Manchester derby is bigger than Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola, says Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben in his interview to Goal has underlined that the keenly awaited face-off between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola doesn’t exceed the excitement that involves two powerhouses of English football – Manchester United and Manchester City.
Mourinho and Guardiola had a legendary rivalry during their stints with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Mourinho who replaced Louis van Gaal this summer at Old Trafford and Guardiola, who is taking over from Manuel Pellegrini, will renew hostilities in the pre-season International Champions Cup on 25 July at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing.
Their duel in the Premier League meanwhile will resume in the Manchester derby on September 10.
However, when asked to pick between the two, Robben refused to answer who he would prefer working, he refused to comment saying, “No, I cannot say that. They were two completely different periods in my career. When I worked with Mourinho I was still young and it was my first club abroad. With Pep, I was already older and it was different. Both have been interesting and suited me in my career."
The Manchester derby is one that seldom finishes dull and has a high-scoring profile. Out of the 171 meetings, Manchester United have won 71 times compared to City’s 49 wins since 1881. With each manager expected to be gung-ho in order to make a statement for their title campaign, Robben was asked if the managerial rivalry would add glitter to the event that is big in its own capacity.
“They are both big coaches, I worked with each of them for three years. They are top professionals and they will bring their own style of play and mentality to the team. I’m convinced of that. It will be interesting to follow. But it's not only about Pep vs Mou, but also about the players on the pitch in the end. But I'm sure you will notice their handwriting," quipped the Dutch winger.
Jose Mourinho has launched a plethora of plans to stabilise the club in the post-Ferguson era. His vision is to help restore club’s stature, win trophies and reignite the tradition of fearless football. To make this happen, Mourinho has already signed players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, with more recruits expected.
Pep Guardiola meanwhile is arguably the most successful managers in modern history and has a far superior track record which Manchester City are hoping will reflect in their performance as well, since their desire for domestic trophies and maiden Champions League crown remains unfulfilled. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss will emboss his mentality and style of play, but it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the Premier League where he makes his debut.
Matches between the two bitter rivals of Manchester rarely ends in a draw. However, last season’s derbies were strangely tepid due to Van Gaal and Pellegrini’s unwillingness to create urgency or excitement going forward, with a goalless draw and United winning away 1-0. Thus, the football world is more than eager to find out how two of the best managers in the world would serve the derby.