Anger man­age­ment

An un­easy calm pre­cedes Guardi­ola and Mour­inho’s up­com­ing Manch­ester derby

CityPress - - Sport -

Broadly speak­ing, in the world of foot­ball, there are three types of league matches that cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of sup­port­ers and neu­trals. The first is when the de­nial of three points is as sig­nif­i­cant as the three gained. This is usu­ally the case when the two teams find them­selves at the two ex­treme ends of the league ta­ble.

The sec­ond is when there is gen­uine hos­til­ity, if not out­right ha­tred, be­tween the two clubs’ sup­port­ers, usu­ally in the case of der­bies.

The third is one where there is a history of hos­til­ity be­tween the two man­agers.

This year, foot­ball afi­ciona­dos are likely to be treated to two matches where the above three phe­nomenons com­bine when José Mour­inho’s Manch­ester United take on Pep Guardi­ola’s Manch­ester City.

The history of the re­la­tion­ship dates back the mid-90s, when Mour­inho, in the em­ploy of Bobby Rob­son and Louis van Gaal as a trans­la­tor, main­tained a close al­beit pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with the young mid­fielder.

And, 15 years later, they would be in di­rect op­po­si­tion to each other when Mour­inho was ap­pointed by Real Madrid with the ex­press brief of end­ing the two-sea­son win­ning streak of Guardi­ola’s Barcelona.

Their first on-field meet­ing was a sig­nif­i­cant one: Barcelona’s fa­mous 5-0 bat­ter­ing of Los Blan­cos, the shock­ing re­sult no doubt the cat­a­lyst for the nature of the re­la­tion­ship.

What ini­tially ap­peared to be no more than a heated ri­valry that would most likely only play out on the pitch, es­ca­lated into a full­blown war of words.

Dur­ing a par­tic­u­larly heated se­ries of El Clási­cos at the end of April 2011 – four in the space of three weeks – came a num­ber of al­le­ga­tions of ref­er­ee­ing bias on the part of both teams, although Mour­inho could be re­garded as the most vo­cal of the two.

On the one oc­ca­sion when Guardi­ola ques­tioned a con­tro­ver­sial ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sion – one that ar­guably cost his side the Copa del Rey – Mour­inho launched a counter-at­tack, point­ing out the hypocrisy of his op­po­site num­ber.

Guardi­ola, in turn, broke out of his or­di­nar­ily phleg­matic char­ac­ter on the eve of the Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nal – the third of the four El Clásico matches – to de­liver a now-fa­mous rant at the ex­pense of Mour­inho.

“In this [press] room, he is the puto jefe, the puto amo – the f***ing boss, the f***ing master,” he said.

“And I don’t want to com­pete with him for a mo­ment.”

De­spite the ill tem­per that sur­rounded this re­mark­able se­ries of matches, the most sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment of the fierce ri­valry came in Au­gust that year, dur­ing the sec­ond leg of the Su­per­copa.

A vi­cious tackle by Madrid’s Marcelo on new Barcelona sign­ing Cesc Fàbre­gas prompted a mass brawl, dur­ing which Mour­inho could be seen goug­ing the eyes of Barca as­sis­tant coach Tito Vi­lanova.

De­spite this in­ci­dent, the 2011/12 sea­son did not de­liver a sim­i­lar level of ag­gres­sion be­tween the two Span­ish giants and their man­agers, but the scene was set for a ri­valry that would al­ways be likely to reignite.

Mour­inho made a point of say­ing that he would do noth­ing to an­tag­o­nise Guardi­ola, say­ing that do­ing so in a league as com­pet­i­tive as the Premier League would only ben­e­fit other teams chal­leng­ing for the ti­tle.

Guardi­ola has re­mained char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally quiet on the topic.

The foot­ball purist may hope that this cease­fire be­comes a last­ing truce, but those seek­ing drama could well be in for an en­ter­tain­ing sea­son.

Their first meet­ing of a Manch­ester derby will come on Septem­ber 10 at Old Traf­ford.

TEAMtalk Me­dia –

PHOTO: LARS BARON / BONGARTS / GETTY IM­AGES

AS­TUTE Pep Guardi­ola

PHOTO: CLIVE MA­SON / GETTY IM­AGES

SHORT FUSE José Mour­inho

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACKPAGEPIX

AS­SET Mario Booy­sen proved him­self at Su­perS­port

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