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Honesty has been the best policy for Klopp and Guardiola, claims James

SoccerNews in English Premier League 12 Mar 2024

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Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s honesty has been hugely refreshing for the Premier League, so says David James.

In what is set to be the final Premier League meeting between the great managerial rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City served up a thrilling 1-1 draw at Anfield on Sunday.

For the second time in the last three seasons, Liverpool and City have drawn both of their meetings in a Premier League campaign (2021-22 and 2023-24). Four of the last six meetings between the two in the top flight have ended level, as many as in the previous 17 combined (four).

Guardiola, meanwhile, is the manager to have beaten Klopp the most in the German’s career, with 10 wins. But it is the same the other way around, with Klopp having overcome Guardiola’s sides on 11 occasions.

With Klopp leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, the only way he and Guardiola can go head-to-head again in English football will be if the Reds and City were to meet in the FA Cup, should they progress beyond their respective quarter-final ties, and former England goalkeeper James believes the honesty that both men have provided during their stints in the top tier has been hugely impressive.

“There’s one thing about these two and I think it’s their honesty,” he told Stats Perform.

“Right from the get go when Pep turned up [in 2016], the way that he talked about his football. I think you can see in how his teams are playing games.

“After matches, win, lose or draw, he would tell people how he thought the performance went. I think that was refreshing because a lot of managers still avoid the hard questions when people talk about performances, whether it was good or bad.

“Pep honestly responded. I think with Jurgen, [it’s] the honesty just in general. In terms of him announcing that he’s going to step down as Liverpool manager. I think that the way he comes over, you just believe everything he says.

“That is not to suggest he isn’t telling the truth, but that’s what I love about it. I think what they’ve done is move the benchmark for other managers coming in.

“In regards to a rivalry, I think they love each other and hate each other at the same time. They’re so good and they’ve kept this league so honest, it’s been amazing.”

Asked for his thoughts on how Liverpool go about replacing Klopp, who has been in post since 2015, James added: “Obviously with Jurgen having to be replaced for next season, it’ll be interesting what type of manager Liverpool get.

“Because football-wise you can get a manager that has more influence on the pitch that Jurgen has but off the field it will be difficult to replace him.”

Liverpool have been heavily linked with Xabi Alonso, though Bayern Munich are also in the hunt for the Bayer Leverkusen coach.

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