Man Utd v Man City: Jose Mourinho & Pep Guardiola play down rivalry


By Simon Stone- BBC Sport

Rival managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have dismissed suggestions there will be animosity between them during the Manchester derby.

Manchester United play neighbours Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday (12:30 BST) in one of the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derbies for decades.

Both United and City have new ‘super coaches’ in Mourinho and Guardiola respectively, and have started the Premier League season with 100% winning records.

The clubs spent heavily in a record-breaking summer transfer window, with United re-signing midfielder Paul Pogba for an £89m world record fee, and City making John Stones the second most expensive defender in history. at £47.5m.

Former Barcelona boss Guardiola suggested any personal rivalry with ex-Real Madrid manager Mourinho was created “from the media”.

“We can’t control that,” added the Spaniard. “I said it many times – I have a lot of respect for Mourinho. I always try to learn from all of my colleagues – it’s the same with him.

“He was my coach, my assistant coach with Sir Bobby Robson. OK, the last period at Barcelona and Real Madrid was not easy for both of us but we met each other two, three weeks ago at the managers’ Premier League meeting.

“Of course I’ll accept a glass of wine after the game if he invites me.”

Portuguese Mourinho added: “I know what the derby means. I’ve played them everywhere, but I always want to be in a position of emotional control. If we want to win we have to be at the top.

“They have a very good manager. They always have very good players and bought more. They are what they are since I returned to England. They are a title contender and you have to respect them.”

The fixture

Either United or City have been Premier League champions for seven of the past 10 seasons.

Of the 171 previous Manchester derbies, United have won 71, City 49, with 51 drawn.

In 1973-74, the match at Maine Road, City’s old ground, had to be temporarily stopped because City’s Mike Doyle and United’s Lou Macari refused to leave the pitch after being sent off. In the second derby of the season, United legend Denis Law scored for City with a backheel as the Red Devils were relegated from the top flight.

City did not win a game against their rivals for 13 years from September 1989, but then signed off from Maine Road by beating Sir Alex Ferguson’s side 3-1.

More recently, City won 6-1 at Old Trafford in 2011, a game during which Mario Balotelli revealed his ‘Why Always Me?’ T-shirt after scoring.

Marcus Rashford’s winner for United at Etihad Stadium was the only Manchester derby goal last season.

United have had to find more room in their trophy cabinet over the years, with 20 league titles and three European Cup/Champions League successes. City’s only triumph in Europe came in the 1969-70 Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup, but they won the Premier League more recently than their neighbours, in 2013-14

There is a sense these two men define themselves against each other – there’s a stark contrast philosophically and personally between Mourinho and Guardiola.

Matthew SyedTimes journalist & broadcaster

The managers

Mourinho, a former PE teacher turned translator, worked his way up the coaching rungs and had won the Champions League with Porto and domestic titles in three different countries by the time the Barcelona manager’s job became available in 2008.

Instead, Barca promoted Pep Guardiola into his first managerial job and Spanish football expert Graham Hunter says Mourinho’s “bitterness at having something exceptional taken away from him” cost him “too much”.

“Mourinho’s dream was to go back to Barcelona as the number one and he planned to unveil Guardiola as his number two,” explains Spanish football writer Pete Jenson. “Not only does he not get the job, but the guy he was having as a number two gets it instead.

“It became Mourinho’s mission after that to prove to Barcelona what they never had, and make them sorry.”

At Inter Milan, Mourinho won the treble in 2009-2010, masterminding a Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid. He moved to Madrid as a “hero”, says journalist Sid Lowe. “Madrid’s idea was, ‘You have stopped them, now come here and stop them and beat them here, for us’.”

Jenson adds: “Guardiola reached the point of exhaustion. He just likes to concentrate on the football while Mourinho brings in other things. It’s almost a war with him from the first game to the last.”

The most expensive game

Henry Winter, the Times’ chief football writer, says Mourinho has “put the swagger back” into United.

“He’s turned the power back on and addressed the issues down the spine,” he adds.

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, France midfielder Paul Pogba, Ivorian defender Eric Bailly, and playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan were signed this summer for combined fees of more than £150m.

We have no problem with a bit of darkness. We had Fergie – the greatest manager of all time – and he was up to all sorts

Nooruddean ChoudryManchester United fan

Guardiola spent £165m on Stones, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, forwards Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Nolito, and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, while letting more than £100m of talent out on loan.

Teenage striker Rashford is the only local boy with a chance of being involved in what is expected to be the most expensive game ever played in terms of transfer fees.

Even without suspended City striker Sergio Aguero, the two starting line-ups could have an estimated cost in excess of £600m, eclipsing El Clasico of November 2015, where the players cost £591m.

Three of the five most expensive players bought by Premier League clubs – Pogba, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling – will be on show.

Key stats and the story so far

  • City won the last Manchester derby in which both clubs had new managers – Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes – 4-1 in September 2013.
  • Guardiola is the first City manager to win his first five competitive games.
  • Mourinho is the first United manager to win his first four competitive games.

Mourinho and Guardiola could hardly have made a better start to their new jobs.

Between them, United and City have played six times in the Premier League and won all six.

City, who also made it through the Champions League knockout round, have scored nine goals to United’s six, but the Red Devils have conceded fewer goals – one to City’s three.

Aguero and Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, top the Premier League goalscoring charts with three apiece.

The Zlatan factor

It should have been a match made in heaven. Guardiola, one of the game’s most successful managers, signing Ibrahimovic, one of football’s most successful players.

The Spaniard has never really spoken about the catastrophic breakdown in their relationship at Barcelona between 2009 and 2010.

But, in his book, Ibrahimovic explains his issues in graphic terms.

He describes Guardiola as “a spineless coward” who “hasn’t got any balls” and “can’t handle strong personalities”.

The Swede adds his former coach “has a hang up about Jose Mourinho” and if “Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola closes the curtains”.

While Ibrahimovic has played – and scored – against a Guardiola team since their parting in 2010, he has never won.

Papier mache figures of Guardiola and Mourinho created for a Spanish festival

Pundits’ views

Mourinho has won just three of his previous 16 meetings with Guardiola in all competitions, and the Spaniard has won the league title in six of his seven seasons as a manager. Only Mourinho’s Madrid side denied him in 2011-12 – after which Guardiola took a year out.

But who will come out on top in Manchester?

Lowe: “This idea that one is a winner and one is a philosopher, well it turns out the philosopher tends to win quite a lot as well.”

Mourinho is the bad guy and Pep is the good guy. We’ll leave all the boasting to United and we’ll get on with the job

Dave WallaceManchester City fan

Hunter: “Pep won the duel in Spain. In Manchester, who knows?”

Winter: “Mourinho is a master at winning an individual game. Tactically and mentally he gets his team right. But Guardiola is a visionary – he’s changed the game.”

Neil Ashton, chief football writer at the Sun: “Guardiola has this incredible intensity about him whereas Mourinho is relying on some big individuals to get him out of jail.”

Sam Wallace, chief football writer at the Telegraph: “It’s about controlling the game and I’m sure this week Mourinho will have been saying ‘we cannot lose this game’.”

Former England captain Alan Shearer told BBC Sport: “We know what United will do when they do get forward – put balls into the box – but we don’t know yet if City will be able to deal with them.”



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