Premier League: Manchester braces as United and City collide
The resumption of hostilities between two of the most celebrated coaches in the game tops the bill, with mega-money signings Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, John Stones and Claudio Bravo providing an all-star supporting cast.
Both teams have won all three of their Premier League fixtures to date and while Mourinho believes it is too early to consider the game in any way decisive, he is well aware the points could be precious in the title race.
“There are many ways to win titles,” said Mourinho, who fought a bitter three-year running battle with then Barcelona-coach Guardiola during his time at Real Madrid.
“Man United last season had very good results against the top teams and finished fifth.
“So sometimes it is not between the title contenders that you win or lose the title. Sometimes you win it by winning matches and matches and matches in the marathon between August to May.
“But obviously when you play against a title contender, the winning team wins three points and stops the other.
“So it is better to do that, or when you get a draw you accept you didn’t lose points to a direct contender. But this is too early — we are in the first week of September.”
The Premier League trophy spent four consecutive years in Manchester between 2011 and 2014, United winning it in 2011 and 2013 and City in 2012 and 2014.
But the Manchester clubs could not match Chelsea’s pace in 2015 and fell off the title map altogether last season, prompting seismic managerial changes on both sides of Manchester.
Guardiola and Mourinho are two of the three best-paid managers in world football — along with Carlo Ancelotti, Guardiola’s successor at Bayern Munich — and they were quick to get to work.
Both have renovated their squads in pointed fashion — Mourinho adding charisma and physical power, Guardiola prioritising youth and ball-playing ability.
And both have hit the ground running.
United are now a more direct side than under Louis van Gaal, Mourinho’s predecessor, and Guardiola, typically, will expect his side to dominate possession.