It was on a humid and sticky evening in July 2019 that Pep Guardiola first crossed paths with an Ange Postecoglou team and, it is fair to say, that it was admiration at first sight as far as the Manchester City manager was concerned.

Guardiola’s side played a pre-season friendly in Japan against the Australian’s former side Yokohama F Marinos, part of the City Football Group, and although falling to a 3-1 defeat, the dynamic style of Postecoglou’s team left a lasting impression on the Spaniard.

When we played in Japan I saw some clips before we started. I said, ‘wow, there are things that I like’,” Guardiola explained. “I said to the players we’re going to face a good team with challenges, intense build-up, intense and high pressing.

“We won because we had better players, but I realised this was the first time I met him [but I would see him again]. It was the first time I met him and since then I’ve followed him and seen how good he has done in Glasgow with Celtic, winning trebles and winning a lot of games.

Getty: Kyodo News
Getty: Kyodo News

That first encounter was a meeting of minds. “He makes football a better place — a person like Ange,” continued Guardiola, whose only gripe was that a glass of wine was not offered post-match. “As a manager and a spectator I enjoy a lot watching them play with the approach they have.

How a team of limited ability had been coached to play a certain way clearly stood out and Guardiola will get an up-close view of Postecoglou’s latest project when Tottenham Hotspur visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The way in which Postecoglou has transformed the atmosphere around Spurs since his arrival from Celtic in the summer is equally impressive. They went unbeaten through their first 10 games while playing an attractive brand of football. Guardiola, whose team possess very similar traits, said that the Premier League was better for Postecoglou’s arrival.

He came here and, from nothing, in a few months you recognise perfectly his team,” Guardiola added. “Even the games that they didn’t win lately, I’ve been impressed how good many, many things they do are, how many chances they create and how aggressive [they are] in all departments.

“Every team plays with the desire of the manager. His have done in the past, in Japan, of course in Glasgow with Celtic and now. I think all the Spurs fans and the people in England can admit that his impact has been quick and really good.

'Spurs' approach will not change'

Spurs do travel to City ravaged by injuries — Rodrigo Bentancur is out until at least February while James Maddison and Micky van de Ven are amongst the others who are sidelined — have lost their last three games and fallen out of the top four.

The Spurs manager admitted that this is the first challenging period of his short tenure so far but will stick to his principles. “The reason we’re going to play the way we are is because I think that’s the best way to get a result,” Postecoglou said.

Getty: Visionhaus
Getty: Visionhaus

“At the same time, we have a plan in place to become a certain football team and bring success. It’s not an easy road. You’re going to get challenged along the way and your resolve only gets challenged in tough times. We’ve just got to stay strong in terms of who we want to be and don’t lose four on what the end game is.”

Guardiola, whose side are a point behind league leaders Arsenal, also does not foresee a change in approach from the visitors and expects fun and goals this weekend.

The City manager, who could welcome back John Stones from injury for the game, said: “Absolutely not [will they change]. This is not going to happen. I’d be surprised.

“Of course they have important absences but I saw the first 15, 20 minutes against Aston Villa [last weekend’s 2-1 defeat] and they created an amount of chances. It’s really good for football, definitely. I encourage our fans to come to the stadium because we will have fun.”

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