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Who is More Classier? Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho?

Analysing the personality, style, and inner-self of the greatest modern football managers in history.

By Raja Izz

Picture: Sky Sports

There’s wily, and then there’s completely insane. It is no coincidence that both Guardiola & Mourinho were born "number one" in Numerology - further accentuating their accomplishments and meteoric rise to power in modern Football history.

Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona picked-up an incredible six-trophy haul in his first season as a coach, thus elevating himself among the best coaches in the game and the youngest UEFA Champion League winning manager ever.

Under Jose Mourinho, Inter Milan won the first "treble" in Italian history, the Serie A league title, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League, thus becoming the third manager in football history to win two UEFA Champions League with two different team, Inter Milan & Porto.

And here is the classic question, who is more classier? Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho?

Picture: Eurosport

Mourinho Media Relations

Mourinho’s act with the media has always felt less like tactical posturing—the sort of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin always used to get credit for, or that Rafa Benítez believes himself to be good at—than like the simple luxuriating of a man who likes sunning his ego in public. If there are two smart ways to deal with the media—#1 be boring and say all the right things, or #2 stir up controversy for some deliberate purpose—Mourinho loves balancing on the precipice of Crazy Option #2, letting them know what you really think.

“Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains. Sometimes you have ugly people who are intelligent, like scientists.” - Jose Mourinhoon the state of the Stamford Bridge pitch prior to their home Champions League game against Barcelona in 2006

That’s not to say he falls over it, or that he treats a press conference like group therapy. What comes out of his mouth is always too slippery and reversible to be taken as plain honesty. He loves teasing the moment, treating a mildly shocking, probably at least somewhat sincere, assertion like the most obvious public fact in the world, then daring you to guess exactly how ironic he’s being. But he gives the impression of doing it for the pleasure of the thing rather than to deflect attention from his players or to get in anyone’s head.

Picture: Getty Images

Guardiola Media Relations

You probably love the formal exercises in post-match humility that Pep Guardiola sustains every week after the Barça match. Actually, even if you applaud Mourinho for bringing a spark of live intelligence to a forum dominated by dead-eyed bloviators and tedious androids, you probably still admire Guardiola’s classy discretion.

“Gentlemen, if you lose today you will continue to be the best in the world – but if you win today you will be eternal.”- Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona.

If Mourinho offers completely original responses in a way that suggests elaborate improvisation and contrivance, Guardiola offers canned responses in a way that serenely suggests something like lasting truth. It isn’t just in press conferences. The contrast between these two managers is so deep and abiding that I think we’ve been slow to recognize it, almost as if it requires a leap of imagination to recognize that they exist in the same world at the same time.

The Barcelona Men

There’s the tactical difference, which was the first thing people talked about: Mourinho cautious but powerful, Guardiola like the flowering eglantine. There’s the amazing historical background: both men had ties to Barcelona, but Guardiola’s was as a beloved captain and Mourinho’s was as a glorified interpreter; Guardiola was a star player, Mourinho never played at all; Guardiola was a lifelong insider and company man, Mourinho was a self-made mercenary and outsider.

Picture: Getty Images

Personal Style

Look at them on the touchline. They’re both slim and sharply dressed in impeccable Giorgio Armani suit, but in Mourinho this seems to be a function of vanity (he wants to look good, he wants to drape himself with expensive fabrics, and he wants to look like Jude Law in "Alfie" movie) while in Guardiola it seems to be a function of a kind of spiritual sublimation in the community (he doesn’t like to take up unnecessary room or to draw the wrong kind of attention to himself).


Mourinho is tense and agile, sighing through his cheeks and jumping to his feet, but in a way that I’ve always thought disguised a surprising calm, as if he knew exactly how he needed to react to keep stress from interfering with his calculations. Guardiola is relatively impassive, standing straight with his arms crossed or leaning back with his long, skinny legs straight out, but again in a way that I’ve always thought was surprisingly nervous, as though he were thinking, no negative energy, remember the greater good. When they talk to their players, Mourinho is often looser than you’d expect and Guardiola is often more avid.

Picture: Eurosport

And finally.....who is more classier? Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho?

Concerning titles won, I believe one has to look at things with perspective in order to compare the two trainers. Guardiola has been the trainer for only two years, and he has already won it all. Mourinho, on the other hand, lacks the World Cup and the Super Cup of Europe. We also cannot forget that in his first two years as coach, Mourinho did not win a single title. Much is said about the 18 titles that Mourinho has won in a decade. Pep, in two years, has won seven. As the old saying goes, "Two Caesar is one too many".

And gentleman....the winner in terms of media relations, personal style, and Inner-self is Guardiola. You are inspirational, Pep.

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