MANCHESTER, England — It isn’t all unhealthy information for Jose Mourinho. The Tottenham Hotspur supervisor can nonetheless declare to be the final coach to mastermind a win in opposition to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis, though that distinction may not have offered a lot comfort as Spurs headed again to London after a 3-0 defeat in opposition to the runaway Premier League leaders on Saturday.
However with Tottenham now going through a battle simply to complete within the prime 4 this season after struggling their fourth defeat in 5 league video games, the fading reminiscence of that 2-0 dwelling win in opposition to Metropolis final November at the least provides Mourinho the proper to say he nonetheless is aware of tips on how to beat the perfect. Sadly for Mourinho, that’s what his rivalry with Guardiola has now turn out to be: a fading reminiscence. Whereas Guardiola wins trophies and breaks information, after which threatens to repeat all of it at Metropolis, Mourinho is locked in a battle with himself to show that he’s not yesterday’s man. Wins like that one final November nonetheless matter to Mourinho.
If he beats his previous rival within the Carabao Cup ultimate in April (his 1-0 win with Manchester United in October 2016 stays the final time Guardiola was knocked out of the competitors), Mourinho will need to rejoice one other trophy, however the one-time Particular One would not come shut when the most important prizes are handed out these days, and the Carabao Cup is likely to be nearly as good because it will get.
Guardiola has gained that individual trophy in every of the previous three seasons. Two years in the past, it was the primary leg of a home treble and Metropolis are heading in the right direction to do this once more this yr. They might even win the Champions League, too. And having secured a sixteenth successive win in all competitions with this victory in opposition to Spurs, who can critically wager in opposition to Metropolis sweeping the board this season?
However that’s the glittering highway forward: trophies and historical past lurking at each flip.
There was a time when Mourinho was on an identical path throughout his first spell at Chelsea after which Internazionale, however it’s all about Guardiola now. This was the twenty fifth assembly between the 2 males in all competitions for all golf equipment, and Guardiola has gained 11 in comparison with Mourinho’s seven, with the opposite seven ending stage. For Mourinho’s sake, let’s not speak concerning the trophy rely.
On the Etihad on Saturday, Mourinho’s crew have been dominated from begin to end — except for the 14th minute when Harry Kane despatched a free kick in opposition to the Metropolis crossbar — and the house aspect may have gained by a higher margin.
“A recent crew in opposition to a really drained crew,” Mourinho stated after the sport. “However a crew that began the sport very effectively.
“I’m very, very pleased with the gamers’ angle. I had guys on the pitch who performed two hours a few days in the past they usually gave all the pieces.”
Mourinho at the least confirmed ambition along with his beginning lineup, by boldly choosing 4 forwards in Kane, Erik Lamela, Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura, however it made no distinction. He and his crew nonetheless had no reply to Metropolis’s waves of assaults as Ilkay Gundogan as soon as once more scored twice, having hit two at Liverpool final week, after Rodri’s opener from the penalty spot.
However there was by no means any trace of a repeat of the win on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, when Mourinho’s crew went prime with 20 factors from 9 video games. They’ve since taken 16 factors from a doable 42, dropping to eighth place within the course of.
As for Metropolis, they’ve gained 13 of 15 league video games and drawn two since dropping at Spurs. Again then, they have been as little as eleventh, however they now sit prime, seven factors away from second-placed Leicester Metropolis, with a sport in hand on Brendan Rodgers’s crew. Manchester United can shut the hole to 5 factors by successful at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, however Metropolis play their sport in hand at Everton on Wednesday and a win at Goodison Park will certainly sign the top of this season’s title race.
The fear for the chasing pack is that Metropolis have been so comfy in successful this sport — each going ahead and defensively. They didn’t have to hit prime gear to say the three factors and the win was achieved with out the injured Kevin De Bruyne and with Ruben Dias and Sergio Aguero solely match sufficient to take a spot on the substitutes’ bench.
Metropolis’s first purpose got here from the penalty spot on 22 minutes, when Rodri made it 1-0 after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had fouled Gundogan.
“A contemporary penalty,” Mourinho stated. “A contemporary penalty is one the place even for those who contact with a nail it may be a penalty.”
Davinson Sanchez denied Metropolis a second on 42 minutes with a goal-line block from Gundogan’s close-range shot, however the latter was on the scoresheet early the second half when he beat Hugo Lloris with a tame left-foot strike. Gundogan’s second on 66 minutes was excellent — the Germany worldwide managed an extended clearance by goalkeeper Ederson earlier than beating Sanchez after which scoring previous Lloris.
The sport was gained by then and the title race has an identical sense of inevitability. Metropolis may lose once more earlier than the top of the season, however it’s tough to see them dropping seven or eight factors.
Metropolis and Guardiola march on, however Mourinho and Spurs are limping. The Spurs boss has little to smile about proper now — other than being the final man to beat Guardiola.