'He'll always be in my heart' - Pep Guardiola lauds Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United after 'overwhelming' praise

The Whites face Man City this weekend in top flight action.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 2:17 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 2:18 pm
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola greets Leeds United's Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

Pep Guardiola has lauded Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa and admitted he was 'overwhelmed' by his praise for champions-elect Manchester City.

The Whites travel to the Etihad stadium on Saturday lunchtime in the Premier League where the two teams will come to blows for the first time since the 1-1 draw in October.

Guardiola's men have opened up a 14-point gap at the top of the standings and need just three wins and a draw to reclaim the top flight crown from Liverpool.

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United, meanwhile, sit 11th ahead of kick-off and have returned 42 points this season with eight games remaining - a haul which has seen Leeds steer well clear of a relegation battle.

The clash at the Etihad pits Bielsa and Guardiola together in opposite dugouts with the former being somewhat of a mentor to the latter throughout his coaching career.

Bielsa heaped praise on Guardiola's side - who are still battling on four trophy fronts this term - earlier this week and called Pep a 'magical man'.

The Spaniard has now admitted that he struggled to deal with the comments after hearing them, adding that Bielsa is someone who will always be in his heart.

"I'm overwhelmed, I feel weird. He's a huge competitor," Guardiola told his pre-match press conference of Bielsa's words.

"I'm not going to try to be weak after these words, because they can do whatever they want. I'm overwhelmed.

"He's the most honest person. When I was able to speak with him, what he says is what he believes. He doesn't say anything or do anything for the media.

"That's why I'm overwhelmed because everybody knows the admiration and respect I have.

"He will always be in my heart and I always feel I don't deserve it because of course if there is one person who can find the secret or the way we want to play, it is him.

"His work ethic and his knowledge about the game. I know how tough it will be tomorrow but hopefully we are prepared to compete.

"We are three games away to be champions and tomorrow we have another opportunity to make a bigger step. The players know because we face them there in the first leg how difficult it was and tomorrow will not be an exception.

"The quality of the manager and the backroom staff show in the position of the table. Being promoted last season and already safe. They have done incredibly well all season.

"His teams are one team before his arrival and they are always better after. You see his influence. He doesn't need much time to make his own team, it belongs absolutely to him and for world football it is a joy.

"A guy who respects the opponent, who plays for the fans, who just wants to play for a victory home or away and convinces the players to follow him.

"I recognise the best because people say he doesn't win titles, but give him Manchester City and he will win titles. It depends on the players you have, but the players he has are always better players.

"That is the best proof when a manager is good."

Asked about how well Leeds have done in their first season back in the Premier League, Guardiola added: "I'm pretty sure they deserved completely what they got so far. I admire a lot of things they do, especially how they behave on the pitch.

"It doesn't matter the opponent or the competition, it is a completely different game to what we have played so far because they demand you to do something that you're not used to.

"At the same time it is a challenge because we are so close - we need three wins and one draw (to be champions) - and when you play at home it is another opportunity. It is between important games against Dortmund but it is what we have to do."