Pep Guardiola said on Friday he believes he is still not a match for Marcelo Bielsa as a coach despite the vast difference between the number of trophies the pair have won in their distinguished careers.
Guardiola faces Bielsa, who he credits as one of his inspirations, for the first time since 2012 when Manchester City visit Leeds in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Catalan has won 24 major trophies in spells at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City. By contrast, Bielsa has won just three league titles in his native Argentina as well as leading Leeds back to the top-flight after a 16-year absence.
“I feel the managers should not be judged on how many titles or prizes you won because I feel far away from his knowledge as a manager,” said Guardiola.
“My teams won more titles than him but in terms of his knowledge of the game and many things he is far away.”
Leeds have adapted well to life back in the Premier League, pushing champions Liverpool all the way in a 4-3 defeat on the opening weekend of the season before beating Fulham and Sheffield United.
And Guardiola believes Bielsa’s presence is a “gift” for English football.
“I think he is the person I admire the most in world football as a manager and as a person,” Guardiola said.
“I think he is the most authentic manager, in terms of how he conducts his teams. It’s unique, nobody can imitate him, it’s impossible.
“It is a gift to have him here in the Premier League. His teams are always a joy to watch. I think it is a good news for England.”
However, Bielsa played down his role as a mentor to the City boss, given what he has achieved in three of the toughest leagues in the world.
“I do not feel like a mentor to Guardiola. It’s not just how I feel, it has been evidenced to not being the case,” he said.
“If there’s a manager who is independent in his own ideas, that is Guardiola. It’s not just because I say it is, it’s because his teams play like no other team.”
City are looking to bounce back at Elland Road from collapsing to a 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester last weekend.
Guardiola said a string of injuries, positive coronavirus cases and a short pre-season cannot be used as an excuse for his side.
But a leaky defence could be bolstered by the presence of new £62-million ($80 million) signing Ruben Dias .
“He’s settled in good and he is part of the team right now,” said Guardiola of the Portuguese international’s availability. “We will have training this afternoon and we will decide (if he starts).”