MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have enjoyed a rivalry, in Spain and England, that has at times been acrimonious but the Manchester City manager believes when it comes to the desire to win trophies they are identical.
“Definitely. In that, we are twins,” said Guardiola when asked, ahead of Sunday’s derby clash, if he was as obsessed with winning as his United and former Real Madrid counterpart.
“They want to win trophies, we want to win trophies. I think Antonio Conte is the same as well, and Juergen (Klopp) and Mauricio (Pochettino), and in all the leagues around the world, the managers are (like that),” the former Barcelona boss added.
“I never criticise my colleagues for the way they play. I never did in the past, I will never do it. Football is magnificent for that, because every manager plays in the way they play. There are different ways to enjoy football. It’s simple like that,” he said.
Keeping it simple is Guardiola’s mantra ahead of the highly anticipated derby.
Although City head to Old Trafford with an eight-point lead over their local rivals, the Spaniard is determined that his team keep their focus on doing what they have done so well this season - playing their style of possession football.
“The big challenge is to play good, to try to control the start point. It’s hard, because it’s United at Old Trafford. We want to try to play our game. The focus is going there relaxed and knowing that if we don’t win the individual duels, it will be almost impossible to beat them,” Guardiola said.
“We will try to play well, to play good football, what we have done, to be what we are. So I would like to finish the game and go to the locker room and feel we were what we have been for the season.
“As for the result, nobody knows what is going to happen. We will try to find the best way to play well and to win the game,” he said.
While a victory would send City 11 points clear ahead of the festive season, Guardiola has little time for the notion that the game could be a title decider.
“Winning, drawing or losing on Sunday, we are not going to win or lose the Premier League. It’s December,” he said.
“It’s an important game, because it’s United. You can get points and deny your opponent points. But it’s the same for them.
“I am not going into the game thinking: OK, we have an eight-point lead. What do I have to do because we have an eight-point lead? The Premier League is a marathon. We haven’t even arrived at the halfway stage yet.
“There are a lot of points to play for, more than 70. We just focus on the game, and the result, and then after, recovery and then thinking about Swansea three days later. It’s simple like that. It’s about going there and doing our game. That is what I want to see from my players.”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond