Manchester United vs Manchester City: Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola duel headlines Manchester Derby
Past touchline rows and press-conference hostilities suggest the two men despise each other.
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho's fierce rivalry will play out its first installment on English shores on September 10. The Pep-Jose duel has had the luxury of time to marinate and assume a very distinct flavour. Their unique relationship as football managers stretches back across five clubs and seven years. Past touchline rows and press-conference hostilities suggest the two men despise each other.
Some believe their Sunday reunion could turn ugly but what the football lovers are really craving for, is an intense tactical warfare on the pitch. Despite Leicester City's heroics last season, the Premier League 2016-17 is bound to be a two-horse race between Manchester United and Manchester City. Antonio Conte's Chelsea cannot be disregarded and will certainly run the Manchester clubs close. All three teams have opened their respective campaigns with three consecutive wins. That all however could change after this weekend's Manchester Derby.
For neutral observers, it is absolutely fascinating to watch Guardiola and Mourinho operate from the sidelines when their teams are out on the pitch. It's obvious that their cultural conditioning is steeped in the quest for perfection. There's also a great deal to learn from their modus operandi and contrasting styles. For Jose, perfection is often defined by the result, for Pep it lies in its authenticity.
The Pep revolution is already under way at City. Unafraid to take bold decisions, the Spaniard sent first choice goalkeeper and club legend Joe Hart on a loan deal to Torino. Yaya Toure, the club's engine during their two title triumphs, too suffered a similar fate. The Ivory Coast midfielder played for Barca under Pep, but that didn't win him any favours.
It doesn't matter who you are – promising youngster or a seasoned veteran – if you don't fit into the system, your time's up. Guardiola handles such cases in the most fair, open and professional manner. But with little time on his hands to get the new City project up and running, Pep isn't really in a position to hand the long rope to players he believes might come good in the long run. It's safe to suggest City fans haven't seen his like before.
Jose, on the other hand, is happy with what's available at his disposal. The Portuguese injected the squad with exceptional quality in the summer with Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. On more than one occasion, the 53-year-old has publicly expressed his satisfaction over his playing eleven and the options on the bench. In a sense, Mourinho genuinely believes he has the firepower to deliver the title to United fans after brief trophy drought.
Jose is a known quantity in the Premier League. United knew exactly what they would get when they acquired his services. Jose is charismatic, inspirational and a serial winner. But there are doubts over his ability to integrate young players into the senior squad. That reputation has again been questioned with Marcus Rashford surging through the ranks at United. So far however, Jose has showed no inclination to deviate from his path.
While many believe the England forward is ready to start for United, there little chance of Jose opting for him ahead of Ibrahimovic against City. For Mourinho, winning is what matters and Rashford will once again have to settle for a cameo late on. Against City, Jose will stick to doing what he does best – resist temptation to open up. Despite playing at home and an obvious expectation to go on the attack, Mourinho's core beliefs will rule his instincts.
In a sense, the city of Manchester will now witness a rivalry that was made in Spain. Luckily for the Premier League fans, the best episode of this duel is likely to be played in next few years. On Sunday, Jose and Pep will indulge in a customary handshake. But will they see eye-to-eye and embrace one another? Hell no!
Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho: Overall record
Meetings: 16; Guardiola wins: 7; Draws: 6; Mourinho wins: 3
Barcelona vs Inter Milan
Meetings: 4; Guardiola wins: 2; Draws: 1; Mourinho wins: 1
Inter Milan 0-0 Barcelona — Champions League, September 16, 2009
Barcelona 2-0 Inter Milan — Champions League, November 24, 2009
Inter Milan 3-1 Barcelona — Champions League, April 20, 2010
Barcelona 1-0 Inter Milan — Champions League, April 28, 2010
Barcelona vs Real Madrid
Meetings: 11; Guardiola wins: 5; Draws: 4; Mourinho wins: 2
Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid — La Liga, November 29, 2010
Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona — La Liga, April 16, 2011
Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid — Copa del Rey, April 20, 2011
Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona — Champions League, April 27, 2011
Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid — Champions League, May 3, 2011
Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona — Spanish Super Cup, August 14, 2011
Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid — Spanish Super Cup, August 17, 2011
Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona — La Liga, December 10, 2011
Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona — Copa del Rey, January 18, 2012
Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid — Copa del Rey, January 25, 2012
Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid — La Liga, April 21, 2012
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea
Meetings: 1; Draws: 1 (Guardiola won on penalties)
Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea (5-4 on penalties) — UEFA Super Cup, August 30, 2013