Only Manchester United's players can judge the performance of under-fire manager Jose Mourinho according to Pep Guardiola, who says he has never doubted his rival's coaching credentials.
Pressure has mounted on Mourinho following back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Tottenham, while his bizarre news conferences hint at a man feeling the heat.
Mourinho's latest appearance in front of the media on Friday saw him describe himself as "one of the greatest managers in the world", as well as citing philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
The Portuguese has won the Europa League and League Cup in his two years at Old Trafford but is yet to achieve the league crown he has delivered at Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid.
Yet Manchester City boss Guardiola insists Mourinho's pedigree cannot be questioned and that it takes more than titles to mark out a good manager.
"Of course we are judged for the titles we get. If you have titles you can work, we have work," he told a news conference.
"But I try not to judge [other] managers only on that. The history and what Jose did in all the places he's worked... hats off.
"There's no doubt about his quality. I never [doubted it] in the past and I don't now.
"But it's not only the titles. I've won [titles] because I've won with amazing clubs and amazing players. If that did not happen, I would not have won the titles.
"There are many good managers that don't win titles. They are excellent.
"A lot of managers are so good, it's not necessary to win prizes because big players and good clubs sustain you, support you, are patient.
"Sometimes the managers cannot control it. That doesn't mean they are not good."
Mourinho demanded respect from reporters following Monday's 3-0 home defeat to Spurs and Guardiola sympathised with the Portuguese, saying the media cannot know the whole picture.
"Every manager [does] what he believes, what he likes, to try to get results in his own style and the way he trains," Guardiola added.
"But I don't want to talk for the other ones, I will talk for myself. We are the judges for the results we get.
"Only the players know exactly how you are as a manager. Because they see you every day and they have more information than the rest of the world - the fans, the media, everybody.
"Only the players know exactly who we really are."
City take on Newcastle United on Saturday, before United visit Burnley on Sunday.