LONDON (Reuters) - Pep Guardiola will be able to sit back and watch Saturday’s FA Cup final with a satisfied smile — if not smirk — on his face, knowing that for the second time in two seasons of English football he has outdone his old adversary Jose Mourinho.
If Manchester United beat his old club Chelsea at Wembley, Mourinho will no doubt talk up his achievement in following last season’s Europa League success with another trophy, as well as lifting United to second place in the Premier League, their best finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Yet by setting more than half a dozen new Premier League records in Manchester City’s dominant campaign and after finishing nine points ahead a year ago, Guardiola has undeniably again left Mourinho in the shade.
In their two seasons together in England, relations have been more restrained than the occasional immoderacy that characterised their time as respective managers of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Those were the days when, for instance, Mourinho poked Guardiola’s assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye during a Spanish Super Cup game and goaded the normally mild-mannered Catalonian into a rare and obscene outburst in the Madrid press room.
This season’s row after United felt their neighbours celebrated too raucously following a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in December was mild in comparison.
That was the 20th direct meeting between the two managers, giving Guardiola a 10th win with six draws, although Mourinho did delay City’s title celebrations when United hit back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 an extraordinary return game last month.
It was only a minor triumph in the context of a season in which City finished a record 19 points clear of the runners-up.
Seeing United walk round Wembley with the FA Cup — if, indeed that happens — will not alter that statistic nor wipe the smile off Guardiola’s face.
Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Ian Chadband