Looking at the EPL table in August is a little like feeling a Christmas present; while there is an undoubted sense of excitement and intrigue, it is almost impossible to draw any definitive conclusions about what to expect.
Despite this, it is surely no coincidence that the two Manchester giants are already leading the way, with only a single goal separating the sides that have recently been revamped by Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola respectively.
With the two teams set to meet at Old Trafford in the first game after the international break on 10th September, there are already those who believe that this season’s title race will evolve into a keenly contested, two horse race.
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Jose vs. Pep: Who will Prevail?
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the two sides and their irrepressible managers, as we try to determine who will reign supreme at the end of the season.
Jose and Manchester United: A New Dawn for the fallen Giants?
While many have cited Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as the catalyst for United’s recent decline, it was the board’s decision to appoint David Moyes that really undermined the Reds. As this infographic highlights, there was no genuine comparison between Moyes and Ferguson when it came to top-level experience, while the former lacked the necessary stature and self-belief to follow in such exalted footsteps.
After a further two years with the successful but pragmatic Louis Van Gaal at the helm, United have become a rudderless and inconsistent team bereft of belief, imagination and flair. It is this stark set of circumstances that led to the appointment of Mourinho, as while the Portuguese manager’s own ethos is not exactly tailor-made for United, his natural charisma and track record of success means that he is ideally placed to lift the Reds from their recent malaise.
We have seen evidence of this already, with Mourinho’s reputation crucial in securing the services of world class talent such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. New centre-back Eric Bailly has also added athleticism and physicality to the United side, while the talented Armenian forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan may yet prove to be the best signing of all.
This combination of match-winners, when aligned with Mourinho’s ability to grind out results, will certainly awaken the giant and make the Reds a potent force this season.
Read More: Mourinho on Schweinsteiger.
Pep and Manchester City: Can the Blues become a consistent Force?
Despite the fanfare that accompanied Mourinho’s move to Old Trafford, the story of the summer was Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad. The Spaniard is considered by the board to be the final piece of the jigsaw in City’s quest for greatness, as the club strive to become a consistent and dominant force both domestically and on the continent.
Believe it or not, Pep also arrived in England with something to prove. While the won three consecutive league titles during his recent stint at Bayern Munich, for example, this was the bare minimum that was expected of him and his failure to reach a single UCL final serves as a smudge against his reputation. More will be expected of him in England, however, particularly given his incredible trophy haul of 22 major honours in just eight years as a top flight coach.
Guardiola has made a steady, if unspectacular, start in the transfer market, investing in the services of German midfielder İlkay Gündoğan and Spanish forward Nolito. The Spaniard has also spent £47 million on England defender John Stones, as he looks to implement this style of building from the back and monopolising possession. It is Guardiola’s work with the existing City squad that has really caught the eye, however, with Sergio Aguero starting the season in top form and winger Raheem Sterling showcasing far more belief and consistency than last year.
While the ongoing feud with Joe Hart may be distracting from an impressive and goal-laden start for the Blues, City are justified as the bookmakers’ favourites for the title.
Read More: Zlatan at the double.
The Last Word.
Despite this, there is a growing sense that the greater EPL experience of Mourinho (coupled with the managers’ desire to prove himself after his dismissal from Chelsea last season) will afford him a critical edge in the title race. The Portuguese’ superior efforts in the transfer market may also pay dividends, and while Pep may ultimately prevail we are backing United to win the Premier League by a whisker this time around.
Read More: Hazard hails Chelsea's fantastic attitude.