The Manchester Battle: Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho

The Manchester Battle: Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho

The new season is underway and Premier League sides are now moulding their starting XIs after an extensive pre-season campaign. The league kicked off on August 13th, with last year’s champions, Leicester City conceding defeat at the hands of Premier League new boys, Hull City. Liverpool got one over rivals Arsenal as anticipation for a European spot grew heavily throughout the summer. However, there were victories for Manchester’s new managers, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola and the two are expected to deliver silverware this season. The only problem is they’re going for the same trophies so which one of the two will be enjoying the most success this year?

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It’s one of the most exciting rivalries to grace the Premier League and after picking up their first wins on the opening weekend, both managers will be confident they can continue their positive starts. Guardiola and Mourinho have been busy throughout the summer but it’s the Manchester United boss who has caught the headlines – as he usually does.

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss has splashed over £125m this summer on new signings and it includes the transfer of Paul Pogba from Juventus, who became the most expensive signing in football history. The £89m (approximately) midfielder joins Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly as the club’s big name transfers. Manchester United’s spending symbolises ambition from the club’s owners but also signifies a hasty approach; the club wants silverware and fast.

It’s been three years since Sir Alex Ferguson left the helm and United had their name on the Premier League trophy, stealing it away from the Blues across the pond. It’s their ultimate aim this season too and as well as making sure they get back into the Champions League; they want to reinforce themselves as England’s best. It’s been a period of struggle and transition for Reds fans who have witnessed strings of disappointment from United under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. However, there’s a sense of optimism this season and a strong belief that the 2016-17 campaign could be their year to return to greatness.

Mourinho usually spreads success and glory seems to follow him everywhere but he’s taken on a mighty task at Manchester United and silverware may not be as easily secured as people expect it to be. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City could be their biggest obstacle and they’ve had their fair share of progression throughout the summer too so the Premier League title is likely to be battled out in the confines of the same city.

Guardiola’s next challenge was hotly anticipated and after leading Barcelona and Bayern Munich to a whole bunch of trophies, he was one of the most wanted managers in the world. Manchester City’s status as one of the biggest clubs in Europe was confirmed by his appointment and Blues’ fans will be hoping Guardiola’s arrival will bring success. The club waited 43 years to clinch their first Premier League title, adding to their two First Division trophies and since then have gone on to grab another one. Sergio Aguero, David Silva and co have made a name for themselves in the Premier League but after failing to launch a serious title threat in the last two seasons, change is needed and the club have taken steps to ensure it happens.

Fans hope that the change will come in the form of new management and Guardiola’s training methods, football philosophy and pedigree will hopefully add spark to a stagnated club. Many have suggested Manchester City’s squad is an ageing one and their influential stars of 2012 are certainly getting no younger. Captain Vincent Kompany and star striker Sergio Aguero have been rippled with injuries and Yaya Toure’s surging runs from midfield are not able to cause as much damage as his pace has begun to flatten.

However, by bringing in former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundugan, Shalke superstar Leroy Sane, Celta Vigo’s Nolito and England’s promising centre-back, John Stones, Guardiola hopes to improve the starting XI and bring further quality to the City squad. He has talent at his expense and he could be the manager to bring the best out of £50m forward, Raheem Sterling once again. If Guardiola can get his team ticking, keep his players fit and enforce his vastly proven philosophy on the Manchester club, the Blues’ could be preparing for another celebration as they look to secure their third Premier League title this year.

With consistency and talent across the team, Mourinho’s Manchester United side will undoubtedly prove an interesting test for Guardiola but City look set to employ enough quality of their own to push for a title-chase. However, squad depth appears to be on Mourinho’s side and after strengthening their defensive options with Eric Bailly and the return to fitness of Luke Shaw, United could be very dangerous throughout the campaign.

Whilst Mourinho’s success relies almost solely on the performances of his new signings and the way they work together, Guardiola’s challenge is to transfer his footballing philosophy onto his players. If Guardiola can get his side to play the free-flowing, fast-paced, possession football he has demonstrated in Europe, they’ll be the team everyone will look to beat. Mourinho looks to have built an army set to destroy though and with Pogba, Martial, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan all lining up together, it’s hard to see how United can’t win the league. The Reds will put themselves as favourites as a result but if Guardiola’s methods pull through, Mourinho will have a problem.