Why Jose Mourinho Makes More Sense for Manchester City Than Pep Guardiola
Despite securing progression to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League following a 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Matchday 5, Real Madrid have limped through the group stage, following up two impressive opening wins with a loss to Borussia Dortmund and two less-than-impressive draws.
In La Liga, Madrid's situation has been far more dire; despite a morale-boosting victory over city rivals Atletico Madrid last week, the Spanish giants sit 11 points behind undefeated Barcelona and five points behind Atletico.
On Monday, Real Madrid's poor performance seemed to finally catch up with him; Spanish newspaper Marca reported that Mourinho likely would not coach Madrid next year and would leave in the summer, citing disagreements between the Portuguese manager and Madrid president Florentino Perez.
While these rumors are just that at the moment, in the event that Mourinho does that Madrid this summer, Manchester City has to be high on the list of ideal clubs to coach at next. The club is in England (the country Mourinho has been dying to return to), it's rich and it's hungry for Champions League and EPL success.
The question is: with Pep Guardiola likely to wait until next season to jump back into coaching, why should Manchester City go with the Special One instead of the record-breaking ex-Barcelona manager?
In the next few slides, we'll make the case for why when it comes to Mourinho vs. Guardiola, the Special One is clearly the best choice for the noisy neighbors of Manchester.
Proven Track Record in England
From the very start, Mourinho has a clear advantage of Guardiola: Whereas Guardiola has no managerial experience outside of Barcelona, Mourinho has already dominated English football once before with Chelsea and knows the ins and outs of being a top-class manager in England.
Mourinho's resume from his three years with Chelsea reads as such: two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one Community Shield. Few, if any, managers have been so successful in such a short span of time in the EPL.
To this day, Mourinho's ex-players from Chelsea continue to sing his praises, and Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably the greatest manager to ever manage in the English Premier League, recently praised Mourinho in an interview with ITV4, saying:
He can manage anywhere, absolutely. I'm not going to put any forecasts on what is going to happen at this club. I won't last forever, but Jose can manage anywhere, there is no question about that.
In English football, there are few finer endorsements than the one above. Whereas Manchester City fans would have to hope that Guardiola could transition his knowledge and mastery of the Spanish game to the English league, they could rest easy with Mourinho knowing he's been through it all already and come out hugely successful.
Over a year ago, I argued that Jose Mourinho's success with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid made him a much better manager than Pep Guardiola, because Guardiola had only won trophies with one club, FC Barcelona, at the time.
Looking back at the argument, it must be said that, at the very least, it's a rather unfair one; why should Guardiola be penalized for having been a football manager for a shorter amount of time than his Portuguese counterpart?
Nevertheless, if I'm Manchester City and I'm deciding between Mourinho and Guardiola, this is one argument that I take into account and pay close attention to.
Mourinho's success with various clubs does not necessarily make him a better manager than Guardiola; however, there's no denying that it makes him the candidate more likely to succeed at City.
After all, if he's been able to succeed with clubs as different as Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real, what's to prevent him from being successful at City as well?
Mourinho has proven time and time again that if he's given time and money to mold his own squad and impose his style, he'll deliver results. The same cannot yet be said of Guardiola, who has thus far only done this with the club he was groomed at as a player and idolized as a legend after retirement.
Can Guardiola Transition from Barcelona?
It's the multimillion dollar question that everyone wants answered. After winning everything there is to be won in world football at Barcelona and then some, will Guardiola be able to transfer the tactics he installed with such great success at Barcelona to another team?
And more importantly, will he be able to then use those tactics to once again hit the heights he hit at Barcelona or get close to them?
Some might say that Pep Guardiola's four years proved that he is able to adjust to different players and circumstances. Even though Guardiola's reign at Barcelona brought numerous trophies to club, it was not without its difficulties.
Be it the Zlatan Ibrahimovic debacle, Carles Puyol's injuries, incorporating big-name signings and constantly reinvigorating the side with fresh La Masia talent, Guardiola met many challenges during his time at Barcelona and managed to overcome them all.
Many would say that these challenges have prepared Guardiola for whatever lies ahead.
Detractors of Guardiola, however, would say that for all the difficulties he faced as Barcelona manager, he was still gifted with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of coaching three of the world's four best players (Xavi, Iniesta, Messi), and his Barca team had one of the strongest backbones of any team in history, from Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique at the back to David Villa and Lionel Messi up front.
Which side is right? It can't be decided for certain until Guardiola finally steps into that second defining coaching role of his career, but for now, it's safe to say that that second position definitely casts doubt on the likelihood of success with Guardiola.
Until he manages another team, there will always be doubts as to how much of Barca's brilliance in the Guardiola era was due to the manager and how much was due to the sheer quality of the players at his disposal.
Tiki-taka football, the like of which is played by Spain and Barcelona, cannot be employed successfully by just any half-decent football club; otherwise, given it's positive perception by the majority of football fans, there would be little reason for all football clubs not to use it.
To be successful, tiki-taka requires the highest caliber footballers: players who can handle its intensity and the constant fluidity of motion required by all those involved in the tiki-taka system.
At Barcelona, players are groomed from an early age to fit into this system, and as such players like Victor Valdes, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, etc., all make it look far easier than it actually is.
Spain benefits from this as well since, on most occasions, the starting lineup contains around four to six Barcelona players, and in general Spanish football complements the tiki-taka system and the ethics of possession and attacking football.
England and Manchester City, however, are a completely different story.
While Manchester City does possess some great playmakers and passers, the considerable bulk of the team is not what would be considered ideal for tiki-taka football. David Silva and Yaya Toure would likely be able to adjust to the system considering their past experience with Spain and Barcelona respectively, but the rest of the team would likely struggle.
As seen with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Fernando Torres, classic centre-forwards struggle to carve out a dominant role in tiki-taka systems. What would this mean for Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko?
Where would Guardiola find his midfield metronome a la Xavi? David Silva is an excellent playmaker, but he's far more likely to follow in the footsteps of Iniesta in a Guardiola tiki-taka system than Xavi, leaving a big gap in the system. It's unlikely that Javi Garcia, James Milner or Gareth Barry would prove successful in the Xavi role either.
Manchester City's squad has been crafted on the principles of acquiring the top talents available on the markets and then molding them together into a system that works. Last year, Mancini succeeded in doing this, and were Mourinho to come in, it's unlikely that he'd have to do too much work to get the Manchester City squad to adopt his slightly more counterattacking football-oriented tactics.
But if Guardiola were to come in, the squad would require a significant overhaul. Having spent so much recently in assembling its star-studded squad, would it be wise to allow it to be dismantled so quickly? I wouldn't say so.
It's important to remember that this article is not about which one of Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola is the better manager.
Much like the Cristiano Ronaldo v. Lionel Messi debate, that debate is one that will continue to rage on for some time and, with much still left to be written in the careers of these two great managers, will remain unsettled for quite some time.
The issue at hand is which one of these managers would be most fit to take over at Manchester City if a vacancy were to open up at the club with Roberto Mancini's departure.
Because of Mourinho's experience in England, his overall success at a variety of clubs, and the question marks surrounding Guardiola and his ability to successfully transition to another club, the odds seem stacked heavily in Mourinho's favor as the manager more likely to bring success to Manchester City.
It should also be noted that the club in question is particularly important. Were we talking about Chelsea for example, I might be inclined to select Guardiola as the better candidate, due to Mourinho and Roman Abramovich's previous history and due to Abramovich's obsession with attractive football, something with Guardiola would definitely bring.
But as we are talking about Manchester City, a club focused on achieving results and silverware first and foremost, Mourinho seems to be the best fit. As stated several times however, there remain many pieces that must fall in place for the opportunity for Mourinho to take over at Manchester City to open.
For now, we wait patiently to see how things unfold over the remainder of the season at Real Madrid and Manchester City.
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