Guardiola and Mourinho are on different paths – Man City’s title hopes are over

Pep Guardiola wants the record books to read eight major trophies won to date as Manchester City manager – while the rest of us reckon it is six.

Nobody on these shores has ever counted the Community Shield as anything more than a season curtain-raiser. Certainly, not a major title, that’s for sure.

But ultimately, aside Pep and the City PR machine, who cares? 

For surely the real question is – will he ever bring the most important piece of silverware in club football to the Etihad Stadium?

Yep, that so-far elusive Champions League trophy, which has continued to evade the grip of the widely-regarded greatest modern roundball boss.

Of course, he has lifted it before. Twice, in fact, during that irrepressible era at the Barcelona helm when Lionel Messi and Co swept all before them.

However, Guardiola failed to deliver it at Bayern Munich – and success in Europe has been equally conspicuous by its absence in three full seasons in Manchester.

The good news, though, is the Spanish super-coach is in no mood to walk away without laying that ghost to rest.

Hence, last week he signed a two-year contract extension, ending speculation that this bizarre COVID-hit campaign would be his last in this country.

And there is now more good news on that front, because after this latest hiccup in the Premier League, Guardiola’s troops can concentrate on Europe.

Despite only a quarter of the title race gone, City are not going to regain the championship they won back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. They have already dropped 12 points out of 24.

What a contrasting picture for new overnight league leaders Tottenham and their very own super-boss, Jose Mourinho.

City’s visit was the first of five pre-Christmas fixtures against the big boys. Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester all follow in quick succession.

Fair to say by December 19, we will know if the Special One’s gang are genuine contenders to finish at the summit for the first time in 60 years.

Exactly 12 months after Mourinho’s appointment, the signs are definitely promising. 

Especially, if they continue to pick up results like this when, in terms of possession and efforts on goal, they are thoroughly second best.

That had been the case for the first five minutes last night. Yet, with Spurs’ opening attack, Heung-min Son, found by Tanguy Ndombele’s pass, rolled the hosts’ ahead.

It was a decent move for Son’s ninth league strike but way too easy from City’s point of view.

Guardiola thought as much. He moaned, groaned, muttered and spluttered at anyone listening before slumping into his seat and rubbing the head in disbelief.

Perhaps, he was already regretting leaving Phil Foden on the bench – three days after his brilliant England display against Iceland.

It does seem crazy the rising Three Lions playmaker cannot make Pep’s first eleven more often.

Whenever he does, City perform. But this, worryingly for those bleeding sky blue, appears lost on the gaffer.

Lest anyone forget, Foden, having inspired City into last season’s Champions League last eight, was suddenly dropped for the tie  with Lyon…and the English club were thumped 3-1.

Mourinho, on the other hand, can do no wrong right now as the 64th-minute introduction of Giovani Lo Celso for Ndombele confirmed.

Sixty seconds later the £27.5million ex-Real Betis midfielder burst into the area to make it 2-0 – with his first touch.

No prizes for guessing who claimed his ninth league assist in the process. Is there a better creator on the planet than amazing Harry Kane?

That prompted Guardiola into a double shuffle of his own, with the 71st-minute arrival of Foden and Raheem Sterling.

Way too late for either to have an impact here, you sense both will start against Olympiacos in midweek.

It’s the Champions League, after all! 

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