Erik and Pep will relish tactical battle

Thursday 29 September 2022 11:51

Tobias Schweinsteiger was captain of the Bayern Munich II team under Erik ten Hag, when Pep Guardiola was in charge of the Bundesliga giants' first team.

Hence, the brother of former Manchester United midfielder Bastian is well placed to give his view on the derby at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with the two coaches pitting their wits against each other for the first time.

While they have great respect for each other, the tacticians will be plotting how to come out on top in the 14:00 BST kick-off, as the Premier League resumes in earnest this weekend.

Erik ten Hag will be out to pick up a positive result in his first Manchester derby.

Schweinsteiger has recently taken over as head coach of Osnabruck, describing their home ground as a "really cool stadium, we have a lot of guys from England visiting our stadium because it is the most English-style football stadium in Germany." 

Switching his focus to the all-Manchester affair which will attract the world's glare, Schweinsteiger offered his thoughts on how events could unfold.

"I think the coaches are both quite the same," he told us. "They're both football coaches who are really good at the tactical aspect, have really good impact on the team and are very good at details and at analysing the other teams and finding solutions against them.

"It'll be interesting who plays more football and I was very positive about United's match against Liverpool. They didn't play the goal-kicks short, they played long balls and went for the second balls. Against one of the best pressing teams, for me, this was a good coaching plan from Erik. Don't play the goal-kicks short because Liverpool like to press high. I think there were 12 or 13 goal-kicks so 12 or 13 possibilities for Liverpool to press and win the ball. They didn't give them the opportunity to press.

"So I am looking forward to seeing which small things the coaches will change in the match against each other."

Schweinsteiger is convinced his former boss will have a specific game-plan for the big occasion.

"Yes, I think this, for sure, but I can't tell exactly what the plan could be," he admitted. "If City press with two strikers or one striker and Kevin De Bruyne, and play a three-man build-up, but there will be a lot of tactics in the match. I hope we will see a lot of good football.

"Erling Haaland is a striking machine and United have to be focused on him for 95 minutes or whatever but City are a good team so the focus can't be too much on Haaland as they have other players who can score goals and create opportunities. You need a very good mental strength in that match, you have to defend your goal every second and don't show mental weakness for one or two seconds because they can kill you. That would be a big key factor in the match."

Pep Guardiola was Bayern boss between 2013 and 2016.

Marcus Rashford could be the main man for the Reds, if he recovers from injury in time to continue the good form he has been showing in the Premier League.

"I can imagine United could play a bit more defensively and go for counter-attacks," added Schweinsteiger. "They did really well with counter-attacks in the last matches so I think this could be a big chance, especially with Marcus Rashford. I think he played really good matches in the last weeks and, if you can counter with him, he could be a weapon in this game.

"I saw a lot of things from Erik that I remember, especially in the training sessions, but we didn't counter so much and do so well in the transitions after winning the ball. I think that can be a part where he can be working on with the team in the last weeks as that looked like they had trained more on this than we did in the past, on the transitions.

"I think the coaches respect each other. I know these coaches - they will focus on their teams and their team's strengths so it could be interesting on who is focused more on their team's strengths and who is focusing more on the opponents. I think it's at City so United could play a little bit more defensively, like I've said, and looking to control the weapons from City and play a bit more on the counter. I think City will play forwards as it's at the Etihad and they are favourites but I think, in that role, United have been really comfortable this season."

Marcus Rashford was in fine form against Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal.

Schweinsteiger accepts Ten Hag will still be getting to know his players and experimenting with how to bring the best out of them.

"I'm doing the same at my club," said the German. "After a few matches, you get a better feeling for your players. You see players perhaps sometimes in other positions - not big changes but small changes and, sometimes, you get a feeling more for the match, more for the league, whose input is more in this position or that position, who has more impact in the starting line-up or more input if he comes from the bench in some games.

I think that it's been three months since Erik has been there so he now has the feeling for the league, for the matches and also for the players. I think there could be some interesting changes too over the course of the season."