When Southampton and Manchester City on Sunday afternoon meet at St. Mary's, two of today's main characters probably share a warm hug before the match.
Hjemmeholdets states Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, stood namely in the doctrine of City-manager Pep Guardiola during their common years in Bayern Munich, and the 23-year-old dane expresses even very great respect for his teacher in a great interview with The Times.
the Spaniard was the man who ’changed him from boy to man’, as he puts it.
- We worked together and liked each other, so I have respect for him, says Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who, however, is not on the sms with trænerkoryfæet.
- The I don't expect of him. He has too much of a hurry to win everything, and I do not think he is the type of. Maybe he writes with his main players, but I was not one of his greatest.
He was thinking gratefully back to the years when he, as a teen tried to suck in the south-German elitemiljø.
I learned a lot from him. He was a great teacher, but I had him probably a little too early in my life. He was on such a high level, while I should try to adapt myself to it.
- I was 17, 18, 19 years. Had I been my current age, I had had a base, so I should not have to fight so much to keep me up to speed with the world's best players.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg acknowledges that he was very young, when he would try to dance after Guardiolas pipe. Photo: AP
Guardiola taught him not at least to get up in his opponents ' head. To let them believe that he had figured them out.
He gave me always the message on to control the fight – with or without the ball. To let your opponent react to you and not vice versa.
- He used to say: ’Pierre, the most important thing is, that when he will play close to you, then look away from him, and if he will keep the distance, so search close to him. You should be able to tell me for a minute, how he will play’.
Since Guardiola always found themselves in Højbjergs head. Not the least, when he analyzes the matches he has played.
Now they meet on a time when Guardiolas otherwise the sovereign's crew has lost two games in a row. At home to Crystal Palace and away to Leicester.
- There is a mental mindset that dictates: ‘Oh, they are injured, let us go to them and go for the throat’. While all - if the City has won ten matches in a row - will go out and think that we have lost in advance. Right now, we believe as more of a victory than the former, says Højbjerg, who believe that Guardiolas wild intensity can be both his greatest competence, and the root of formdyk:
- Perhaps they have been a little complacent lately, but I know that Pep is all about, that this kind of thing must not happen.
- He will have his many good players to push each other and let the best win. The kinds of complaints you do not. You try only to be better. He keeps the players so sharp.
Guardiolas intensity is both his weapon and his weakness, believes the dane. Photo: Ritzau Scanpix
- He is the most demanding person, not just as a coach, I've ever met. We could sit in the bus after a victory, and so he is sitting and watching the match again, already in the bus and later again in his office and analyses.
- It is perhaps what makes him the greatest. But it is perhaps also the defeat because it becomes too much. He drowns in it. But I judge him not, for he is the best teacher I have had.
the Journalist from The Times calls him analytical, intelligent and eager to learn and push themselves, and he wonders at the background is not over, that the young dane has been the captain of Southampton.
- I'm very proud of it, he says of his office.
- I love to take responsibility. I'm realistic and know my good and less good sides. But I love to be a leader. The word ’leader’ is great. You can use it to download energy and power to lead people in the right direction. I like to set the tone.
The 23-year-old dane is proud of his or her duties as the captain of Southampton. Photo: Ritzau Scanpix
He has got a guitar, and a Rubik cube for christmas and tells the story of how the combinations get him to think about the mechanisms of football. He describes himself as a perfectionist and adds:
I have never been more balanced, motivated, hungry and humble in my life.
The last one coming Southampton's austrian coach Ralph Hasenhüttl, for good. He had a chat with every single player when he arrived in the summer, and Wigan liked what he saw and heard.
- I saw a man on a mission, and I also said to him: ’You set goals for yourself and for this club, which is the same as mine. To get the maximum out of it, to make the impossible possible’.
- When I see such a motivated leader, so I am following him and struggling with him.