Both Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho have taken charge of 25 games so far this season: with exactly the same results.
The managers have identical records (W14 D6 L5) though there has been a bit of a difference in the way the pair have been treated in the media. After Guardiola won his first 10, the press pack have taken more time to criticise the former Barcelona man, whereas Mourinho’s temper tantrums at Old Trafford have drawn more fire — especially as his form since winning the 2014-15 title with Chelsea continues to crumble.
Jose Mourinho swept into Manchester United like a breath of fresh air and began by rattling off four wins in a row, starting with success in the Community Shield, in a faultless August.
The bubble was burst emphatically, though, with three defeats in succession. Manchester City delivered the first blow, highlighting that Mourinho’s men might not be the force many were hoping them to be.
In the wake of that, the United manager kept chopping and changing his players and results were inconsistent. Stories started emerging about dressing room unrest — and one of his summer signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan was first ruled out for being unfit, then accused of not having adapted well enough to the Premier League. Another summer signing, world-record recruit Paul Pogba, made a slow start.
There were signs of recovery when United battled to a 0-0 draw at Liverpool, despite the accusations of negativity, and a 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League — leading Mourinho to start hitting back at “Einsteins” who had been questioning them.
Mourinho, though, was about to receive the biggest humiliation of his time in charge: thrashed 4-0 at his former club Chelsea. At that stage, United had won eight, drawn two and lost four.
The strain on Mourinho was visible in games that followed at Old Trafford and he was sent off in two out of three of them, resulting in touchline bans. His frustration came as United developed a habit of being dominant but drawing games they perhaps should have won.
With Guardiola’s City wobbling, Mourinho managed to draw level in his overall track record — albeit with the help of playing in the Europa League — by guiding United to successive wins against Zorya Luhansk and Tottenham Hotspur.
Pep Guardiola’s record this season can be broken into two distinct parts — the first of sheer perfection, the second a mix of missed opportunities, individual errors and the occasional unexpected mess.
It seems a long time ago that Guardiola hit the ground running with an unblemished run of 10 victories from his first 10 games. Everything that the Manchester City boss tried, worked. Aleksandar Kolarov switched from left-back to centre half and was a revelation, Raheem Sterling moved to right wing and rediscovered his brilliant form that had persuaded City to pay £49m for him 12 months previously and every other player in the side improved significantly on their performances under previous manager Manuel Pellegrini.
On that run, they overcame a notoriously difficult trip to Stoke City and played a breathtaking 40 minutes at Old Trafford on their way to beating United in the Manchester derby and seemed odds-on to win the title at a canter.
The perfect run surprisingly ended at Celtic in the Champions League when Brendan Rodgers’ side matched City’s high energy and tempo and stunned them with a thrilling 3-3 draw.
It was a theme that Tottenham picked up on four days later to give City their first defeat and they have had problems ever since. New signing John Stones and Kolarov suddenly looked vulnerable; City continued to leak goals and they badly miss Vincent Kompany, who hasn’t managed to play a full game all season.
Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was brought in for his ball-playing skills, which he excelled at, but his shot-stopping was poor and City have conceded 27 goals from their 25 fixtures. With just five clean sheets all season, they’ve needed to score at least twice and his strikers haven’t been firing. Aguero has 16 goals but it should be more: four games missed through suspension (with three more to come) and three penalty misses have contributed to that.