Another Battle Of Manchester With Little At Stake For Either José Mourinho Or Pep Guardiola

Posted: October 26, 2016 in European Football, Football, Managers, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion
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Well here we are, dear readers, preparing for the second Manchester derby of the season and we’re only in October!

Regular followers of this irregular missive will have noticed that I have, on occasion, seen fit to bemoan the way that cup draws seem to bring the Manchester clubs together, before the final, on a fairly consistent basis. They seem destined never to get to the altar, always having to have a sordid little affair long before the big day ever dawns which then, invariably, belongs to somebody else.

The same cannot be said for the Merseyside clubs and the countless number of London clubs. Those two cities have seen many finals contested between teams from within their boundaries. Liverpool and Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal, Arsenal and Tottenham, Chelsea and Tottenham,  Fulham and West Ham to name but five, there has been no shortage of finals featuring two clubs from the same city as long as that city is either Liverpool or, preferably in the eyes of the FA, London.

But enough of these grapes which are starting to taste a little sour. Pep has to pick a team to face the team that José has to pick. This should be fun.

City are not exactly experiencing their best spell of the campaign at present but are still top of the league, (a fact which is a little scary when you consider that they can actually be quite good when they get it right).

United are not exactly experiencing their best spell of the campaign at present and are seventh, (a fact which is a little scary because they were supposed to be challenging at the top of the league and aren’t).

So the two teams will contest this EFL Cup tie with nothing really at stake. The competition itself has had more sponsors than an American sitcom and is only really taken seriously by the bigger clubs at the semi-final stage. When thatround is reached there seems to be a “we can win this” moment, and the manager suddenly decides that all the players who were good enough to get this far aren’t good enough to go all the way.

City are the current holders and probably favourites for the trophy this year. It all depends on Pep’s frame of mind really.

The question is; does he pick a strong team at this stage of the tournament because of who his opponent is? Or, alternatively, does he go with the youngsters whereby, if he loses, the fans will see it as a chance blown and a gift to United, something not easy to stomach for them?

Exactly the same question can be asked of his opposite number, José Mourinho. Although he won’t admit to it, he would quite like revenge for the defeat inflicted on United last month at Old Trafford.

So he probably won’t play too many youngsters because the supporters, who will admit to it, would also quite like revenge for the same defeat.

So, it’s over to you Pep. We think we know what José’s going to do so how are you going to react?

City have, of course, bigger things in mind than this little tournament which they were hoping was just going to be a few opportunities for their youth players to play against other teams’ youth players because they need the “big game experience” which they don’t get when playing other teams’ youth players in the under-23 league.

There is the Premier League, then there is the Champion’s League, then there is the FA Cup. All of these tournaments will be higher up the priority list than the EFL Cup but hey, a game against United has to be taken seriously, whether it is the final of a European competition or a kick-about in the carpark of the Dog and Duck.

The bottom line is that both managers want to win this game more than they will admit and, whoever loses, will play down the importance of this competition insisting that it was never a priority anyway.

By the end of the season Manchester City may have won one or more trophies and Manchester United may have won nothing. Alternatively, and unexpectedly, the roles could be reversed. Either way one or the other may very well regret not having gone further in this competition, particularly if the other one does happen to pick up a trophy or two.

Watch Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2 live on a TV screen near you tonight!


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