Ferguson and Guardiola relax alongside one another

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes Pep Guardiola and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson have very contrasting approaches to management.

The World Cup winning Spaniard spent four years at Manchester United before returning to Barcelona in 2008 to establish himself as one of the finest centre-halves on the continent.

The 24-year-old has played under arguably the two finest managers in world football, and although both Manchester United and in particular have enjoyed unparalleled levels of success, Pique believes Ferguson and Guardiola adopt two entirely different methods of getting the best out of their players.

Pique suggests the Manchester United manager is more of a motivator than his Barcelona counterpart, but that Guardiola is far more hands on and meticulous in terms of player preparation and tactical awareness. The defender suggests their different approaches are perhaps a measure of their ages, but the Barcelona star, who has already won three Champions League winners' medals, believes Ferguson also oversees many other things to do with Manchester United.

"They are very different. Ferguson is a manager and he often doesn't come down to the training pitch. He stays in his office and does a lot of different tasks at the club." The former Manchester United youngster told the Liverpool Echo, while commenting on the marked differences between

"I think that he's more of a father figure, at least that's how he was with me when I joined them at 17.

"He was a great motivator: the way he spoke in the moments before games was fantastic.

"Guardiola, meanwhile, spends all day with the players and then sits through 10 hours of video so he can show us footage of our opponents and how to attack them.

"Maybe it's simply a question of how long they've been coaching: Pep's just starting out while Alex is much more experienced."

Pique won the 2008 Champions League with Manchester United before returning to Barcelona, where he had started his career in the vaunted La Masia academy alongside Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas, and he has subsequently won the La Liga titles and two more European Cups, both against his former club.