Pep v Jose: First impressions as managers of Manchester giants

Pep Guardiola has declared that he has no preconceptions about English football and has an open mind about how City will play.
Pep Guardiola has declared that he has no preconceptions about English football and has an open mind about how City will play.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Jose Mourinho faced interrogation at his press conference regarding Ryan Giggs and his youth policy. But he handled it with confidence.
Jose Mourinho faced interrogation at his press conference regarding Ryan Giggs and his youth policy. But he handled it with confidence.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • The Jose Mourinho-Pep Guardiola show began this week as Manchester City staged a meet-and-greet session with their new Spanish coach and Manchester United unveiled the Special/ Happy/Different One to the media.

They were two disparate events but they still gave us a chance to assess which one of these two managerial alpha males won the opening bout of their season-long joust.

SARTORIAL ELEGANCE

Guardiola arrived at the City Football Academy in super-cool Hoxton hipster garb.

This consisted of skinny black jeans, a spanking new pair of Converse-like sneakers, distressed cotton T-shirt and a tailored blazer.

Mourinho was draped in a black United shell-suit that featured shiny pants and a polo shirt which was open-necked and showed the collar up.

Opening tap-in: Pep 1 Jose 0.

SENSE OF HUMOUR

Mourinho may have only been in second gear but the display featured a running joke regarding whether his third new signing - Henrikh Mkhitaryan - was "official" or not.

The answer from Karen Shotbolt, the press officer, was a please-don't-ask "no".

For laughs, the 5,800-strong crowd at the Pep-fest was shown inside the manager's office which featured, among other things, a box of P(ep) G(uardiola) tips.

Mourinho nets the equaliser: Pep 1 Jose 1.

NEWS LINES

Despite having none of the fourth estate quizzing him, Guardiola still showered stories around like confetti.

He declared a willingness to "kick a***" if required, stated he is at City to prove himself and confessed that buying Barcelona's Lionel Messi is impossible.

Mourinho did face interrogation from the press and his discourse proved a stream of zingers.

There was a tough-luck stance on the departed Ryan Giggs, a defence of his youth policy and constant barbs at Louis van Gaal.

Mourinho takes the lead: Pep 1 Jose 2.

SENSE OF EASE

Mourinho was in his element - finally at the club he has wanted to manage for a long time, as he fielded questions with confidence and clarity.

Guardiola was equally articulate but the awkward nature of City's presentation of their new manager left the 45-year-old looking like he wanted the whole thing over.

Mourinho surges ahead: Pep 1 Jose 3. BLUE SKY THINKING Mourinho's best bit of I-am-renaissance-man was when he killed the idea Wayne Rooney was a "No. 6 or even a No. 8", as he will be a "No. 10" or "9 and a half".

Guardiola displayed his ability to view events laterally by simply saying he has "no preconceptions" about English football and has an open mind about how City will play.

Guardiola pulls one back: Pep 2 Jose 3.

CLUB BINGO

Mourinho's briefing mentioned "Ryan Giggs", "Sir Alex", the Red Devils' ethos - "win everything", "Manchester United is more important than me", and that by "July 2017 this club is where it has to be - in the Champions League".

Guardiola made several mentions of the "passion" of City and making the club "proud", along with winning "titles", creating "team spirit", and offering "something special" to fans.

Guardiola also dared to mention Mourinho by name.

Deep into added time the equaliser is secured and the final score in this pre-season derby is: Pep 3 Jose 3.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Pep v Jose: First impressions as managers of Manchester giants'. Print Edition | Subscribe