Pep Guardiola has entered the final year of his contract at Manchester City and he has acknowledged the man in the opposition dugout at the Etihad on Sunday would in the running to replace him should he leave the club.
Erik ten Hag and Guardiola are up for a head-on confrontation in the Manchester derby on Sunday, and the City boss had endorsed the Dutchman as his potential successor when he steps down from his tenure.
Although that door has now closed with Ten Hag at United, the Dutchman said he has no regrets taking on the challenge there, rather than waiting to succeed Guardiola who is in the final year of his contract. When queried about Guardiola’s claim that he could have succeeded him at City, Ten Hag said: “That’s a nice compliment, first.
“But I choose, 100 percent convinced, Manchester United, with everything in it. I didn’t regret it for one second.” Ten Hag worked with Guardiola, at Bayern Munich, from 2013 to 2015, but said he remains his own coach with his own philosophy, despite his admiration for the City boss.
“First of all, it’s most important that no person is the same,” said Ten Hag.
“So I have to stick by myself and then, I learn a lot from many human beings in football, especially from top coaches. I admire Pep a lot, because he’s not only successful, he’s doing it in a certain way that really attracts people to football and that’s a reward.”
Guardiola had lavished praise on his fellow coach and said the 52-year-old had the credentials to take over from him at City back in April, weeks before Ten Hag was confirmed as United’s new boss. “
Could Erik Ten Hag be here at City?” said Guardiola.
“Definitely. I think he could be the one, for the way he approaches the game.”
Ten Hag had this to say about Sunday’s derby showdown: “I played many derbies and I know derbies – what they are, what the rivals are, what they are doing. I know it’s the most important game in the Manchester area for the fans and it excites me. You want to be involved in these games because it’s such a good vibe, it gives you so much energy and we will do everything to win the game.”
The former Ajax manager also gave his verdict on striker Erling Haaland, who has 14 goals in nine games, and added: “We don’t play against Haaland, we play against Manchester City. They have a team, [with a squad] more than 11 players, but we also, we are convinced of our capabilities and, if we act as a team in and out of possession, we can beat opponents.”