It’s the first Manchester derby of the season, as City face United at Old Trafford tomorrwo at 12:30. Guardiola vs. Mourinho really kicks off.
In Manchester a few things are certain: forty-five-year-old men will reference the Hacienda three times a week, you will at some stage be harassed on the tram to New Islington, and it will rain. A lot. Another certainty however, is that for two days a year the city will come to a stand-still, as Derby Day takes over. Whether you’re into football or not, you must pick a side. There’s no fence sitting, no half-and-half scarfs, no swapping sides – you pick your side and you remain there. This year the first of these occasions comes about on the 10th of September at 12:30, and there’s an added bit of spice.
Mourinho vs. Guardiola
There’s a rivalry of course between these two sets of fans, especially in recent years as City have caught up and arguably overtaken United in the quality of their football, but this year this rivalry stretches as far as the managers. We’ve seen Mark Hughes have a little spat with Fergie in the past, and Roberto Mancini have a little spat with Fergie, and Kevin Keegan have a little spat with Fergie (I’m beginning to see a pattern), but never has it been so personal as the two new boys in town. Manchester City’s new manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester United’s new manager Jose Mourinho go back years. They used to be friends at Barcelona, as they worked together under Bobby Robson to improve their own tactical knowlede, but since then they’ve drifted. These two have played each other time and time again and it has always been a spicy encounter sniping at one another. They aren’t friends anymore and surely this will be seen on Saturday.
In his pre-match press conference Pep Guardiola said that he has spoken to Jose Mourinho at a managers meeting with Ronald Koeman and Tony Pulis a few weeks ago, and that he would accept an invitation for a glass of wine after the match if he was invited. You can almost see it now can’t you – Tony Pulis losing his baseball cap in an attempt to heave Jose Mourinho off Pep Guardiola as they scrap on the floor. Guardiola also stated that the media probably make more of the rivalry than is actually there. This I’m not sure about – but look out for my article next week on whether Mourinho could ‘av Guardiola in an arm wrestle round the back of Londis.
Everyone is fit except from Kompany who will have a late blood test check.
Luke Shaw and Marouane Fellaini face late checks.
Zlat’ll show him
Claudio Bravo will make his debut for City this weekend in the derby, and Zlatan Ibrahimović has already seen that the new ‘keeper doesn’t underestimate the Swede. The striker filmed himself sending Bravo an Ibrahimović-branded training gear ready for the game. Bravo.
Ibrahimović will definitely be the man to stop for Manchester City. City handled him well last season in the Champions League when they saw off PSG, but that was thanks to a superb display from Eliaquim Mangala who is not here anymore. Nicholas Otamendi had a couple of notably good performances against Zlatan last year too, and he is expected to start tomorrow.
Ibrahimović has said some pretty cruel things about Guardiola over the last few weeks, about how he treated him when the was his coach at Barcelona. However, Guardiola only had good things to say about Ibrahimović; “I have a lot of respect for what he’s done in his footballing career. He is an amazing amazing talent – especially on the pitch.”
Sergio Aguero has eight goals against Manchester United and is City’s all-time top goal scorer against the Reds – but he will not be featuring this weekend as he elbowed Winston Reid last week in a match against West Ham. Some City fans are not happy with the ban at all and are protesting angrily… but Aguero elbowed a man in the head so you know, he’s banned.
With this in mind it looks like either Kelechi Iheanacho will start, or a debut will be handed to 20-year-old Leroy Sané. Either way, it will be a massive game for either young lad, as both are inexperienced in such big games. Perhaps it will work out similar to how it worked out for Marcus Rashford last year, who scored on his derby day debut. Or perhaps it will work out like it did for Bernado Corradi – yea, exactly.
Just to whet your whistle, here’s a couple of videos from recent derby days that have gone either way. If you don’t have a side, now’s the time to pick. You don’t get to change after the game, so pick wisely. Do not let me persuade you one way or the other either, but maybe consider what King Noel Gallagher once said about Manchester United: “it’s a hatred that steadily grows. I hate them more than yesterday.”