We’re twins: Pep Guardiola plays peacemaker ahead of Manchester derby face-off with Jose Mourinho
Manchester City boss says hunger for success makes him and United manager the same despite different playing styles
Pep Guardiola said he and Jose Mourinho’s obsession with winning trophies makes them “twins” despite the difference in their styles as the two great rivals prepare for the Manchester derby.
Manchester City’s manager is renowned for his philosophy of possession-based, passing football, which has he slowly instilled at the club since his arrival in 2016.
Manchester United boss Mourinho meanwhile is seen more as more pragmatic and obsessed with winning, something which has brought him 25 trophies during his 17-year managerial career, including Champions League titles with Porto and Inter Milan.
Yet as the two managers prepare to face each other at Old Trafford on Sunday, Guardiola, himself a winner of 22 trophies and the same number of Champions Leagues, said they share that hunger for success.
“Definitely,” he said. “In that, we are twins. They want to win trophies, we want to win trophies.
“I think Antonio Conte is the same as well, and Jurgen [Klopp] and Mauricio [Pochettino] and in all the leagues around the world, the managers are there.”
Guardiola suggested in an interview with the BBC in September that United “play long balls up to [Marouane] Fellaini and [Paul] Pogba” as a priority, a criticism that appeared to irk Mourinho.
But the former Barcelona boss changed tack ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
“I never criticise my colleagues for the way they play. I never did in the past, I will never do it,” said Guardiola.
“Football is magnificent for that because every manager plays in the way they play. There are different ways to enjoy football. It’s simple like that.”
Guardiola and Mourinho have often been at loggerheads in the past, with a rivalry that dates back to their time as rival managers in Spain between 2010 and 2012.
While Guardiola was widely praised for his aesthetically pleasing approach at Barcelona, at Real Madrid Mourinho was seen as a coach for whom winning was the be all and end all, despite the record number of goals, points and away wins his team racked up in winning the 2012 La Liga title.
Guardiola won 21 trophies over seven years with the Barcelona first team and Bayern Munich – his other trophy the Spanish third division title with Barcelona B – but ended his first campaign at City empty-handed, while United won the Europa League and the League Cup.
The City manager looks set to put that right this time around, with his side unbeaten in the Premier League and eight points clear at the top going into the derby.
Guardiola has no intention of playing defensively at Old Trafford to maintain that lead.
“Winning, drawing or losing on Sunday, we are not going to win or lose the Premier League. It’s December,” he said.
“It’s an important game, because it’s United. You can get points and deny your opponent points. But it’s the same for them.”
Guardiola confirmed David Silva will be fit for the match despite earlier saying he was a doubt.
Silva did not travel to Ukraine for the 2-1 Champions League defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek but reported for training on Friday morning.