Eriksson: 'Guardiola surprised by 'more difficult' Premier League'

Guardiola won each of his first 10 matches in charge of City, but subsequent struggles for consistency has left it 10 points adrift of runaway leaders Chelsea.   -  Getty Images

Former Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson believes the competitiveness of the Premier League may have come as a surprise to Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola won each of his first 10 matches in charge of City, but subsequent struggles for consistency has left it 10 points adrift of runaway leaders Chelsea and it was bundled out of the Champions League by Monaco in the last 16.

The Catalan won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons at Bayern Munich and only lost out to Real Madrid in La Liga in one of four campaigns with Barcelona.

Such dominance is hard to find in England as City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool - Guardiola's opponents at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday - vie for supremacy, while Leicester City proved the unpredictability of the Premier League after hoisting the trophy aloft last season.

In an exclusive interview with Omnisport, Eriksson - who spent a year in charge of City in 2007-08 - said: "If you are the coach of Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid, the chances to win something are huge.

"When you go to the Premier League, you have six, seven, eight teams who are fighting to win. Confidence is much higher in the Bundesliga or La Liga.

"The difference between Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico [Madrid] lately, and the others, is rather big. But the difference between City, Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham is not that big.

"It is more difficult for any coach to work in the Premier League than any other league. You can lose or win against any team. Next year, who knows, maybe you can put your money on Leicester again."

If there was a need for further proof of the Premier League's difficulty, look no further than the Foxes.

Just nine months removed from guiding Leicester to arguably the competition's greatest triumph, Claudio Ranieri was sacked last month amid growing concerns of relegation.

"Football is beautiful and cruel," said former Leicester boss Eriksson, who is now in charge of Shenzhen FC in China's second division. "Ranieri won the Premier League and no one would've expected that. One of the biggest surprises.

"He was doing a great job. In December, he was named the best coach in the world and two months later he is sacked."

Leicester has won three consecutive matches since Craig Shakespeare stepped up to replace Ranieri, including a 2-1 success over Sevilla to book a Champions League quarterfinal spot.

"They have had a couple of good results recently. Everybody saw the fear of going down," added Eriksson ahead of Leicester's trip to West Ham on Saturday. "I think the biggest target is to survive. Then they have time to do whatever they have to do to improve."

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