Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has suggested that Pep Guardiola’s influence on the style of play at the Etihad will remain even after his departure
As Manchester City passed United into submission earlier this month, the chasm between Manchester’s two biggest clubs was crystal clear.
The champions were ruthless and disciplined and barely got out of second gear on their way to a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford.
But it was a result and performance which provided more questions than answers for a Manchester United side devoid of ideas and devoid of a plan against one of their supposed title rivals.
Ilkay Gundogan admitted that his City team-mates found what should have been an intense derby match “really fun and quite enjoyable”.
And while more pressure was piled on United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it was another example of Pep Guardiola’s brilliance.
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Kevin De Bruyne recently suggested that even when Guardiola decides to leave the Etihad, such is his impact at the club, that his ideas will live on.
Appearing on the MID MID podcast, the Belgian said: “I have a very good relationship with the boss, but does that mean I would follow him anywhere?
“Let’s say Guardiola would leave Man City in two year’s time, then it does not mean I immediately follow him out the door.
“City stands for a style of football, a way of playing the game.
“That style does not disappear when the coach is not there anymore.”
That’s in stark contrast to the man who was in the opposite dugout at the Theatre of Dreams, with many still scrambling to discover a style under Solskjaer.
The Norwegian has been in charge since 2018, but patchy form has always hindered his leadership, often doing little more than navigating from one crisis to another.
And with that crisis management, United have appeared to constantly switch philosophy, tactical approaches to games and formations.
United legend Gary Neville identified that very fact earlier this season, claiming they are well behind the likes of City and Liverpool when it comes to having a recognisable style of play.
“You need patterns of play, a way of playing and in this moment of time I still see a group of individuals playing in moments – with some patterns and combinations at times – but still a team with some that are pretty new to each other,” Neville explained.
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“They need to start putting combinations together, patterns of play. I know what’s going to happen when I can see Manchester City building up from the back, I know what’s going to happen at Liverpool.
“When Manchester United are building up from the back or through midfield, I don’t know what’s coming next sometimes.”
Guardiola’s legacy promises to be a lasting one on the blue half of Manchester, unless Solskjaer can finally solve his biggest issue, his imprint on United’s future will be significantly less apparent.