Klopp defends Guardiola’s first season

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has leaped to the defense of under-fire Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, following the Citizens' dramatic exit from the Champions League on Thursday.

A squad that cannot compare with what he had at his disposal at Barcelona and Bayern as well as the pressures of a more competitive league are the two main reasons Pep Guardiola has not delivered the success many expected he would in his first season at Manchester City.

Guardiola achieved immediate success at his two previous clubs, winning the treble in his first season at Barca and a double in his first at Bayern. This feat is unlikely to be repeated in Manchester, however, as the club's only realistic hope for silverware this season is the FA Cup.

Guardiola has come in for severe criticism for his side's showing against Monaco in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 – a match which saw them fail to protect a 5-3 aggregate advantage, but an unlikely ally has emerged to defend the Spaniard.

Jurgen Klopp may be travelling to the Etihad Stadium for a crucial Premier League fixture on Sunday, but this has not stopped him from speaking up for his managerial counterpart.

"We really have to compare the squads," Klopp told The Independent. "A team without Messi or with Messi? Come on. A team with Iniesta or without Iniesta? A team with Xavi at his best or without? That's the difference," the former Dortmund boss said.

"You can’t compare one with the other. You can see what he wants. That is probably the most important thing if you judge a manager," he added.

"We work really hard on it all week to bring this on the pitch but I'm sure he does the same. In England it's the difficulty of this league and the quality of the players around," he continued.

"In Spain there's always Madrid, and I don't know, Valencia had a good year, Sevilla, Atletico of course, all that stuff. But the rest are not as good or not good enough to challenge Barcelona."