The Premier League has proved challenging for Guardiola who started the season in fine form but has been undermined by a range of hiccups. He started out the season getting rid of Samir Nasri and Joe Hart, transforming his full backs to midfielders and exiling Yaya Toure after a disagreement with his outspoken agent. His defenders have struggled while club captain, Vincent Kompany has been injured for the better part of season. His goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has also struggled to adapt to the League. To Guardiola’s credit though, he has built a devastating attack this season – a three pronged attack built on pacy wingers and Sergio Aguero whose position was under threat for a period this season. Two of his three midfielders have performed well this term with De Bruyne building on his excellent 2015/16 season and Silva reminding us he is still one of the best around. Next season will be a big one at the Etihad as Guardiola should ideally key in on his targets and shape the squad in his image.
Mourinho has history with the Premier League. His last season at Chelsea underwhelmed after the success of the season before. The call from United came later than it should have after he’d been overlooked in favour of Moyes. Mourinho has the managerial gravitas to manage a club like United. Like all Mourinho teams, there has been a streak of defensive solidity. While Guardiola’s problems are purely defensive, Mou’s current shortcomings seep into every other phase of play. His most effective midfielder and striker: Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are both on the wrong side of 30. The midfield lacks cohesion.
Both managers have already met twice this season with a win apiece. This game comes at a time when both sides are living down the relative failures of their season. United’s priority is the Europa League which could secure them a place back among Europe’s elite while City come to terms with the latest unraveling episode of their season- losing the Cup semi final to Arsenal meaning that for the first time in his career, Guardiola will go through a trophy less season. This derby effectively whets the appetite for the main course next season.