been victorious on 11 occasions to Guardiola’s nine as the mutual respect has grown between the two.

Klopp said: “He has told me when we are not in charge of any club any more we will sit together and have a glass of wine, even though I am not a big wine drinker.

“I am not [Roger] Federer and Pep is not [Rafael] Nadal but they compete on the highest level and are [still] best friends. Pep and I are not best friends because we don’t know each other, but I respect him a lot and I know he respects what we are doing as well, so that’s fine.”

Despite the constant fight for trophies and occasional touchline contretemps, the two have formed a mutual understanding. “You don’t need to be disrespectful just because you are rivals,” Klopp said.

“Around the games I would say we have a good relationship without meeting, without talking, but it is respectful and during the games we are both competitors but so far we did really well in cutting that out [any disrespect] from all the stuff so honestly if the situation is like it is, I have no problem with that.”

Liverpool are 12 points adrift of the side they finished second to last season going into the weekend’s meeting, meaning another title battle between the two is unlikely. It is Guardiola’s final year with his contract finishing in the summer.

Asked if he would like Guardiola to carry on next season, Klopp said, jokingly: “I would prefer Pep to be doing a sabbatical for four years. He’s the best manager in the world and he is proving that all the time, every day, it’s special what they are doing, it’s really special and I respect that.”

Guardiola, meanwhile, believes Liverpool’s lowly league position means very little. “Two months ago, three months ago, Liverpool was fighting for an unprecedented situation in English football, fighting for four titles,” he said. “They won two, lost one by one point and, in the [Champions League] final, they had more shots on target, more chances, more everything than the opponent and they lost.

“For just two little details they could not achieve something that no English team had done. This is the same team with the same manager.”