Premier League preview: Does Mourinho possess the hunger to fight Guardiola for glory?

In last week’s Community Shield victory over Chelsea, Manchester City continued from where they left off last season.

Tomorrow, it is the turn of Manchester United – last season’s runners up – to show the rest of the league what they are capable of against 2016 champions Leicester City.

Pep Guardiola’s City are certainly favourites to defend their crown, but it remains to be seen who their closest challengers will be.

The Citizens won the league by 19 points last term as well as lifting the League Cup. United, on the other hand, were left emptyhanded following defeat in the FA Cup final at the hands of Chelsea.

That defeat certainly led to more questions being asked of Jose Mourinho. It was only the third season out of 14 in his managerial career where he had failed to win silverware.

For a manager who is traditionally a trophy magnet in charge of England’s biggest and most successful club, last season was a disaster considering what he had been bought in to do and the money he had spent.

He knew his squad needed reinforcements if they wanted to catch City, but the summer transfer window hasn’t perhaps panned out the way he expected it to.

The additions of Fred and Diogo Dalot along with recalling Andreas Pereira from his loan spell may prove to be shrewd, but the team who scored 38 league goals less than Guardiola’s champions in 2017/18 haven’t added any attacking reinforcements.

Since Mourinho’s appointment in the summer of 2016, United have conceded just 57 goals over two seasons – the best defensive record in the league.

In contrast, they have scored 122 during that time, which is 64 goals less than City have managed since Guardiola swapped Bavaria for Manchester.

Just as he did in La Liga and the Bundesliga, the Spaniard has bought a whole new attacking dimension to the Premier League.

The way his teams keep the ball, attack with pace and play expansive football while defending aggressively in numbers all over the pitch is in many ways reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s vintage United team of 2006-2009.

Of course, Ferguson’s side went on to defend the Premier League twice at the end of the first decade of the millennium with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes starring throughout.


City’s attacking talent and flair is similar, and it is for this reason they are being widely tipped to go on and repeat their success of last season.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and new record signing Riyad Mahrez make up the best attacking unit in the league.

Goals win games, and the amount of goals City have in them is frightening for any opposition.

Everywhere Guardiola has managed, his team has always been full of goals, and it is no different at the Etihad.

The most goals scored by one of Guardiola’s teams came in the 2011/12 season when his Barcelona side managed to rack up 114 league goals in a single campaign.

It only made Barcelona the second top scorers in the league, behind Real Madrid – managed by believe it or not – Mourinho.

After falling short the season before against Guardiola, Mourinho’s Real side matched their Catalans counterparts every step of the way to go on and lift their 32nd La Liga title.

Guardiola is known for having an unrivalled winning mentality, but in the 2011/12 season Mourinho matched it as Real’s ultra-consistent winning form seen them take the title from the grasp of one of the best club sides’ ever seen.

Mourinho this year finds himself in a similar situation, but judging by his character at this moment in time, it seems as though his mentality isn’t the same mentality he possessed when he conquered Spain’s top tier in 2012.

While his current squad isn’t up to the level of his previous Real squad, it still contains attacking talent that must be unleashed.

Over the past two years, it hasn’t been. But with Guardiola’s side now in full flight, the only way to stop them defending their title is to match their consistency and hunger for goals.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have shown they are more than capable of beating Guardiola’s City in a one-off as they have beaten them three times in 2018 so far – once in the League and twice in the Champions League.

Fighting this City team over a 38-game season, though, will be a whole different task – one which Klopp won’t be used to. Mourinho is the only manager capable of pushing Guardiola.

But if the Mourinho of 2018/19 isn’t as hungry as the Mourinho of 2011/12, it is likely that Guardiola will reign supreme in England once again.

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