Jose Mourinho's Manchester United Don't Play Good Football, Hints Pep Guardiola

When Pep Guardiola announced he would be stepping down as Barcelona coach in 2012 and taking a sabbatical, everyone wanted an explanation.

"The reason is simple," Guardiola, who delivered 14 trophies in four seasons at the Camp Nou, told a packed press conference in Catalonia. "Four years, that gets everyone tired. I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries."

Many believed, however, that it was the exhausting battles he had with then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho that led to Guardiola's departure. The two coaches sparred both on the pitch and in the media for the two years that they competed in the Spanish La Liga. And, when Guardiola announced his departure, Mourinho couldn't resist one last parting shot.

"It's his life," Mourinho said, "but, for me, it's unthinkable to take a sabbatical. He is younger than me but I am not tired."

Five years on and the two coaches are back in the same league; Mourinho at Manchester United and Guardiola down the road at Manchester City. They have been for the past year, but the toxic relationship was reduced to pleasantries as Chelsea dominated in the Premier League.

Now, with Guardiola's City the runaway leaders in the Premier League and Mourinho's United continually falling behind in second, the temperature has risen from a simmer to the verge of boiling point.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola
Jose Mourinho, left, and Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, April 27. Mourinho and Guardiola have reignited their rivalry from Spain. Laurence Griffiths/Getty

After City won the Manchester derby on Sunday (December 10), a fracas in the tunnel, reportedly begun by Mourinho, has lit the fuse once again in this relationship. Mourinho suggested this week that City lacked respect when he said there was a "diversity in behavior and education." But now Guardiola seems to have struck back.

The former Barcelona coach will not be run out of town this time by Mourinho. In his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's game against Tottenham, Guardiola heaped praise on Maurcio Pochettino's team.

"I think Tottenham are with Chelsea as the best team in wanting to play football," Guardiola said. "They don't expect their opponents [to force the play], they want to make their own game."

Not only was United absent from Guardiola's praise, but he also opted to laud the quality of Antonio Conte's Chelsea, a team that Mourinho has been critical of over the past year.

Mourinho, twice a manager at Stamford Bridge, has claimed that Conte's team is defensive and plays on the counter-attack, suggesting his is a style that is not aesthetically pleasing. Guardiola disagrees.

Guardiola, football's purist, appreciates it. Guardiola is ready to take on Mourinho once again. And this time it seems he'll be the winner.