It’s time to go Head2Head again this week as the Manchester Derby is upon us! In this week’s feature we pit our editors against each other in a ‘Battle of the Bosses’ round. In the red corner of Manchester is Alex (#TeamJose) and in the blue corner is Mark (#TeamPep).
If you thought the Manchester Derby couldn’t get any bigger than it has in recent years, then you were very much mistaken.
Who could’ve imagined that arguably the two greatest managers of the current football era would be managing the two Manchester powerhouses of the Premier League. In the worst kept secret of last season, Manchester City announced in February that Pep Guardiola would succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the 2015/16 campaign which saw City limp to a 4th placed position in the league.
City fans have been in dreamland since 2008 when the Mansour family ploughed their funds with hundreds of millions; a splurge that eventually culminated in the Blues snatching their first PL Title from the hands of their derby rivals in 2012 and again in 2014 (although United were nowhere to be seen). Now, they have one of the most decorated managers in world football, renowned for implementing tiki-taka into what would create arguably the greatest Barcelona side in history and subsequently winning every major honour available.
The Spaniard then conquered the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich; winning three consecutive league titles, two DFB-Pokal, the UEFA Super Cup, and a FIFA Club World Cup. Although his move to the German Champions drew many questions over Pep’s managerial capabilities and ambitions. Taking the reigns from a team that was considered near-perfect whilst raiding their main competitors’ best players (Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Gotze & Robert Lewandowski) drew unwanted attention from critics who labelled him a ‘fraud’.
Maybe, rightfully so. Pep had already inherited several world class players at Barcelona before stamping his authority on the squad (one that included none other than Lionel Messi), and failed to replicate his Champion’s League heroics with one of Bayern’s most exciting squads in their history.
I think we can all agree that managing the Citizens will be Pep’s biggest challenge to date, especially for the money spent on players he has brought into the club. Judging by his team’s start to the season, it’s safe to say he’s doing well so far, but this weekend and as in any derby, form usually goes out the window.
Meanwhile, (now) over in Old Trafford‘s hot-seat is Jose Mourinho. The man who has been an almost constant thorn in the side of Guardiola. You can’t really mention one without the other because this rivalry has brewed since their time at Barcelona together under the guidance of figures such as Sir Bobby Robson and the man Mourinho succeeded as United manager, Louis Van Gaal.
What Mourinho achieved at Porto in winning the CL was nothing short of incredible, his Inter Milan side was an absolute behemoth of European football, and the former Chelsea boss won them a glut of titles and league cups in the club’s most trophy laden years. The success both managers have achieved is almost unfathomable.
The pair’s relationship soured when Guardiola’s Barcelona side was beaten in the Champion’s League Semi-Final by Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter Milan side back in 2010, and deteriorated further when the Portuguese took the helm at Real Madrid where Mourinho infamously didn’t see eye-to-eye with assistant manager Tito Vilanova, or with…well anyone really. Even UEFA were on the end of some of his press conference rants:
“Every time I play Pep I end up with 10 men. It must be some sort of UEFA rule.”
Jose’s Real Madrid side eventually wrestled the La Liga title off of Pep’s Barca in 2011-12, before returning to Chelsea for a second spell; which ended prematurely. Chelsea’s loss now seemingly the Red Devil’s gain.
The managers share a whopping combined 43 trophy haul, with Jose currently edging it 22, 21. But, the age old question remains…who is the better manager? The biggest of cheeses. It’s Pep vs Jose, it’s Mark vs Alex!
There is a certain aura that resonates around Pep Guardiola. A seemingly understated genius, he goes about his job both managing players and collecting titles without needing to be the centre of attention. His attention to detail is second to none and he has been hailed by former players and critics alike as the greatest manager of his generation.
He has had his critics however (I was one of them until I took time out to read The Pep Confidential) and these people will argue that all he has ever achieved has been down to the players at his disposal. You could argue it’s very easy to win trophies with the likes of Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski leading your lines, but the effort and tactical awareness that goes on behind the scenes is second to none.
Pep seems to make players around him better. His pursuit of perfection from every single one of his players ultimately leads to a better style of team play. With a career win percentage of 74% he is clearly no stranger to planning ahead.
You don’t become that successful by sheer luck. Pep rejuvenates any team he manages, taking his football philosophy to the core and ensuring the whole football club is better off with him at the helm. He works hard for everything he gets and this is why I believe him to be the greatest football manager in the business today.
As much as I dislike Manchester United, I have to admit that Jose is indeed the special one. There are few managers in the world who are true legends of the game. Mourinho is one of those.
His work at Porto is often forgotten with all the recent criticism, but in the early 2000’s Mourinho was king. There are very few managers who can nurture star players time and time again, but Jose is one of the best. In his short time at Porto he brought out the best in Ricardo Carvalho, Vitor Baia and Deco just to name a few.
While the Portuguese league is no Premiership, nobody can deny just how competitive it was back then. Sporting, Benfica, Porto and Boavista were all household Champions League names. His first full season in charge of Porto, he won the Premeira Liga with the highest points tally ever until last season.
The Portuguese manager also has the best game to win ratio of all Premier League managers. Having won 135 out of 193 matches, Mourinho is even ahead of the incredible Sir Alex Ferguson. It would be foolish to rule him out of any best manager discussion with a win percentage close to 70%.
While many may argue Jose is extremely defensive, you cannot argue with his accomplishments. While at Chelsea he not only secured their first title in 50 years, but he broke a ton of English football records. In 2004/5 season Mourinho’s Chelsea team only conceded 15 league goals. He is no doubt a tactical genius.
You don’t get the special one title without being exactly that!
I will never let Alex forget he wrote this until the day he leaves or until he blocks me on Twitter, but what a fine side to take. Although, I don’t completely wear red-tinted glasses as a United fan. Level-headed fans all know that Jose comes with a rep. Most will admit we all hated his antics as Chelsea manager, but at the same time he was shaking up the Premier League’s status quo upon his arrival. Our dominance was under threat and in the end Jose prevailed against Sir Alex Ferguson himself, on more than one occasion.
Any manager capable of that surely deserves a ‘best in the world’ mention at the very least. Also, let’s not forget that Jose’s Chelsea side prevented Liverpool from winning the league; his greatest achievement to date.
On the other hand, you have Pep. A man who assembled and trained a team that made us look like a Sunday League Pub team in 2 Champions League finals. A man who’s team humiliated Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side 5-0. I won’t deny his win ratio, he will win City trophies, and so will United with Jose. Both managers are serial winners and the league is better for it. I personally think it’s a question of who can keep up.
I haven’t been looking forward to a Derby this much in a long, long time. Zlatan vs Stones, Mkhitaryan vs Sterling, Pogba vs Gundogan, De Gea vs Bravo. The world will be watching…
Will your eyes be on the Manchester Derby this weekend? Who do you consider the best manager out of these heavyweights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us here!
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