Manchester - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and his
Manchester City adversary Pep Guardiola rekindle a rivalry 20 years in the
making in this weekend's hotly anticipated Manchester derby.
Friends who became foes, Mourinho and Guardiola represent
opposite ends of football's ideological spectrum and their ongoing grudge match
has shaped the game's recent history.
It is three years since they last shared a touchline and
Saturday's clash at Old Trafford marks the resumption of a duel that could
determine the outcome of the Premier League title race.
"He (Guardiola) left Barcelona for a number of
reasons," former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher wrote in the Daily
Mail when Mourinho was appointed by United in May.
"But one of them, I'm sure, is the continual baiting to
which he was subjected by Mourinho in the media.
"It is inevitable, at some point, that theme will
return. Guardiola must be thinking: 'Oh no, not him again.'"
Also read: Guardiola vs. Mourinho duel resumes in Manchester
Though renowned for their different demeanours, the
pragmatic Mourinho, 53, and the idealistic Guardiola, 45, have both shown a
capacity for ruthlessness in their early days in Manchester.
Mourinho has sidelined experienced German midfielder Bastian
Schweinsteiger, while Guardiola's benching of Joe Hart forced the popular
goalkeeper to leave City for Torino.
Both men have also delivered impressive initial results,
leaving their clubs neck-and-neck on nine points -- along with Chelsea -- after
the first three games of the season.
It is two decades since their paths first crossed at
Barcelona in the mid-1990s, when Guardiola was captain and Mourinho worked as
an assistant to Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal.
The pair became close, but they found themselves in
opposition at Camp Nou in 2008 when Barcelona went in search of a successor to
Frank Rijkaard as manager.
Despite Mourinho's stellar achievements with Porto and
Chelsea, he was overlooked in favour of the inexperienced Guardiola.
The Portuguese exacted sweet revenge two years later when
Inter Milan knocked defending champions Barca out of the Champions League.
In an iconic image, Mourinho raced across the Camp Nou pitch
in celebration, his right hand provocatively raised in the air.
- 'Spineless coward' -
Mourinho's appointment by Real Madrid that year brought him
into regular confrontation with Guardiola.
Mourinho's first Clasico ended in a humiliating 5-0 defeat
and during a sequence of four encounters in two weeks later that season, the
rivalry between the men turned ugly.
In the build-up to their Champions League semi-final,
Mourinho's acerbic comments prompted an angry, foul-mouthed response from the
usually placid Guardiola.
That year's Spanish Super Cup witnessed a new low in the
relationship between the clubs as Mourinho poked Guardiola's assistant Tito
Vilanova in the eye during a touchline shoving match.
They last met in 2013 when Guardiola's Bayern Munich edged
Mourinho's Chelsea on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup.
Ahead of the current campaign, both managers were at pains
to play down the significance of their rivalry.
"In the Premier League, if I focus on him and
Manchester City, and he on me and Manchester United, someone else is going to
win the league," Mourinho said.
Guardiola said managers like Mourinho pushed him to
"reach another level".
But the gloves will come off when the referee's whistle
sounds at Old Trafford on Saturday, if not in the pair's pre-match press
conferences the day before.
The presence of the swaggering Zlatan Ibrahimovic in
United's forward line only adds spice to the blend.
Ibrahimovic, who has scored four goals in four games for
United since joining from Paris Saint-Germain, has played for both men and has
very different opinions about each of them.
Ibrahimovic played under Mourinho for only one season at
Inter, winning the 2008-09 Italian title, but described him as someone "I
was basically willing to die for".
He branded Guardiola, who sidelined him at Barcelona the
following season, a "spineless coward".
Manchester is about to find out whether the city is big
enough for both of them.For
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.