If you can’t beat them with skill, beat them up.
But Jose Mourinho, ever the arch pragmatist, appears to have a plan to counter Guardiola’s elan. According to The Daily Telegraph, Mourinho will instruct his players to “bully” City in the Manchester Derby on Saturday.
That means hitting them in the area where United is most effective and City, perhaps, least—in the air.
United’s prowess in that area has been evident in the first few weeks of Mourinho’s leadership. In the FA Community Shield, it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic who rose highest to head home the winning goal against Leicester City, and the Swede did the same against Southampton at Old Trafford a fortnight ago.
Mourinho also has height in his midfield, with the 6-foot-3-inch Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, even taller.
That is not to say that City’s slick skills will not win out. But if United can dominate the physical battle, they may have a definitive advantage in the season’s biggest game so far.