Jose Mourinho is entitled to play it safe while Manchester United rebuild after rocky patch, and why Pep Guardiola should send Manchester City out to attack Barcelona

Trevor Steven
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Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League
Manchester United succeeded in stifling Liverpool in Monday night's 0-0 draw (Source: Getty)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has had several more months working with his team than Jose Mourinho has had at Manchester United, and I think the way that Monday’s 0-0 draw played out illustrated that.

Eight Premier League games into his reign at United, Mourinho does not feel he has an attacking style that he can bank on against a Liverpool team that is in form and scoring buckets of goals.

Mourinho’s United are a work in progress so he had to make them difficult to beat, and that meant pressing and pushing and ensuring that the game was played at a high tempo.

Read more: Jose Mourinho set for FA probe over referee comments

It worked. Liverpool’s only notable efforts on goal, from Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can, were saved by David de Gea, while the best chance fell to United, in the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s header.

Long-term, of course this is not the type of football that United supporters will want to see their team playing.

But it is still early days, and it’s not so long ago that we were discussing United’s three defeats in a week, against Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford last month.

I think those losses really shook them and Mourinho, after a promising start. Now they are in a period of rebuilding and that’s a normal part of the ebb and flow of a season.

Why Manchester City should attack Barcelona

I can’t recall Pep Guardiola changing his team’s style too often. He likes them playing a certain way and I think he has got to stick with that when City visit his old team, Barcelona, on Wednesday.

That means passing out from the back, playing at pace and trying to force the game, despite Barca’s array of attacking talent such as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

I don’t see City sitting back and allowing Messi to dictate the game 30-40 yards from goal. I think Guardiola would regret that.

He’ll have worked on tweaks to their game when they don’t have possession, so that City are ready to react when they see certain situations developing.

But I think he will ask them to play the way they have since his arrival in the summer and take the game to Barcelona.

The Spanish champions have a few faces not steeped in Champions League experience these days, so let’s see which Barca side turns up.

Let’s not forget that City reached the semi-finals last season, so they should not feel overawed. This is an opportunity to stand up and be counted.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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