Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will see their sparkling reputations shattered if they fail to mount sustained challenges for the Premier League title next season.
That’s the verdict of former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness, who believes Guardiola and Mourinho are under huge pressure to find a winning formula quickly after they failed to get in the mix for top spot in the Premier League after their high profile arrivals in Manchester last summer.
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City’s third place finish and United’s limp run to sixth spot was not what was expected from Guardiola and Mourinho, with Sky Sport pundit Souness telling us huge improvements will be demanded if the duo are to survive in their posts for the long haul.
“We all thought it would be Guardiola v Mourinho doing battle at the top of the table last season, but City and United never even came close to getting into the title mix,” Souness told Yahoo Sport UK.
“Now they will be under pressure like never before because they are working for owners who expect to be challenging for the title.
“The record these two guys have confirms they are great managers, but they have probably taken on the biggest challenges of their career in these two jobs and they have to respond to the task.
“For City to finish as far behind Chelsea as they did was a surprise because they were great in the opening games of the season and then faded badly.
“As for United, they did well in the lesser cup competitions, but United expect to be in the top four of the Premier League and all we got from Mourinho for most of the season was moaning and groaning and excuses.
“Manchester United is a massive football club and they have resources to make sure they can have no excuses if they pick up a few injuries or have a lot of games.
“If you want to win trophies and play in lots of competitions, then you are going to have a lot of games at the end of the season, which should be seen as a good thing.”
Mourinho is set to splash the cash this summer in a bid to banish the memories of desperately disappointing Premier League campaign for United, yet Souness has questioned whether the Portuguese tactician is the right man for the Old Trafford hot-seat despite his EFL Cup and Europa League wins last season.
“I didn’t think Mourinho was right for United and I said that from day one,” he states. “Because Guardiola was coming in an Manchester City, the people making decisions at Old Trafford felt compelled to go and get a big name manager and they ended up with Jose,” continues Souness.
“He has taken on a very difficult job at United and struggled to find his find his best eleven last season, if he ever found it.
“A big concern for me that their best player for most of last season was a 35-year-old in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with 35-year-old Michael Carrick also one of the top performers.
“Mourinho is used to winning league titles and finishing where he did last season in the Premier League will not be acceptable, but it won’t be easy to put it right.”
Souness went on to question Guardiola’s tactical decisions in his first few year at City, as he believes his magnificent successes during his time in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich helped to shield him from criticism last season.
“Everyone is reluctant to go down the road of questioning Guardiola given his track record, but I would say that this is his first big test,” adds Souness.
“His two previous jobs were absolute dream jobs. He walked into Barcelona when they had a 21-year-old Messi, a 23-year old Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Carles Puyol in their prime…dream job.
“Then you follow that up by taking over from Jupp Heynckes, who had just guided Bayern Munich to every trophy in the game, including the Champions League. Once again, dream job.
“Now he has a big task on his hands, in a league that is so much more competitive than the Spanish and German leagues.
“The one big question I would ask is would City have got more points on the board if they had left Joe Hart in goal and not gone with Claudio Bravo? Everyone would say yes to that.
“I just don’t see how having Bravo and then Willy Caballero in goal has advanced the City cause, even if they are better passers of the ball than Hart.
“It looks like Guardiola wanted to make a statement by getting rid of Hart to show who was the boss, but did he really need to do that?
“He needs a six or six players to sort out all the problems that were exposed last summer and even if they have got all the money in the bank to make it happen, there are no guarantees when you sign players as they need time to settle and it always difficult to get the right people in..”
Mourinho and Guardiola appeared to have their place on the game’s managerial A-list cast in gold as they swept into Manchester amid a fanfare of euphoria, but all that could change next season.
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