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Guardiola’s impact on players that Mourinho wished he had

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Now is the best time to talk about the major difference that separates Pep Guardiola from Jose Mourinho, their way to relate to the players.

In what can already be described as Jose Mourinho’s worst season as a football manager, it’s days like today when comparing him to Pep Guardiola again becomes inevitable. Both managers have had a positive impact on many of their players, both of them have experienced negative moments as well but the Catalan coach seems more sympathetic than Jose Mourinho at least right now. There are very few who would dare to deny that Pep Guardiola is arguably one of the best managers in the world right now, whereas Jose Mourinho has certainly lost his touch and a great reason for that is the feeling he has lost towards many of the players who would die for him if this was a different era. Back when he had just started his career at Porto or Chelsea, ‘The Special One’ had a unique ability to reach his players on a psychological level that always brought out the best in them. But something happened along the way that changed this, Jose Mourinho now looks like he is far from feeling any kind of empathy for his top players and it really shows in the results he gets these days.

When comparing him to Pep Guardiola in that regard, there is a certain explanation that comes to mind which was made earlier this year by French striker Thierry Henry. The Arsenal legend came to Barcelona as a veteran and Pep Guardiola still believed in his talents, but he knew that the striker needed to learn many details about football and Henry was humble enough to accept the lessons: “I learned how to play football again at 30 years old. After what I had achieved at club level, Arsenal, Monaco, Juve – even if it was only for a short period – but also at the international level, I suddenly saw the game in a different way – understanding space, understanding staying in your position, understanding you have to give 100 per cent at everything. Even when we used to pause to drink in training, you had to run, drink, run back to the drill – his attention to detail is second to none. He’s actually too clever sometimes, that’s why he gets in trouble because he sees many things that he wants to rectify and change. He would change a tactic sometimes five times in one half,” said Henry while talking to Jimmy Bullard on Soccer AM. 

The explanation left everyone in the room amazed at what they were hearing because a player as accomplished as Thierry Henry, understood how important it was to learn from an unexperienced Pep Guardiola at the time and he embraced this without a problem. Eventually, Henry left Barcelona as a more knowledgeable player thanks to Guardiola’s teachings: “If you stand between the right-back and the right centre-back and Sam [Eto’o] or me does the same on the other side, suddenly you hold four players alone. With Samuel Eto’o and me running in behind and Xavi and Iniesta on the ball out wide, Messi is dropping, so either you die or you die. Just from you being high and wide, and then coming back in, you are actually freezing four players because we are threatening to go in behind. [There were] so many things. It’s like if I said to you, ‘Meet me in London’ and I don’t give you the address, just meet me in London. If you are clever, you might find me. But Pep gives you the GPS, the address, the car and everything,” Henry concluded.

Just the way in which Thierry Henry explains his many exchanges with Pep Guardiola give you a better understanding of how close the Catalan manager gets with the players that allow him to create that bond, Pep did have problems with some of them but they weren’t serious like the ones Mourinho had with some of his players. This is where one of the things that Jose fails to do becomes more crystal clear, he doesn’t care about the players’ opinion tactically because he sees them as professionals rather than people and he understands that their work is to only do as they are told. And as long as the Portuguese manager doesn’t understand that he needs to have alliances inside the squad, he will keep creating these pointless inner wars with the most talented players of the club. We all know how much of a diva attitude can some players get when they don’t feel comfortable, Mourinho doesn’t understand this because he wasn’t a player, unlike Guardiola who lived all of this.

What do you think Jose Mourinho needs to change about the way in which he treats his players? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.