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Luis Enrique one of the best but Antonio Conte is a master, says Pep Guardiola

Luis Enrique served as Barcelona B coach during Pep Guardiola’s celebrated Camp Nou tenure and went on to enjoy a similarly decorated spell in charge of the first team between 2014 and 2017.

football Updated: Mar 03, 2018 09:56 IST
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Luis Enrique,Antonio Conte,Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola reacts during Manchester City’s Premier League match against Arsenal.(AFP)

Pep Guardiola feels Luis Enrique would be a success in the Premier League but the Manchester City boss maintains Chelsea should be in no rush to sever ties with the masterful Antonio Conte.

Luis Enrique served as Barcelona B coach during Guardiola’s celebrated Camp Nou tenure and went on to enjoy a similarly decorated spell in charge of the first team between 2014 and 2017.

Chelsea have been regularly tipped to hire the former Spain international, with their Premier League title defence fading in the face of City’s dominance this season, and Sunday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium could provide further complications for Conte.

Having been asked to assess Thierry Henry’s capabilities as a potential successor to Arsene Wenger on the back of City dishing out comprehensive 3-0 beatings to Arsenal in the EFL Cup final and the top flight this week, Guardiola gave his old colleague a glowing but qualified endorsement.

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“It is the same as the question about Thierry Henry managing Arsenal and Arsene [Wenger]. Antonio is the manager to speak about that,” he told reporters.

“But [Luis Enrique] has the level to train everywhere, no problem at all. Luis Enrique is one of the best managers I have ever seen.

“He is a friend of mine so I know he can do whatever he wants. But Antonio is the manager of Chelsea.”

Last season Chelsea beat City home and away, meaning Conte became the first coach to register a league double of victories over Guardiola, and those exploits certainly left an impression.

“What Antonio has done here, maybe the people don’t realise,” Guardiola said. “He introduced another way to attack, with five in the back. Another system.

“A lot of teams, even Arsenal who never used it, imitated him to do that. Tactically he is a master.

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“He did amazingly in the national team with Italy and with Juventus. I think Conte is going to give something to English football, I am pretty sure about that.”

Guardiola feels any pressure being placed upon the likes of Conte and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is unfair, with the form of the chasing pack cast in an unfair light by City’s scarcely credible points total with 10 matches remaining – a haul that leaves them five victories from being crowned champions.

“We have 75 and Leicester won the title with 81 [in 2015-16]. So in March we have a lot of points and that’s why there is that gap.

“We did really well but United, Chelsea and Tottenham, they did good. Liverpool as well. The reason why we [lead] is we did really well.”

Asked whether he had sympathy for the misery his players wrought upon Wenger over recent days, with Conte perhaps in line for a similar ordeal, Guardiola recalled his own struggles when the bid for trophies went awry at City last term.

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“Last season I also had pressure,” he added. “The people said, ‘What is he doing, this guy with his beliefs? He is going to come here to play [in this style] – what does he believe, that guy?’

“It’s always the same. What happened to Arsene is going to happen to me. That’s why I said I never understand managers criticising other managers because we are alone. We feel alone when the situation is not good.

“Of course I want to beat them. I want to beat Arsene, I want to beat all of them because they want to beat me. That is normal. In football we know that, when we don’t win, what we have done in the past doesn’t really matter.”

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 09:56 IST