NEW YORK — You could forgive New York City FC head coach Dome Torrent this week if he paused to reflect on some memories from his time as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Barcelona and Manchester City.
Man City moved one step closer to clinching their second consecutive English Premier League championship with an emotional home victory Monday. While absorbing that result, Torrent had already begun developing a plan to limit one of his former Barcelona players — Zlatan Ibrahimovic — this weekend in Los Angeles.
“I was nervous,” Torrent said of watching Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany strike a dramatic, slicing goal from distance in the waning minutes of a must-win match against Leicester City at the Etihad. “I prefer to be on the bench. When you watch the game on TV, you are more nervous then when you are on the bench. I’m very happy for Pep and the club and the players and everybody at Man City because it is my club as well.”
With Kompany driving deeper and deeper into the Leicester City half with precious few minutes remaining, did Torrent join Guardiola in shouts that resembled, “No, no Vincent – don’t shoot!”
“No, he is the leader of the club, . . . I’m very happy for him, especially since he is the captain and the rest of the players follow him,” Torrent said of Kompany.
Torrent and his City side from the Bronx own Major League Soccer’s longest current unbeaten streak with three wins and three draws from their previous six matches. Next up, Ibrahimovic and the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday.
Ibrahimovic played at Barcelona (2008-09) under Guardiola and Torrent.
“I have good memories from Barcelona with Ibra,” Torrent said. “It’s my opinion that Ibra is one of the best strikers in the last 20 years. It’s almost impossible to mark this player. I’m very happy to meet again because I have good memories of Ibra in Barcelona.”
It is unlikely Guardiola shares that sentiment with his former lieutenant. After one season at Barca, Ibra moved on and later referred to Guardiola as “the most immature coach” he had every played for and a “spineless coward” in his book, I Am Zlatan.
Fellow Swede, Anton Tinnerholm, said he will not make any special reunion plans with Ibra on Saturday, but he his looking forward to the match against his former teammate on Sweden’s national team.
“I played against a couple of other Swedes in the league, too,” Tinnerholm said. “To be honest, I look more forward to get the three points.
“He’s a really great guy both on the pitch and off the pitch. The only thing he wants is to win. It doesn’t matter if he’s doing a passing drill or doing finishing. He’ll do anything to the win. Sometimes he takes the decision, ‘I’m going to win this.’ With him, L.A. is a big contender to win the Cup.”