Another defeat for Pep this time against an in-form United would make it seem like things are unravelling
WHO could have predicted this when Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho arrived on different sides of Manchester to such a huge fanfare?
Back in the summer, most people would have thought Thursday’s derby clash at the Etihad would be to decide who would finish top of the Premier League and who would be runners-up.
Instead, it looks like a shoot-out to see who finishes fourth, which is a reflection of how badly both have performed.
With United recovering from a sticky start to string together a 23-match unbeaten run in the Prem, it is Guardiola who is inevitably copping most of the flak.
With City getting knocked out of the FA Cup semi-finals — a result no one would have predicted given Arsenal’s recent form — another defeat would make it seem like things are unravelling for Pep.
I get the feeling there have been plenty of people who were hoping he would fall flat on his face in the Premier League and they are already starting to snigger away.
But even though City have been guilty of being far too inconsistent, I wouldn’t be in a mad rush to judge whether he has been a success or a failure just yet.
Yes, he has had incredible success at Barcelona or Bayern Munich. But both clubs were at the top of their game when he was there and you cannot say the same about the City team he inherited.
Unlike Barca or Bayern, City were not the dominant force in their neck of the woods.
Pep took over an ageing team with obvious defensive weaknesses, especially with Vincent Kompany out for so long. Of course he has made mistakes.
Some of his selections and tactical decisions when they went out of the Champions League seemed a bit baffling.
On the plus side, City have played some scintillating football in patches, with Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, and Yaya Toure all lighting it up on occasion.
And Pep has definitely helped players like Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling achieve something close to their potential.
Pep will know exactly where he has to strengthen in the next transfer window.
So this time next year is the time to judge him, when he has had a full season with a team that is truly his own. In the meantime he can expect a bumpy ride because I fancy United on Thursday.
Mourinho has shown he knows how to put a stranglehold on top opposition — like the recent 2-0 win over Chelsea.
I was pleased to see Wayne Rooney back in the side and among the goals at Burnley.
It seems everything Jose tries is coming up roses at the moment.
Having closed to within a point of City, United will know this is a game they cannot afford to lose.
If the gap goes back to four points, with so few games left, it could mean the end of their top-four bid.
But they have the momentum and playing 120 energy-sapping minutes at Wembley and being forced to deal with a defeat means it is going to be hard for City.
United managed to give Marcus Rashford a break at the weekend and with fresh legs he is going to be a real handful.
So sorry Pep, I think things are only going to get worse before they get better.