Its been an Intriguing battle between two of the modern game's greatest managers, but who comes out on top?
The intriguing battle between these two masterminds of Spanish football has taken many twists and turns, only just over one and a half years since they have been united at the current two best teams in Europe.
Previous allies at Barcelona in Pep’s playing days, Mourinho has since become one of the greatest managers ever in his time spent with Porto, Chelsea and Internazionale. Mourinho in his first year in La Liga took to trying to rattle the Catalans with a physical style of play in the Clasico’s and criticising them in the media. He undoubtedly has built as stronger team unity at the Santiago Bernebeu, instilling a winning mentality and it’s ‘the world against us attitude’. The first year saw Madrid land the Copa Del Rey title and closed the gap on Barca in the league, despite this the atmosphere in the club was fractious, particularly between the Spanish players and their coach. This was due to outrageous suggestions that Barcelona gain preferential treatment from referees and UEFA as well as negative tactics compared to the tiki taka played at Camp Nou.
Mourinho’s controversial comments after the Champions League semi final exit and the loss this year after the Super Copa:
“Guardiola should feel ashamed if he yet again wins a competition which is engulfed in scandal. Why did Ovrebo not give Chelsea (2 years ago) a series of penalities, last year it was a miracle Inter got there with ten men, and why send off Van Persie”.
Jose attributed this to, “Is it the UNICEF sponsorship, or is it because they are nice guys?”
Comments made after the Super Copa this season:
“Real Madrid gave a spectacular performance from first minute to last minute, we came here to play. There were no ball boys in the second half, which is typical of small teams when experiencing difficulties. We intended to play like men and not fall on the ground at the slightest touch”.
These sorts of comments by the Madrid supremo have not exactly endeared Mourinho to the Spanish faithful, but no one can argue about the successful run the club are currently on in his second year (which he predicted would be better than his first). It is reaching a crucial point in Mourinho’s reign in Madrid, is he going to take control of the club in terms of transfer dealings, youth teams and build a dynasty, or is he going to grab his La Liga title and flee at the end of the season. If granted control of all levels of the club which he so desires, this season could be the beginning of the club returning to the days when it was most feared across Europe.
Guardiola’s success in his first season against Jose played a part in his lack of response and bite in the media. This season has been a different story with criticism of Mourinho’s arrogance and the way he is trying to influence the officials. Given his rivals behaviour this can be forgiven, but the gap in the league may also be playing a part in the frustration shown by Pep to the media this year. Barcelona have gone as far to declare that the officials are favouring Madrid this term due to the abuse they sustained last year.
Guardiola arguably has had an easier breakthrough into his managerial role since he was promoted from the Barcelona B team. He inherited a team in which he had to reinstill their work ethic and remove some of the larger egos in Ronaldinho and Deco. He managed to rejuvenate the team with a smaller financial outlay than Real Madrid has in the last 3 years. He does however have a larger financial backing compared to most clubs, and the team had predominantly the same style of play and principles of the current multi title winning line-up. Arguably Pep’s biggest challenge has been the current season, managing his much smaller squad compared with Mourinho’s, having to promote the B team players a little earlier than he perhaps would like (Tello, Cuenca etc). This could return dividends in the coming seasons but has contributed to the gap between them and their great rivals at the top of the league this season, particularly with a lack of depth at the back.
It is very hard to compare these two managers with their complete contrasting styles to management and the two very different working environments. Hypothetically it would be fascinating to see how each would fare if they were to switch clubs. Personally I think Guardiola would not last more than one or two years at a club like Los Blancos where Florentino Perez chooses the blockbuster signings and allows the manager to pick his players to boost the squad. The Madristas like Barca require winning but also to win in style, this is what Mourinho has struggled to deliver until very recently. Mourinho at La Blaugrana would also most likely be a short stint, primarily as the attitude that no one is bigger than the club is very high at Camp Nou and if there is a manager who thinks he would be, then Mou is your man.
Although Pep may have a superior record on the pitch there is one department where he is certainly not as successful as Mourinho, the transfer market. This may seem a surprise, but if you mention the names Chygrynyski, Hleb, Ibrahimovic, Henrique, Keirrison and Martin Caceres. It becomes apparent that a large amount of money has been wasted at Camp Nou. On the other hand, the arrivals at Madrid have all proven to be successes on the whole, a few exceptions would be Sergio Canales and Nuri Sahin. Pep has the blessing of the famed youth academy whereas Real Madrid has the resources to purchase nearly any player. Mourinho also has another string to his bow in the fact he has won leagues in Portugal, England and Italy and the Champions League in two countries. Maybe in the future Guardiola will be able to be truly judged as a manager when he has tested himself out of the luxuries of Barcelona.
It is impossible to come to a conclusion when deciding the winner of this managerial duel. This could however become clearer at the conclusion of next season, if both Pep and Jose stay on beyond the end of this season. Will Mourinho continue building his dynasty? Will Guardiola sign a one year extension? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then the 3rd season battle between these two will undoubtedly be the deciding season between them.
This is how I score them currently based on their La Liga performance:
Style of Play 10/10 8/10
Man Management 8/10 7/10
Squad Management 7/10 9/10
Transfer Market 7/10 9/10
Head to head matches 9/10 6/10
Total 41/50 39/50