Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claims his Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte is the best in the business and he has much to learn from him.
Former Italy boss Conte is on course to deliver the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
That is despite a surprise slip-up at Crystal Palace last weekend and with Guardiola’s City hoping to condemn them to another defeat on Wednesday.
Guardiola said: “My opinion about my colleague Conte is that he’s superb, maybe he’s the best. How he was able to make Italy play beautiful football, Juventus too, in a culture where it’s so defensive.
“He’s an excellent manager. I learn a lot when I see his teams – Juventus, Italy and now. Their teams control a lot of aspects. It’s a good lesson for me to see his teams and learn.”
Guardiola arrived at City last summer with a reputation as the best coach in the world after his past successes with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with whom he won a combined 21 trophies.
Much was expected yet City are seemingly out of title contention and failed to get beyond the last 16 of the Champions League. They are still in the FA Cup but Guardiola concedes, in comparison to Conte, he has not lived up to expectations.
The Spaniard said: “In my case I had to win the treble and change English football. Expectations were quite high, that’s why I’m going to fall short. Definitely, I cannot have success this season.
“I knew from the beginning they’d have a good season. They started the season so-so but after that they settled the way they want to play and the fact they have a week to work on many things helps a lot. It’s a big advantage if you have time.
“I think a lot of games we’ve played a lot of good football – I didn’t expect that high level – but then also we were not solid.”