Newly-appointed Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said Tuesday he will not let his rivalry with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola get in the way of his bid for the English Premier League title.
Mourinho and Guardiola will arrive in Manchester for next season with a shared past and pressure to succeed. And Mourinho believes that if they focus on their long-standing rivalry, another team will be crowned champion next season.
The pair went head to head in an often bitter rivalry between 2010 and 2012 when the Portuguese was in charge of Real Madrid and Guardiola coached Barcelona.
“My experience doesn’t allow me to play the innocent. I rubbed shoulders with Pep for two years in a league where the champion was him or I, Real Madrid or Barcelona. In such a situation, the individual duels are meaningful because they can have an influence,” admitted the Portuguese.
“But in the English league, if I focus on him and on Manchester City and if he focuses on United, someone else will be the champion,” Mourinho said on the sidelines of a conference at Lisbon University.
“In England there have been four different champions over the past four years. That says a lot about the competitiveness (of the Premier League),” said Mourinho, comparing the situation with the German, French or Spanish leagues, dominated in recent seasons by Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona respectively.
“Contrary to other championships, where the top names are always the top names, this is not the case in England,” he said.
Mourinho, 53, sacked by Chelsea in December, last week signed a three-year deal with United with an option for a fourth.
Guardiola, 45, arrives at City fresh from the Bundesliga where he won the league in each of his three years as coach of Bayern.
The Portuguese, who has won 22 honours as a coach, believes his arrival will not be a big deal for the Premier League.
“I’m already sort of part of the furniture. The level will improve thanks to new coaches and new players who may arrive and bring something different,” Mourinho added in quotes to the Lusa news agency.