Guardiola must be a little concerned about the inability to sign the central midfielder that he believed was a priority in May, but City’s biggest issue might be their relative failure in last season’s Champions League. While the club’s supporters may not have a great affinity with the competition, City’s hierarchy did not appoint Guardiola purely to pursue domestic glory. After breaking records last season, City will be expected to at least reach the Champions League semi-finals alongside domestic bliss.
For Manchester United, the pressure seems to come from within. Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his demands for the club to invest significantly in the playing squad if he is to compete with Manchester City. A central midfielder, a young full-back and third-choice goalkeeper were the only arrivals.
You can see Mourinho’s point. He may have spent £380m since arriving in Manchester - and reasonably have been expected to improve what he had beyond their current performance level - but United are the biggest club in the world in terms of revenue. If the gap to City needs artificially bridging through rapid investment, Manchester United are in the perfect position to do so.
Supporters are now left in a quandary, whether to back a quarrelling manager with his new contract signed or to cry foul at his treatment of some members of Manchester United’s first-team squad. Mourinho is under no obligation to curry favour with anyone, but his preseason messages to Anthony Martial, Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba, the club’s young players and the central defenders that he clearly doesn’t rate have hardly been motivational. Mourinho’s assessment that United were in for a “difficult season” if he did not get his way proffers an image of an unhappy club.