Manchester United failed to land an important win against Burnley. The draw leaves them 12 points behind rivals Manchester City, with the difference likely to extend by Wednesday night. Given all that has happened this season, is United’s latest campaign a failure? Or, is Pep Guardiola at City setting too high of a standard for most clubs at this point in time?
Can United provide consistent results?
Manchester United’s Boxing Day clash against Burnley leaves little that Red Devils fans will want to remember. The team looked powerless to secure a victory that could have proved vital in the title race. Team hero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, lacked vision playing behind the main striker, Romelu Lukaku. And Jose Mourinho seemed uninspired in his selection, albeit one important squad change.
It took for Jesse Lingard to come off the bench, to help United, who were trailing by two goals, to snatch a draw. It was a lucky draw, even if there was no question about which side had the better collection of players. “If we had played for another five or 10 minutes, we would have won the game,” said Lingard. But the result remains.
Are Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho improving in their second EPL season?
United sit in second place, with an historic point difference between themselves and Manchester City. Does this mean that Mourinho’s second season in charge of United should be considered a failure? Or, are City simply setting the bar too high for their rivals?
Manchester City have so far this season, broken numerous records. The team is heralded as one of the best the Premier League has ever seen. Manager Pep Guardiola currently holds the record for the longest winning streaks in three of the top five European Leagues. The only success not matched yet is Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ season of 2004. Though we are witnessing a special event in English football.
Does transfer budget make a difference?
Both teams have improved since last season, it is City however, who have raised the bar the highest. Both managers have had a considerable transfer budget at their disposal. Guardiola seems to have made the best of it, a fact that Mourinho will dispute. The ‘Special One’ claims that the difference is mainly due to the fact that City have been able to spend more.
“Manchester City buys full-backs for the price of the strikers, so when you speak about big football clubs, you are speaking about the history of the club,” Mourinho points out. And while there is some truth to the statement, the United manager knows better than anyone that his job includes overcoming adversity and making the best of his chances on the transfer market.
Were City’s transfers simply better thought out than those of United’s? Guardiola has adapted his playing style to that of the Premier League. He has not shied away from sacrificing players who would not fit with his vision of the team. The transfers, expensive as they were, fit perfectly with what the manager was intending to have his team do this season.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have made sensible transfers. All should have worked. Whilst none can yet be considered failures, none have proven vital for their team. Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed good form, but has not yet become the poacher Mourinho is looking for.
Nemanja Matic is a good midfielder, but not one that has inspired his team to victory, when compared to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne of City. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s resigning will require time before we can see the results.
Is Guardiola better than Mourinho as a Premier League manager?
Manchester City will most likely win the title. Moreover, they will probably do it at a slow and comfortable pace. United could enjoy a good season, beyond what the team has shown during the last few years. If this is the measure of success than United will have achieved it.
However, if the measure of success is to be the best team in England, then, indeed Pep Guardiola has it seems managed that this season.
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