During their times at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, managers Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho provided football fans around the world with high drama in every El Clasico matchup and battled each other tooth and nail in the Spanish league standings.
The two managers are naturally bestowed with unique skill sets that have helped them become two of the world’s greatest in their field and now find each other once again in new and exciting settings in what has become one of the most captivating coaching rivalries.
Jose Mourinho takes the reins of Manchester United while Pep Guardiola takes over Manchester City, with all of England anxious to see how each of their styles will work with their new Premier League teams.
While both squads in Manchester are stacked with talent and both ownership groups pumping massive funds for further squad development, Pep and Jose are expected to lead each of their clubs to success sooner rather than later in both the Premier League and the Champions League.
But who will find success first? We examine who might find themselves celebrating a title first amongst these two large teams.
Each squad boasts of lineups that read like a list of top players from around the world. We begin with Manchester United, where players like Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata, and the possible addition of Paul Pogba (he’s somewhere in the city as we speak) could make Jose Mourinho’s club a winner with immediate effect.
To counter, we find the blue half of Manchester with the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Joe Hart and Ilkay Gundogan beginning to understand Pep Guardiola’s system and what he wants to accomplish.
Examining each of the rosters on paper leaves us with the sense that neither has a distinct advantage over the other. Ownership groups will work to bring in more talent not only in the current summer transfer window but also when new players can arrive in January.
The key to success will be the implementation of what Jose and Pep have in mind tactically to get the most out of their clubs.
Without Champions League football this season, it can be difficult to say when Mourinho might be able to triumph in that competition. Manchester City reaching the semi-finals last year certainly bodes well for their chances, but how will each team respond to their new tactical systems?
Jose Mourinho’s defensive approach to matches will most likely have to be adapted to fit his new squad, as ownership and supporters will want to see a more attacking and proactive style.
For Pep Guardiola, instilling his “tiki-taka” philosophy into Manchester City and the Premier League will be an extensive test. The physicality and pace of the league may wear on his players, and it may take time for them to play at their best around this new style.
Jose Mourinho has a history of building winners, but it usually will take some time. He won a Champions League title with FC Porto, a treble with Inter Milan, a league championship with Real Madrid and a Premier League title during his second stint with Chelsea all in his second season in charge.
He typically requires a year to craft a successful team thoroughly, and I believe he will do the same with Manchester United.
For Guardiola and Manchester City, a difficult system to replicate in any League may find struggles in English football and may be a frustrating time for the talented Spanish manager.
Ultimately, Mourinho and United will find Premier League success before Manchester City and Pep Guardiola as both begin their journeys in the coming weeks.