As Pep And José Battle It Out In Manchester Who Are The 8 Men To Have Played Under Both Managers?

An exclusive club...


With contrasting personalities and management styles, the men in the hotseats at Manchester's two massive clubs couldn't be more different. 

Only eight men can claim to have had working relationships with both men but who are they? 

Cesc Fabregas

The Spanish midfielder grew up idolising Guardiola and inherited his manager’s number 4 shirt upon signing for Barcelona in 2011. 

A pivotal member of Pep’s tika-taka system, Fabregas picked up one La Liga title and one Copa Del Rey before becoming disillusioned after Guardiola’s 2013 departure. 

He was brought to Chelsea by Mourinho the following year and was an instant success, leading the Blues to the 2014/2015 Premier League title in a playmaker role. 


Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

Anyone who has read the Swede’s acclaimed autobiography ‘I Am Zlatan’ will be in the know about his fractious relationship with Guardiola.

Ibra only spent one season playing under him at the Nou Camp in 2009/2010. While his 16 league goals in 29 games helped the club to their 20th La Liga title, the relationship between the two men broke down mid-season owing to an exchange in which Zlatan reportedly called Pep a ‘spineless coward.’

One season prior to his spell in the Catalan capital, Ibra enjoyed an altogether rosier relationship with his new Manchester United boss Mourinho at Internazionale. During the sole season they worked together he won the golden boot having scored 25 goals as Inter won the Serie A crown.

How does Zlatan compare the two managers? 

“He (Mourinho) is the exact opposite of Pep Guardiola. If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains. Mourinho would become a guy I was basically willing to die for." 

Scathing. Roll on the Manchester Derby. 


Samuel Eto'o 

The only man to have won a treble under both managers and in consecutive seasons too. 

Forming a memorable forward-line with Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi, the Cameroonian bagged 36 goals in the 2008/2009 season as Guardiola’s Barca demolished all before them, including Manchester United in the Champions League Final.

Later that summer, he was used as a makeweight in the deal that brought Ibrahimović to the Nou Camp. Eto’o managed 16 goals for Mourinho’s Inter Milan side as they matched Barca’s achievement in winning three major trophies in the same campaign.

Eto’o went on to play another season for Mourinho at Chelsea in 2013/2014 where he took umbrage to a comment from the Portuguese on his age: I have one striker (Eto'o) but he is 32, maybe 35, who knows?”

The two have kissed and made up since with Eto’o quouted as saying: “"Jose is my friend and he always will be. I don't think it is right to fall out with anybody because of these little things. We had so many good memories together, and they are all very precious for me.”

 Also, like Ibrahimović, Eto’o has been vocal on negative feelings towards Guardiola: “"He [Guardiola] shook hands with me when I was at Inter and I played against Barca, but this was just for the cameras and TV. Behind the scenes before the match, he did not greet me."  


Xabi Alonso 

While some of the game’s most combustible players have been involved with famous rifts with José and Pep, the personable Alonso is any manager’s dream. 

Towards the end of Mourinho's tumultuous spell in charge of Real Madrid his various rifts with senior players such as Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo left him with few supporters inside the dressing-room. Alonso, however, is said to have been one of them.

Alonso, who won one league title and a Spanish Cup under Mourinho at the Bernabeu moved to Bayern munich in 2014 where he joined up with Guardiola, winning two German titles and a German Cup.

Both men clearly left an impression on Alonso as he recently spoke of his excitement at the two going head-to-head in Manchester: 

"Personally, they are both very similar in that they are hard workers and extremely ambitious. I had the privilege of working with both of them and I have a great relationship with them." 

Comfortable sitting on the fence there, Xabi? 

Alonso Jose

Arjen Robben 

The player with the longest spell between playing for the two men. He burst into the British consciousness as an explosive winger under Mourinho at Chelsea from 2004 to 2007.

Robben was influential as the pair won two league titles together before the Dutchman endured an injury-hit campaign in 2006/2007 as The Blues finished runners-up to Manchester United

Robben has since spoken about his time working under Mourinho, citing his frustration at being held back by injuries and the patience Mourinho showed: 

"He was very fair, very good. The only problem was the injuries. He could not count on me. It was frustrating for both of us and it became difficult. But in a football point of view, he was very important. He helped me mentally."

Robben had a spell at Real Madrid before arriving at Bayern Munich in 2009. He was already established at the German giants before Guardiola joined in 2013 and he three consecutvive Bundesliga titles under the Spaniard's stewardship. 


Claudio Pizarro

The Peruvian striker joined Mourinho at Chelsea in the summer of 2007. However,  with the manager being sacked in September, the pair's working relationship was a relatively limited one.

Pizarro went on to play under Guardiola for two seasons at Bayern Munich and where they picked up two Bundesliga titles together. 



The man otherwise known as Zlatan's best mate, Maxwell spent a season playing under Mourinho at Inter Milan, winning the Serie A title in 2009.

He left that summer for Barcelona, along with Ibra, winning two La Liga titles under Guardiola. Unfortunately for the left-back he wasn't part of the squad that beat Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League Final. 


Eidur Gudjohnsen 

The Icelandic striker was a vital member of Mourinho's Chelsea side which won back-to-back Premier Leagues in the mid-2000s.

He moved to Barcelona in 2006 and won the treble of La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League under Guardiola three years later. 

He has since spoken of the pair's differing personalities, saying:  

“Guardiola is more timid and doesn’t like confrontation. Mourinho is more chest-out ‘come and get it if you want. José likes a bit of confrontation and a bit of discussion – and a heated discussion, at that. With respect, Guardiola would probably rather not have that kind of conversation.”


Written By

James Fenton

Resident football writer, covering City, United and the rest of what the beautiful game brings to our city. I also moonlight in news, current affairs and emmm... burger reviews.