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Bulletproof Pep Guardiola is living in parallel universe to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United moving above Manchester City in the Premier League table at the weekend meant nothing more than Monday morning bragging rights in the grand scheme of things.

But the irony would not have been lost on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that while his position has come under scrutiny on almost a weekly basis, Pep Guardiola signed a new contract at the Etihad last Thursday to great fanfare.

United in 10th and City in 13th isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams in Manchester.

And even Solskjaer conceded after scraping past West Brom on Saturday night that his team will have to play better if they are to continue climbing the table.

Yet Guardiola seems to be inhabiting a parallel universe at the moment.

The contrast between Solskjaer and Guardiola could not be more stark

His claim that the Blues played well in defeat at Tottenham didn’t tally with a reality that saw Jose Mourinho’s tactical plan keep the visitors at arm’s length despite conceding territory and possession.

City were well beaten for the second time this season – and have now lost 11 of their last 43 Premier League games.

Yet while Solskjaer runs the risk of being sacked if United’s fortunes don’t improve, Guardiola is bullet proof.

The only pressure he works under is the weight of expectation he places on himself.

It could be argued that Guardiola’s pay-rise is a deserved pay-back for back-to-back titles, the 100-point season and an historic domestic quadruple.

Solskjaer is under constant scutiny at United
Solskjaer is under constant scutiny at United

There has been no shortage of titles and trophies at the Etihad.

And Solskjaer is yet to get beyond a semi-final, despite guiding United back into the Champions League.

But if this is only a blip for Guardiola, then it’s one that started 14 months ago when City lost at Norwich and never really recovered.

Solskjaer has a close personal relationship with United executive chairman Ed Woodward, but it won’t save him from the chop if he fails.

Ask David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Mourinho.

In contrast, Guardiola’s gets mate’s rates.

Chief executive Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain were ruthless in their treatment of Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellergini.

They launched a charm offensive to bring Guardiola from Barcelona within months of Mancini landing City’s first title in 44 years in the most dramatic Premier League finale of them all.

And as soon as the Catalan made it clear he would move to Manchester from Bayern Munich in 2016, Pellegrini was a dead man walking.

But there is more chance of Sheikh Mansour playing up front in next month’s Manchester derby than Guardiola leaving the Etihad at a time which isn’t of his own choosing.

Since the start of the season, the City boss answered questions about his future by claiming he would only sign a new deal if he felt he was still getting a response from his players.

But even before the defeat at White Hart Lane, looked a millions miles away from the team that won 198 points over the course of two title-winning seasons.

Where will United and City finish this season? Have your say below.

Guardiola's City side are under-performing but he remains bulletproof
Guardiola’s City side are under-performing but he remains bulletproof

 

Guardiola’s energy levels are down – perhaps not surprising given the personal tragedy he suffered at the start of the coronavirus crisis.

And as City find that replacing David Silva is going to be just as difficult as it was to fill Vincent Kompany’s boots, they are now faced with the task of finding a striker capable of taking over from Sergio Aguero.

What do those three players have in common? They were all at the club before Soriano and Begiristain arrived.

Now City plan to bring in Lionel Messi, even though the Argentine will be 34 when his contract with Barcelona expires.

City and United might be in a mid-table no-man’s land at the moment, but Mancunian football fans are certainly living in interesting times.




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