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Pep lavishes De Zerbi with praise ahead of run-in

Guardiola hails fellow Premier League boss as "one of the most influential managers in the last 20 years"

May 23, 2023 By Ali M.
The Spanish manager did not shy away from lavishing one Premier League head coach with the highest of praises.

Pep Guardiola is undeniably one of the greatest managers of all time and despite being on track to a historic treble at Manchester City, the Spaniard still found time to shower his peers with praise.

The Cityzens boss lifted the English top-flight crown over the weekend following the 1-0 win over Chelsea, making Pep the second-most successful manager in Premier League history with five titles. However, the work is not yet done as Haaland and Co. are preparing for an interesting trip to Brighton on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of that clash, Guardiola decided to lavish one fellow Premier League manager with praise and even went as far as labeling him one of the most influential tacticians in the game over the past 20 years. And no, that person wasn't Jurgen Klopp, whom he endured fierce battles with at the summit of English football, or even former assistant Mikel Arteta, who led Arsenal to an unexpected title race this season.

That manager was none other than Roberto de Zerbi, the tactician who he will battle it out with in the dugout on Wednesday. Despite only arriving in England during the middle of the season, the Italian has quickly established himself as one of the most promising and most popular bosses in Europe thanks to his energetic and beautiful brand of football.

He has already masterminded brilliant victories over the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool and has led the Seagulls to Europa League qualification, something the club has never achieved in its history. As a result, Pep publicly reiterated his admiration for the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss.

"Congratulations for this incredible achievement in the Europa League," said the City boss. 

"I think Roberto is one of the most influential managers in the last 20 years.

"There is no team playing the way they play - unique. I had the feeling he would have an impact and it would be great – but I didn't expect them to do it in this short space of time.

"Twenty or 25 chances, they monopolize the ball in a way it hasn't been for a long time, a keeper like a holding midfielder, if you don't play at a high level he can do whatever he wants against you.

"They deserve the success, and are a team I try to learn from. (They are like a) Michelin star restaurant, unique. 

"In Catalonia the best cook changed the cuisine, and Brighton are playing with something special and it's an incredible challenge."

Guardiola's admiration for De Zerbi's work can be seen in Man City's recent tactics, with several analysts noticing a more De Zerbi-esque approach in the Cityzens' build-up structure recently. Additionally, these words should not come as a surprise as Pep has never shied away from praising fellow managers who have introduced interesting elements to the modern game.

However, the question on everyone's mind is whether the Brighton boss can get the better of the best tactician in world football. Both sides have pretty much secured their goals for this season, but with bragging rights being up for grabs, expect the Italian and the Spaniard to go at it.

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