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Monday 16 July 2018

Jose's in full moan mode as Pep rides high

Pep Guardiola’s serene march to the top of the table with Manchester City is in stark contrast to Jose Mourinho Photo: PA
Pep Guardiola’s serene march to the top of the table with Manchester City is in stark contrast to Jose Mourinho Photo: PA

With every passing week, Pep Guardiola's halo gains definition and Jose Mourinho's horns grow longer and sharper. Everyone can see who the special one is in the Premier League.

There is very little that can be predicted with any certainty in football but I would bet my life savings on Mourinho having a proper whinge when fate is not flowing in his direction.

This is not a man blessed with grace under pressure. He is hard-wired to believe that football exists for his glory and if he cannot have the limelight for the right reasons, he craves it so much that he will do everything to hold it for the wrong reasons.

He's been in full-on moan mode for weeks and even by his standards, he's sounding particularly petulant while he thrashes around looking for anything to downgrade Guardiola's progress to something other than the proper application of football knowledge by a gifted coach.

No reasonable person looking at the way the Premier League has progressed this season can do anything but sit back and admire what Guardiola and his team are doing.

All neutrals and even hardcore fans of Manchester City's top rivals must acknowledge that we are witnessing something unusual and exciting unfold at the Etihad and that Guardiola is the reason it's happening.

According to Mourinho, it's all about cash. He's wrong. It's all about control.

Assertion

Guardiola is in control of himself, his team and his club. When a man of great talent finds himself in that position, good things usually follow. It really is as simple as that.

Mourinho's assertion that a number created by the supply and demand of the transfer market is more important than the quality of the investment made and the reason the money was spent is just ridiculous.

While Mourinho was telling us that Paul Pogba is the greatest midfield playmaker in the game, Guardiola was focusing on finding the right mix to get the best out of David Silva and on unleashing Kevin de Bruyne's potential.

I've always thought that Pogba was a marketing exercise, Ed Woodward's trophy buy and the price Mourinho paid for getting the job at Old Trafford.

In August, Mourinho claimed that he had secured four out of five of his summer wish list of targets and that he was content. Now, he seems to have changed his mind and if he had been able to spend another £100m, his team wouldn't be trailing 15 points behind City.

He is deflecting responsibility for the big gap onto the club by hinting at a lack of ambition but I believe he is also showing that his authority at Old Trafford is half-baked.

The only important question of any manager is whether he is getting the best out of the players he has but Mourinho's character will not allow him to just knuckle down, make the best of his situation and deal with the politics later.

Stripped

It is telling that Antonio Conte, stripped of any control of buying and selling when Nemanja Matic was shipped up to Old Trafford and very obviously at odds with the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge, chose to put his head down and work. As a result, Chelsea have been able to ride stormy waters this season and Conte is now breathing down Mourinho's neck just a point behind United in third place.

And behind Chelsea, the chasers are bunching up while Mourinho's team struggles with mid-table teams.

There is no real contest here though, other than for the bit parts on the podium. I'd never declare a race over until it's won.

A handful of bad injuries to key players, a couple of bad days at the office and a surge from behind could change things but the chance of that decreases with each Manchester City victory.

As ever, I could do without Mourinho's bitter noise but it is wonderfully countered by Guardiola's serene progress through the season and I, for one, am enjoying every minute of it.

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