You can feel it in the air. The air is thick. There’s a smog and it has two distinct shades; red and blue. But the colours haven’t merged. There’s a fine line between the two. Almost as if you are being told to choose a side. You’re either Red or Blue, Devil or Citizen.
If the fact that this is being touted as the most expensive football match in terms of signings is not delicious enough, throw in the Mourinho and Pep factor and the explosion that ensues probably means you won’t have a kitchen left. I still hope this can be achieved.
I’ll stop the jabber. I’m going to let my friend Sam Mulei handle this one. He does a fantastic job I kid you not. Enjoy the read.
Celtic and Rangers meet in the top flight of Scottish football for the first time in four years and what should be grabbing attention of more than just the Scotts as a standout fixture at 11:30am U.K time will have a much reduced profile as it clashes with the Manchester derby coverage. ‘old’ firm derby indeed and with fresher things happening at Manchester I wouldn’t be surprised to find more than a few Scotts looking to the south of Britain.
Footballing Hollywood is now at the premier league and Jose takes up cast as the suave, sophisticated, slightly mischievous, elusive but supremely successful manager faces Guardiola another with his own unique repertoire, and like a finely choreographed performance at this point it’s all tied at the top with both clubs at nine points. Next setting, Old Trafford.
From the appointment of both managers they basically put out their stalls and conducted their transfer business with a clear plan of how they wanted their teams to play and the signings that would get them going in that direction with Mourinho opting to sign Eric Bailly who was part of La Liga’s second best defence last term, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and as typical of all Mourinho sides a leader who is his own reflection in the pitch a player who fights his battles on the ground and transmits his ideas to the rest of the team as Mourinho himself is relentlessly combative in nature. Zlatan was the ‘infield general’ solution this season.
Guardiola signed John stones,Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Nolito, all players who have a deft first touch and good technique on the ball. His tactics at times complex in nature and often thought of as being the sole defender of football as if only his style can be deemed legitimate. Isaiah Berlin once categorized great thinkers as hedgehogs and foxes, hedgehogs know one big thing, they know it deeply and use it to guide themselves, foxes know many things, what makes Guardiola so good is that he is by nature a hedgehog but in practise a fox and the two sides are constantly burning with creative tension, the ideal being that ‘he who has the ball cannot concede. Models ingrained by Johan Cryuff that is the hedgehog in Guardiola, the one bit that never goes away. The fox is in his ability to manipulate tactics to his sides advantage already this season baffling pundits with his tactics pulling fullbacks in the inside to supplement the build up while the width of the team being supplied by the wingers who hug the touch-line.
Being a mixture of both he is uncompromising and stringent believing there is a way to football at the highest level and one must diligently strive to do play so and according to those principles. There is a belief we often share that whats beautiful cannot put up enough resistance to last in a world that can be at times difficult and harsh, it may not be universally subscribed to but quite common in some cultures, in fact it seems we often cherish something for its aesthetic qualities because deeply we know it doesn’t have adequate defences to resist, that its lovely yet cannot stay for very long. Japanese cherry blossoms for example, landscapes painted on scrolls bleached by the sun. Football itself shares this bias and in the unresolved debate in its soul between romanticism and pragmatism there is a notion that the beautiful game simply isn’t robust enough to survive when faced with stern tests even aggression. Guardiola’s Barcelona proved all of this wrong. Bloody clasico’s but more often he got the win against Jose Mourinho which was achieved by mixing romanticism and pragmatism to produce a kind of aesthetic that is equal parts beauty and strength: a new kind of wonder all over again. Problems need solutions and Guardiola continues to find them and deal with the direction the football landscape is taking and that must be what he is trying to achieve with city hence his insistence on more possession, constantly bombarding the opposition back line with attacks giving them no time to recover, in effect punishing the supporters and viewers with pleasure , destruction of the opposition being the objective.
The man in charge of the other club in Manchester sees more gain in an assured result, rather than sizing up to a bigger opposition and getting flattened. One cannot argue he hasn’t won league titles in convincing displays, consider Chelsea 04-05, most goals scored and highest ever point tally recorded by a title-winning side, even his spell at Real Madrid brought similar accolades; 100 La Liga points. He does take an aggressive approach he wants to play well, to bedazzling, to make the fans proud by entertaining, to score goals, to concede less goals than the opponent, he wants the fans to be behind the team because in the last ten minutes they are chasing a result (somebody say hull city !) and he also wants the fans to be behind the team cause in the last ten minutes they are defending a result. Not one afraid to compromise however. premier league is a war of nutrition however, starting off the season strongly going to the winter break with good momentum at times dazzling with the play and as the situation gets harder and warmer during march and April while you lose players due to injury you have to know how to stay competitive get dodged and be difficult to beat, which is an art that the Portuguese has mastered and both experiences of the season should be ones to give satisfaction.
Man city will have to play without the services of Sergio Aguero and perhaps I feel that will demand too much from their style of play, I see the tempo dying off in their game at certain periods and Manchester united will impose themselves in the game start playing through Zlatan Ibrahimovic and I do fancy the Swede as my goal scorer this weekend. so as on that night at the Nou Camp where Mourinho sat almost motionless in the dugout as Barcelona comprehensively made way with the points and the people’s hearts in his first Liga BBVA clash with the Spaniard it is time for Guardiola to get to know just how intense this league is, who else better than Jose Mourinho to stop him from getting the next three points on offer. Point to note: the big Swede has won the league in every league he has played in and quite actively participated in that achievement notable exception Guardiola’s Barcelona and as already seen from this season he has a massive role and I don’t quite fancy that being the same next season due to age and other dynamics, man united will also most likely be pursuing interests like Antoine Griezmann to lead the line. Man United Premier League champions 2016-2017? First the derby.
With that I reckon;
Man United 2 City 0