Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has pledged to take the game to Manchester United and Jose Mourinho when the old adversaries renew acquaintances at Old Trafford in Saturday’s derby.
Despite both clubs still acclimatising to life under new management, City and United go into the much-anticipated fixture with 100 per cent records at the top of the Premier League.
Guardiola identified improvement from each match played by United under Mourinho at his pre-match news conference but suggested City will not deviate from the swashbuckling style that has returned nine goals in two away matches at Steaua Bucharest and Stoke City.
“With Jose it’s the same. He needs time. We need time and the world won’t give you time. This is how it is, now there’s a game in Old Trafford,” Guardiola said.
“We will try and do things we did good. We played good in some moments, particularly in Bucharest and the first half against West Ham,” he added, referring to a 3-1 victory last time out.
“And at Stoke I realised immediately how tough the Premier League is.
“It depends on the way we play. I believe now and until the last day of my career that you have to play good to win the game.
“I want to attack, control the game, concede a few counter attacks – but play good.
“We know how we are going to play tomorrow – and we know we’re going to play a real good team.
“I saw the official games United have played and in every game they’ve played better than in the one before. Like us. That is normal and of course, they have a lot of talent.
“[Anthony] Martial is so fast and [Juan] Mata between the lines is so dangerous. The quality of [Wayne] Rooney; there’s no doubt about [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic’s quality. They’re a top team, like Manchester United always is.”
Shortly before Guardiola addressed reporters at the City Football Academy, Mourinho played down any notion of a feud between the pair at his own media briefing.
Although sparks intermittently flew between the pair when they were stationed at Barcelona and Real Madrid on either side of the Clasico divide, Guardiola followed suit and said he would accept any offer of a post-match glass of wine from Mourinho.
“I said it many times – I have a lot of respect for Jose Mourinho, I always try to learn from all of my colleagues – it’s the same with him,” he added.
“The rivalry is more from the media and we can’t control that.
“He was my coach, my assistant coach [when playing under] Sir Bobby Robson [at Barcelona]. Okay, the last period at Barcelona and Real Madrid was not easy for both of us but we met each other two, three weeks ago at the manager’s Premier League meeting.
“We spoke fluently with Ronald Koeman and Tony Pulis. It was correct, so that’s all.”
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