The Catalan would not be short of offers from top Premier League clubs upon his departure from Barcelona
With each passing season, the debate surrounding who will replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford becomes more intense and intriguing. It would take a man with a track record of success and of global acclaim to replace the 70-year-old and, in this sense, Guardiola stands out as an ideal candidate. The Catalan’s nurturing through Barcelona’s youth system of players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta would also appeal to a club that, under Ferguson, have put great emphasis on developing their own talent. Should Guardiola, as he has intimated, take a year off, then that could suit United, too, with Ferguson likely to remain at the club for one more season at least.
It is expected that whatever the outcome of the Premier League title race, Roberto Mancini will remain as City’s manager next season. The pressure, however, will only grow on the Italian to deliver major honours and should he fail to land the title next year as well as this, and come up short in the Champions League again – City did not even progress past the group states this season – then that would almost certainly spell the end for the 47-year-old. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the City owner, would then no doubt be interested in hiring Guardiola should he be available and the Spaniard would most likely be intrigued by the prospect of joining a club with seemingly unlimited funds and a burning desire to dominate at home and abroad.
Given the London club has been refereed to as “Barcelona Lite” in recent years, it would make sense for them to come under the control of the man who masterminded the real deal. Guardiola’s philosophy of playing attractive football and nurturing young talent sits perfectly with the way Arsenal have developed under Arsène Wenger and thus the transition would be seamless. The Catalan would be given total control to develop a dynasty in north London but he may well be put off by restricted transfer funds and a wage ceiling that could ultimately lead to Robin van Persie, recently crowned the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year, moving on in the summer.
Roman Abramovich supposedly set his sights on capturing Guardiola as soon as André Villas-Boas was shown the Stamford Bridge exit door last month and, according to reports, is open to allowing the 41-year-old to name his own salary. The Spaniard expressed his admiration for the London club before Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final tie against them but, despite all this, it would come as a something of a shock were he to move there either this summer or next. Guardiola is a man who believes in a long-term strategy, of overseeing stability and giving young players their head; ideals that go against everything Chelsea has come to represent during the Abramovich era, a nine-year spell filled with knee-jerk reactions and countless attempts at quick fixes. A perfect fit this is not.
White Hart Lane awaits a move from the Football Association and the likely hiring of Harry Redknapp as the next long-term England manager. It is a scenario that has been in the offing ever since Fabio Capello walked away from the national team in February and one that has hung over Tottenham for longer than they care to remember. Redknapp’s departure will come as a blow to the club’s supporters but they would no doubt be soothed by the arrival of a man with three La Liga and two Champions League titles to his name. Guardiola may also be interested by a club that contains talents such as Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker. But they may not be around should Spurs fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, a scenario that would surely also put off Guardiola. All in all, this does not have the makings of a likely coming together.
There is little desire among the Anfield faithful to see Kenny Dalglish end his tenure as manager but the club’s American owners may be thinking differently after a season in which one trophy has been collected and another final has been reached, but all hopes of reaching the Champions League, a key ambition, have been destroyed by a woeful league campaign. Dalglish may survive into the new season but should the club once again look incapable of making the Premier League’s top four then the Scot, despite his legendary status on Merseyside, is unlikely to last long. Should he be available, Guardiola would surely lead the club’s list of possible replacements, and the Spaniard would no doubt be promised the funds, time and level of control he would need to rebuild this once mighty institution. But, again, would he want to move to a club that are not in the Champions League? Probably not.