On the back of lacklustre campaigns last season, both the Manchester clubs wielded the axe as they cleared their coaching staff with new appointments. While City unveiled Pep Guardiola as manager as early as January, Jose Mourinho got his ‘dream job’ early July.
The appointments had fans across clubs licking their lips, as the two managers have a tortured past, and this resumption of their rivalry, is expected to make headlines for the foreseeable future. Managing direct rivals for the second time in their careers, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will naturally be competing for similar objectives: League titles, domestic cup competitions, European success and, every summer, for the best available players on the market.
In the build-up to the season’s first Manchester derby, we take a look at the summer business the two managers have conducted.
Jose Mourinho: At first glance, activity at Old Trafford has been limited to the bare minimum. Mourinho, in his first press conference as Manchester Untied manager, said he was looking at specialist players and not multifaceted ones. So he promptly addressed United’s weak links: centre back, centre mid, playmaker and an out-and-out striker. In came Eric Bailly from Villarreal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund, Zlatan Ibrahimovic from PSG and Paul Pogba, for a world-record fee, from Juventus.
PHOTOS: >Top 5 Manchester Derbies
Of the four, only Mkhitaryan is yet to get some serious game time as Bailly, Pogba and Ibrahimovic have transformed the team that struggled to up the ante last to a top quality side capable of winning the Premier League. In these four players, the manager has players who fit to a 'T' in Mourinho’s revolution at Old Trafford.
Putting to use a 4-2-3-1 system, Mourinho is reaping the benefit of bringing in specialists for his formation as the trio have fit in snugly. Three wins in as many games with Bailly, Pogba and Ibrahimovic all being catalysts in the victories, has justified Mourinho’s squad selection.
Pep Guardiola: Fittingly, Guardiola’s transfer activity has been contrasting to his nemesis’. He has gone on a buying spree and brought in eight players, although only two of his signings, Nolito (Celta Vigo) and John Stones (Everton) have got game time in the three games so far.
However, this could be due to injuries to Leroy Sane (Schalke) and Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), and three other new signings are currently plying their trade for another club. Claudio Bravo, who left Barcelona to replace Joe Hart in goal, is expected to make his debut at the derby.
Guardiola’s impact at the Etihad will be mainly on the playing style and the Spaniard has already used his imagination in the first couple of games. On his debut, against Sunderland, City lined up in a 4-1-2-3 with two left backs in Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov. While it will take time for the players to get used to his innovations, as was obvious in the laboured 2-1 win, Guardiola has a strong, young and a quick bunch of players at his disposal who could re-imagine his tactics.
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