For the first time in his managerial career Pep Guardiola will finish a season without a trophy. Manchester City fans held aloft a banner on Sunday that proclaimed them the best team “in all the world,” but it was particularly difficult to make that point after their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal.
Consider that in the past couple months Arsene Wenger (or Arsene Wenger Out as he is now more commonly known) had been out-tacticked by Steve Agnew, Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis, it seemed unlikely that Guardiola - the Will Hunting of European football - would fail to get the better of a man who now counts a protest troop among his entourage.
And yet Wenger came out on top as the Gunners came from behind to beat City in extra time. Guardiola failed to stem the flow of the match in the season half, calling his tactical credentials into question. Not since Sir Fred Goodwin was a thing has a man been called a fraud so often.
The gaffer tapes
“If we beat Celta Vigo, we go to the final and, yes, it is important to us to play Champions League, but this club wants trophies,” Jose Mourinho replied when asked whether he would now prioritise the Europa League over Manchester United’s efforts to finish in the top four.
“We cannot give the club the Premier League. We have a 25 per cent chance to win the Europa League. I will rotate players again to give some players a chance again. In terms of expectation, it is better to go into a derby with one point difference rather than four.” Manchester United might be a club that wins trophies, as Mourinho says, but they are also a club that doesn’t finish outside the top four.
Mind games corner
Antonio Conte could have started both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard against Spurs on Saturday, but that would have been too obvious. That would have been what Mauricio Pochettino was expecting.
Instead, the Italian only introduced the pair just after the hour mark with the scoreline locked at 2-2. By full time, though, they had made the difference as Chelsea ran out 4-2 winners. Conte’s mind games worked, with Spurs left to reflect on yet another defeat at Wembley. Bet they can’t wait to play all their home games there next season.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Battle of the Bosses: Arsene Wenger finally out-tacticks a rival!