Sunday 21 January 2018 / 11:58 AM


In a season that has started at frenetic pace, two sides have emerged as the leading title contenders – both the red and blue halves of Manchester.

And this weekend, we saw why; albeit in two wildly different circumstances.

Pep and his Manchester City players were responsible for some scintillating football, with Kevin de Bruyne the key mover and shaker in the 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City at the Etihad.

Mourinho and his United players were responsible for a vapid and beige draw at Anfield, with the Red Devils guilty of some of the dullest football anyone has seen for some time.

In truth, the fact that City scored so freely against Stoke perhaps papers over the fact that they conceded two goals at home to a side in the lower reaches of the division, but the reality is that their fans won’t care.

Instead they’ll just be delighted that their side plays such attacking, inventive and scintillating football that is a joy to watch.

But what do Manchester United fans think?

They outlined their own title credentials in a very different way.

A very ‘Jose’ way.

Mourinho has long been a master tactician; an expert in going away from home in the big games and coming away with points, and this tactical outlook was on display once again this weekend.

But is it really what Manchester United wanted?

The fact of the matter is that no one will have been surprised by the fact that Manchester United chose to ‘park the bus’ at Anfield, but many of us will have been disappointed.

The reality is that at present, Manchester United are a markedly better side than Liverpool.

The Reds’ woes have been well documented this season, and the early-season optimism has been replaced by concerns about Jurgen Klopp’s suitability for the role, and his inability to purchase and train defenders of the requisite level for the upper reaches of the Premier League.

In contrast, United have been playing some great attacking football this season, with Romelu Lukaku on fire – their goal difference is nine greater than Tottenham’s in third, and only six behind City even after their seven-goal exploits against Stoke.

And yet, with the attack going so well, Mourinho still made the decision to effectively wave the white flag and settle for a draw at Anfield.

This is what makes the Portuguese such a frustrating manager, especially for fans who enjoy expansive football.

Liverpool were there for the taking, and had United taken the game to them they would surely have prevailed. Instead, Jose played his usual game, United ended up with a point and the fans went home frustrated.

I’m aware that in Jose’s grand plan, a point was probably deemed a good result. But in the context of this season, it’s two points lost, rather than one point gained.

Unfortunately, it is just another demonstration of Jose’s negativity, which was lauded at Chelsea.

Whether it will continue to be at Old Trafford, at a club famed for its attacking instinct, remains to be seen.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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