Thursday 18 January 2018

John Giles: Man United deserve the 'noisy neigbours' tag now that Man City have Pep

Read John Giles exclusive column every Wednesday in The Herald

Louis van Gaal and Pep Guardiola could lock horns in the Premier League next season
Louis van Gaal and Pep Guardiola could lock horns in the Premier League next season
John Giles

John Giles

Pep Guardiola's decision to pick Manchester City as the vehicle for his Premier League ambitions has confirmed one thing for me.

If anyone deserves to be tagged with the term noisy neighbours in the city, it's the team in red.

Never mind last night's performance against Stoke. It was a decent response to Manchester City's big news and a temporary boost for Louis van Gaal but it doesn't change the reality which Alex Ferguson knew was coming when he famously tried to put Manchester City in their place with that "noisy neighbour" put down.

Built into that description was an acknowledgement that something had changed in the relationship between the two clubs.

Previously, Old Trafford carried out its very successful operation without any interference from their derby rivals because Maine Road was a chaotic place. Not just a sleeping giant, in fact, but near enough comatose.

Noisy neighbours never sleep, cause endless trouble and have to be taken seriously. When they put in a bid for Wayne Rooney in 2010 and forced Ferguson to go to the Glazers for the cash which would secure the future club captain's new contract, City showed their ambition.

This has been a remarkable transformation from no hopers to top dogs and I believe they have now moved ahead of their rivals as the dominant force in Manchester football.

It isn't too big a leap to promote them into the slot Ferguson and United occupied for so long in the Premier League.

They pursued Guardiola and got their man. They made a plan some years back and sent a message to him that they wanted to create circumstances at their club which would be ideal.

Sure, they registered a great coup by successfully implementing their grand scheme but the real significance of this deal is the simple fact that Guardiola wanted to go there at all.

He had his pick. Manchester United would have heaved van Gaal into retirement if they thought Guardiola was open to talks.

He could have gone to Chelsea and I've no doubt, Roman Abramovich would have bankrolled another spending spree at Stamford Bridge but Guardiola wasn't interested.

We now know that he made up his mind about which Premier League club he would go to some time ago and inexplicably, went public on his imminent departure from Bayern Munich which set off a chain reaction across Europe.

My own belief is that he knew that his Bayern exit was about to leak. In football terms, it was a crazy thing to do and he is not stupid. I think it is very likely that his hand was forced. Either way, it damaged Pellegrini and was the one sour note in an otherwise flawless recruitment.

I'm not saying for a second that Pellegrini didn't sign up for his contract extension knowing full well that Guardiola (below) was on the way. As I've said before, that's the way the man works.

But he got them all off the hook with his announcement on Monday and they owe him for that. The Mansour family have always shown class but they handled this part of the project badly.

Pellegrini can't be happy. He still has to deal with the fallout from all of this on the training ground and I'm not sure how that will play out.

I'm not sold on the idea that Pellegrini's players are auditioning for Guardiola every time the play from now on and will be on their best behaviour as a result.

Even someone like Emmanuel Adebayor could come up with four months of show reel performances if it suited him and Guardiola knows that the eye can deceive.

Manchester City tucked in nicely behind Leicester after last night's win against Sunderland and I would say they are title favourites.

They keep winning but I just can't see Leicester as champions.

Herald Sport

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