El Clásico Preview – Guardiola vs Mourinho

23 Nov

If you can find me a better match-up of managers and minds, be my guest. Their work ethic, style, and philosophy puts them on a level never before seen. Okay, Mourinho and Sir Alex had their duels back in England. But Guardiola, with all due respect to the Scotsman, is a completely different animal…and much more hungry.

The history of these two men dates back to 1990’s, when Mourinho joined Barcelona as Sir Bobby Robson’s assistant, and later Louis Van Gaal’s. Barcelona won the European Cup Winner’s Cup as well as two league titles in Mourinho’s time there.  The focal point of that team – the proverbial cog in the wheel – was none other than Pep Guardiola. He had epitomized the role of central midfielder, winning the European Cup four years before Mourinho arrived.

They were different then. They are different now. I love Mourinho and I hate him. I love him because of his arrogance, his narcissism, and his ability to make any team a champion in no time at all.  I hate him because of his arrogance, his narcissism, and his ability to make any team a champion in no time at all. Tito Vilanova, Guardiola’s right hand man, said of Mourinho the other week, “He is a football manager who never talks about football.” Call me a purist, or call Mourinho brilliant for taking attention away from his players, but it is a style of managing that simply gets under your skin. Agree with it or not, nobody has ever done it like Mourinho.

Guardiola is a psychotic workaholic. Up 8-0 against Almeria over the weekend, Guardiola barely sat on the bench. He is always managing, always directing, always looking at the smallest errors and mistakes. Can you blame him? The man has created a system decades in the making, taking the Dutch idea of “Total Football” to an unthinkable level. Not to mention, he always talks about football. He is as cool as a cucumber during press conferences, and never gets mired in managerial cheap shots. It’s about the players and the game on the pitch. Nothing else.

Intangibles:

Guardiola’s combination of shaved head, heavy beard, sweater/cardigan, tie, and suit or jeans and a flannel checkered shirt are epic. Mourinho has trouble keeping his socks up (he’s always pulling them up on the sideline), and looks incredibly sloppy with the loose tie. Advantage Guardiola

Guardiola won an unprecedented 6 trophies in his first season as manager. In 8 seasons of management with 3 teams, Mourinho has 2 Champions League trophies, 1 UEFA Cup, and 6 domestic trophies. Advantage Mourinho

Guardiola speaks fluent English. He probably spoke a little Italian while at Brescia for a season. Mourinho learned Catalan when he coached Barcelona. He learned Italian with a Milanese dialect at Inter Milan. He spoke English while at Chelsea. However, it is unfair to fault Guardiola who has coached nowhere but Spain. Draw

Guardiola LOVES Coldplay. Mourinho sobbed when he said goodbye to Marco Materazzi. Draw

Guardiola’s press conferences are kinda boring. Raspy voice and all, he’s never good for a soundbite because it is impossible to bait him into angry responses. Mourinho’s press conferences should interrupt every channel on the planet. He grips the room like a fat kid clings to candy bar. Advantage Mourinho

Guardiola sprints down the sideline at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho jogs onto the pitch at the Camp Nou. Speed kills in this game. Advantage Guardiola

Too close to call!! Both of these guys are class acts, and arguably the most respected managers in the world. There will be as much excitement on the sideline as there is on the field of play.

(Photo courtesy of Zimbio.com)

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