Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has revealed he will not be supporting Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola over Jose when it comes to the Manchester derby on Saturday (10 September), despite the affection he has for his former boss. The Spaniard says he just wants the best team to win, pointing out that he also has friends at Manchester United in Juan Mata and David de Gea.
Xavi was the chief exponent of the tiki-taka style perfect by Guardiola at Barcelona, being one of the key men as the current City gaffer won two Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles during his spell at the Nou Camp. However, the Spain icon also worked with Mourinho when the current United coach served under Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal in Catalonia.
Asked about the upcoming game in an interview Cadena Ser, Xavi surprisingly refused to back a side. "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."
Questioned as to whether he could play under Mourinho, as his former Barcelona teammate Pedro Rodriguez did at Chelsea, he 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."
"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.
However, he praised the current City boss further, admitting: "On a tactical level, Pep Guardiola is second to none."
Xavi was more forthcoming when it came to the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo debate, saying only Real Madrid fans would deny that the Argentine was a superior player.
"Ronaldo is extraordinary but compared to Messi, for me and for everyone who likes football, there can be no comparisons," he said. "Messi will be number one until he wants [to stop]. He's superior to everyone and is the best in the world, except maybe for those related to Real Madrid."