The two coaches have battled atop the Premier League while earning the admiration of their competitors
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl says that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp set the benchmark for all other managers in the Premier League.
Guardiola and Klopp have become rivals atop the league in recent years, with the Spaniard’s Manchester City emerging as a domestic powerhouse by winning two consecutive Premier League titles.
Last season, Guardiola’s side narrowly edged Liverpool for that title, with Klopp’s side finishing second despite a record points tally.
However, Klopp and Liverpool did end the season with some silverware of their own, as the Reds took down Tottenham in the Champions League final to secure European glory.
This campaign, Liverpool look to be on their way to a bit of revenge, as the Reds have opened up a Premier League lead heading into the festive period.
And Hasenhuttl, whose Southampton side sits 17th in the league, says that the two world-class managers are the ones all others compare themselves to.
“Guardiola and Klopp set the benchmark,” he told Spiegel Online.
He added: “It took Jurgen time to change the team. Time and the necessary money. Obviously he knew exactly where the squad had its weak points. He fixed them.”
Hasenhuttl was linked with a major job of his own in 2018, with the Austrian coach rumoured to be in the running to take over as Bayern Munich coach.
The former centre forward previously played for the club’s reserve team during his 19-year playing career and had managed in the Bundesliga with Ingolstadt and RB Leipzig.
But Hasenhuttl insists that a move to Bayern did not make sense at the time as that job demands a lot from any coach willing to step in.
“Bayern is something of a knighthood for every coach in Germany. But that only makes sense if it is probably the last stage of your own development because, after that, nothing much bigger can actually come. That being said, the question is whether Bayern is really a desirable goal for a coach.”
He added: “What does a Bayern coach have to win before he gets the recognition he deserves? The double? Niko Kovac has just experienced that this is not enough.
“The Champions League? Is that enough for people to say: ‘But he’s doing a good job’? And does he get the time to develop things?”
This season with Southampton has taken some time to develop, as Hasenhuttl’s Saints have had to come back from a stunning 9-0 defeat to Leicester in October.
Hasenhuttl says that his side were “bottomless” on the day and that the club has not yet fully recovered from that loss despite sitting just outside of the relegation zone.
“We all failed. But as a coach you have to be the first to find the direction,” he said. “It was impressive how the club got together afterwards. We have a belief that we will be relegated this season.”
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He added: “Anyone who survives a 9-0 loss loses all fears. Joking aside, the previous support has shown me that the club correctly assesses our situation.”