Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola led the less-awful half of Manchester to a historic, near-perfect season last campaign. However, one of the few teams capable of inflicting any harm on the 100-point champions were Jürgen Klopp’s Reds.
Kloppo’s chaos merchants ended City’s dreams of invincibility in January, and also ended their Champions League hopes, winning both legs in the quarterfinal round. Now, ahead of the preseason International Champions Cup clash, Pep is tipping Liverpool as a title contender.
“Liverpool are contenders to win the title, we are one. Always they are a contender. They will be in the future with their history,” Guardiola said in the pre-match press conference.
“Last season we increased the levels of the Premier League. 100 points: the level is here, now we try to take the level, and every team tries to do better and better.
“All the contenders – United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham – will be stronger. Other teams too. Everton took a good manager, West Ham with Manuel [Pellegrini].”
OK, Pep, I know respect is great and all, but Everton? You’re just havin’ a laugh, right? Also, unlucky, Chelsea.
Guardiola also refused to take the media’s bait on Klopp’s previous comments about spending (which, it should be noted, is still far less than what the likes of City or United have spent).
Unlike the manager of that other Manchester side, Guardiola is very respectful of other teams and their managers. It’s actually a bit annoying. It’s easy to hate United and doubly so with Jose Mourinho at the helm. It is not nearly as easy to hate City and Pep.
Kind words aside, City are the consensus favorites to repeat as Premier League champions. Even a significant drop-off, say, 10-14 points, would very likely see them lifting the title again. And even a significant improvement by Liverpool, say, 10-14 points, could see them coming up short.
Regardless, it should be an exciting campaign, hopefully with some more epic City-Liverpool clashes along the way.