A World Cup comes every four years, and seemingly so does a Pep Guardiola managerial switch. By teasing out the decision over his next club, the Spaniard has generated enough hype to eclipse a World Cup. Guardiola certainly knows how to sell himself – the ideology, the image, the whole lot, all tied up in a smug bow.
Now speculation has turned to where Europe’s most sought after manager will pitch up next season. Guardiola has already confirmed that he will make a move to the Premier League, but which club will pull out the lucky raffle ticket? The tombola is spinning, and Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all have their hands in.
At least this is how Guardiola sees it, barely unable to contain his inner belief that any of English’s biggest and best would be fortunate to have him. He might have the reputation and track record to get away with such arrogance, but his recent remarks have shown a complete disregard for those presently still in jobs at the likes of City and United.
Indeed, Guardiola is expected to take over at Man City for the start of next season, with the Abu Dhabi-owned club prepared for the Spaniard’s arrival. They have hired two of his former Barcelona buddies – Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain as directors, and have even built a youth academy to rival the scale of La Masia. It’s little wonder City haven’t changed their colours to that of the Catalan flag.
But Guardiola must consider what impact a move to City could have on his reputation – the one he has spent so much time and effort cultivating in recent weeks. Just as he did at Bayern Munich, the Spaniard would be taking the easy option – inheriting the best squad in the Premier League. Success at the Etihad is not so much a target, but an expectation of the absolute minimum. What can he really achieve there?
If Guardiola is looking for somewhere to demonstrate his ability as a coach and leader, he should look across Manchester to the red side of the city. At Old Trafford he could move one of Europe’s most storied and illustrious clubs from under the shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson, and into a new era. He could mould United into the shape of his own personality, just like he did at Barcelona.
That’s where he can achieve the grandeur he so blatantly he warrants. At Manchester United he can underline his status as the greatest manager of his generation by taking a club out of the doldrums and back to the glory days. It’s at Old Trafford, not the Etihad, where the Spaniard can massage his ego. Frankly, Guardiola would be a coward to take charge of City over United.
Of course, by taking over from Louis Van Gaal the Spaniard would be accepting a job that has ruined two respected coaches before him. The United could quite easily consume Guardiola, just as it has their current Dutch boss and David Moyes too. But therein lies the challenge, and the opportunity.
It would be perhaps understandable were Guardiola basing his managerial decisions on prestige, and the stature of club making offers his way. He has already coached the biggest clubs in Spain and Germany, and so his apparent calling in England would make sense if Manchester City were the biggest club there too. But they’re not – Manchester United are.
And so Guardiola’s true intent in taking the City job would have to be questioned. Is the Bayern boss so concerned with own reputation that he is willing to take all necessary steps to help preserve it? Is that really the level of his egomania?
None of Guardiola’s take the easy route like he does, with even Jose Mourinho taking the odd calculated risk from time-to-time – like when he took charge of an unfancied Inter Milan team and led them to the Champions League. Guardiola would never have considered such a task.
In football, the true greats are the ones that take risks, and make them pay off. Guardiola might already be considered in such company, but a move to Man City would do nothing to underline it. Old Trafford is where he can justify his reputation.