London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists Pep Guardiola doesn’t deserve to be questioned following Manchester City’s Champions League exit.
Guardiola was criticised after City squandered a two-goal first leg advantage against Monaco as they crashed out of the Champions League following a 3-1 defeat in France on Wednesday.
It was just the latest setback for City boss Guardiola, who has endured a difficult time in his first season in England following his move from Bayern Munich.
With fourth placed Liverpool only a point behind City going into this weekend’s Premier League clash at Eastlands, the pressure is on Guardiola, but Klopp sees no reason to doubt the Spaniard will get it right eventually.
“I am not in doubt about his quality. Maybe a few people are but I am not. I respect him a lot,” Klopp said on Friday.
“I know probably a few people think differently now they are out of the Champions League but I think the way they played was as impressive as Monaco.
“City could have won the game easily in the second half but because they are human beings they missed a few chances.”
Liverpool beat City at Anfield in December, but Klopp doesn’t agree with criticism of Guardiola’s attacking philosophy, which some claim leaves his defence too vulnerable.
“For me City is the most difficult team to play. I know their image at this moment in this country is a little bit different,” Klopp said.
“I’ve heard about Pep Guardiola’s style and all that stuff but it is real football and it is difficult to defend against them and a lot of teams have failed already.
“If you are passive against City you have no chance. You have to be active and to be active you need to be brave.”
Having dominated at Barcelona and Bayern Munich in less competitive leagues, Guardiola is facing the biggest test of his glittering career.
Klopp, who has also faced a few rough patches since being hired from Borussia Dortmund, added: “The squad Pep Guardiola had at Barcelona was the perfect role model for a win-win situation.
“Bayern Munich was another good generation; good players at the best age. There was not a second team in Germany.
“It is a big difference coming here, the most difficult league in the world.
“A lot of teams have a lot of money and a lot of teams have a lot of good players and that is the one thing which makes it really difficult to become champions in England.”