As the frenzy about the 166th Manchester derby dawns upon the Etihad Stadium and fans of Manchester City and Manchester United take their seats to witness the drama unfold, it will as much be a test of the players on the turf as it will be for the `seasoned` but `debutant` coaches of the two sides.
Though they have faced off against each other in the past, City`s Chilean manager, Manuel Pellegrini and United`s Scottish boss, David Moyes will be clashing as heads of the two Manchester sides for the first time.
But that doesn`t mean that the two haven`t locked horns earlier.
Moyes will be buoyed by his former team Everton`s dream run against City. Overall Everton played the Blues 22 times and won 12, drew four with only six defeats during his reign. Delve into the recent past and the numbers are even more impressive. In his last 6 seasons as Everton manager, the Scot led his side to victory over City in 9 out of 12 games, which included four consecutive wins between 2009 and 2011. But Moyes has got nothing on the noisy neighbours` manager.
Back in 2005, when Pellegrini, whom Spaniards fondly remember as El Ingeniero (the engineer), was at the helms of Villareal, his side had knocked Everton out of the Champions League. "I know he had good results against Manchester City when he managed Everton, but I had also had a good record against Everton when he was manager," the 60-year-old says reminding of the 4-2 aggregate win that cut short Everton`s campaign that season. Pellegrini`s last stint at Málaga too had resulted in a win over the Merseyside club last summer.
Villarreal had defeated Everton 2-1 in both the home and away encounters, and Pellegrini counts that as the more important of his victories over Moyes. His win with Málaga was during 2012`s Costa del Sol trophy where a solitary goal had been the decider.
Moyes, 50, has looked the part since taking charge at Old Trafford. Apart from a defeat to league leaders Liverpool at the beginning of September, and a stalemate draw against Chelsea, he has marshalled his troops well.
Other than the 3-2 defeat at the hands of Cardiff City and a draw at Stoke, Pellegrini`s men too have played the stylish brand of football he is well-known for and brought home the points. The pinnacle of this short journey was City`s 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle United that gave the fans a new song to sing.
Both the teams have identical seven points, each from the four games played so far, and a Derby win will bring them level with the table-toppers at this stage. And withstanding the bragging rights, the three points at stake could likely propel the winner to greater things in the season ahead.
But apart from the two, one has to spare a thought for the Reds` ex-boss, Sir Alex Ferguson. The legacy left behind by SAF is unsurpassable. Sample this — the last time a Manchester derby took place without him was way back in October 1986!