Who Is Winning The Battle Of Manchester? Guardiola’s City Or Mourinho’s United?

Posted: February 12, 2017 in Chelsea, Football, Jose Mourinho, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Pep Guardiola, Premier League
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When these two managers were appointed by their current clubs it was widely expected, particularly in Manchester, that the top two positions in the Premier League would be contested between them.

Obviously, this view would not have been the case in parts of London or Liverpool but, generally, it was the concensus in the frozen, rainy wastelands of Manchester.

The facts have proven to be quite different. They have proven, for one thing, that even some of the best managers cannot just take over at a club and immediately turn them into champions.

Antonio Conte at Chelsea appears as though he will be one of the exceptions to this rule but the others, Klopp, Mourinho and Guardiola will probably have to wait until next season for a concerted title challenge.

At the moment the race for the top four places is much more interesting than the race for the title, which seems to have been reduced to one runner. The present situation, if it were to remain the same until the end of the season, would see Guardiola and Mourinho missing out on the top four with Klopp just scraping fourth place. This will probably change tomorrow evening when City, as expected, beat Bournemouth. The three points would put them back into second place.

But what chance now of the two Manchester clubs finishing in the top four? It is now probably not a question of which will win the title and which will finish second. There is still a good chance of one of them finishing second and it still could be either one of them.

The question now is more one of which way round they can take second and third places?

They are both currently on good runs of form, United’s being so good that they are unbeaten in sixteen games! They also both started the season as though their intention was to emulate the “Invincibles” of Arsenal from a few years back, but this idea was soon shelved as they hit the buffers and fell off the initial pace set by Chelsea.

In fact, so consistent have Chelsea been that they now lead City by ten points and United by eleven and have a game in hand on the latter.

So, presently, the smart money is on City as being the ones who can get closest to the team from West London, although this could change at any moment.

Having both spent a few million bob in the August transfer window it was only to be expected that the fans would get carried away with what their team could achieve. The two most successful managers in European football were together in the same city and both had brought in some new players.

They were both replacing older men who had been reasonably successful although not enough for their power and cash hungry boards of directors. In this day and age it is also fair to say that they weren’t even successful enough for their supporters which, in the case of Manchester City, is a bit rich considering their history of achievement. Still, even the top teams had to start somewhere!

With the season now two-thirds of the way through, the finishing line is in sight. As was always going to be the case, there is little to choose between the two clubs from Manchester. Points-wise City have the edge, but United have the momentum so the race for the top four will be even more interesting from now on, particularly as Arsenal seem to be entering their annual meltdown phase where all thoughts of winning the title are banished and, this time out, their (also annual) place in the top four could be under threat.

Whilst more of a title challenge may have been expected from United and City, it has to be said that Antonio Conte has settled remarkably quickly into the Premier League and it should be noted that it is his achievement which is more surprising than the lack of a challenge from Manchester.

Maybe the managers at City and United need a season to acclimatise. They have both overseen more changes at their clubs than has Conte at Chelsea. He took over a more settled and consistent team than either Mourinho or Guardiola who both had to deal with the after effects of the previous managers. Manuel Pellegrini had been told he was going to be replaced months before the season ended and Louis van Gaal was never liked by the majority of the fans or the players. Mindsets and attitudes had to be changed and it has taken time.

Chelsea, as usual but, for once, correctly, had acted quickly by sacking Mourinho and bringing in Hiddink. This ensured a smooth changeover when Conte took over and the benefits are there for all to see. Little needed improving or changing, the players just needed reminding of what they were capable of achieving. One signing, N’Golo Kante, has made a significant difference and that was all that was required.

Time will tell who will win the battle of Manchester and it will be close. Two of the richest clubs in Europe will also be active during the next transfer window in an attempt to improve their squads sufficiently enough to challenge on all fronts again next season.

One thing is for sure. It is not a battle that will be won in a short space of time, it could last years!

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