Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will renew hostilities in London this evening as Guardiola’s Manchester City travel to take on Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur.
The pair battled fiercely during their time in Spain together, when Guardiola led Barcelona and Mourinho led Real Madrid.
Many believe that Mourinho was brought in with the remit of stopping Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona team, and he played a key role in raising tensions in El Clasico to fever-pitch.
Relations are supposedly calmer these days, although there was a spirit of the old rivalry in the pre-match conferences. “[Gareth] Southgate said that some coaches put pressure on the players to not play with the national team,” Mourinho said in comments carried by Marca.
“I would like to know who those coaches are. We all now that [Raheem] Sterling is going to play tomorrow.”
Guardiola, smarting from the suggestion that he was one of the coaches in question, wasted no time in responding. “Maybe Mourinho is a doctor, I don’t know. He has to call the national team doctors.”
Mourinho also spoke about Guardiola’s decision to sign a two-year contract extension with City this week. “The only sure thing is that nobody put a gun to Guardiola’s head to sign the contract,” he said.
“He’ll have been happy to stay and I’m sure he’s had conversations with powerful people in the club and they’ll have given him the motivation to sign, so he must be happy.”
Saturday’s meeting will be the 24th time Mourinho and Guardiola have faced each other in their managerial careers. The pair first met in the 1990s, when Guardiola played for Barcelona and Mourinho joined the club as Bobby Robson’s translator.