Pep Guardiola: Chelsea boss Antonio Conte may be the best

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Pep Guardiola: Chelsea boss Antonio Conte may be the best

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte “may be the best”, says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola who has “learned a lot” from teams managed by the Italian.

Guardiola and Conte are both in their debut season in English football and face each other again on Wednesday.

The latter has fared better, with his Chelsea side leading the Premier League, 11 points ahead of fourth-placed City.

“My opinion about my colleague Conte is that he’s superb,” said the Catalan.

“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. I like to do that because you see what they want to do. Their teams control a lot of aspects.

“Maybe he’s the best.”

‘I had to change English football’

Guardiola took over at Manchester City last summer having won three successive Bundesliga titles and two German Cups with Bayern Munich between 2013 and 2016.

Before that he led Barcelona to three straight La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys and the Champions League twice.

However, the 46 year old says he was always realistic about what he could achieve with City during this campaign.

“In my case I had to win the treble and change English football,” he said.

“Expectations were quite high, that’s why I’m going to fall short definitely. I cannot have success this season.

“In Barcelona we won the three titles in a row, we played all the competitions, we played the Champions League every three days and we were able to play almost immediately. Sometimes you need more time.”

‘Sorry Antonio, but we were better’

City’s performances against the top Premier League teams this season have given Guardiola belief his side are moving in the right direction.

They have drawn against Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal this year and beat the Gunners last December.

However, the Spaniard insists there is much more work to do.

“Our games against the big teams at home, we were much better than all of them. I was so proud,” he added. “But we were not able to win. That’s why we are not where we would like to be.

“Sometimes away to the big clubs we’ve maybe not made the best performance.

“In Monchengladbach for example, Celtic in Europe, Anfield, Arsenal in the first half – we’ve not given our best performance.

“Now I’d like to see what we try to do from the beginning. Be brave, show courage.”

Chelsea won 3-1 at City in December after coming back from a goal down in a game which saw Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sent off in injury time.

“We finished the game against Chelsea four points behind them. Believe me, I saw the game many times. We were much, much better. I’m sorry Antonio but we were. We deserved to win.”

‘Chelsea will be more focused’

Chelsea suffered a surprise 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace last weekend, but Guardiola does not feel the loss will hurt the confidence of Wednesday’s opponents, who had gone 10 home games unbeaten prior to that result.

“They will be more focused,” added Guardiola. “When you win 10, 11 or 12 games in a row, the danger is to be relaxed.

“You are winning and have a points advantage. But when you lose a game, after that the warnings are there.”