7 players who played under both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola
Chelsea have been known to be very quick when conducting transfers and Pedro is the latest fish to have been caught by the Blues’ hook in the blink of an eye. As they snatched the unassuming Barcelona winger from the jaws of Manchester United, they merely followed a precedent they themselves have set over the past few years – other clubs scout, chart deals out, negotiate and even conduct medicals.However, this is a player schooled in Barcelona’s philosophy, promising to bring a different dimension to the struggling Chelsea. He could benefit from it too, with Mourinho’s steeliness embellishing Guardiola’s tactical ingenuity in Pedro’s game.But very few others have been that fortunate; playing under the best two managers of the time – exponents of vastly different schools of thought. We take a look at players who have played under both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
#7 Samuel Eto\'o
The European treble is football’s hardest achievement, without a doubt. Clubs as big as Real Madrid and Juventus are yet to win it, making it the Holy Grail of every professional. Barcelona have won it twice while Manchester United, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich won it once.
Samuel Eto’o, however, has won not one, but two trebles. That too, with different clubs – Barcelona and Inter Milan. In consecutive years – 2009 and 2010. Under both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
Initially seen as a discard by the Catalan coach, Eto’o’s industrious performances made him indispensable to Barcelona’s class of 2009. From discard to trump card, Eto’o had seen everything in a season where we he terrorized defences with Thierry Henry and Leo Messi. However, the mercurial Cameroonian was sold as makeweight in a Hollywood deal with Inter Milan, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic moving the other way.
Not someone to hang in the towel easily, Eto’o formed a deadly partnership with Argentinean marksman Diego Milito. Together with Jose Mourinho, the strikers dragged and forced the club past many a precarious situation. Within less than a year, Eto’o’s Inter Milan had beaten Guardiola’s Barcelona and won the treble. The transfer had come back to bite them.
Eto’o would play for Mourinho again, spending a season at Chelsea when the Portuguese boss took charge for a second time in 2013.
Once upon a time in football, full-backs used to defend. Then came the age when they defended first and attacked as and when required. Then came the age when things flipped, and became vice-versa. Maxwell was unfortunate to have been born in this era. Hardly the marauding, all action auxiliary winger kind of full-back that we are used to seeing, Maxwell was a centre half dressed in a fullback’s garb.
And then, Mourinho came. He realized the attacking potential of the Brazilian, who was blessed with blistering pace and a thunderous left foot. Before long, he had also become a true, modern fullback. And this is precisely what made Barcelona sign him a year later. A reasonable success at Camp Nou under Pep Guardiola, the defender was primarily an understudy to the magnificent Eric Abidal, shining whenever he got the chance to.
Having played at Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, Maxwell is a journeyman who has learned different things from each of the four European Leagues he’s been a part of. But nothing would have skewed his learning curve upward as much as his days under the two brilliant, legendary polar opposites.
#5 Eidur Gudjohnsen
Eidur Gudjohnsen was a Chelsea player much before Roman Abrahamovich and his petrodollars flowed into West London. Signed in 2000, the striker was never really a Mourinho favourite. Largely playing second fiddle to the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Didier Drogba, he was a blue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But for the sporadic starts in the Cup matches, he never really figured in the Portuguese manager’s scheme of things, and was offloaded to Barcelona in the summer of 2006.
Why the Catalans signed the Icelander baffles their fans to this day, that too when the club had a young, boy-wizard who had only just graduated from La Masia. Signed as a replacement for Henrik Larsson, that’s all Gudjohnsen ever did at the Camp Nou – replace tiring players for three minutes here, or four minutes there. With his direct, old-fashioned way of football, he was a misfit amongst an array of artists who did things with the ball that one couldn’t even envisage.
As under Mourinho, Gudjohnsen was nothing more than an afterthought with Guardiola too.
#4 Cesc Fabregas
When Cesc Fabregas left the Gooners heartbroken and returned to the Camp Nou, he was seen as the final piece that could take Guardiola’s jigsaw to still greater heights. He was the prodigal son who returned home, where he had terrorized youth teams with two of his other mates – Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi.
A cultured and unselfish midfielder, Fabregas had a polarizing effect on the Camp Nou faithful; while some of his joyful passing and hawk-like vision was appreciated by many, he had a problem of remaining anonymous for a majority of the game, especially during the latter halves of seasons. Indeed, this was one of the major reasons why Josep Bartomeu decided to part ways with the midfielder – he simply couldn’t afford passengers in the midfield of a team that was already accused of being too nice.
He had no such issues in Chelsea with Mourinho though. With the towering, domineering Nemanja Matic sitting deep next to him, Fabregas had the freedom to roam around and orchestrate moves. His pre-Christmas form was like a dream with the Spaniard registering an assist almost every game. However, familiar second half blues came back to haunt him, and he hasn’t looked the same ever since.
Can Mourinho manage to bring the classy midfielder back to his best?
#3 Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso is that kind of player we all love. Someone who is intelligent enough to play in any system, formation, philosophy or scenario, the suave Spaniard is a manager's dream. And that's exactly why he was equally good under three of today's demanding managers – Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
The former Liverpool midfielder was as vital a cog as anybody else in Mourinho's stop-start Madrid machine. His wonderful reading of the game, metronomic passing, long balls that could pass through the eye of a needle and crunching tackles made him a firm Bernabeu favorite. Which is exactly why his sale to Bayern Munich last season raised so many eyebrows.
And it was at the Allianz Arena that Alonso's versatility shone through. The way he fit in so seamlessly at the Bavarian giants is partly the reason why Javi Martinez has been given the cold shoulder by Guardiola, and also why Bastian Schweinsteiger, a bona fide Bayern legend, was offloaded to Manchester United.
Needless to say, the Spanish regista still has a few more seasons left in his tank before hanging up his boots. And there's a definite chance that he could lift a second Champions League title before that, given the way Guardiola's side is shaping up for this season.
#2 Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben’s time under Jose Mourinho under Chelsea was a mixed one in many ways; on one hand, he was a young, almost illegally fast winger who could take defenders to the cleaners. On the other hand, however, were incidents that eventually tarnished his time at the Stamford Bridge.
His first season at the club was rocked by reports of him being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Once these claims were refuted, came the next big controversy the following season, when his theatrics led to Pepe Reina’s dismissal in a league match. Following a serious knee injury in the following campaign, he was sold to Real Madrid, who then sold him to Bayern Munich two seasons later.
By the time Pep Guardiola arrived at the Allianz Arena, Robben was already a superstar, known for his selfishness with the ball. However, the Spaniard has managed to make the Dutchman a more rounded player, who offers much more than a wing threat. Today, Robben’s penchant for cutting in and having a go at the keeper is matched by his ability to find the right man at the right time.
Arguably the fastest player with the ball in the world, on his day, Robben offers Guardiola’s team a dimension they sorely miss in his absence.
#1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Love him or hate him, there simply is no ignoring Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A character whose ego is as big as his talent, you either hit it off with Zlatan or you don’t. There simply is no middle ground when it comes to the Rosengard native.
Now, love them or hate them, you simply can’t ignore Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola either. They are big figures with bigger egos. And when you put Zlatan in a cage with one of them, you know he will either form a dream team with them, or he will leave a relationship more messy than a train wreck behind him.
Mourinho was the manager who managed to bring out the best in the Swede. During his solitary season with the Portuguese at Inter, Zlatan managed to score goals at will, raising his bar by a notch or two.
Soon enough, Barcelona and Guardiola came beckoning. In a deal that saw the Blaugrana part with a huge amount of money plus Samuel Eto’o to boot, Ibrahimovic had finally arrived to team up with Lionel Messi. However, the well documented problems between him and Guardiola soon came to the fore and we know what happened next.
After just a solitary season in Catalunya, Ibrahimovic returned to Milan, albeit to the red half of the city.