The two Manchester powerhouses, City and United, appear to be on a mission to dominate the Premier League and English football for years to come. With Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in charge of the two giants, something akin to a fratricidal rivalry is developing at the summit of the Premier League. Where the former recorded a successful campaign in 2017 with Europa League and EFL Cup triumphs, the latter has just completed one of the most remarkable seasons in Premier League history, winning both the league and league cup. During this period of Mancunian excellence, however, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have been forced to watch on helplessly, finishing both seasons empty-handed.
The reputation game
Upon entering the maelstrom of the Premier League, Klopp was aware of the status and abilities of his peers. The reputations of the those in charge of Manchester’s duopoly were — and still are — both fearsome and illustrious. Mourinho, for one, is known as the ultimate trophy collector. It’s been his stock in trade wherever he’s been. From his early days in Porto to his first term with Chelsea, then during his spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, it’s been the same story. Give him the job and he’s more or less guaranteed to win you trophies.
Similarly, Guardiola has grown more accustomed to winning than perhaps any other manager in European football — even Mourinho. The Catalan won an outstanding 14 trophies in his three seasons with Barcelona, before taking charge at Bayern Munich following a year long break from management. In his three seasons with the Bavarian giants, Guardiola won three consecutive Bundesliga titles, and two German Cups. His next stop? Manchester, where records would eventually tumble as the Sky Blues made their way to the Premier League title and League Cup success in Pep’s second season.
Although Mourinho turned in a disappointing season this time around, he was bettered only by his nemesis at the Ethiad. The Portuguese was the only one who possessed a slim chance of usurping City to the title. No other club even came close to making a serious challenge. But while the gap on the table shows City and United leading Liverpool by 25 and six points respectively, head-to-head, the Reds were not far behind. Liverpool drew United at home and lost away, but beat City in three out of four meetings over the course of the season. A remarkable feat, considering City’s near-total domestic dominance. Being able to conquer City shows that Liverpool is ready to beat the Manchester duo — only this time, over a longer stretch.
Consolidation in Manchester?
Mourinho’s wonderful habit of winning the league title inside his first two years with a new club has been broken at United. That neither pleased him nor the club faithful. He is now on a mission to make amends. Time for a squad overhaul and some rebuilding. Man United is shaping up for a very busy summer of transfers. New acquisitions will certainly grace Old Trafford next season — and we are talking top-class talent. There’s only one goal in mind for the club hierarchy, manager and fans alike – win the Premier League title, and then some. Money will not be a problem.
Guardiola and City, on the other hand, are not resting on their oars. They want to go one better by not only dominating the league but also by winning the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. The club is also relatively busy in the transfer market as main targets Riyad Mahrez and Jorginho are close to joining. Such acquisitions will definitely make the squad even stronger. Just as expectations are getting even higher.
Klopp’s transformation is not yet complete
The only bad news for the Manchester clubs is that there is a certain Jurgen Klopp in Liverpool. The German is rebuilding the team and taking the Anfield side back to the top. After dominating English and European football in years gone by, the club gradually disintegrated into mediocrity. Champions League football became difficult to come by as the club was frequently shut out of the top four. Even when made it, Liverpool could not scarcely compete against Europe’s elite. Klopp was brought in to remedy the situation — and the results have been impressive.
It’s been a slow and steady rebuilding process. After two seasons of gradually finding its feet, the club is finally up to par. A top-four finish is now the norm. Reaching the UCL final cleared all doubt of a new era at Liverpool. Even if the Reds failed to win their sixth CL trophy, they let the world know something new is happening at Anfield. The glory days are back. The home ground has become a fortress. With just one loss at home all season, it was the worst place for any club to visit.
Klopp, it should be said, is not done yet. New acquisitions are gracing Anfield. New signings, Nabil Keita and Fabinho, are some of the best midfielders at the moment in Europe. Signing a new goalkeeper will complete the jigsaw. Getting deals done even before the Manchester duo also sounds the message loud and clear – Liverpool is gunning for trophies next season.