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El Clásico Preview – Guardiola vs Mourinho

23 Nov

If you can find me a better match-up of managers and minds, be my guest. Their work ethic, style, and philosophy puts them on a level never before seen. Okay, Mourinho and Sir Alex had their duels back in England. But Guardiola, with all due respect to the Scotsman, is a completely different animal…and much more hungry.

The history of these two men dates back to 1990′s, when Mourinho joined Barcelona as Sir Bobby Robson’s assistant, and later Louis Van Gaal’s. Barcelona won the European Cup Winner’s Cup as well as two league titles in Mourinho’s time there.  The focal point of that team – the proverbial cog in the wheel – was none other than Pep Guardiola. He had epitomized the role of central midfielder, winning the European Cup four years before Mourinho arrived.

They were different then. They are different now. I love Mourinho and I hate him. I love him because of his arrogance, his narcissism, and his ability to make any team a champion in no time at all.  I hate him because of his arrogance, his narcissism, and his ability to make any team a champion in no time at all. Tito Vilanova, Guardiola’s right hand man, said of Mourinho the other week, “He is a football manager who never talks about football.” Call me a purist, or call Mourinho brilliant for taking attention away from his players, but it is a style of managing that simply gets under your skin. Agree with it or not, nobody has ever done it like Mourinho.

Guardiola is a psychotic workaholic. Up 8-0 against Almeria over the weekend, Guardiola barely sat on the bench. He is always managing, always directing, always looking at the smallest errors and mistakes. Can you blame him? The man has created a system decades in the making, taking the Dutch idea of “Total Football” to an unthinkable level. Not to mention, he always talks about football. He is as cool as a cucumber during press conferences, and never gets mired in managerial cheap shots. It’s about the players and the game on the pitch. Nothing else.

Intangibles:

Guardiola’s combination of shaved head, heavy beard, sweater/cardigan, tie, and suit or jeans and a flannel checkered shirt are epic. Mourinho has trouble keeping his socks up (he’s always pulling them up on the sideline), and looks incredibly sloppy with the loose tie. Advantage Guardiola

Guardiola won an unprecedented 6 trophies in his first season as manager. In 8 seasons of management with 3 teams, Mourinho has 2 Champions League trophies, 1 UEFA Cup, and 6 domestic trophies. Advantage Mourinho

Guardiola speaks fluent English. He probably spoke a little Italian while at Brescia for a season. Mourinho learned Catalan when he coached Barcelona. He learned Italian with a Milanese dialect at Inter Milan. He spoke English while at Chelsea. However, it is unfair to fault Guardiola who has coached nowhere but Spain. Draw

Guardiola LOVES Coldplay. Mourinho sobbed when he said goodbye to Marco Materazzi. Draw

Guardiola’s press conferences are kinda boring. Raspy voice and all, he’s never good for a soundbite because it is impossible to bait him into angry responses. Mourinho’s press conferences should interrupt every channel on the planet. He grips the room like a fat kid clings to candy bar. Advantage Mourinho

Guardiola sprints down the sideline at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho jogs onto the pitch at the Camp Nou. Speed kills in this game. Advantage Guardiola

Too close to call!! Both of these guys are class acts, and arguably the most respected managers in the world. There will be as much excitement on the sideline as there is on the field of play.

(Photo courtesy of Zimbio.com)

Mourinho lashes out at Madrid press: "They’ll kill you."

12 Oct

This is by far the best quote yet from Mourinho since arriving at Real Madrid. In an interview with GolTV, Mourinho exclaimed:

“I think that Real Madrid cannot have a coach with no track record. Right now there is a coach in place with 2 Champions Leagues…championships in different countries including league cups and 17 championships. Then I arrive here and create so much doubt [among the press], that if you are a title-less manager coming to manage [Madrid], they’ll kill you”

Just brilliant. First of all, how many people out there can pull off talking in the third person with such arrogance and grace better than this guy? And for all the soundbites that come out of his mouth, this one really hits out at the Madrid base more than others.  

If God managed Real Madrid but couldn’t produce the spectacular, he’d be crucified. Other than owning Liverpool, managing Madrid is the most futile and nonsensical job a person can have in football. But at the moment, Madrid have the BEST manager in the world at the helm. A guy who craved Real Madrid as a dream job.


So get off his ass. This is as good as it gets.

Mourinho Claims Ronaldo Doesn’t Dive. Um….

2 Sep

There is really nothing more sublime and entertaining than a José Mourinho interview. Arrogant, confident, and blunt, Mourinho will tell you everything on his mind in the most straight forward manner possible. He’ll answer your question, and follow it up with the unthinkable. Speaking at the conclusion of the annual “Elite Club Coaches’ Forum” in Nyon, Switzerland, José defended his prima donna superstar:

“Cristiano is a player who doesn’t come from a culture of simulation.”

That is correct. One can’t possibly make a practical argument that Portuguese players don’t dive. It’s insane! After all, their neighbors in Spain are rampant cheaters, and the Italians have crafted a wonderful culture of deceit. Yet in Portugal, a metaphorical wall has been erected to defend against this culture of cheating the game by faking injury…Caution the authorities because I think someone broke through the defenses: Exhibit A.

“In some cases the simulators are those that have more protection, and those that are honest many times are the ones who get hurt.”

Is he trying to tell us that divers should continue to dive because if they don’t, physical contact will result with the threat of injury? I guess we should we feel bad that Ronaldo is missing 2-3 weeks with an ankle injury because he’s an honest player. He’s a guy that doesn’t deserve such bad luck because he plays the game like a true professional with the utmost class. Hm…Exhibit B.

“I wouldn’t be a hypocrite if I said that Cristiano is fouled very hard. And the yellow cards – or they aren’t given or they arrive late.”

Again, and this goes back to the pity issue above, Cristiano is treated unfairly by referees. You can’t miss it. Kicked and kicked and kicked with no punishment handed out. And we should feel bad for him. It’s not as though his pretty step overs, flicks, and tricks get under the skin of opponents. It’s not as if other players see him as a show boater. They’re out to get him because he’s just so damn good. Senseless, mindless, and fouls of intent. I really feel bad for Cristiano. What has he ever done to deserve such rebuke?! – Exhibit C.

Rabbi Mourinho

31 May


Perhaps his personal note went something like this:

God,

We both know I am special. I am champion. People call me cocky, disrespectful, arrogant, narcissist. Can you strike lightning on them? It hurts my feelings. I have new job in Madrid – but I hate paella. What do I eat? Maybe you can send special meals to my home.

O no I am late for penis snipping! They ask me to mo’yel. Come to games, I give you seat beneath me.

I love you,

Jose

Finally, a worthy adversary

26 May

So Jose Mourinho is on his way to Spain. And in case you were wondering about Manuel Pellegrini, don’t worry. Mr. Perez remembered he still had a manager and sacked him this afternoon. Let me digress for a moment to clarify something regarding the title of this very first blog of mine. I do not want anyone to think for a second that Pellegrini was not a worthy adversary. I have always respected and admired his managerial style especially with Villareal, where he implemented a Wenger-like, quick passing, possesion style of play. He brought Real Madrid to an unprecedented finish of 96 points. Going into the final day of the season, Real had won 18 of 19 games giving Barcelona no chance to slip up. But 2 losses to their arch rivals, and a 6th consecutive exit in the round of 16 in the Champions League buried any chance of his return. It wasn’t enough, and in some ways, you always knew whatever he accomplished wouldn’t be.

Now they’ve got their man. The “Special One.” 8 years, 3 clubs, 18 trophies: 2 champions league titles, league cups, national cups, and the list goes on. Arguably the most feared, arrogant, self-centered, successful manager in the game. It’s no wonder he is the perfect match for the most arrogant, self-centered, successful club team in European history. Now let’s be careful when we call this group a team. Anyone who watched Real Madrid play this season witnessed an often gut wrenching display of individualism and miscommunication. Sure they got the results and plenty of goals – but the manner in which these results were achieved was almost impossible to watch for a full 90 minutes.

All that is going to change. Of the many things Mourinho excels at, perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to create a cohesive unit. His teams are always the most disciplined – keeping their shape in defense and attack. They play as he manages with a fearlessness and sense of entitlement. And when you look at this team, it is the one thing they’re missing. I’m not saying Real Madrid didn’t step into every game this past season against the minnows of La Liga and didn’t think they could win. On the contrary. However, you never saw that confident edge. 4-1 scorelines hid the fact that the game was 1-1 though 70 minutes. A confident team with that firepower should be up 4-1 at halftime.

Mourinho brings everything Madrid lack. He tore apart my beloved Barcelona in the Champions League with ease (and quite frankly, beating Barcelona or any other European powerhouse is what Madrid lack at the moment). He has won at every team he’s managed and is looking to be the first manager in history to win the Champions League with 3 different clubs. His ego is his strength. And Madrid will love him for it.

Mourinho is not a worthy adversary not for his past success or because he’s earned my respect. Rather, he has manifested in me a level of fear I have never experienced with any other team I support in any sport. A fear that the only man who can bring my club’s sworn and most hated enemy to glory is now in place. A fear that the only man who has proven he can dismantle my team on the pitch now manages that Madridista scum. And for that, there can be no more worthy an adversary than Jose Mourinho.

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