Who's The Better Manager: Pep Guardiola Or Jose Mourinho?
Get the best email in soccer.
There is one individual rivalry in soccer that has stuck out from the rest over the last few years: Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola.
The managers met for the first time in September 2009 when Guardiola’s Barcelona team traveled to the San Siro to take on Mourinho’s Inter Milan side, ending in a 0-0 draw. They met four times during the 2009-2010 season, with Pep’s team winning twice, but it would be Mourinho getting the last laugh when Inter Milan eliminated Barcelona in the semifinals of the Champions League that season, leading to their first European title since 1955.
The rivalry reached its peak one year later, with Mourinho now managing Real Madrid, when a controversial red card to Pepe left Los Blancos with 10 men and allowed Pep’s team to win 2-0 in the Santiago Bernabeu and eventually proceed to the final of the 2011 Champions League. This led to an epic post-game rant in which Mourinho accused Barcelona of having control of UEFA and always being favored by referees. That rant cost Mourinho a hefty fine and a suspension.
In two seasons, Real Madrid and Barcelona faced off on 11 occasions and left some historic performances both on and off the field. After the 2011-2012 season, Guardiola left Barcelona and both managers didn’t face each until August 2013 in the European Super Cup. Only this time, Guardiola was coaching Bayern Munich and Mourinho was back at Chelsea. That game would end 2-2 and Bayern Munich would win the European Super Cup on penalties.
Three years later, both Mourinho and Guardiola not just find themselves back in the same league, but in the same city.
So who is the better manager: Mourinho or Guardiola?
Mourinho does have one more title, but Guardiola has managed to win a total of 21 trophies since starting his managerial career in 2007. He won 14 of 19 competitions during his four year reign as Barcelona manager (including two Champions League titles), and seven trophies with Bayern Munich.
Guardiola is known for playing a more creative brand of football and was the manager of the treble-winning Barcelona side during the 2008-2009 season, which is considered by many as one of the best teams of all time. That Barcelona side is also the only team to ever win all six official trophies in one year (La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup).
Along with this, Guardiola has a better head-to-head record against Mourinho: 9 wins/5 draws/4 losses.
Despite his success, Guardiola has only coached top teams that had already won with previous managers. With Barcelona, even though the club had gone two seasons without winning a title, the basis of the team was very similar to the one that won the Champions League in 2006 and only require Pep to make a few adjustments when he arrived.
In Munich, Guardiola inherited a world class side that had won the treble the year before under Jupp Heynckes. In fact, it was with Bayern Munich where his main weakness was exposed, which is his refusal to even tweak his style of play.
Now Guardiola is trying his luck in the English Premier League with Manchester City, but even there he has inherited a very good side. Of course, Manchester City doesn’t have the best team in the world, but they do have arguably the best side in England on paper and will be competing to win the league this season.
Not to mention Manchester City has won two of the last five EPL titles and reached the semifinals of the Champions League last season under Manuel Pellegrini. Regardless, it will still be a challenge for Guardiola as we see how he adapts to not just the style, but also the competitiveness of the English Premier League.
Mourinho has won 22 trophies in his career and is one of the few managers who has won the league title in four different countries.
His achievements have been considered remarkable considering the teams he managed: his FC Porto side was the first portuguese team to win the UEFA trophy (now the Europa League), he won the Champions League with FC Porto, who hadn’t won it since 1987, and Inter Milan, who hadn't won since 1955, brought Chelsea their first English Premier League title in 50 years and won La Liga with Real Madrid in record fashion, scoring 121 goals and reaching 100 points.
He’s known for rebuilding teams and never shies away from a challenge. Even a lot of his fellow colleagues have considered him the best manager in the world (Alex Ferguson, Diego Simeone, Mauricio Pochettino, and Louis Van Gaal). Along with this, Mourinho has always had the inferior side against Guardiola.
In fact, the only time one of his sides reached the level of Pep’s team was when he took over Real Madrid in 2010, but even that was an uphill battle ,as Madrid hadn’t won La Liga in two seasons and hadn’t even qualified for the quarterfinals of the Champions League in the last six editions.
Even though Mourinho has been able to do great things with limited squads, many fans and pundits still consider his brand of football to be defensive. He does like to put the spotlight on him to relieve his players, but sometimes he makes too big of a show with his pre/postgame comments that lands him in hot water with the federation, media, rival managers, fans, and even his own players at times.
He had a huge fallout last season at Chelsea with his own players, directors, and physio staff; eventually leading Mourinho to leave the club by "mutual consent" in December 2015 after making Chelsea EPL champions once again earlier that year. He also had a similar problem his last season at Real Madrid with top players at the club.
Mourinho remained in charge that entire season, but Real Madrid didn’t win any trophies and finished in second place 15 points behind Barcelona in the league table.
Despite these problems, Mourinho hasn’t shied away from a challenge and accepted this summer the job to rebuild Manchester United, a big club that has lost its way since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. We’ll now see if Mourinho is still the same top manager he was before or if last season’s disaster at Chelsea has affected him in any way.
They’re two managers with different styles of playing and approaching the game. Both have achieved a lot during their managerial careers and each one has great arguments to be considered the best. Who is the better manager? We’ll leave that to you all to decide.