Both men were colleagues at Barcelona under Guus Hindinks but their relationship turned sour during a period they were in charge of Spain’s two biggest clubs – Mourinho at Real Madrid and Guardiola with Barcelona.
As both managers come face to face on Saturday, Mourinho insists that the focus must be on the players, rather than the managers.
He said Guardiola’s side present more problem to him in terms of players compared to other teams.
He added, “They are a very good team. They were a very good team last season, two seasons ago, three seasons ago, four seasons ago, perhaps since the new owners arrived at Manchester City.
“They have a very good squad, they have a very good manager.
“They are a title contender and we have to respect them.”
“I am normal. For us, it is a game and for me especially. We are playing to try and win the title. When you do this there is no match more important than another one when it comes to this stage of the season.
“I know what a derby means for everyone; I’ve played derbies everywhere, in every country, in so many cities. I always want to be in the position of emotional control because for me it is just a game against a very good opponent.
“If you want to be successful and you want to win the game then we have to be at the top of our qualities.”