Pep Guardiola: Coaching in Premier League has made me a better manager

Guardiola has been at Man City for five years the longest he has ever managed at one club – but penned a new two-year contract on Thursday to extend his stay until 2023.

Speaking exclusively to Soccer Saturday’s Bianca Westwood, the Spaniard revealed his appreciation for the Premier League and how his time here has improved his managerial skills.

He said: “English football is fascinating because there are many different cultures in one league and different ways and I’ve learnt a lot as a manager since being here.

“Watching some incredible colleagues in England and the incredible players that are in this league, I feel I’m a better manager than when I landed here so I can just say thank you for this opportunity. I’m going to stay longer and enjoy that and learn from all of them.

“In five seasons, many things happen in good ways and not good ways, it’s normal. We [Guardiola and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak] talked but always when we put all the situations on the table, we decided that still, we can be together for a longer time.

“This is a club that in the past, didn’t win much. In the recent past with Roberto [Mancini] and Manuel [Pellegrini], they won and the most recent past, we won and won again. In three seasons, we won eight titles, which is a lot in world football and especially in England.

“The unfinished business is to continue to do it when, in the history of this club, it was not able to do it. To maintain during the seasons, winning titles or being there fighting for titles. This is the target, not a specific trophy, but be able to maintain this club as high as possible in terms of football.

“It’s always difficult [to win titles]. Saying that now it’s more difficult looks like the years before it was not and it was the complete opposite.”

City is in the middle of a transition after their 2018/19 Premier League title win, having finished 18 points behind Liverpool last season, but Guardiola enjoys the challenge of a constantly evolving squad.

He added: “[Building] the teams is not a finished business, it’s not something like this season, you have it and it will always be for the rest [of the seasons]. People change, the opponents know you better and you have to evolve through this but that is the reason why our job is nice.

“If everything was always the same, the same training sessions, the same ideas, the same way we play, it would be boring. But the moment someone creates a problem or you are dropping something and you have to lift the players, that is what is nice.”

After a successful international break for some of his squad, Guardiola’s side is back with a bang on Saturday when they face Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham – live on Sky Sports – who sat second in the Premier League over the international break.

It comes just over a year after Mourinho’s appointment, and Guardiola has been impressed with the job his old foe has done at Spurs.

He told Soccer Saturday: “Jose has done so well. It’s uncomfortable for me to talk about the opponents but he’s doing well. He’s near the top of the league and in the Europa League, he’s doing well. He’s already had one season with the players, they know exactly what the manager wants so he’s doing well.

“It is a team with incredible players and physicality, a big squad upfront. This season, they don’t have injuries, last season they had injuries in important positions so of course they are contenders [for the Premier League title] and always have been.”

Their last meeting in February will not rank among Guardiola’s best memories, losing 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off and Ilkay Gundogan missing a penalty.

 “We played incredibly well that game,” Guardiola said of the Premier League encounter. “I would love to have the performance we had last season, repeat the same one.

“But we need to score our chances. We missed a penalty, we created four or five [chances] in front of Hugo Lloris and try to finish with 11 vs 11 but it’s a different season.

“There are different players in that moment, there were spectators and now there’s not so many things have changed.”

SKYSPORTS

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