September 10, 2016, the day that will mark the first Manchester derby of the ongoing season and it will be big, brilliant and breathtaking. With all the due respect to other premier league teams, all derbies are highly anticipated but the Manchester clash is different. The starting few weeks of the league are not enough to predict the top two of the English premier league, but you can get a hint to where it’s heading.
EPL has transformed and the two teams from Manchester account for the major share. Before talking about the future, let’s relive the memorable derby five years ago at Old Trafford. The 6-1 defeat Sir Alex suffered at the hands of the underdogs from the blue side clearly indicated the rise of the blue moon. It was an unforgettable night, where the citizens were beyond catching since they witnessed the most disappointed match of the Fergie era.
We have the history and now Ibra and Pogba; that’s what the red side of Manchester will be chanting these days. Not surprisingly, they have the right to as Manchester United now have the service of the so called special one, Jose Mourinho who has been sacked by Chelsea not once but twice. But the greatest architect in football, Pep Guardiola, is spearheading their 'Noisy neighbors'. Even Fergie had no answer for the 6-1 humiliation that United suffered at the hands of their so called minnows, so how will the rigid Jose respond after his team will suffer a similar defeat.
These two managers have a past and it will not be the first time they’ll be facing each other in an intense battle. Talking about their past, let's have a look at their head-to-head comparison:
Guardiola's Barcelona vs. Mourinho's Inter Milan
Four meetings: Guardiola: 2 wins, draws: 1, Mourinho: 1 win.
Guardiola's Barcelona vs. Mourinho's Real Madrid
11 meetings: Guardiola wins: 5, draws: 4, Mourinho wins: 2.
Guardiola's Bayern Munich vs. Mourinho's Chelsea
One meeting: One draw (Guardiola won on penalties).
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 27, 2016
Both clubs have spent a staggering amount during the transfer window, and this will make the Saturday meeting extremely devastating. Guardiola defiantly has an upper hand but Mourinho is a magician (a street magician I guess) – but his tricks seem to fail against the architect. Nevertheless, this derby will surely be the greatest meeting between the two sides in the current era.
The recent transformation of both these sides has made the English Premier League highly competitive and has also sent a clear message to all the rivals. Manchester is not only looking good but could prove to be destructive as well.
In the recently concluded transfer window, the two sides invested healthy amounts to add some of the best players to their squads. Man City was in search of consistency as they have been investing heavily in all the transfer windows. However, they seem to have achieved what they wanted with the induction of Pep Guardiola, who was keen on bringing young and exciting players.
Manchester United hired Jose Mourinho, who brought four new players. Despite being in debt, both the sides were keen on investing heavily to make a mark in the league. Only time will reveal whose investment paid off the better return but for now, Manchester has a clear dominance in England.
When we talk about dominance, both squads are filled with players who can change the game within seconds with their fast paced, dominating and goal feasting play. Both teams are equipped with talented goalkeepers, with De Gea proving his mettle every season, while Man City now have the services of Claudio Bravo, who was impressive in La Liga.
With Eric Bailly in the side, United’s defense looks solid but City has depth in their defensive force and the absence of Captain Kompany will not hurt the side. With Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov, Sagna, Clichy and Zabeleta, the options are wide open for Pep. Same is the case with midfield as Fernandinho, Sterling, De Bruyne, Nolito and Silva, Man City are a force to be reckoned with.
— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) August 28, 2016
Although the new guns including Ilkay Gündogan and Lorey Sane will miss their first derby but it will put no dent in Pep’s preparations. United have Pogba: the swaggering but talented; Ibrahimovic: the cocky but extraordinary, and Wayne Rooney to formulate a deadly trio but breaking City’s defense will be something more than challenging for them.
It’s all looking good; the derby, the excitement, and the flare of football but what’s concerning is the impact on English Football. Both the clubs are investing heavily but injecting foreign talent, giving no praise to the local players. The number of English players these clubs are producing is almost nonexistent. Secondly, the amounts these clubs are investing are huge, which is leading them deeper in debt. Also, the competition is increasing but it may turn into a two-horse race in the next couple of years, just like La Liga.
Mourinho has a fair chance to fulfill all his wishes and if he fails to deliver, which is a likely scenario, he may not be staying long at Manchester, somewhat similar to what happened with him at Chelsea. Pep, on the other hand, has delivered goods wherever he was appointed and is likely to do the same. Mourinho may become the prince of Manchester but Pep will be the new king.
The absence of Aguero gave Man Utd fans something to cheer about but Pep’s army is not dependent on one soldier. Sterling and Nolito have been outstanding in the initial weeks and have been consistent throughout. Similarly, Fernandinho has impressed a lot. John Stones wasted no time in adjusting into the side and has shined during difficult situations. However, you will not see such consistent names in United, and this gives Man City a clear advantage over their rivals. Although Man Utd have home advantage but that’s not going to be enough on Saturday as the flare and the combination is missing. You cannot expect Rashford to provide a winner in Fergie time in every match.
Man City is sitting at the top of the points table leveraging the goal difference, but Saturday’s points tally will make the difference. Five years later, Old Trafford will deliver a heart breaking result for Red Devils when their noisy neighbors repeat history. Anyhow, the derby this Saturday will be exciting. The teams are prepared, ready to bring their A game on the evening because there’s no room for error. The last five meetings are showcased below, but you can never predict the result of this game. One thing is for sure, what happens in Manchester will not stay in Manchester.