Xabi Alonso is renowned for being one of the coolest customers in football and in an interview on Sky Sports with former teammate Jamie Carragher, his cerebral approach to thinking about the game really comes across.
Having played under both men at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, he is one of the best placed people to compare and contrast the two managerial giants.
The videos contain some fascinating insights, in particular Alonso mentions how he knew each man was of the highest quality from their very first meetings.
Alonso seems to enjoy discussing Pep’s approach more than José’s as the vast majority of both clips are spent on the Spaniard’s philosophy with only fleeting references to Mourinho. Alonso explains that Guardiola’s tactics are more challenging and nuanced as there are ‘more concepts’, but still acknowledges that Mourinho’s tactics are very effective.
Perhaps the most surprising insight is that Alonso feels that both men devote a similar amount of time to preparing specifically for the opposition.
This is at odds with the perception that Guardiola is inflexible compared to the chameleon Mourinho, who is willing to compromise footballing principles in order to do whatever it takes to curtail the opposition’s strengths. Either way, it’s just one more piece of evidence to whet the appetite before this huge match kicks off tomorrow afternoon.
Vincent Whelan, Pundit Arena