We’re on the eve of the first Manchester derby of the season, but it won’t be in Manchester or even England! China hosts its first match between City and United – that is, if the weather doesn’t lead to a cancellation. Torrential rain continues to hammer down in Beijing and there is serious concern about whether tomorrow’s match will take place.
Assuming it does, it will be Pep and Mourinho’s first meeting as City and United bosses. To get a United point of view, we caught up with Elliott, who runs United Report, and asked him about Pep, Mourinho, Pogba and tomorrow’s game.
First of all, let’s talk about your new manager. Are you happy with Mourinho and if you’d have had the choice of Pep, who would you have chosen?
I am more than happy with the appointment of Mourinho, but Guardiola was my first option ever since Sir Alex retired. Pep has always seemed more capable of building a dynasty – something United fans crave. But there is an ever growing feeling that José’s reign will be longer at United compared to his time at previous clubs.
How do you think City will fare under Pep in his first season?
I’ve got City to win the league this season, but only just. It’ll be a season full of new managers getting to know their new squads and environments. One City player I’m worried about is Ilkay Gundogan – the guy’s class. Get him fit and he’ll be running rings around Premier League midfields (potential Gundogan vs. Pogba in a Manchester derby, oft!).
If this rumoured deal for Pogba happens, what would you deem a successful season for United considering the players brought in?
Obviously top four being the bare minimum seeing as we’ve missed out on it in two out of three seasons since Fergie left – but, I also fully expect us to challenge for the title especially seeing as Zlatan Ibrahimovic has just come off the back of his best season ever in terms of goals.
Are there any youngsters in the United academy who are due for a breakout year?
I’m expecting Timothy Fosu-Mensah to cement a spot in the starting 11 this season if we don’t sign a right-back (not counting 15/16 as a breakout season). I can see him displacing Matteo Darmian due to various factors. It seems that Mourinho also likes the look of Axel Tuanzebe, seeing as he brought the player on tour. Also, Andreas Pereira could finally take his chance after stagnated progress under Van Gaal.
Finally, team prediction and result for Monday’s game (if it goes ahead)?
XI: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Rojo, Shaw; Herrera, Carrick, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Young; Memphis
Prediction: 1-1. Awful conditions (weather, boggy pitch etc)