Football

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa is so special: Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola never played under Marcelo Bielsa, but credits the Leeds United manager as one of the most important influences on his own trophy-laden managerial career.

Experienced Argentine Bielsa will be managing in the English Premier League for the first time next season, having steered Leeds back to the top flight after a 16-year absence.

And Guardiola, for one, says England's top flight will be all the better for it.

"He has done an exceptional job. They were exceptional last season and then didn't get promoted. They showed a lot of character to get promoted a year later and have been consistent," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City's trip to the relegation-threatened Watford tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"I was not his player, so it is difficult to talk about him. But I know the reference from a hundred million players who were with him. I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk to him.

"He is unique in world football because of the special way he plays. He is an authentic manager.

"No other manager in the world plays the way he plays. I learnt a lot about his style, his final product. He is an incredible person. He is so special."

Guardiola also praised deposed Watford boss Nigel Pearson, who was sacked last Sunday.

He said: "Before lockdown what Nigel did was incredible. They got a lot of points."

Watford are three points above the drop zone, with two games remaining, and visit Arsenal on the final day.

For now though, they will be hoping the Gunners do them a favour when they play third-from-bottom Aston Villa tomorrow morning. Should Watford lose and Villa win, they would go into the final day of the season on Sunday level on points.

Said Villa boss Dean Smith: "I think everybody has had us relegated since March...

"I've given them a few quotes from pundits. The lads can go and use that as a positive...

"I feel that our performance levels have been good since the restart, but we haven't got the points we deserve." - REUTERS

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