The Manchester derby on Saturday will go down as the biggest and probably the most expensive football match in the world.
The bragging rights for the city of Manchester is at stake and supporters of both teams will ‘die’ to have the wherewithal to mock their neighbors all of next week as Jose Mourinho’s pragmatic style clashes with Pep Guardiola’s obsession for possession football.
Last season Manchester United lorded the derby with a Marcus Rashford winner at the Etihad after both sides had battled to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford.
This 172nd Manchester derby will be more fascinating as both sides are managed by probably the two top managers in world football but even more intriguing are their different philosophies to playing the game.
However, one thing that both managers have in common is that they are both winning machines. Guardiola is a very attack-minded manager and obsessed with keeping possession while Jose Mourinho is more of a defensive coach and will not mind conceding possession if his team can break on a fast counter-attack and win the game.
So, we’ve got a masterpiece on the cards here as Guardiola (Manchester City) and Mourinho (Manchester United) lock horns in their first ever meeting as managers in the premier league.
Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola is a serial winner and his record in coaching is outstanding for a 45-year-old. Amazingly, he changed the way Lionel Messi plays and turned him into a ‘footballing monster’, Samuel Eto’o played his best football under the Spaniard and his tiki-taka football was mesmerizing during his spell with Barcelona.
He likes to tinker with formations from 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 3-5-2- 4-1-2-1-2, but no matter how he plays his team keeps possession of the ball and tries to shred opponents to pieces.
At Bayern Munich, he was blessed with wingers such as Franck Ribery, Kingsley Coman, Douglas Costa, and Arjen Robben and he capitalized on wing-play but his team still managed to suffocate opponents with possession.
In his early days at City, he has taken his formation into a new height as the full backs now push into midfield when the team is attacking to add more pressure on the opponents – this has never been seen before in world football and so far it has been successful with a 100% English Premier League record so far.
Jose Mourinho (Manchester United)
The Portuguese is perhaps the most pragmatic manager ever in the world of football. Mourinho is a goal-getter and a man that loves winning. He will do anything for his team to win games and if they don’t, it won’t be because of lack of efforts.
The former Real Madrid manager sets up his team not to concede which makes them hard to beat and makes his team very apt on counter-attacks.
The 53-year-old has built ‘footballing soldiers’ wherever he has managed and loyalty is his strongest weapon as shown with his relationship with Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto), John Terry and Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Marco Materazzi (Inter Milan), Alvaro Arbelos (Real Madrid), and now Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United.
He is called the ‘Special One’ and true to his name he has broken records and won titles at every club he has managed.
At Manchester United, he hold a 100% EPL record going into the derby game and one thing he has assured on is he won’t change from his favored 4-2-3-1 formation which has proven successful for him over the years.
Mourinho vs Guardiola: Head-to-Head
Interestingly, both managers enjoyed a good relationship during their time together at Barcelona. With Mourinho as one of the assistants to the late Bobby Robson while Guardiola was a loyal football student but coaching has brought them to fight for the same glory and it hasn’t gone down well in the past between these two.
However, Guardiola has edged their head-to-head duels with seven wins, six draws and only three loses in 16 matches against Mourinho – a record the Portuguese will be eager to start getting right on Saturday.
Mourinho will love the feeling of handing Guardiola his first defeat in England as both again tussle for the title come the end of May, 2016. Who will blink first?