Monday, 11 December 2017
Guardiola v Mourinho
There is no doubt that Guardiola and Mourinho are two of the best managers in this generation, but their differences in style are something I find really interesting, and something I felt like writing about. They both have a winning mentality, big personalities and have an aura about them that is intriguing to watch.
It is clear that Mourinho has a win at all costs mindset that shows through his mindgames before matches, his antics on the touchline and his tactics. Guardiola on the other hand is more of a purist, demanding the team plays a certain brand of football and ensuring that nothing will stop his team playing a passing game.
I have always had a bit of an agenda with Mourinho and never enjoyed watching his teams, but when you have a direct comparison with their city rivals now it is clear to see in my opinion that his ideas and tactics are inferior to his counterpart. City are playing the sort of football that every football fan dreams that their team would play. Passing from the back, one touch passing and quick transitions both offensively and defensively are making them thoroughly enjoyable to watch. As a player it must be a dream come true to play for him as you get to play football the way it is supposed to be.
When you watch both teams the big difference I can see is the freedom to express themselves being given by the manager, and also the confidence to do it knowing they won't be blamed or outed in public for mistakes. This is the single most noticeable difference for me from the two managers.
The United players look paralysed with fear on the ball and in their attitude towards attacking football. That comes from the manager and his constant demand for defensive work from his attacking players. Players like Martial, Rashford, Mata and many more before them are employed as defensive wide players, and often find themselves in full back areas. They know if they don't do a job defensively they will be blamed publicly by their manager, much like Hazard was at Chelsea when they lost against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in 2014. This cripples them in terms of their attacking intent and ultimately bleeds them of their confidence.
I am not saying that attacking players shouldn't defend, because actually if you watch City their players all work extremely hard off the ball, but in different areas. The transition to defense happens up the pitch, as they try and win the ball back quickly in high areas and force opposition teams to play through them or go long. This means they will always be high up the pitch and when they win it back the transition to attack happens immediately as they are already in a dangerous area. This is the type of defending that attacking players can actually enjoy, on the front foot and going after the ball instead of worrying about players running in behind them and defending 1v1. Is is much easier for them to defend like that, and means they can use their energy high up the park instead of tracking back and doing the job of the fullback. As a former wide players who tried defending at times, I can confirm 1v1 defending is harder than pressing high up the pitch, and I will never have a career at right back as a result!
In terms of the public blame game that Mourinho plays, I know a lot of fans like that honesty and think players are wrapped in cotton wool. But as player that can never work and it turns the squad against the manager and creates a divide that will never really come together. When you compare that to how Guardiola handles similar situations, for example with Claudio Bravo last year, it is a much easier environment to flourish and keep confidence up. I'm sure he knew Bravo was having a poor season, but he always defended him publicly and same goes for when Stones made mistakes, or Sterling was low on confidence. Although privately he would I'm sure be harsh on his players at times, publicly he always defends them and as a player that is important to gain trust in your manager. It also gives you the confidence to make mistakes, which in turn results in less mistakes as you can relax. At the level these guys are playing at, when they can relax they can play football that is a joy to watch and I am glad is it reaping the rewards so far this season as hopefully it makes people realise that Mourinho is not the genius he thinks he is, and that the way Guardiola goes about his business is the model for all future managers to take note of.