Pep Guardiola to Manchester City – it’s Official. The rumours began to gather pace in Germany back in December that Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola was to leave the German champions when his contract expires at the end of the season and that Manchester City were to be his next destination. Last month, Guardiola officially confirmed at a press conference that he would be leaving Bayern when his contract ends and also stressed his intention to move to the Premier League.
Whilst that announcement confirmed what many already suspected, it fuelled the speculation of who he will take charge of next. Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and even Arsenal have all been linked, though City were seen as favourites; indeed, it was reported in Germany that an agreement between Manchester City and Guardiola had already been agreed.
The talk had quietened down until today, when somewhat unexpectedly, it was officially revealed that Manuel Pellegrini is to leave Manchester City at the end of the current season and will be succeeded by Guardiola, signing a 3 year contract.
Pellegrini announced his departure at his pre-match press conference, saying “I talked to the club and I will finish my contract on the original date. We signed a contract for one more year, but with a clause that one of the club or me cannot use that extended contract. So I will finish here on the original date.”
Pellegrini continued “They are not doing anything behind me. I knew this a month ago. But I don’t think it’s good, this rumour and speculation about different things. I would prefer to finish the speculation today. That’s why I told the press, I told the players, and I spoke with the club two weeks ago saying that I would do it.”
Following from Pellegrini revealing his future, an official Manchester City club statement on their website read: “Manchester City can confirm that in recent weeks it has commenced and finalized contractual negotiations with Pep Guardiola to become MCFC Head Coach for the 2016/17 EPL season onwards.
The contract is for three years. These negotiations were a re-commencement of discussions that were curtailed in 2012.”
Make no mistake, it is an announcement that has sent shockwaves through the Premier League and increases its marketability even further. We are only at the start of February, but already it makes next season an intriguing one, with the prospect of Jürgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola all in the same league and that’s without whatever will happen this summer at Chelsea and possibly Manchester United.
City fans will rightly get excited, Guardiola brings with him an incredible track record, having won 10 major trophies in just six and a half seasons as a manager, with at least one more to likely add to that list come this summer.
He obviously came to prominence as a manager at Barcelona, transforming them from being a squad of largely under-performing, dysfunctional prima-donnas, a fact often forgotten, into one of the greatest footballing sides ever seen. Changes were not only made in the playing staff, but also on the training ground, where strict discipline and hard work were introduced, as well as a tactical approach based on the ‘Total Football’ preached by club legend Johan Cruyff. The likes of Xavi and Iniesta were turned from bit-part players into the fulcrum of his team and young players from the now famous La Masia Academy were given their chance in the first team.
Despite inheriting a successful team of superstars at Bayern, he has still been willing to blood young players and developed the all round game of the likes of David Alaba, Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng. He has gradually changed Bayern’s style of play and dominated the Bundesliga in his time there, but a failure, up to now, to win the Champions League is something that has attracted a degree of criticism.
At City, he will once again be able to link up with Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, who worked alongside Guardiola at Barcelona. There, they had a terrific academy in place that Guardiola was not afraid to promote from. Something rarely reported on at City is the work and investment put into their infrastructure, including their Academy. So, despite City’s financial muscle, don’t be surprised to see Guardiola look at the Academy. The clubs owners have shown a willingness to be patient with managers over recent years, so Guardiola will likely be afforded the time to work with Begiristain and Soriano to implement his tactical flexibility and style of football he believes in. It goes without saying that Pep will receive the backing in the transfer market to make whatever signings he desires. It is exciting times ahead for Manchester City fans and for the Premier League.