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Paul Ince: You can’t play one way and expect to win every single game – Guardiola doesn’t seem to understand that

Ince discusses the Manchester derby, and whether or not Guardiola's first season in Manchester could be considered a failure...


If Manchester City end up losing out on a top four place, this season will have been a failure for Guardiola…

If Manchester United end up winning the derby, and City end up losing out on a top four place, this season will have been a failure for Pep Guardiola. There’s no question about that. Mourinho has the League Cup, is in the semi-final of the Europa League and could still make the top four. If Pep doesn’t make the Champions League spots, what has he done? What has he accomplished? Not much. He’s still one of the best managers of all time, and we are privileged to have him in England, but it won’t have been a successful start to his career at City if he misses out on top four.

You can’t just play one way and expect to win every single game – Pep didn’t seem to understand that…

Guardiola has had the realisation in the Premier League that every single game is a tough game. You can’t just play one way and expect to win every single game. Burnley, Bournemouth or Tottenham. They’re all tough and there are so many different styles of football. Pep didn’t seem to understand that, because he’s been so used to the Spanish and German leagues where there isn’t as much variation.

Now he’s realised that, we will see a different City team next season. You only have to think back to the start of the season, where they were playing all this lovely expansive football, and we all thought they were going to run away with it. We’ve all seen how quickly things can change, you need to adapt how you play against different teams, because you will be caught out.

When you’re at a big club, you HAVE to be playing in the Champions League…

When you’re a big club like United or City, you HAVE to be in the Champions League and at least winning trophies. When I first came to United, we knew we didn’t have the team to win the league, but we still won trophies, we still took home some silverware. As much as Thursday night is a big game for Mourinho, the fact is he has two goes at it. He’s got the Europa, and the Premier League to reach the Champions League places. Pep has one. He’s out of the FA Cup. He just has the league and if he loses to United on Thursday that will really set him back.

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Mourinho is playing a risky game putting all his eggs in one basket with the Europa League…

We’ve seen from Jose Mourinho that he seems to be prioritising the Europa League, maybe even putting all of his eggs into one basket. But really, everyone including Jose knows just how massive the Manchester derby is. As much as Mourinho might want to focus on the Europa League, he needs to remember that this game is for the fans.

It’s for the bragging rights, so that the players and fans can hold their head high on Friday morning. Most United fans would be right to be disappointed if Mourinho put out a weaker side tomorrow, because this game is about the people of Manchester United and the loyal supporters. Mourinho is playing an extremely risky move by putting all his eggs in one basket with the Europa League.

 When Anthony Martial is ‘himself’ he’s unplayable – one of the best in the Premier League…

When Martial came onto the scene at Manchester United we were all in awe. “Wow. Who is this kid? What have we got on our hands here?” Then something happened to him. Whether it was related to football or in his personal life. His whole persona changed, his body language never said to me that he really wanted to be at United.

Heading into this season, even, he never seemed to have a smile on his face. So I can fully appreciate why Mourinho dug him out in public. He was encouraging him to liven up and get a grip. Even after scoring against Burnley, he didn’t look too fussed. If that had been me, and I’d been scoring a goal and getting back in the team for the first time in ages, I’d have gone mad!

When he’s himself, and he’s playing well, you look at him and he’s definitely one of the best in the Premier League. He’s unplayable, but he needs to be consistent. He’s got something that not a lot of players have, especially at such a young age. Now, he has a chance to get his act together and remind everyone just how talented he is. At his best, any club would be stupid to let him go.

What do you think?