With the Premier League title already wrapped, Manchester City would take on Manchester United in the FA Cup final, hoping to take another step forward in their pursuit of a treble. The Cityzens,w who are also in the UEFA Champions League final, are looking to become only the second English side to win three titles in the same season (Manchester United being the first one). If Man City succeed in doing so, the already intense Pep Guardiola vs Sir Alex Ferguson debate would fuel further.
In a chat with NDTV in a select media conference, former England and Manchester City goalkeeper David James answered some critical questions ahead of the FA Cup final, sharing his views on Guardiola, Sir Alex, and more…
There were doubts over Pep Guardiola implementing his style in the Premier League when he first joined Man City. Now, just touching distance from the treble, how you rate his managerial stint from the perspective of “Impact” in comparison to Sir Alex Ferguson?
I think when you look at Alex Ferguson’s tenure at Manchester United, especially in the beginning, he was an omnipresent manager. He did everything. Towards the end of that period, knowing Man Utd players, he didn’t actually get too involved in what went on. He had created an environment, almost an ecosystem where he would be the head, producing trophies, title-winning sides.
Pep might think he is still at the beginning of that as he hasn’t been there for as long as Ferguson was. He does everything, is involved in everything. Against Brentford, he was there, up and down in his usual form. However, what I’ve seen with Pep Guardiola this season is a change in his approach to the games of football, with regards to tactical setup. In Erling Haaland, he has a very different personnel to deal with. Therefore, even Guardiola, who theoretically has the masterplan of how to play football, is looking at changing things. I see a very healthy growth in Pep Guardiola.
I just think that Alex Ferguson deserves every credit he gets because he was there long enough to get into a position where the United ecosystem looked after itself.
Erik Ten Hag’s Man Utd have already beaten Man City in the Premier League this season. But, Pep Guardiola’s side has shown big improvement in the final phase of the tournament. Do you see a weakness in this Man City side that Man Utd can exploit?
I think the result was controversial for man people, given the way the winning goal was scored. If you look at the game at Etihaad, 6-3, with two hat-tricks for Haaland and Phil Foden. That is more of the Man City we are accustomed to see. The weaknesses though, Man City have a lot of possession, they leave a lot of space in behind. The counter-attack has to be the thing that Man City are scared of. They have to be wary of it. It depends on if he go by their usual style, with regards to Pep in full press, or if he plays a posession game like he did against Arsenal with a back 4 and a front 6. Allowing the front players to do what they do, knowing the back 4 will have the cover of the speed with which Manchester United, with Jadon Sancho, and Marcus Rashford on either side.
So, counter-attack with heavy possession for Man City, that’s pretty much what’s going to happen in the match.
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