By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)
Pellegrini under pressure
Rumours began to surface and the start of this month that the man who has won 20 domestic and European trophies will arrive in Manchester next summer to begin the next stage of his coaching domination of European football. The current occupant of one of the most pressured jobs in football Manuel Pellegrini now has to try to prepare for the new campaign with the spectre of Guardiola looming large in the background. He has to his credit, continued to go about his pre-season preparations with great dignity, refusing to get embroiled in tabloid speculation about his possible successor but he is under no illusions what the minimum requirement is for this season; “‘To win titles. It is important to win a title — we will try to win all four.”
No contract talks with Bayern Munich
Guardiola has naturally denied any speculation that he has already signed a pre-contract agreement to join up with the two times Premier League champions, but so far the 44-year-old tactician has resisted attempts by his current employers to extend his stay in the German capital. German newspaper Sportbild recently published an article stating he had been offered the chance to take over as the national coach of Qatar for the 2022 World Cup; having already spent two years towards the end of his career playing in the country for Al-Ahli. In a biography written about him in 2014 titled Herr Pep, Guardiola revealed to author Marti Perarnau that before he takes charge of any national team he would “love to coach in England”.
Guardiola = guaranteed success?
What is abundantly clear is that no decisions will be finalised in the immediate future. One suspects that Guardiola will keep more than a watching brief on events taking place at the City of Manchester Stadium as he prepares his current crop of players for a defence of their Bundesliga crown. An intelligent man, Guardiola will also be mindful of the working environment he would enter into should he transfer over to the English Premier League. Backed by the financial muscle of the Abu Dhabi United Group, there is no doubt that a sizeable war chest would be made available but despite already working at two of the biggest clubs in the world (Barcelona and Bayern Munich), Guardiola remains very much his own man, demanding total control of the playing side whoever he takes charge of.
Manchester City in transition
Another key point as to whether Guardiola will start 2015-16 as coach of Manchester City will be the club’s transfer policy this summer. Having recently signed young English midfielder Raheem Sterling from Liverpool for an incredible €60 million, the club has proved it is still capable of using its financial clout to attract top talent. The concern for any potential new coach is how City fell away towards the end of last season as Chelsea won the league title by eight points. Whilst they have undoubted superstars in the likes of Sergio Agüero, David Silva and Yaya Touré, overall, the current squad looks a little thin to challenge for both domestic and European honours.