Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp knows he has a tendency to annoy Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola but insists he does not do it deliberately.
There have been a number of spats between the two which have played out in the media, rather than personally, in the five years they have been Premier League opponents.
Klopp accepts some responsibility for that but stressed he considers the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach a friend.
“Not sure if I ever told Pep but I like him, it’s true,” said the German ahead of their meeting at Anfield on Sunday.
“From time to time I annoy him with things I say in press conferences that are not meant to say anything bad about him or Man City but then somebody on the City staff tells him that ‘Klopp said this or that’ and I can see in his press conference that he gets really angry. Sorry for that.
“I respect him a lot and I said it before – we think we know a lot about each other but we actually don’t.
“We meet each other obviously for football games and two years ago, I think it was, we had a few situations where we went together to Manchester for awards and stuff like this and our families met.
“And I can tell you that somebody with a family like Pep Guardiola must be a good person because Mrs and the kids are outstanding and that is what is important to me.
“So during the game whatever he says and whatever I say…I want to win desperately, he wants to do that, and we are completely different personalities.
“But nonetheless I like him and I respect him and it’s really one of the biggest challenges for all managers in football to face his teams because they are good.
“If you make a mistake you get punished and that is pretty much the game against Man City always – so you had better not make a lot of mistakes.”
Liverpool go into the match above the team who took away their Premier League title last season in good form, having not lost in 18 matches.
The goals have been flying in this season – 26 in nine matches in all competitions – and they are currently on a run of scoring three or more goals in their last six games, with 20 coming in six September fixtures.
Nevertheless, Klopp does not believe they are back to their best yet.
“We are not back to what we did before. We changed some things but we are much closer to what we did before than last year,” he added.
“So it means we have stability and when you have stability you have freedom for the offensive stuff and when you have more freedom you come more often into dangerous and threatening situations and you can score more often.
“To be honest when people told me we scored 20 goals in September it didn’t feel like that. I am really positive but I have a lot of chances in my mind that we missed.
“It is not that I want to score 40 goals but we are not even close to what we think it is exactly how it should look.”
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