Beauty v Beast

Published: Tuesday, 19 September 2017

It's game on at last between Guardiola and Mourinho and it's going to be fascinating.

For the first time in recent memory we've genuinely got two teams 'joint top'. There's nothing between City and United. Nothing - and were the league to end today we'd have a play-off for the title. Can you imagine that? Wow. What a game that would be. Let's hope both can stay the course and that others can get involved.

From what we've seen so far Chelsea will be around. I still have a sneaky feeling that Arsenal will do better than most people think, but I don't see too many more challenging - certainly not Everton! My goodness, what a start they've made. My pre-season prediction that they'd go well is looking as good as my call that Leicester would go down the season they won the title!!!

So let's concentrate on the top two for a while. What exactly is it that wins titles? The P Lge has to be harder to win than any other league in the world, so you need staying power for a start. You need to be able to dig in and nick results when the wind is blowing hard on a wet, miserable night at Stoke!

For sure, a giant share of luck is required. You need big decisions to go your way at the right time - but that's generally a given for the big teams. 

You need to keep players fit, so this is where the 'sports science' dept comes in. I also think that you've got to know what you're priority is - and target it. If that means dropping out of the domestic cup competitions, then so be it. For Mourinho they served their purpose last season and I can't see United going after them again this time.

It's a given that top players are required - with a mentality to get over the line. This is where it gets interesting for me.

City have been fantastic so far. I've really enjoyed watching them. Aguero is on fire. So is his mate Jesus. At last, Guardiola seems to have found what he's been looking for. And I think he's realised he's got to respect our league a whole lot more than he did last season. He came expecting to win it at the first attempt and got a nasty surprise. Now though, City are a delight. They look slick. Everybody is happy on the ball. And there's no changing the belief that they can 'play' the best off the park.

Mourinho has said that winning the title his year would be his greatest achievement to date. He's due. He always wins the title - whatever country he's in - second season! He's built a typically Mourinho team - big, powerful and able to dig in to get a result. I mentioned, at the weekend, that nine of their 16 goals have come in the last 10 minutes. That says their prepared to 'win' the game - individual battles too - before cutting loose.

So, what 'philosophy' will ultimately prove to be the right one? In Spain, Guardiola's Barca generally swept everybody aside - until Mourinho turned up in Madrid! In his second season it was 'power' that got Real over the line.

It was 'power' that delivered Mancini's first title at City. It was 'power' that lay at the heart of all Fergie's great sides, although they could be thoroughly entertaining when the time was right. 

It's always been 'power' at Chelsea. And Wenger's title winning teams had that above anything else - Vieira and Petit - Adams, Bould, Keown.

Dalglish's Blackburn blew teams away and so did Leicester when they won it.

The only team I can remember trying to win the P Lge title with a 'softer' approach were Keegan's 'entertainers'. Oh how I wish Kevin's wonderful brand of football had been rewarded with a title, but the year they led by 12 pts, they were eventually blown away by United.

It would appear we've got the same fascinating showdown in beliefs again. What ultimately wins a title - beauty or the beast? I think we're going to find out this season. I also believe it's going to be quite a ride.