"I send him a hug" - Jose Mourinho talks for the first time about Pep Guardiola departure

 

Pep Guardiola's decision to step down as Barcelona coach at the end of the season will change nothing for Real Madrid, Guardiola's Real counterpart and bitter rival Jose Mourinho said today.

In his first public comments since Guardiola announced on Friday he was taking a sabbatical, Mourinho, whose Real side are on the brink of taking Barca's La Liga crown, said the decision should be respected and even sent his adversary a hug.

"The Guardiola case is a personal decision," Mourinho told a news conference a day before Real play at Athletic Bilbao, when victory would wrap up their first domestic league title in four years with two games to play.

"It's his, he is the one who knows, he is the one who knows why, he is one who has to comment on it, he is the one who has to do what makes him happiest at any given time," the former Inter Milan, Chelsea and Porto manager added.

"I have been a coach for 12 years and for me I will be annoyed in June when I don't have any matches as I will miss training and playing, playing and training.

"But everyone is the way they are and you have to respect and accept that and hope that they really do find enjoyment because the most important thing in life is to enjoy it.

"If for him enjoying life means withdrawing from football for a while then so be it and I send him a hug."

It was an unusually conciliatory performance from the normally combative Portuguese, who has a habit of getting under the skin of the club where he was an assistant coach when Guardiola was a player in the late 1990s.

Matches between the two sides since Mourinho arrived in 2010 have often been torrid affairs, when the often sumptuous football on display has been overshadowed by brawling and accusations of refereeing bias and racist abuse.

Mourinho famously poked the man Barca have tapped to replace Guardiola, his long-term assistant Tito Vilanova, in the eye during a melee at the start of this season.

The Portuguese was asked whether Guardiola's departure, after four years and 13 titles including two Champions Leagues triumphs and three La Liga crowns, would benefit Real.

He also appeared to confirm he would stay on next season amid speculation he might leave two years into a four-year deal.

"I don't know why it would benefit us," Mourinho said.

"Real Madrid is Real Madrid, Real Madrid will continue along its own path, Real Madrid has its own decisions to make.

"My decision to continue at Real Madrid has nothing to do with who is the coach of any other team.

"It doesn't appear to me that Barcelona has people on its board of directors without talent, quite the opposite.

"If they have decided that Vilanova is the ideal person to be the next coach for sure they are doing it with conviction.

Mourinho said Real would continue to respect Barcelona as they had always done.

"Knowing with absolute certainty that next season, however much our other (La Liga) opponents improve, Barcelona will be our great rival for the Spanish title," he said.

"For us it changes nothing."

Reuters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific