Pep Guardiola has expressed admiration for the way Jose Mourinho sets up his teams, noting the way his players “are always like soldiers”.
The pair established an internationally known rivalry with each other when they were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
And the Spaniard has established the upper hand over Mourinho in Manchester, romping to 100 points to win the Premier League title with United 19 points behind in second place.
Speaking on Sky Sports on Tuesday night, Guardiola, despite his occasionally turbulent history with Mourinho, was quick to laud the Portuguese as a “huge competitor”.
“Of course Jose is a huge competitor,” he said.
“The way he convinces them to be his teams. I admire the big quality teams are always like soldiers in the way they defend and the quality they have.”
Nobody came remotely close to challenging the rampant brilliance of City this season but it was United, despite all their problems under Mourinho, who showed this term that they are the most likely to give them a run for their money next time around.
United were, after all, the only side to beat City at the Ethiad this term, demonstrating a sense of fight and grit which belied the inferiority complex they displayed towards them too often throughout the campaign.
Mourinho’s team will never match the awe-inspiring football of City. What they can do, however, with fewer aberrations against lesser teams – Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion, West Bromwich Albion, and more – is match them in terms of points next season.