There is not much left to say about a Manchester derby that was played in the most foreseeable approach by both teams. One focused mainly in destroying (unsuccessfully trying) and one loyal to its principles and superbly combining both football moments, attacking and defending.
Many pundits, former players and columnists point out that Mourinho is a defensive genius because his teams’ set up manage to nullify their opponents very often, but ¿is someone really a genius when to focus in doing something has to completely surrender to perform with same level of excellence in the other side of the pitch?
Arsène Wenger was completely right, Mourinho has a fear of failure. Even more than that, he is afraid to lose football matches, something that even the best teams and managers are exposed to. Losing a game is normal in football and it helps the team to grow. If the approach you choose fits your players and aims in the direction of winning every match, losing will occur occasionally and there is no need for concern.
However, when the best home match of the season is played and Mourinho had the chance to reduce the gap with the leaders and make them doubt about their power, he elected to do what he repeatedly has done in the past with no success at all. To contain Manchester City scoring goals, something that this Sunday he didn’t even manage to, his team chances were reduced to almost none.
On the other hand, surprisingly, Guardiola can boast of excelling in both phases of football. His teams defend with the ball at their feet, away from their own goal, pressing, running and driving the opponent crazy. That’s not only his favorite way of playing the full 90 minutes thinking about the three points, but it is also his way of defending. A rare one, an exclusive one that only the most audacious managers are able to implement.
It works not only against a fearful rival like Mourinho, or a struggling team that parks the bus in front of their goalkeeper with the only hope to punish on the counter, on a mistake, or set pieces. It also works against teams that comes out to play with no fear, like Napoli, whose invincibility was shattered twice by Guardiola’s mastermind and his players astonishing performance.
Don’t ever dare to say the same again. Mourinho is a defensive obsessed (very unsuccessful in the process who blames the referee for his own disgraces), Guardiola is a true defensive genius.
Feature by Alejandro Pérez, author of the book “More than 90 minutes”, available here: https://thatfootballbook.com/.