Does Manchester United vs Manchester City come down to Mourinho vs Guardiola?

The stringent La Liga managerial rivalry is set to continue in the English top flight, as José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have somehow found their way to the Premier League and not only that, they will also be taking charge of fierce rivals, Manchester United and Manchester City.

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Both managers know each other quite well from their time in Spain as they went into battle on numerous occasions in El Clasico, but whilst it may not have the same global appeal as the Clasico, the Manchester derby is set to be quite an intriguing affair due to José and Pep’s arrival.

Following United’s League exploits in Van Gaal’s last season in charge, the Special One will have to settle for Europa League football while his Spanish counterpart takes centre stage on mid-week nights in Europe’s premier competition – an arena where he has more than proven his worth in the past.

Last term was most definitely a season unlike any other considering the way things panned out at both ends of the table. However, but even the unpredictability of the 2015/16 campaign will surely be unable to match what’s in store for us when the new season kicks off in August.

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The arrival of two of Europe’s most successful managers have introduced a new dynamic to the league as both will be gunning to finish at the top of the pecking order. So, with all that in place, there is going to be a massive tactical warfare brewing in Manchester.

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Pep Guardiola’s Philosophy

Pep Guardiola will be faced with the task of implementing his ‘Cruyff-ian’ tiki-taka tactic into Manchester City before the season kicks off. Whilst it would be too much to ask for in terms of Man City playing Bayern Barca style football from the off, the Citizens should have at least been familiar with the tactic to a certain extent at the start of the new season.

Sergio Aguero will almost certainly remain as the focal point of City’s attack, while Kelechi Ihenacho might be handed a major role to play considering how well he performed in his few cameos last season. The young Nigerian displayed far more potential to threaten opposition defences than Wilfried Bony and his individual battle for success with Marcus Rashford will possibly be an intriguing sub-plot.

Guardiola might opt to play the usual 4-2-3-1 system, although he may also decide to try out the 4-3-3 tactic which is very efficient with a short passing style and technically gifted forwards such as the ones in City’s terrific arsenal.

One thing is for sure, and that is the fact that the midfield is going to be built around Kevin De Bruyne, as the Belgium international will be key to the potency of City’s attacking line-up. Ever since his arrival from Wolfsburg last summer, he has added an extra element to the side that earned him the Citizens’ Player of the Month award on a record number of occasions.

Yaya Touré may become somewhat of a bit-part player under Pep or better yet, he may not be around when the season kicks off. Speculation suggests that he could on his way out of the Etihad after an exceptional playing career with City, but it is not yet a certainty, as he could be motivated to prove himself to the former Barcelona boss.

Pep and José are arguably two of Europe’s most tactically advanced managers judging by how well the set their respective sides up for games, but José Mourinho always seems to have the upper hand with his never ending mind games which tends to provide him with the added advantage.

Pep knows all about Mourinho’s mind games though, and he’s also well aware of what a Mourinho-inspired side is capable of, so on that front the battle for supremacy in Manchester is set to be a tightly contested one.

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Mourinho’s advocacy

Mourinho is a man who loves to tinker. Indeed, one of his most famous tactical exploits is none other than the anti-football ‘Park the bus’ system, which is excruciatingly hard to break down even for most proficient attacking sides and occasionally, excruciatingly hard to watch as a supporter too.

The tactic draws its principles from the old Italian Catenaccio style of play which places emphasis on defensive masterclass rather than a high-intensity passing game.

That is where Pep and Jose juxtapose each other most acutely. Guardiola favours a free-flowing passing game, whilst Mourinho is an advocate of the compact style of play which emphasizes defensive stability ahead of any other factor.

Fans of the Red Devils shouldn’t expect dazzling football from Mourinho. What they should expect is results-oriented football which would get the three points in the bag more often than not. If this trend can be extended to the Manchester Derby too, then it is without doubt that José will be considered to have won the tactical tussle against Pep Guardiola.


Featured Image: All rights reserved by Diario El Universo

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