Saturday’s Manchester Derby at Old Trafford represents the most commercially valuable clash of the Premier League season, just three weeks in. When Manchester United pits themselves against Manchester City, the occasion is always set to be a special time. However, this year, the derby hits a new level of rivalry, with a growing City and a re-growing United. Most of all, though, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, once managers of Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, are now managing Manchester City and Manchester United, also respectively. Two football giants and two managerial giants will come up in the match of the ages, the biggest football match in the history of Manchester.
Unfortunately for those supporting the Red half of Manchester, Mourinho’s record against Guardiola across sixteen games is not positive. From sixteen, Mourinho’s sides have only won three to this day. While it is worth noting that Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich sides were significantly more talented than Mourinho’s Real Madrid, Internazionale and Chelsea outfits, the fact Mourinho’s men struggle to win matches outright could be cause for concern heading into the weekend.
However, Mourinho has a knack of never losing at home, and against Guardiola, his record isn’t bad either. Losing just seven out of 15 against Guardiola’s Barcelona, and in his most recent encounter with the Spaniard, who was managing Bayern, Mourinho’s Chelsea side lost after a gruelling penalty shootout. Considering the outstanding, treble-winning quality of Barcelona and Bayern Munich even without Guardiola, Mourinho could’ve done a lot worse. That, of course, leaves seven draws in regular time between the two arch-rivals.
Guardiola, yet to manage an English team before joining Manchester City, is yet to win a title in England after seven years of coaching. Mourinho, In around double that time, has won everything there is to win in England, including three Premier League titles, one in which he set the points record, three League Cups, an FA Cup and the Community Shield with United.
Conversely, in double the time of management as Guardiola, Mourinho has won just one more trophy than Guardiola. He has won 15 different trophies in comparison to Guardiola’s 8, though, which is a healthy comparison depending on how often Mourinho will be able to deny Guardiola of Premier League glory. That is where the derby comes into play.
Both managers are currently in a brawl of many conflicts, with City looking to establish itself as a truly big club in the history books and United with a Mourinho-sized chip on their shoulder. Beyond that, both sides are competing with each other, striving to be better and outsizing the rest of the Premier League in comparison. Guardiola and Mourinho are fighting the battle of the best manager in the world- alongside Bayern Munich’s Carlo Ancelotti, but this time, there is even ground. Guardiola no longer has everything sitting at his disposal, in an environment in which all opposition will play the way he wants them to.
Regardless of the conflict between two remarkable figures in football, that is the biggest difference between now and previous Manchester Derbies, the biggest difference between now and the past is that everything has been blown into balance. Previously, in the latter years under Sir Alex Ferguson and under David Moyes, Manchester City dominated this contest. The Citizens are yet to win a derby in two years despite being highly fancied.
For Pep and Mourinho, it will no longer be up to ‘The Special One’ to compensate for his teams’ comparative lack in qualities. This time, it will be a contest of who is best prepared to play the game- on a mental level, on a physical level and on a tactical level. With foundations and bloody tension from the past, and a desire for both managers to fix the present and improve the future, Guardiola and Mourinho will be standing on the pedestal of world football on Saturday, watching on as the positive warfare ensues- mixed emotions, pride at stake and more scrutinizing eyes than ever.