Jürgen Klopp has defended Pep Guardiola’s first season in English football, having seen his Manchester City counterpart crash out of the Champions League in midweek.
Guardiola failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the time in his managerial career when his side were eliminated by Monaco on Wednesday night.
The two-time Champions League winner with Barcelona has failed to replicate such continental success in his debut City season, but Klopp believes the key reason for that is personnel.
“We really have to compare the squads,” he told reporters on Friday. “A team without Messi or with Messi? Come on. A team with Iniesta or without Iniesta? A team with Xavi at his best or without? That’s the difference.
“You can’t compare one with the other. You can see what he wants. That is probably the most important thing if you judge a manager."
Klopp’s head-to-head record with Guardiola is a healthy one, and he will have the chance to best the Catalan again when Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
With 10 games left to play, the Merseysiders find themselves in the midst of tussle for the top four. City sit one point ahead of them and can boast an extra game in hand.
Klopp knows how tight the margins are in the race for Champions League qualification and he admits he will not be satisfied if he and his players leave with a point.
“We have to deliver. We only go there to get something. Usually, you go to City and you can get a point. I think that’s not too bad.
“Should I already be satisfied with this? No. I’m not. I don’t think about it. I really think about what we have to do.”
Klopp admitted that he is yet to decide on his starting line-up, having seen Roberto Firmino edge his way towards full fitness throughout the week.
The Brazilian, instrumental in the three Premier League victories Klopp has enjoyed over City since arriving at Anfield, missed last week’s narrow victory over Burnley with a thigh problem.
“We need to know exactly who we can line up. I need one or two nights more to know more about this, and then we will go there and try to win,” Klopp said.
On Firmino specifically, Klopp suggested his forward could feature, saying: “If he can be involved in team training tomorrow [Saturday], then physical wise, he has no issues, because it’s good for him.
“He has played nearly the whole season so far, so if he has one week with more treatment than training and another week with light training for him, then yes, he would be completely OK.”