Pep Guardiola has been flooded with offers and appreciative comments from clubs across Europe. So desperate are Chelsea to make him their next coach that they have appointed an interim manager for the remainder of this season. AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has spoken of his desire to bring Guardiola to Italy, even while Massimo Allegri remains in situ at the San Siro. Manchester City have even appointed Guardiola’s two former Barcelona colleagues Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, while Paris St Germain appear to be trying to lure him to the French capital.
With the reports emanating from Spain last week that Mourinho is set to leave Real Madrid at the season’s end, there is set to be a major scramble for his signature too. The former rivals are set to renew their conflict at the season’s end, with clubs across Europe considering which of the two would make the better option.
For Chelsea and Manchester City, Guardiola appears the preferred option. Yet elsewhere it is not quite so clear. Mourinho is strongly linked with Paris St Germain, whose coach Carlo Ancelotti seems set to depart sooner rather than later, quite possibly to take over from the Portuguese at Real Madrid. He would enjoy the plentiful cash on offer to the occupier of the managerial hotseat in Paris, but the club may also be tempted to go for Guardiola. The Catalan has links with Qatar, having been an ambassador for their successful 2022 World Cup bid, and also played in the country at the end of his career.
For Manchester United, they are constantly linked with both Guardiola and Mourinho, as replacements for Sir Alex Ferguson when he finally retires. Yet for United, who would they rather hire? Guardiola would continue their tradition of fast, free flowing football, and bring a degree of class and humility that United would probably prefer from their manager.
But then, Mourinho is as many have said, the closest thing to guaranteed success you can get in football today. He, unlike Guardiola, has managed and won with a number of clubs, and Ferguson has talked up his abilities to replace him at Old Trafford. But the Portuguese brings with him both a pragmatism that is at odds with their philosophy and a penchant for controversy. The fawning English press aside, who fell over each other to appease the ‘Special’ one’s ego, Mourinho has tended to make enemies wherever he goes. He found it difficult in Italy and left Inter Milan after disputes with the press, and in Spain he has been falling out with everyone who will dare cross him in Madrid.
That is the problem of Mourinho. He may be a greater guarantee of success, which is why he could well end up back at Chelsea next year, but then he is also a much bigger guarantor of public relations problems. In a world increasingly obsessed by public relations and good football, Guardiola would appear to have the edge over his old rival in their battle for the top jobs on offer at the end of this season. Mourinho called himself the Special One when he arrived in England. But the clamour for Guardiola shows that he is ‘The Only One’.