Pep Guardiola has taken one final swipe at Jurgen Klopp before the managers go toe to toe at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, accusing the Liverpool boss of ‘making excuses’ for his side’s faltering title challenge.
The Reds head into the heavyweight encounter seven points behind the league leaders, having played a game more. They go in off the back of an inconsistent run of form: while they looked as if they had put their rot behind them with successive wins over Tottenham and West Ham, a defeat to Brighton at home during the week brought their issues bubbling back to the surface.
It was after the Brighton match that Klopp intimated that City, out in front at the top of the Premier League, had benefited from a ‘two-week break’ over the festive period, while his own team have had no such luxury.
He said: “We need to play football, recover, train, recover, using each single minute you can get to recover. We didn’t have a break, I think City had a two-week break for COVID reasons.”
While taken out of context, the quotes from Klopp aren’t a great look. In addition to appearing insensitive to the circumstances that led to City’s enforced break, his words were clumsy and factually incorrect – City in fact only had one week of rest before their defeat to Chelsea, and have endured a broadly similar schedule to Liverpool since.
The Man City boss has not hidden his displeasure at Klopp’s suggestions, taking particular issue with their inaccuracy as he urged him to ‘check his facts’ before speaking in future.
And now, in his pre-match press conference before the box office clash at Anfield, he has called out his counterpart for ‘making excuses’ for their own situation.
“I say to my players when you complain and look for excuses you cannot move forward,” said Guardiola.
“Excuses are the worst thing in the world and in sport. Sometimes it is difficult for managers to finish games and five minutes later, give opinions about decisions into the microphone.
“I am only concerned about the game, what we have to do to beat the opponents.”