For all the fuss over differences between their footballing ideologies, style of play, tactical implementations and self-illustration, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola share an inimitable facet of ruthless man-management.
Its the pair’s unyielding nature – also inherited by the game’s other serial winners including Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger – to withstand reluctance when it comes to banishing a particular set to players they do not wish to work with.
Footballing veterans Bastian Schweinsteiger and Yaya Toure have been left in the cold by Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola respectively, but history suggests it goes a long way back to behold the episodic brutal man management of the two eccentric coaches.
God works in mysterious ways. But so does Jose Mourinho. An established midfielder and World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger was apparently bound to thrive under Mourinho’s footballing creed of extensive and high demanding work ethic, but the German is now rather perceived as an injury-plagued player beyond the prime years of his playing career.
“Well, if they were not in my plans, I would not give them one single minute. I wouldn’t keep them in my squad,” was Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho’s reply, when he was asked why few players had failed to feature in his pre-season squad.
While, not five miles away from Old Trafford, at the Etihad stadium, Pep Guardiola is making his presence known at Man City by omitting club stars Yaya Toure and Joe Hart from his side.
Jose Mourinho led a major exodus during his second homecoming at the Stamford Bridge, but the Portuguese’s first tenure in charge of Chelsea was no less controversial. The untiring Dutch winger, Arjen Robben, who is considered as one of the best attackers in the world, failed to impress the reigning Man Utd boss during his time at Chelsea.
Robben’s spell in English football was surrounded by his unceasing tendency of sustaining injuries which obstructed the winger to make his mark with the Blues before Mourinho came to terms that he had seen enough. The Bayern Munich star was then sold to Real Madrid in a £21 million move, a transfer figure that merely appears a bargain in today’s market.
Another chapter that deserves a mention is that of William Gallas. The French defender left Chelsea in 2006 for local-rivals Arsenal after falling out with then-Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
The unassailable centre back made a host of obnoxious comments over his ill-fated departure from the Stamford Bridge before enraged Mourinho enforced Chelsea to publish an offbeat statement, revealing that Gallas ‘threatened to score own goals’ if he was not offered an incremented new contract.
Gallas was off to Arsenal not long after disclosing his demands to Mourinho and the Frenchman later failed to win a single major trophy on club level since leaving the Blues a decade ago.
At Inter, The Special One was quick to eject players he thought had lesser calibre to perform, may that be the overweight Brazilian striker Adriano, who was once considered as successor to Ronaldo’s legacy or may that be the underachieving Hernan Crespo, who was sold by Mourinho, not once, but twice, at Chelsea and later at Inter Milan.
For more than one reason, the contentious coach’s spell in the Spanish capital was never to be concluded with an happy ending at a club where managers are surrounded by political environment and hierarchical interference.
And neither Iker Casillas, the Real Madrid poster boy for over a decade, was entitled to book his starting berth under Mourinho and would gradually be omitted from the side with Diego Lopez stepping in.
But the peek of Mourinho’s brutality was observed during his second spell at Chelsea. Well established stars including Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Michael Essien and Juan Mata alongside club’s young talents Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne and Romeu Lukaku all had acknowledged that the Portuguese was not an easy-to-please type of a manager.
All ended up away from Stamford Bridge in no time and not even Blues’ all-time top-scorer Frank Lampard would evade the cold-blooded scrutiny of the Special One.
Jose Mourinho and his long-term nemesis Pep Guardiola worked together at Barcelona between 1996-2000, when Mourinho was a coach and Guardiola was a player and the pair tend to share parallel characteristics.
Guardiola would definitely avoid to describe himself as the ‘Special One’ even before beginning his first tenure outside of Portugal or animatedly running through the technical area at the Theatre of Dreams after knocking out Manchester United in the Champions League’s Round of 16, but Guardiola and Mourinho have blunt and merciless approach to kicking out players that fail to feature in their plans.
Very few would be less hesitant to axe Barcelona’s fan favorites Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Deco days into taking charge of the Catalan club.
“These three are not in my mind for the future,” Guardiola said on his first day in charge. “In fact, we will be going onwards without them. It’s time for a restart.”
Ronaldinho and Deco were on the move that summer. But after failing to find a new club, Samuel Eto’o persuaded Guardiola to keep him for one final season at the Camp Nou. The Cameroonian striker finished La Liga’s second top scorer but the Spanish coach was left unmoved by Eto’o’s instrumental goal tally that season and was used as a heavyweight to sign Inter Milan talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who himself failed under the acquisition of Guardiola.
The Swedish centre forward left Barcelona after just one season after infamously falling out with the Catalan boss and later described Guardiola as a ‘spineless coward’.
Guardiola continued to demonstrate his unforgiving nature after taking charge of Bayern Munich in 2013. The former defensive midfielder booted out Mario Gomez, Mario Mandzukic and Xherdan Shaqiri without consulting the Bayern Munich hierachary and also forced out club legend and fan favorite Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Man City duo Yaya Toure and Joe Hart are facing similar predicament with the Spanish coach and could soon be heading for exit as Guardiola continues to rebuild his squad at the Etihad.
The ruthless and sadistic outlook maintained by Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho was also inherited by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. However, the latter now appears to have amend his methods and comes across less brutal with his approach with his underachieving players at Arsenal.
However, for Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, its undisputedly ‘my way or the highway’ mantra. For all the dissimilarity between the footballing icons, the two evidently share more resemblance than the media acknowledge.
For every coin having two sides, the worldwide media triumphs to display that the iconic managerial duo are solely two different coins.