RALPH Hasenhuttl enjoyed hearing “warm words” from Pep Guardiola, revealing that playing against the Man City boss is “always pure football, it’s pure tactics and is so demanding on everything you do.”

The Spanish boss got the better of Hasenhuttl on both occasions last season, with a 1-0 win at St Mary’s and a 5-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium on the way to picking up the Premier League trophy.

But that hasn’t stopped Guardiola labelling Saints as a “dangerous” side to play, before calling for more fans to get to the stadium and help push his team on against the visitors.

Guardiola is a serial winner the likes of which are scarcely seen in football. His enormous trophy haul amounts to nine league titles, two Champions Leagues and more cups and super cups that one cares to count – although he has done it with superpowers in three different divisions.

Although he’s yet to bring the elusive Champions League to City, after finishing as runners-up last campaign, he obviously commands respect from those in the management world.

Speaking ahead of the Etihad visit, Hasenhuttl responded: “It's nice. The warm words from Pep you normally get after the game when he has won,” before joking: “It's new to get them before the game!

“I enjoy these games to be honest. It's against Pep. It's always pure football, it's pure tactics it's so demanding on everything you do.The whole work doesn't give you room for anything else.

“You think about the game waking up in the morning and you go to sleep and you always have the shape, the position and the players in the mind - what you can do and how you can do it.”

Despite tossing and turning over every decision he’s going to make, Hasenhuttl admits that coming up against the quality City possess – being able to add £100million Jack Grealish to already impressive ranks – you are assured of nothing.

“Even this doesn't give you a guarantee you get something,” he admitted. “It's pure football, pure Premier League.

“It's highest level and that's why you want to do this job. When you saw the Leipzig match and see how hard they tried and it's still not enough to take something against them.

“Then you know how tough it is. This is the challenge and this the thing we like.”