Pep Guardiola has hailed Mauricio Pochettino as one of the best managers in the world ahead of Manchester City’s Premier League trip to Tottenham on Sunday.
Guardiola is all too aware of the threat posed by the Argentinian, who masterminded a stunning win for Espanyol over his then-unbeaten Barcelona side at the Nou Camp in 2009.
Victory for Spurs this week would be somewhat less of a surprise but the City boss admitted his side face a major challenge against a team of whom he freely admits he is a major fan.
Guardiola said: “I don’t think he (Pochettino) is one of the best managers in England – I think he is one of the best in the world.
“I enjoy watching Tottenham play now and since last year he has been doing an amazing job.
“The way they play, he is so aggressive and he has a lot of quality players and the basis of the national team in (Erik) Dier, (Dele) Alli and Harry Kane.
“If I was a fan or a young person wanting to become a coach, I would see Tottenham and say ‘I really want to play that way’.”
Pochettino joined Espanyol in 2009 – one year after Guardiola took over at Barcelona – and led his rock-bottom side into a Catalan derby they had not won for 27 years.
But Barcelona – who went into the game 10 points clear at the top of the Primera Division table – were humbled 2-1, giving Pochettino’s then-fledgling coaching career a significant boost.
Guardiola added: “When he (Pochettino) arrived at Espanyol from his first game he was so aggressive and high-pressing and many more things, and the way Mauricio plays is quite similar.
“The difference now of course is the quality of the individual players – they are all so good.”
Guardiola reported no new injury concerns arising from his side’s entertaining 3-3 Champions League draw with Celtic in Glasgow on Thursday.
Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany remain absent with hamstring and groin issues respectively, while Fabian Delph is also still out.
Guardiola will seek some timely inspiration ahead of Sunday’s clash as memories return of his time spent with the European Ryder Cup team in Medinah four years ago.
The Spaniard bore witness to one of the greatest comebacks in the competition’s history and will remain an avid follower as it unfolds again this weekend.
“I cannot compare my experience at the Ryder Cup in Medinah to anything else,” admitted Guardiola.
“As a sports guy, it is the highest experience I ever lived. (Jose Maria) Olazabal invited me and my family, and in the last round we were 10 points down.
“We saw all the players, saw them putting from two or three metres, saw the chipping, saw (the points go down) nine, eight, seven, six to the end.
“It was amazing. The whole three days were fantastic. I love golf and the Ryder Cup. Hopefully we can enjoy this weekend because the players are amazing.”