When Manchester City announced Pep Guardiola's signing in 2016, City Rivals United came under pressure. With Guardiola as coach, City threatened to hang out United. That the club then brought José Mourinho as coach was seen as an immediate reaction to many.
Mourinho's United versus Guardiola City was the Manchester derby suddenly one of the biggest football matches on the continent. If both teams are dueling this Saturday, there can be no question about it (6:30 pm; TV: Sky).
For one thing, Mourinho United is history. On the other hand, the transgaming.orging explosiveness is lacking. The game rate for a United win is 10: 1 with some game providers. City has actually drugged United.
In the first Guardiola year, the club scored nine points more than United, in the second 19, last season it was 32. There are currently eleven after 15 match days. A few years ago, United was considered the best English team. It's not even the best thing in town right now. The balance of power in Manchester has shifted.
Maybe it will happen again soon.
Longing for days
A team in the history of English football has never been more successful than Manchester City in the past two seasons. In the end, however, the team worked the opposite. The media speculated that Guardiola's intensive coaching could gradually struggle, including in SPIEGEL.
Everyone who watched the Burnley FC series match last Tuesday comes to a different conclusion. In the second half, the team showed one of their best performances of the season, before the 2-0 goal they had the ball for over two minutes, interrupted only by failed attempts at clarification. Guardiola football, unmistakable.
But on defense, the team often seems unstable compared to its high standards. The team conceded 17 goals in the first 15 series matches, seven last season at the time. The results suffer from this, extrapolated City would land at 81 points. Since 2000 this has only been enough for the title, and this season Liverpool is also ahead with an eleven points lead in the table.
Lee Smith / REUTERS
What is the future of Pep Guardiola in Manchester City?
It could be a much bigger problem: The club is facing exclusion from the Champions League. Similar UEFA investigations had been resumed after SPIEGEL revealed in November 2018 how City had apparently systematically violated UEFA's financial rules for years. The club denies the allegations. When the decision will be announced is open. If the club was actually locked in, it would have had more construction sites.
City will need revenue for urgent transfers. Some key players in the squad are recovering over the years: David Silva, 33, Fernandinho, 34, and Sergio Agüero, 31, will not be able to lead the team for many years; and embodied throughout the back four alone (the currently long-term injured) world-class Aymeric Laporte.
And then there is the question of whether the Guardiola club could stop in the event of a ban. With City national, there is no goal for the Catalans anymore, he won everything. What is missing is the Champions League.
Ferguson's departure has so far failed to cope with United
Where City is investing heavily in maintaining its level, United is committed to connecting. The last championship was six years ago, when the coach was still called Sir Alex Ferguson. The club has not yet coped with the departure.
After all, there is now a lot of talent in the team, like Daniel James, Marcus Rashford or Scott McTominay, all just 22 years old. There are also top professionals like Paul Pogba and Harry Maguire, both 26. The substance is there, and the club has the money to fix the remaining weaknesses in the squad.
But there is a lack of a coach who refines all this.
The failed Mourinho was followed by Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He will soon be in the office for a year, but has not visibly advanced the team, on the contrary: it often seems even more fragile. The Norwegian is good at letting underdog football play. United often look good against better opponents. Only Solskær's team scored against Liverpool (0-0); Last Wednesday she beat Tottenham (with new coach Mourinho) 2-1.
Nevertheless, Manchester appears to be missing the Champions League for the second time in a row. Eight points for fourth place are currently missing. Because most teams do not play against United but counter themselves.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjær (right) should stay longer with the next win against a favorite
United's savior may be Mauricio Pochettino. The former Spurs coach has recently been on the market. One who can develop talent, a tactician and motivator. As always, they got more out of their teams than the squad gave up.
Pochettino could make United a top team, with him the club reducing the gap to City in a key position, three years late. Similar rumors already exist. Pochettino's shadow hangs over Manchester, The Independent wrote Wednesday.
After that, however, United succeeded against Tottenham. Should Solskjaer take City's second big win in a row, it could prevent a change of Pochettino. The Argentine wants to work again as soon as possible, wrote "The Independent". But who throws out a coach who has just won a derby against the champion?
It cannot be ruled out that Solskjær will be more successful in the future. But it probably isn't. A defeat against City would be painful. But for Manchester United's future it could be better than a win.