Pep Guardiola admitted sustained success is not possible in football and that “sometimes it’s good to lose” matches as he showed his support for Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool’s faltering Premier League title defence sees them currently down in sixth, 13 points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
With Liverpool now facing a fight for the Champions League places after losing three straight league games, Klopp was forced to dismiss rumours on social media suggesting he could resign, declaring on Monday that he does not need a break from football.
When asked if he sympathises with Klopp, Guardiola said “a lot”, with the City boss also suggesting that his own failure to defend the title last season has given his side more satisfaction this year.
“What he produces in world football is exceptional,” Guardiola said. “I said many times, now, last season, the previous season or when he was in Germany, his philosophy makes football attractive for all spectators.
“He always wants to produce joy for the fans, world football, for attacking football. He has no doubts about this. Good moments and bad moments, always we have. All of us. There is no manager or club that can sustain seasons and seasons of winning, winning, winning. It would be boring.
“Sometimes you have to lose a little bit. I speak personally from my point of view, sometimes it’s good to lose, or seasons are not good enough, to realise how difficult everything is.
“Then when you come back and try to win some games, you give more credit and are more satisfied with what you have done.”
City finished 18 points behind Liverpool last season, but Guardiola said learning from their mistakes is not the secret to their current unbeaten run.
“You never get perfection,” he added. “What we have done this season, the 16 games in a row, is a consequence to think and prepare as best as possible for the next game. This is the only secret.
“Two months ago we were not in any thoughts for any person in English football that we could win the Premier League. Now it looks like we are the only contenders to win the Premier League.
“It’s seven points, but when you have to play 14, 15 games, you have 45, 48 points still left to play. A lot of things can happen. Only Everton is in my head. It’s middle of February, many things are going to happen.”
Gundogan out, De Bruyne in contention
Guardiola said Ilkay Gundogan is likely to miss City’s match at Everton on Wednesday, but Kevin De Bruyne is in contention after returning to full training.
Gundogan, the Premier League Player of the Month for January, scored twice before limping off in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday.
De Bruyne meanwhile has missed City’s last seven games with a hamstring injury he suffered in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa last month.
Guardiola will also have Ruben Dias available after he missed the Spurs match, while Sergio Aguero could get minutes having been an unused substitute on the weekend.
“Sergio is one year injured,” Guardiola said. “He cannot start from the beginning, but was ready to come back on the bench last game, he will be again. As soon as we can believe he can start he’ll get minutes.
“Gundo is much better but I don’t think he’s available for tomorrow. The rest of the players are okay, except Nathan Ake.”
On De Bruyne, he added: “He’s getting better, really better. Today he did all training with the group, with all of us.”