At the top, it is a game of small margins. Winning or losing hinge on the smallest details when there is ultra-competition, and so it was at the Manchester derby. A couple of selection errors, sluggishness to match the intensity of the City aggressors, and the game was over within 44 minutes. United supporters will not be overly worried though, neither will the Red Devils boss. Mourinho spotted the issues quickly and adjusted, it was just too late as Pep, a ferocious tactician, reshuffled the deck immediately after United finally got it right. Guardiola certainly has the edge, and it showed on the day. He has been frosty ice cold when it comes to making decisions about his teams, freezing out anybody that doesn’t fit in his ethos and systems. Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, and Joe Hart - all former City juggernauts who have been seen off the pasture so Pep’s ultimate system can take hold. This is the same manager that is so hated by Zlatan Ibrahimović because he exiled the imposing Swede to the wings at Barcelona, even though Zlatan was a good goal contributor, on the say so of a certain Lionel Messi. That is cold, that is a lot of edge. Mourinho needs to show the same edge.
Mourinho on the other hand has made concessions, none more visible than the placement of the most expensive footballer on the planet, Paul 'back-in-the-building' Pogba. It is an open secret that the young French midfield maestro is at the height of his powers while powering forward on the left side of a three-man midfield. When his defensive duties are shaved, the magic of Pogba is at its strongest ebb and flow. The same way Fernandinho’s industry keeps De Bruyne free to do what he does best.The current two-man pivot the new United boss is currently adopting is essentially a compromise. United undoubtedly have the resources to staff a three-man midfield, however this would cancel out the No. 10 role that Rooney currently occupies or as José would call it 9 and a half.
Paul Pogba being marshaled by Fernandinho, Pogba had a bad day at the office. Photograph: Tom Purslow/Getty Images
Henrikh Mkhitaryan also failed to hit the heights on his first start for the devils. Photograph: Getty Images
Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were both deployed to surprise the enemy, create width with pace and expand the cone of play. They turned out to be duds, and maybe that was a gamble Jose should not have taken in light of the gravity of the derby. However, as I said, small margins – Zlatan wi