Un­easy truce can erupt at any time

Manchester Evening News - - THE 177TH DERBY - By TY­RONE MAR­SHALL

WHEN Pep Guardiola and Jose Mour­inho ar­rived in Manch­ester in the sum­mer of 2016, the city pre­pared for a rekin­dling of the spite­ful war of words that had char­ac­terised their time to­gether in Spain.

Things got ugly quickly when Mour­inho took over at Real Madrid in 2010 and made it his im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity to de­throne Guardiola and Barcelona.

Noth­ing was off lim­its. There would be no ver­bal grenade not worth throw­ing in the pur­suit of do­mes­tic and Euro­pean glory.

As the man­agers swapped in­sults, the Cla­si­cos be­came even more fierce af­fairs.

The fix­tures, in­clud­ing a run of four games in just 18 days in 2012, were un­watch­able at times as the de­sire for vic­tory spilled over into games­man­ship and out­right cheat­ing. But you still couldn’t take your eyes off the games – or the press con­fer­ences.

So when Mour­inho was ap­pointed United boss in late May 2016, with Guardiola al­ready con­firmed as City’s new supremo from July 1, Manch­ester braced it­self for the recom­mence­ment of bat­tle.

In the end, we’ve had a thaw­ing of re­la­tions.

For Mour­inho, the rea­son was clear. While in Spain the sea­son es­sen­tially boiled down to a bat­tle of Barca v Real, with the other 18 La Liga sides more of­ten than not mak­ing up the num­bers – at least in the time of Mour­inho and Guardiola’s dom­i­na­tion when it would take a cen­tury of points to win the ti­tle – that wasn’t the case in the Premier League.

“In a sit­u­a­tion like this (Spain), in­di­vid­ual fights make sense be­cause they can in­flu­ence things,” Mour­inho said of the bat­tles in La Liga.

“In the Premier League, if I fo­cus on him and Manch­ester City, and he on me and Manch­ester United, some­one else is go­ing to win the league.”

But the pre­vi­ous in­sults had be­come so vi­cious, so per­sonal, that it al­ways felt like an un­easy truce, and per­haps it is City’s fly-on-the-wall All or Noth­ing doc­u­men­tary that will re­light the blue touch pa­per of this sim­mer­ing feud.

Mour­inho was cer­tainly unim­pressed with how he was por­trayed in the eight­part show, with his ‘park the bus’ tac­tics ref­er­enced by nar­ra­tor Ben Kings­ley, and the Old Traf­ford man­ager ac­cused City of lack­ing class.

“I haven’t seen it, but I know a few things about the movie. My re­ac­tion is if you are a rich club you can buy top play­ers, but you can­not buy class. That is my first re­ac­tion,” said Mour­inho.

“But if they send me one of the shirts when we played there, the shirts that were say­ing ‘We did it on Derby Day,’ if they send me one of th­ese shirts, I will give up about roy­al­ties,” he added.

That was Mour­inho ref­er­enc­ing United’s come­back win at the Eti­had in April, when City needed three points to claim the ti­tle. They led 2-0 at half-time be­fore Jose’s team ru­ined the party with three sec­ond-half goals.

Guardiola de­fended City’s role in the doc­u­men­tary and said it ‘was not our in­ten­tion’ to be dis­re­spect­ful.

But Mour­inho isn’t the type to for­give and for­get. Don’t be sur­prised if this man­age­rial ri­valry sud­denly re­dis­cov­ers some of the edge that was lost on the jour­ney from Spain to Manch­ester.

There is lit­tle love lost be­tween Pep Guardiola and Jose Mour­inho

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