EXTRA-TIME : GUARDIOLA VS MOURINHO
Come tomorrow, Manchester Derby will take place, although this time, outside England, but you know what that means? Mourinho vs Pep. For the first time in a long time, this time with two fierce rivals, just like in the days of El Classico..
Jose Mourinho’s hastily re-arranged press conference ahead of Manchester United’s clash with Manchester City in Beijing will serve as a reminder of his new club’s enduring popularity.
Around one hundred media representatives had packed a cramped room in the Olympic Sports Centre – which was itself only utilised as a back-up option due to the sorry state of the pitch at the nearby Bird’s Nest Stadium – resulting in United media staff deciding to move the media briefing outside. It was too busy and too hot. Ultimately, too popular.
Pep Guardiola will not care that his earlier conference was attended by a smaller number of media. He was not fazed by the pulling of Real Madrid during his time at Barcelona, either, and ultimately these things do not matter.
But it goes to show that these two old foes will be thrown into the same spotlight sooner than they would have anticipated, and perhaps liked.
Whether Mourinho and Guardiola are delighted at the prospect of facing each other so early in their respective new jobs is not entirely certain, but the chance for their teams to meet an opponent on a level footing will surely be welcome.
For both United and City, who meet in the International Champions Cup in Beijing on Monday, it is an opportunity at least to get a good idea of where exactly they stand with less than three weeks to go until the Premier League begins again.