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Pep Guardiola Destined For Premier League Glory – But Would Mourinho Replicate The Same Success?

Here we assess the differences between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, who have developed a fierce rivalry over the years

Holding a huge 15 point lead over their fierce cross-city rivals, Manchester City look all but certain to capture their first Premier League title since the 2013/14 season.

City have set the division alight at times this season and Pep Guardiola’s men appear well on course to beat the Premier League points record of 95 set by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea during his first season in English football back in 2004/05. Guardiola and Mourinho have both been at the helm of their respective clubs for 18 months now and while the Catalan failed to deliver a trophy during his maiden year in English football, Mourinho on the other hand finished his first season in charge at Old Trafford with the League Cup and Europa League titles to show for his efforts.

Here we assess the differences between the two rival bosses who have developed a fierce rivalry over the years reminiscent of Ferguson v Wenger and Clough v Revie, and contemplate who would come out on top if two of the world’s top trainers traded places.

Guardiola and Mourinho – Trophy Hunters

They are two of the most successful coaches in football history. However, their playing styles and footballing philosophies couldn’t be further apart. They’ve won countless trophies between them on their travels taking in spells in Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, the German Bundesliga, Portugal’s Primeira Division and of course the English Premier League. Since succeeding Frank Rijkaard as the head coach of FC Barcelona in 2008, Guardiola has accumulated six league title winners medals in Spain and Germany, four domestic cup titles, two Champions League and three Club World Cup titles in addition to a whole host of individual managerial awards.

Mourinho meanwhile started his managerial career at Benfica eight years before Guardiola, lasting just nine games in the hotseat following a bust-up with the club’s new chairman. Since that inauspicious start to life as a head coach, Mourinho has accrued eight league title winners medals in four different countries, eight domestic cups, two Champions League triumphs and two Europa League titles (one at Porto whilst still the UEFA Cup). They have both enjoyed fantastic success throughout their careers and undoubtedly will continue to compete for the biggest prizes at two of the world’s iconic and biggest clubs.

City versus United – Squad Assessments

Earlier this season Mourinho argued that United could not compete with City’s spending power, pointing to the fact that City were able to recruit full-backs for around £50 million each. Guardiola for his part has, perhaps in jest, suggested that City aren’t able to compete financially when it comes to paying the top transfer fees and salaries available elsewhere, in the wake of Alexis Sanchez’s move to United last week. City had been keen to recruit the former Arsenal man with only six months of his contract in North London remaining. However, with Arsenal demanding a reputed £35 million for their star player and the Chilean seeking wages to make him the Premier League’s best paid player, Guardiola baulked at the figures and withdrew his interest. Mourinho, needing to boost his squad’s creativity however, jumped at the opportunity and offered the forward what he wanted to move to Old Trafford.

Guardiola since arriving at the Etihad in the summer of 2016 has spent an astronomical amount of money, approaching £500 million, on new players. Yet, looking at the squad today, it is clear to see that he has built the squad in his vision of playing fast possession-based attacking football. He has recruited creative players such as Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva to compliment the likes of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne whilst moving on older players such as Alexandr Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta to bring in more youthful signings including the likes of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy. He has also recruited well at the back, obtaining the signatures of highly-rated centre-backs John Stones and Aymeric Laporte in addition to a top goalkeeper in Ederson and a supremely talented centre-forward in Gabriel Jesus. He buys players that he envisages playing his pleasing-to-the-eye style of football who will help City dominate for years to come.

Across the city meanwhile Mourinho has hardly been a shrinking violet when it comes to spending money. Huge outlays on Paul Pogba (a world record £90 million at the time), Romelu Lukaku, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Henrik Mkhitaryan (now departed in exchange for Sanchez) have undoubtedly improved United’s squad. But despite their successes in the cups last season and their current second position in the league standings, United doesn’t seem to be a team that plays with an identity. When Sir Alex Ferguson patrolled the touchline the one thing you could guarantee would be fast attacking football with wingers on either side of the pitch. Mourinho operates a much more functional game designed to win matches no matter how the team plays. For some United supporters, his preference for substance over style is completely alien after 26 years of Fergie. The Portuguese does however get results, there can be no denying that. Not so often at the expense of Guardiola though it appears.

Pep versus Jose – One on One Record

Earlier this season City travelled across Manchester in what was labelled a title-deciding match (on their part at least). They won the game 2-1 and with just 13 games of the current campaign remaining they boast a 15 point lead over their nearest challengers United. Some bookmakers are already paying out on City winning the title. For Mourinho it seems the best chance of silverware this season remains in the Champions League and FA Cup. Guardiola, meanwhile has a League Cup final to look forward to and is battling on four trophy fronts still.

The statistics show that Guardiola has a significantly better head-to-head record against Mourinho than vice versa. Nine wins to Mourinho’s four in all competitions and seven draws make for pleasing reading for City players and supporters. The biggest victory during their rivalry witnessed Pep’s Barcelona crush Jose’s Real Madrid 5-0 back in 2010. It is a rivalry that seems set to continue for a few more years at least.

Role Reversal

It would be unfair to state an opinion on who is the better manager. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. However, if they were to perform a role reversal, it would be difficult to imagine Mourinho managing a City team full of such flair and Guardiola a United team devoid of the type of attacking prowess they possessed under Fergie for so long. Guardiola is a proactive manager always looking to build attacking teams who play good, possession-based fast football.

Would Mourinho win the Premier League if he was manager of Manchester City and vice versa if Guardiola was manager of Manchester United? At this moment in time with City having the better squad the answer is probably a resounding yes in Mourinho’s case.

As for United, would Guardiola be able to win the title with that United squad? Perhaps not, but given a year in charge you wouldn’t bet against it. Thankfully we’ll never have to find out.

If you take a look at the current odds on City to win the title they are massively odds on (1/200). This is not Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United team of 1995/96 that we’re talking about after all. There is next to no chance of City serving up a repeat of that famous Geordie collapse of two decades ago. City possess an outstanding squad and an outstanding manager and look destined to dominate for the next few years. Mourinho has some catching up to do to bring United into the realms of being consistent challengers to City, but given his tendency for moving on from clubs after a short stay will he be around long enough to try and bridge that gap. Only time will tell.

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