To say Manchester City won the Premier League title with a canter would be a bit of an understatement. In terms of goals scored and average possession, Pep Guardiola’s side are the most dominant title winners in Premier League history – setting new records on both fronts.
Due to finance, resources and final league position, bitter rivals Manchester United remain their closest competitors and likeliest foes in the title race next season. But there’s been such a big disparity between the two Manchester giants in 2017/18, not only in points but also style of play, that it feels as if this current United incarnation may never catch up with the noisy neighbours.
With that in mind, we have one simple question for our expert writers – can Jose Mourinho really get United to the same level as the Citizens? Read their verdicts below…
“I think he can. The points gap between the Manchester clubs this season has been a little bit embarrassing – not just for Mourinho and United, but for the league, too. That said, City won’t hit the same heights in terms of league points again (they can put more focus onto cup competitions and winning more silverware). United were defeated by Huddersfield, Newcastle, Brighton, that’s all three promoted teams, and West Brom, who were relegated.
That might be embarrassing for the Red Devils, but cutting that out next year could give them 12 more points. It wouldn’t be enough to catch City if they repeated the trick, but if Guardiola’s side falter even a little bit, that certainly means United can challenge – and we’ve seen in the Champions League that City aren’t always the same team under a bit of extra pressure.”
“No. Mourinho’s usual second season trophy haul hasn’t arrived, and it’s starting to look increasingly likely that his usual third season implosion will arrive. Mourinho’s style just simply cannot amass the amount of points that City have put up this season, and Pep is clearly planning for the long haul when you look at the average age of his signings since taking over. There’s more chance of United falling further behind City next season than catching up to them.”
“It will be difficult. Mourinho’s transfer policy generally appears to rely on short-term results, and that is shown by his supposed interest in Chelsea attacker Willian. Meanwhile, Guardiola has a model where he has players that can make an impact now and in the future, and that makes a huge difference. Additionally, Guardiola is clearly adored and respected by his Man City players, but the same can’t be said for his Portuguese rival who has alienated too many of his stars because of his comments in the public eye.”
“In a word, no. Mourinho and Man United won’t win the Premier League for as long as Guardiola is across the city. City are miles ahead on the pitch, in terms of style of play and results but also off the pitch in terms of their transfer record, the feeling of the fans towards the club, their youth teams – the list goes on. Guardiola’s new three-year deal is a body blow to United.”
“It’s easy to get carried away and think the Premier League’s current status quo will remain indefinitely, but fortunes in football can change with the blink of an eye. Let’s not forget that Mourinho was in precisely the same situation at Real Madrid, facing a Barcelona team superior to this City side, and still found a way to beat Guardiola. It wasn’t pretty, Mourinho making it a personal battle between himself and his old nemesis, but perhaps that’s the level United will have to stoop to as well. The other thing working in United’s favour is that it won’t just be them looking to step up a gear and compete with City next term; every club in the top six will want and expect to do a much better job of it in 2018/19.”