SO MUCH TO ANSWER FOR
What a coup it’s been for English football, and for the metropolitan borough of Manchester, to play host to Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho, two of the most famous managers in the world! There they’ve sat, all season, underachieving with a face on, while the Premier League title race has passed them by. And so the second Manchester derby of the 2016-17 league campaign isn’t quite the crucial showdown we’d all hoped for. Though it is sort of important, kind of. Who will get the upper hand in the chase for a precious berth in Big Cup next season, securing fourth spot, and maybe even third? Coo! That’s £175m and £150m well spent! And so much joy, verve and entertainment along the way. Well done, everyone.
|It’s arguable that Pep has more to lose than José tonight. Mourinho has, after all, hoisted a couple of bits of tin in the air this season, a domestic cup like his predecessor Louis van Gaal and the Community Shield like David Moyes before that. Good, good. His side are also hot favourites to win Euro Vase, the big name in a small field also featuring Basingstoke Town, the reformed Bananarama, and Giles and Maureen from Surrey who thought they were entering a bridge tournament but filled out the wrong form. That’s a decent return by the standard of most clubs, especially as everyone’s conveniently forgetting pre-season expectations of freewheeling football, the title and concomitant stress-free qualification for Big Cup. But it’s easy to pick holes. Pep, by contrast, has nix. Po’ Pep’s a-cold!
Po’ Pep is guaranteed to end his first year at the Etihad empty handed, shivering, the first time he’ll have nothing to show for a season’s efforts in his entire nine-year management career. “Sometimes it has to happen and it happened this year,” he shrugs, kidding on he doesn’t care. “If I extend my career long, I’m sure there will be many years in the future it happens.” Music to City’s ears, no doubt, and it suddenly seems a long time ago when Guardiola’s side went to Old Trafford in September and gave United a footballing lesson, thrashing them by 9,274 passes to 17, domination which was eventually parlayed into a tight 2-1 win. With local bragging rights at stake tonight – Cor! That’s worth £325m of anyone’s money! – Pep’s paymasters will be desperately hoping for some more of that trademark Guardiola magic.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE TONIGHT
Man. City vs Man United
today, 8:00 PM
City of Manchester Stadium