Pep Guardiola says he will get a better night’s sleep once Jurgen Klopp finally departs Liverpool, as the football world continues to react to the bombshell news that the manager will leave at the end of this season.
Liverpool v Manchester City has been the rivalry to define the Premier League over the past six seasons. Between them, the two clubs have won all of the last six English top-flight titles, with City claiming five under Guardiola and Liverpool finally breaking their long hoodoo under Klopp in 2020.
The two teams’ players have swept the board in the individual award categories while the managers have also split all the major managerial gongs between them too.
Liverpool and City have won significant international titles throughout the rivalry - a Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup each - and, when Klopp departs, Guardiola will be saying goodbye to the biggest managerial rival he has ever had in his career.
The duo’s time in English football was preceded by a ding-dong Bundesliga battle when Klopp was in charge of Borussia Dortmund and Guardiola managing Bayern Munich.
They contested eight matches throughout Pep’s spell in Munich, winning four each, and faced off in three finals. Klopp edged those encounters, claiming two of the three prizes on offer.
City were in action at Tottenham on Friday night in the FA Cup fourth round and, afterwards, Guardiola was asked to share his thoughts on Klopp’s upcoming departure.
"I will sleep better,” he joked. “The games against Liverpool have almost been a nightmare. Of course he will be missed. I was shocked like everyone. I felt, listening to the news, that a part of Man City will lose something.
"We cannot define our period together here without him. We cannot define our period without Liverpool. It's impossible. They've been our biggest rival and personally he's been the best rival I've ever had in my life."
Klopp will leave Liverpool at the end of this season having spent close to nine years in the Anfield hotseat. He claimed in an in-house video interview on Friday that he no longer had the energy to go on managing Liverpool but hoped to end the season on a high.
"The Premier League is going to miss him, the charisma and his personality,” said Guardiola. “And especially the way his teams play. It's always been a pleasure to respect his approach, how positive it is, no matter what.
“The fans are going to try to win the game. Of course, I wish him all the best. It's always tough, but from now on Liverpool will be tougher.”
Guardiola famously took a sabbatical after leaving Barcelona back in 2012 before reemerging at Bayern and taking over at City. He says he can see some similarities between what happened to him and what is going on with Klopp right now and backed the German to return.
“Maybe it's my opinion, he won't admit it, but he will be back,” Guardiola said. “I know it. Maybe in 10 years' time, I don't know, he said he needs to recharge his energy. That's his personality and his energy. He'll be back at the national team, another team, somewhere, I don't know.
"Football needs personalities like him. My dream is I hope we can have dinners together and all the drink we deserve to take."
"He still loves the game, he still lives on the touchline with the passion. But it's nine years in the same place, the demanding is so high.
"Sometimes you feel you need to breathe. You need to take a break, take a step back. So I understand.
"I don't want to compare with him, absolutely not, but at Barcelona I had the same feeling, to reflect myself. You don't have time with another one [game] and another one. Maybe it's the feeling Jurgen felt."