Mourinho and Guardiola, Madrid and Barça

We were all disappointed to see what happened yesterday in Beijing as the Manchester derby was cancelled due to the rain. But it matters not. We'll still, of course, see the two managers face off against each other, not there, but when they meet for the game on September 10, in their own championship. The impact of their rivalry awakens a desire to witness it, although more of reasons of pure curiosity. The presence of both managers in Manchester is aligned to the effort that has been made by the Premier League to overtake Laliga based on hiring coaches of maximum prestige. It is also the chosen path of Conte and Klopp. It’s a wonder that Emery escaped them.

Beijing National Stadium :The Bird's Nest - where the first José v Pep Manchester derby was scheduled.

Looking across at Manchester makes me feel like back in Spain there is some sort of nostalgia for these two great coaches. And there is. In each of their previous clubs, many still appreciate them. But have they really lost so much? Both Madrid and Barça have fared better without them than they have without Madrid and Barça. Madrid have won two Champions Leagues in three years, and Barça have continued to accumulate titles. In Luis Enrique’s first season he won five trophies. For their part, Mourinho won a Premier League but was then fired; and Guardiola has done with Bayern the minimum expected from them: win in Germany but not in Europe.

The Spanish feud, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, April 16, 2011.

Coaches are important, but players count for more. They have both gone, but here Cristiano and Messi have continued, in their own corners fighting for the Ballon d’Or, resolving, alone or with others, each match on a Saturday or Sunday, or Tuesday or Wednesday in Europe. I don’t see the status of either of the big two Spanish clubs diminished with the departure of the coaches, but on the other hand those coaches shine less now than in the years that they had their formidable duel here. The conclusion is an obvious truth: football is, above all, about the players.