Pep quips Poch 'doesn't believe' my Spurs praise

MANCHESTER, England -- Pep Guardiola has suggested Mauricio Pochettino doesn't believe it when he praises the Tottenham boss.

The two managers will go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and on the eve of the fixture Guardiola has claimed Pochettino does not believe he rates his rival.

"I don't know if Pochettino receives many compliments from other managers like me, I don't think so," Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.

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"My opinion about him is high standards, even if he doesn't believe me, so he's a top top top top manager."

The rivalry between Guardiola and Pochettino, whose team the Man City boss claims is the second-best in Europe, dates back a decade to their spell together in La Liga as managers of Barcelona and Espanyol.

In 2017, Guardiola angered Pochettino's by referring to Tottenham as "the Harry Kane team." It prompted Pochettino to hit back by saying his counterpart can "sometimes struggle to keep his position and be a gentleman."

At his prematch news conference on Friday, Guardiola heaped more praise on Pochettino and when asked to evaluate the job the Argentinian has done in North London, Guardiola said: "About Tottenham, I think my colleague can speak better about his team.

"I said from the first day when we played at White Hart Lane and lost 2-0 that I never said about the capacity, quality and possibilities of this team, the manager and the club. They are a strong team, a good team."

City face Spurs looking to build on their 5-0 win over West Ham on the opening weekend of the season. Raheem Sterling was the star man at the London Stadium netting a hat trick and after bagging 25 goals in all competitions last season and Guardiola has backed the England forward to reach 30 and challenge for the Premier League's golden boot.

"It will be good for him and for the team," said Guardiola. "When he's in front of the goal, he puts it in the net. So, he can do it, yeah. He scored 25 [last season] and 25 to 30 is only five goals.

"He can do it. But I don't know. I never spoke with Sergio [Aguero] or Gabriel [Jesus] or Raz, with any of the people up front, about what are their dreams and targets and these kinds of things. I don't know, honestly.

"I think they are happy when they are scoring goals, all the people who play in the front line. So hopefully he can score goals. I think goals are a consequence of the way we play -- their mood, how the team's playing, no injuries.

"I wouldn't judge him if he scored 30 goals or 35 or 20. When he scores goals, I'm happy. But if he does what he has to do for him and the team, it's enough."