Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has said he will not be supporting former boss Pep Guardiola during the Manchester derby this weekend.
Xavi and Guardiola have been very close since their time together at Barcelona. It was during Pep’s reign that Xavi became his midfield and the 36-year old playmaker was instrumental to Barcelona’s success under Pep.
The Spaniard also played under Jose Mourinho when the Portuguese manager served under Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal in Catalonia, and had nothing but nice things to say about the United manager.
However, when asked about who he would support during the Manchester derby, Xavi shocked Cadena Ser by saying he won’t support Pep when Guardiola’s City face off against Mourinho’s United.
He said: “I just support the football. I want the best to win. I have an affection for Pep and other people at Manchester City. But United also have Mata, De Gea… I will enjoy the game.”
“Mourinho was extraordinary [during his time at Barcelona]. He was very professional and very demanding, he taught us so much and believed in Barça’s style. But when he became head coach [elsewhere] he changed his philosophy. But I can speak very well about my experience with him.”
“On a tactical level, Pep Guardiola is second to none.”
Despite having a lot of affection for the current City boss, Xavi emphasised his love for football and wants the best team to win. Although he has a lot of respect for Pep and City, the midfield maestro pointed out his friends Juan Mata and shot stopper David de Gea are at United.
On being asked if he could play for Mourinho in the future, Xavi added: “Valdes plays with Karanka [former Real Madrid assistant coach], Pedro played with Mourinho, Xabi Alonso [played] with Guardiola… I would need to asses that. I don’t think his style of play matches my football. But why not? We are professionals. Everybody changes jobs, although it is true that I have always been led by my feelings toward Barcelona.”
Well, Xavi is excited to watch the Manchester derby this Saturday and so are we. There has been a lot of build up to this one and rightly so. Just a day to go before we find out who draws first blood and tension is rising because as big as derbies have been previously, Guardiola and Mourinho add a new dimension to it.
While losing a game this early will not decide who wins the Premier League, if one side does come away with a loss it will be a real dent in their confidence while the other secures their fourth consecutive win to begin the season. It’s going to be one hell of a match.