Ilkay Gundogan says Jurgen Klopp’s man-management stands out from his time working with the current Liverpool boss, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has a more tactical and analytical approach.
Gundogan is one of the few players to have worked with both world-class managers, who will renew their rivalry on Sunday as City host Liverpool in a Premier League fixture that will have a huge say on which side wins the title.
For Gundogan, who has warned City of Liverpool’s most dangerous threats, he says his current style has been molded by both Klopp and Guardiola, as well as Thomas Tuchel and Joachim Low.
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“The contribution of the coaches I work with is very special to me,” he told Turkish TV channel Tivibu Spor, highlighting Klopp’s personal touch with his players.
“When I came to Dortmund at the age of 20, I had an adaptation problem. The first six months were tough for me. But Klopp helped me because he treated his players like a father figure, like a friend. He was always with me , gave me confidence.
“I spent five successful years with him. I became a national player. I started working with Low. Then I had an incredible season with Tuchel in Dortmund. Then I had the opportunity to work with Guardiola.
“As I have always been a fan of Guardiola, I always wanted to work with him. In 2016, the opportunity arose and we had a phone call with him. We talked, we argued, and I finally came to Manchester City. I have been very happy here for five-six years. I am very happy with Pep, even my neighbor himself. He is a coach who has given me a lot. I am very satisfied with the coaches I have worked with so far.”
Expanding on his assessment of Guardiola and reflecting on the managers he has worked with, Gundogan explained how it is Guardiola more than Klopp that he will mold his future coaching career on.
He said: “Guardiola analyzes the opponents. They show us in the videos. They tell us their plans against every opponent. We have a plan against every formation since the beginning of the season.
“Tactically, I’m impressed with Guardiola and Tuchel, but I still have a lot to learn as a manager. I want to look ahead step by step. I’ll think about it towards the end of my career. I trained with our U16 team, but I’m still in the learning phase.”
Gundogan also opened up on his form this season, admitting that he has failed to reach the heights of last year as he has not scored as many goals or played as attacking.
“Last season, I felt as if the team was fully seated and I found my position,” he said, looking ahead to City’s hopes of winning a treble.
“Everything flowed like water. We played a season at a high level. I was in a more offensive position. It’s been a scoring season for me.
“This season, teams are taking more precautions against me as they learn about my game. After all, we are on our way. We are the leaders in the Premier League, we are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, we are in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
“We are on our way so far. It couldn’t get any better than this. The last 1.5 months are very important for us. Every match is like a final. If we manage to win every final, it will be an incredible season for us.”
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