Head-To-Head: Alan Pardew vs Jose Mourinho

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 15 December 2017, 12:00

It’s been a long week for Jose Mourinho. The Manchester United boss - although no stranger to conflict - has had to deal with the fall-out from the so-called “milk gate” incident after the Manchester derby last weekend, and now the FA have asked him to explain his pre-derby press conference comments.

He had suggested that the Manchester City players go to ground too easily, all fuel that stoked the fire leading up to a post-match brawl that saw City’s co-assistant boss Mikel Arteta reportedly needing stitches.

A laboured midweek victory over Bournemouth for the Red Devils almost faded into the post-derby background, and this weekend Mourinho faces Alan Pardew, recently appointed to replace Tony Pulis at West Brom. As we know, Pardew himself is not one to shy away from a fight and although he could sympathise with the United manager’s fury over the exuberant celebrations, he seemingly enjoyed the conflict that it created.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the feeling of a victory that’s important as that one Manchester City got,” the former Newcastle boss told the Daily Star.

“It’s also difficult when the opposition side is celebrating in your own ground.

“Sometimes my teams have been guilty of celebrating over-zealously but I’d like to see it more often actually!”

That fighting spirit saw the struggling Baggies achieve a superb 0-0 draw at Anfield on Wednesday night, a feat that Pardew would undoubtedly love to repeat back at the Hawthorns on Sunday. Yet in 10 meetings with Mourinho he has never once managed a draw, the managerial head-to-head record showing seven wins to three in favour of the Portuguese boss.

However it won’t be a surprise if West Brom go for another draw here, as Pardew is clearly looking to stabilise his side after they emerged from the bottom three after the result with Liverpool. Indeed, his side have drawn four of their last five matches and the boss is clearly of the opinion that it is much better to achieve a point than go for a win and end up on the losing side.

“Until we get everyone fit and available, winning games in this league is very tough and every point is gold dust,” said a Scrooge-like Pardew after the draw with Liverpool. “This is a really important point - a building block for us, which we will gain confidence from.”

The injured players being referred to are the experienced Gareth Barry and Nacer Chadli, both of whom will be hoping to be fit for Sunday’s clash. For the visitors, Paul Pogba will serve the last match of a three-game suspension, his absence sorely felt in terms of creativity through the midfield.

All this points to an epic struggle to break down the home side, who will almost certainly opt once again for the 4-5-1 framework that proved so useful against Liverpool. This will do nothing to cheer up the United supporters who have truly endured a miserable time of late.

A resounding win, a goal or two for the struggling Romelu Lukaku and some decent attacking football would be the perfect antidote, even if they are eleven points behind their “noisy neighbours” in second place.

The task at hand for the “special one”, therefore, is to inject a little bit of magic into his side’s play, and bring some cheer to Manchester United ahead of their hectic run of Christmas fixtures.

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