10 Dec Jose Mourinho versus Pep Guardiola in focus
Old foes Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola faced each other again as United hosted City in the Manchester derby.
Here, we look at the role of the two managers in the game.
United boss Mourinho was without the controlling presence of star midfielder Paul Pogba but, unlike in recent big clashes with Liverpool, appeared to take a bold approach by fielding an attack consisting of Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial. City lined up in familiar formation, although there was some surprise in Pep Guardiola’s decision to pick Gabriel Jesus ahead of Sergio Aguero.
It may have been imposed upon them by City’s dominance of possession but United showed far less ambition in the first half than their line-up suggested they might. City played their usual game, passing and probing and looking to prise open their opponents. United did not ‘park the bus’ but they had to keep retreating. Only after City took a deserved lead did they start to show greater urgency.
After United equalised on the stroke of half-time, Guardiola made an immediate change by replacing Vincent Kompany with Ilkay Gundogan. There will be concern Kompany could be injured again but it is not the first time the captain has been sacrificed recently in the search for a greater attacking edge. A second goal soon followed and then came another switch, as defender Eliaquim Mangala replaced Gabriel Jesus. Mourinho sent on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the latter stages in an attempt to ruffle City but the visitors managed to hold on.
Guardiola’s team were superior and they got the result they deserved but they were made to work hard for it. That United might have snatched a point underlined how tough it can be to beat Mourinho teams. But on this evidence, although he has the better tools to work with, Guardiola has a clear edge.