Man Utd told they’ve done the impossible by Guardiola, who backs surprise club to smash top four hierarchy after Tottenham clues

Man City manager Pep Guardiola Credit: Alamy
Man City manager Pep Guardiola Credit: Alamy

Pep Guardiola is beginning to feel the heat from across Manchester after suggesting Man Utd have done the impossible, while the City boss reckons a new face could smash the top four hierarchy this season.

Since Guardiola took charge at the Etihad in 2016, Man City have embarked on a remarkable period of domestic dominance. Only Chelsea in his first season at the helm and Liverpool in the 2019/20 campaign have prevented City from lifting the Premier League title.

Over that span, near neighbours Manchester United have never finished above City. In fact, they’ve only finished within 10 points of City on one occasion (2016/17 – nine-point gap).

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, the Red Devils have not won either of the game’s two main prizes – the Premier League or Champions League.

Replacing such an influential figure was always going to be tough, though the same was true of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and the Gunners are on the right path with Mikel Arteta.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all got the nod on a permament basis, though all were ultimately found wanting.

United turned to Erik ten Hag last summer, and for the first time in a long while, United are heading in the right direction.

Ten Hag does the impossible

Ten Hag has united a fractured squad and the attacking brand of football he plays is exciting the fans.

He’s shown he’s more than willing to make the big decisions and none are bigger than repeatedly axing Cristiano Ronaldo from his starting eleven.

Furthermore, he’s instilled a tireless workrate in a group of players who have often been criticised for not giving their all.

While this season will obviously come too early for a title charge, City boss Guardiola is wary of the looming threat coming over the horizon.

Guardiola has seen the signs at Old Trafford of late, with his comments suggesting Man Utd have done the impossible and finally found their true Ferguson successor.

“I have the feeling United are coming back,” said Guardiola in a recent press conference (via the BBC).

“Finally United is coming back – I’ve seen it on Thursday [the 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol], and against Chelsea in the first half [of the 1-1 draw last weekend].

“I said I like what I see of United right now. There will be a lot of teams like United fighting. That’s why you have to fight to qualify for the Champions League and fight for the title.”

Top four hierarchy in for a shock – Guardiola

Only once over the last 17 years has a club outside of the traditional ‘big six’ finished inside the top four.

Leicester broke the mould in emphatic fashion during the 2015/16 campaign, topping the table in an unforgettable season.

The Foxes did come close to finishing fourth two years running under Brendan Rodgers more recently, though upon falling short, the status quo has remained.

However, Guardiola is of the belief cash-rich Newcastle are primed and ready to break into the top four ahead of schedule.

Their Saudi-led takeover was always likely to see Newcastle make it a ‘big seven’ at some stage, though the common consensus was it would take time.

Yet in the first full season after the takeover, Eddie Howe has the Magpies already positioned inside the top four.

Guardiola reckons the waiting period is over already after pointing to how Newcastle masterfully dealt with two of the league’s deadliest attackers when beating Tottenham last weekend.

“Newcastle are already there,” added Guardiola.

“I saw them against Tottenham. The central defenders [Fabian Schar and Sven Botman] went man to man against Kane and Son with no problem at all.

“We played them in the third game of the season. Imagine this team playing one game a week? We know how good Eddie [Howe] the manager is.

“They have new players. They play brave. They are a contender to be there.”

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