Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, praised Ange Postecoglou, whose Tottenham Hotspur team is scheduled to visit the Etihad on Sunday, saying he is a manager who has improved football and that he has followed since they first met in Japan years ago.
In the Premier League, Champions City is second, one point behind Arsenal, while Spurs are in fifth place, three points behind their opponents this weekend after losing their past three games and falling out of the first spot.
Guardiola expressed his confidence that there will be plenty of entertainment for Tottenham fans on what will likely be their hardest test as their new manager, the trip north.
“I met (him) just once in three or four pre-seasons ago when we played in Japan against Yokohama,” recalled the Spaniard of their only previous encounter.
“Ange was the manager and I saw some clips before. It was the second pre-season game and I said ‘Wow, there are things that I like’.
“I said to the players (then) I know we are not ready but we will face a good team in challenges, intense in the buildup, and use the keeper to make the process.”
Guardiola claimed that even though City prevailed in that match, he was aware of Postecoglou’s advancement at Celtic and, more recently, Tottenham.
“I think he makes football a better place, people like Ange,” he added.
“I’ve said many times that I am a manager but at the same time a spectator, and I enjoy a lot the way they (Spurs) play, the approach they have.”
In a separate press conference, Postecoglou returned the kind by expressing how much he enjoyed the opportunity to play against Guardiola.
“That’s the kind of arena you want to be in, measuring yourself against the very best,” he said.
Despite losses and significant player absences due to injury, Guardiola stated he did not anticipate Tottenham changing their style. He also laughed off Postecoglou’s remark that he was “copying Pep.”
“Ask him if he’s going to change the way they play against us. Not. This is not going to happen, it would be a surprise,” he added.
After sitting out the previous two games, Guardiola stated that England defender John Stones might start, as Mateo Kovacic had resumed training earlier in the week and Matheus Nunes was still a ways off from being ready.