Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa says that Jose Mourinho does not get enough praise for toppling Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, and that the incoming Manchester City manager would still be in Spain if it was not for Mourinho’s intervention.
Guardiola’s Barcelona had looked unstoppable until Mourinho arrived on the scene, winning La Liga in 2011/12 after a wearying season of personal rivalry between the two coaches. Guardiola stepped down at the end of the campaign citing emotional fatigue, which some claim was evidence of a psychological victory for Mourinho.
Barcelona have won the title in three of the four seasons since Guardiola’s departure, and Real Madrid have not lifted the trophy since Mourinho’s team amassed 100 points to disrupt the Catalan’s dominance. Arbeloa thinks these facts suggest Guardiola would never have left the club had the antagonistic Mourinho not shown up when he did.
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“Mourinho was very important to break the Barca hegemony, [and] that hasn’t been recognised or appreciated enough,” Arbeloa said to BeIn Sports, as reported by AS. “If he hadn’t showed up, we’d still have Guardiola at Barca winning everything.”
Arbeloa experienced their feud first hand, having been a regular starter under Mourinho throughout his tenure in the capital.
Across two years of constant fighting in the media - which included Jose’s infamous eye-gouge on then assistant coach Tito Vilanova and culminated in Guardiola swearing at journalists for buying into Mourinho’s mind games – Arbeloa and Madrid gradually climbed above Barcelona, toppling a supremacy that had threatened to become permanent.
Mourinho is believed to have held a grudge against Guardiola ever since he was overlooked for the Barcelona job in 2008. Since then, the new Manchester United manager has employed a tactical approach that appears to deliberately defy the tiki-taka aesthetics of Barcelona’s idol.
There is still plenty of bitterness between the two managers, making the renewal of their rivalry in Manchester all the more exciting. In charge of similar sized clubs - both currently depleted but with large budgets - the next few seasons give both managers the opportunity to prove which tactical strategy is better suited to the modern game.
Do you think Guardiola would still be at Barca had Mourinho not taken the Real job? Have YOUR say in the comment box below.