Guardiola talks up Mourinho ahead of Spurs, Man City clash

MANCHESTER (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said his great rival Jose Mourinho should not be judged solely on his recent record as the two managers prepare to go head-to-head again today.

Tottenham have taken 20 points from 12 Premier League games since Mourinho took over from Mauricio Pochettino and remain six points off fourth-placed Chelsea.

The Portuguese joined Spurs a year after he was sacked by Manchester United following a period of dressing room unrest and poor results as Guardiola’s City became the dominant side in England.

Mourinho and Guardiola meet for the 23rd time this weekend as City travel to Tottenham and the Catalan said he respected his rival’s record during a long career in the dugout.

“The value of Jose, a manager with a lot of experience and with a lot of success, is not to be judged on one season, or one-and-a-half seasons,” said Guardiola, whose team are second in the Premier League but 19 points behind Liverpool.

“The guys who don’t judge his career on 15 or 20 years don’t understand anything.

Tottenham’s manager Jose Mourinho. PHOTO: AP

“Periods for managers are up and down, everyone has it. You have seasons with good and bad periods, you have to change teams and build things.”

The rivalry between Mourinho and Guardiola reached its height when the Portuguese was in charge at Real Madrid and the City manager was at arch-rivals Barcelona.

They ended up in charge of the rival Manchester clubs in 2016.

Things became heated in Spain, although Guardiola insisted it was never personal and that he had huge admiration for Mourinho’s record – league titles in four countries and two Champions League triumphs.

“For 15 or 20 years, Jose has been there all the time and that has to be respected,” he said.

“It is the most difficult thing – to stay for a long time and be there all the time. When you win a lot of titles and the moment you don’t, people think ‘Ah, it’s not good’. The exception in sport is when you win a lot… you lose more than you win.

“Michael Jordan is the greatest example of this as he won six NBA titles in 15 or 16 seasons, so he lost more than he won and he was the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Guardiola said Leroy Sane was back in full training with the first-team squad as the German winger works towards full fitness.

Sane has been out since August with a cruciate ligament injury he sustained in the Community Shield against Liverpool at Wembley.

Guardiola would not name a date for his return, saying “he needs a little bit more time”.

The City boss could not shed any light on whether Sane would still be in his squad next season, with Bayern Munich reportedly keen to take him back to Germany.

“The last info I had was that we made him an offer a long time ago and all the time he didn’t reject it, so after that I don’t have any news,” he said.