This article was originally published as Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho - Just A Difference in Style in the Clásico Section of the Spain Football Community
If there's one thing that stands out when you look at FC Barcelona and Real Madrid over the last couple of seasons, it's the radically different personal styles of their respective coaches - Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
Guardiola is calm, collected and despite the team's enormous success, very self-effacing. In the press conferences, he tends to praise his players rather than taking the accolades for himself and is always very respectful of opposing teams and coaches.
He's known for his love poetry and art and in Catalonia, is seen as the epitomy of 'seny' - a Catalan word meaning something between common sense and fair play.
Jose Mourinho, however, is the complete opposite and in many respects plays Mr Hyde to Guardiola's Dr Jeckyll. He's deliberately provacative and loves to be in the limelight. Since he's been at Madrid, he's complained so much that referees and the Liga de Fútbol Profesional Board tend to end up giving him what he wants.
In their own different ways, though, both men are the perfect leaders for their respective sides.
Guardiola uses a softly softly approach to a group of players, most of whom have known each other since their teens when they played together in the Barcelona youth teams. It's pretty obviuos that the team spirit is already there so Pep can apply his philosophy of co-operation and collaboration on very fertile ground.
Mourinho, on the other hand, since his days at Chelsea has always had to deal with groups of superstar players, many of whom have cost the earth and consequently, are under a great deal of pressure from the media, the fans and quite probably their team mates. By taking so much of the limelight, Mourinho successfully diverts much of the attention from his players, and it's interesting that wherever he's coached, his ex-players - John Terry at Chelsea is a good example - have always spoken very highly of him.
A Long-Standing Relationship
It's important to remember that the Guardiola-Mourinho relationship goes back a very long way.
As the picture shows, the two men worked together at Barcelona under Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal - Pep was team captain and a club legend while Mourinho was a young coach just starting to make a name for himself by learning the ropes at a big club as second-in-command.
Guardiola left Barça to finish his playing career in Italy, Qatar and Mexico, whilst Mourinho went on to greater things first with Benfica and then with Chelsea.
In 2008, with the departure of Frank Rijkaard from the Barcelona bench, both men applied for the vacant position. At the time, Mourinho seemed to be the clear favourite - he had top level experience whilst Pep only had a year's managerial experience coaching the Barcelona B team in the Spanish fourth tier Tercera División.
Apparently, at the interview, Mourinho even suggested Guardiola as his assistant, but when the Board asked if he was prepared to change his provocative managerial style, he refused and Guardiola ended up getting the job.
The First Encounter
It seems thar Mourinho's pride was injured. Even though he went on to win Serie A with Inter Milan in 2009, Guardiola went one better and led Barcelona to Liga and Champions League.
Guardiola remained as prudent as ever, but when Barça faced Inter in the Champions League semi-finals in 2010, the Catalan press began to bad mouth Mourinho. They referred to him as the 'translator' harking back to his time at Barcelona when, due to Bobby Robson's poor Spanish, Mourinho ended up helping him out with the language.
Inter won the game in San Siro 3-1 and Mourinho started crowing loudly. Barça beat them 1-0 in Camp Nou, but as Inter were through to the final, Mourinho strutted like a peacock.
Even after winning the Champions League final, it still seemed that he was even more pleased about having knocked Barça out in the semis. And the what did he do? He took the Madrid job.
Here in Spain, we all rubbed our hands in glee at the prospect of first class managerial entertainment.
Mourinho's First Season at Madrid
Let's face it, Jose Mourinho is great value for money. He whinges, moans and provokes and that's exactly what he did on arriving to the Real Madrid bench. He did go a little quiet, though, when Barça thrashed his superstar team 5-0 in the Santiago Bernabéu in December 2010.
The rest of the Liga season was a two horse race as usual, with Guardiola's Barcelona a nose in front, but when we heard at the start of April that the two sides were going to play each other 4 times in 18 days sparks were bound to fly.
Barcelona scraped a 1-1 draw in the Liga game against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu and Mourinho managed to keep his calm. However, when his Madrid side won the Copa del Rey in Mestalla four days later, he crowed and hooted so loudly that we could hear him here in Barcelona.
Unfortunately, though there were still two matches to go. The coveted Champions League semi-finals were to be played on April 27 in the Bernabéu and on May 3 in Camp Nou.
And that's when the shit hit the proverbial fan.
In an article entitlted 'José Mourinho's mind games finally provoke response from Pep Guardiola', The Guardian described what happened.
'This time it's personal. Barcelona's coach, Josep Guardiola, finally exploded, sending a year of pent-up anger and frustration gushing forth as he responded to José Mourinho on the eve of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.'
Mourinho had provoked Guardiola by referring to comments made after Madrid's victory in the Copa del Rey final. Guardiola had noted that his side had been close to winning: had a Pedro goal not been ruled out for a very close but correct offside, described by the coach as "the linesman's good eyesight". Hardly a complaint about bad refereeing, but rather a regret spoken out load about how close Barcelona had come to winning.
And this is how Mourinho responded. "A new era has begun. Until now there were two groups of coaches. One very, very small group of coaches that don't speak about refs and then a big group of coaches, of which I am part, who criticise the refs when they have mistakes – people like me who don't control their frustration but also people who are happy to value a great job from a ref.
"Now there is a third group, which is only [Guardiola], that criticises referees when they get decisions right! There is a new meaning to [football] now. In his first season [Guardiola] lived the scandal of Stamford Bridge [in the semi-final], last year he played against a 10-man Inter. Now he is not happy with refs getting it right. I am not asking the referee to help my team. If the referee is good everyone will be happy – except Guardiola. He wants them to get it wrong."
The normally reserved Guardiola finally let out a season's worth of pent-up frustration.
"Tomorrow at 8.45 we will play a match on the field," Guardiola said. " Outside of the field, he has won the entire year, the entire season and in the future [it will be the same]. He can have his personal Champions League outside the field. Fine. Let him enjoy it, I'll give him that. But this is a game. When it comes to sport we will play and sometimes we will win, sometimes we will lose. We are happy with smaller victories, trying to get the world to admire us and we are very proud of this.
"I can give you an immense list of things [that we could complain about]: 300,000 things. We could remember Stamford Bridge and another thousand things but I do not have that many people working for me. Secretaries and referees and people writing stuff. So tomorrow, 8.45pm, we will take to the field and we will try to play football as best as possible.
"In this room [Real Madrid's press room], he is the chief, the fucking man. In here he is the fucking man and I can't compete with him. If Barcelona want someone who competes with that, then they should look for another manager. But we, as a person and an institution, don't do that. I could talk about [Olegario] Bequerença [the referee from last season's Barcelona-Inter semi-final first leg], about the offside goal from Diego Milito or the penalty of [Dani] Alves, but I don't. Well, until tonight!
"If you think after three years, that I always moan, always make excuses and always complain, then there is nothing I can do about that."
The team's response was even more convincing though. FC Barcelona knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League by beating them 2-0 in the Bernabéu and drawing 1-1 in Camp Nou. Incidentally, Barça went on to win the Champions League and La Liga.
Mourinho's Attack On Tito Vilanova
The 2011-12 Liga season began with two fantastic Clásicos in the Spanish Super Cup. And Barça had the upper hand again - 2-2 in Madrid and 3-2 in Barcelona. Judging from the way he reacted, Jose Mourinho must have been feeling a little frustrated.
If one moment has marked the Barça-Madrid rivalry at the start of this Liga season, it's the incident at the end of the second Spanish Super Cup game where, in the middle of a players' brawl, Jose Mourinho went over to Pep Guardiola's assistant Tito Vilanova and poked him in the eye.
Watch this video of what happened and judge for yourself.
Mourinho's cockiness over the next few days was even more pathetic than his original attack, and isn't even worthy of comment.
To add insult to injury, he got away with a two-match suspension to be served if, and only if, he's managing Madrid the next time they qualify for the Super Cup and Vilanova got a one-match suspension for pushing Mourinho in the back in what looks to me like a reflex reaction.
Calm Before The Storm
What's been very strange over the last month or so is that, despite Madrid's excellent form - they're three points clear of Barça at the top of La Liga with a game in hand - Mourinho's been extremely docile and quiet. No complaining. No moaning. No shouting. No jeering. Perhaps he's turned over a new leaf.
Whether he has or not, I'm looking forward to the press conference after next Saturday's Clásico, whatever the result!