Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are arguably the two best managers in the world of football at present.
The pair worked together at Barcelona for four years, learning together under Dutchman Louis van Gaal, and were considered as good friends once. But these good buddies later turned into foes, just like so many classic stories.
Their rivalry began back in 2010, after a controversial semifinal between Guardiola’s Barcelona and Mourinho’s Inter. It reached the next level, and became truly intense and heated, when Jose took charge of Real Madrid following his 2010 Champions League triumph. The duo locked horns in several El Clasicos, which were consistently competitive and controversial, each trying to outwit the other.
And now, a few years later, here we are in Manchester, and the two powerhouses in football management are set to battle each other again, and compete for all the titles in England.
Amidst their renewed rivalry arises The Question: Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho – Who is the better manager?
We believe that despite their individual pros and cons, they remain the best in the business. But due to the requirement of an objective answer for the sake of argument, we think Pep slightly edges Jose.
And here are the five reasons that support our belief as to why Guardiola is a better manager than Mourinho:
1. Superior head-to-head record.
Let’s begin with some concrete statistics.
Guardiola and Mourinho have faced each other on 17 occasions across 6 different competitions: 6 times in the Champions League, 4 times in the La Liga, thrice in Copa del Rey, twice in the Spanish Super Cup, once in the UEFA Super Cup, and once in the Premier League.
Out of these 17 matches, the Spaniard has won 8, the Portuguese 3, and the remaining 6 have ended as draws, clearly showing how Pep has won the battle of wits when these two superpowers clashed head on.
2. Better title-per-season ratio.
Pep Guardiola has a much better title-per-season ratio than Jose Mourinho.
During his time with Barcelona as manager, the Spanish tactician won 2 UEFA Champions Leagues, 3 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Reys, 3 Spanish Supercopas, 2 FIFA Club World Cups and 2 European Super Cups. He then moved to Bayern Munich, where he clinched 3 Bundesliga titles, 2 German Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, and 1 UEFA Super Cup.
To sum it all up, Guardiola managed to win an astonishing 21 major titles in just 7 years as manager, earning himself a title-per-season ratio of 3.0!
In comparison, Mourinho has managed to win 22 major titles with 5 different clubs in the space of 14 years, which breaks down to 1.57 titles per season – half of Pep’s ratio.
3. The Spaniard is much less controversial than Jose.
Jose Mourinho is quite notorious when it comes to controversies in football.
The man is famous for some of the most expressive and passionate touchline celebrations. He first displayed this habit of his at the place he now calls home: Old Trafford. A young Jose sprinted down the Theatre of Dreams’ touchline to celebrate with his players during FC Porto’s Champions League semi-final win over Sir Alex’s Red Devils.
He has followed that one up with the ‘shushing’ celebration in the 2005 Carling Cup final, and a passionate run in April 2014 – both coming against Liverpool.
And let’s not forget the infamous victory lap at the Camp Nou, after his Inter knocked Barcelona out to reach the 2010 Champions League final.
Apart from some controversial celebrations, Jose has also been involved in a few touchline spats, be it a poking match against Tito Vilanova, a pushing contest with Arsene Wenger, or a rant directed towards Chelsea’s former team physio Eva Carneiro.
And did you know that he has been accused of having hid from the UEFA officials in a laundry basket after being handed a touchline ban in 2005?
Compared to these controversies, Guardiola can be easily perceived as a saintly manager – and that’s exactly why Barcelona chose Pep over Jose whilst making their managerial appointment in 2007, as per Ferran Soriano, the former general manager of Barcelona.
4. Pep has never failed to maintain harmony and team spirit, unlike his Portuguese counterpart.
Jose Mourinho is believed to have parted ways with his clubs after having lost the dressing room on not just one, but two occasions.
He first fell out with the Galacticos of Real Madrid, and ended up leaving the Spanish capital on “mutual consent” after spending three years at the helm. He was reported to have had heated arguments with various high profile Real Madrid players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, and Iker Casillas, with the latter two threatening to leave the club if Jose remained in charge.
Portuguese defender Pepe recently let his feeling know about Mourinho’s time at Real, by stating: “Under Mourinho, people hated us when we got out there on the pitch. It lasted three years, and thank God it went very quick.”
The same thing happened again during Jose’s second stint at Chelsea. Top players like Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas stopped performing, and star men Willian and Diego Costa even requested a transfer away from the London club in the summer of 2015, despite having recently won the Premier League title.
Furthermore, the 53-year-old manager directly accused the Chelsea players of having “betrayed” him, before Chelsea’s 2-1 loss against Leicester City, which turned out to be his final game in charge of the Blues.
Such incidents have never occurred with Guardiola, who left both Barcelona and Bayern Munich on good terms with the players as well as the clubs and their fans. Sure, the Spaniard has had his differences with a few players who did not fit into his footballing philosophy, but he never lost an entire dressing room, and always had his team’s confidence.
5. Guardiola’s teams play much more attractive football than Mourinho’s.
When you think of Pep Guardiola’s team, you envision intelligent, entertaining, and beautiful football. High intensity pressing coupled with strings of smart short passes – not just to maintain possession, but to score goals as well. He instilled this philosophy of his at Barcelona as well as Bayern, and as a result, both the teams played some of the most beautiful football the world has ever seen.
His Barcelona team dominated the entire European football during his time at the helm, and the Catalan giants won 14 of the possible 21 trophies during his four years as club manager.
Pep also made Bayern Munich play the best football in the German club’s entire – and largely decorated – history, according to club legend Paul Breitner.
“Pep gave Bayern its most beautiful, attractive and best football the club has ever seen,” said Breitner.
“I am not judging him on what Bayern did in the Champions League, but on his legacy. And his legacy is amazing. Pep launched the third stage of a multistage rocket at Bayern.
“Louis van Gaal ignited the first stage by bringing his possession-based philosophy to the club. Jupp [Heynckes] then added movement to that philosophy during the second stage. Nobody could predict what would happen anymore.
“And then Pep perfected matters by bringing even more flexibility and pace. He used the foundation laid by his two predecessors and perfected matters.”
Mourinho’s teams, on the other hand, mainly play counter-attacking football. His entire team defends the goal altogether – a tactic that has now come to be referred to as the “Parking the Bus” approach – and bursts out on a pacey counterattack the first chance it gets, so as to capitalize on the unbalanced opposition.
The aim of his teams is to win anyhow – be it by playing attractive football, or boring one. And yes, his teams have been publicly described as “boring”, but make no mistake, the same teams have also been described as “Champions” too. They have also been the top goal scorers in different leagues – with his Real Madrid unit currently holding the record of most goals scored in a single La Liga season (121 goals in 2011-12).
The Special One’s philosophy and brand of football is an effective one without a shadow of a doubt, but certainly not as attractive and entertaining as Pep Guardiola’s – and that’s not just our opinion, but a widely held one.
So here they are, the 5 reasons why we believe Guardiola slightly edges over Mourinho in terms of quality. But then again, there are some instances where Jose bests Pep as well, as there’s no definite way to prove precisely which one is the certified best.
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