The build-up to the Manchester derby had been pretty tedious, writes Paul Parker, but Marcus Rashford has the potential to electrify it.
Is the Manchester derby the biggest in the world?
From a purely money point of view, it has become the biggest game in the world.
But is it the world’s biggest derby? No.
If you are talking the world’s biggest game, it is hard to look past El Clasico – and this weekend’s fixture does not compare favourably to that. El Clasico, despite having high profile managers, is all about the football played on the pitch. It is about rivalry between two cities, two of the biggest clubs in the world going at it.
Judging from the coverage of the Manchester derby, all that really matters is the rivalry between two men, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, and the cash they’ve splurged in the transfer market this summer. Because instead of discussing players, tactics or anything like that, the hype surrounding it is all about the managers and the money involved.
The football has almost become secondary, with the game has become too individual orientated. Just look at this Zlatan sending stuff to Bravo business – it’s a load of old rubbish. Who is interested in that?
Derbies should be about families within a city, or between two cities, and about bragging rights. The Manchester derby should divide the city, but, truth be told, the Manchester derby has lost that edge. Apart from anything else there’s only one Mancunian involved in Marcus Rashford. And I’ll come back to him later.
For now, the profile of the managers makes the Saturday lunchtime clash huge. What will these two do? Will Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho shake hands? Will they get involved in another altercation? People will be focused on the benches rather than what is happening on the pitch. It is more about the personalities than anything.
It is getting quite tedious to be honest as it is all the same stuff. And what will happen to the fixture when these two managers leave? Without Mourinho and Guardiola, how much international focus will the game get?
It should be less about the individuals and more about the group. This is the tightest derby in years but there has been little focus on that. And that’s just not right.
Should Marcus Rashford start the game?
He is on the crest of a wave. When young players are in form and are full of confidence, they should start. He has just scored a hat-trick for the U21s after scoring a last-minute winner at Hull for United, he is on a high.
Starting Rashford makes sense; he beats people so easily. He will give players around him a boost and the crowd a boost. That is what you want on derby day.
Plus he’ll make City’s players think. It’s widely-known that defenders hate pace in behind and that is exactly what Rashford offers. They will struggle to deal with him. Pace is something that Zlatan Ibrahimovic does not offer. Plus he is an absolute finisher; once he is in, he usually scores. City will be scared of him.
Is Pep’s football boring?
Peter Schmeichel may have said that he made Bayern Munich boring but he undoubtedly improved players who were already world class – take Arjen Robben, for example.
Personally, I didn’t find Guardiola’s Bayern boring to watch; they were different. I don’t think you can use the word boring just because they were patient.
Another criticism of City’s boss is that neither Barcelona nor Bayern ever seemed to have a Plan B when they were in trouble. There’s something in that: they were one dimensional, but what a dimension it was – and it worked. If your Plan A is good enough you shouldn’t really need a Plan B.
He has a way of playing and he wants to stick to it – it has brought him almost unprecedented success so why change it? Guardiola plays to the strengths of his players and you can’t argue with that. Nine times out of ten, a Plan B revolves around bringing on a big man and lumping it to him: it’s hardly subtle.
And, let’s be honest, he will of course have ways of changing things up, but it will be in a cultured way, not a typically British way.
Perhaps it is a British thing but there appears to be a habit of criticising success – which might be why people lapped up Schmeichel’s criticism. But Guardiola won’t care about any of that: he will simply to stick to his principles, just as he always has. And fair play to him for that.