There’s a bit at the end of the first paragraph of the Manchester City statement that caused their website to crash this afternoon which doesn’t really need to be there.
It states that they originally tried to make Pep Guardiola their manager back in 2012, when the dashing Catalan decided to walk away from Barcelona and before a City season which ended with Roberto Mancini falling out with everyone and suffering a shock FA Cup final loss to Wigan Athletic.
That’s how long City have wanted a man who, as they’ve announced today, will be their manager for the next three seasons after this one. But although they didn’t get him back in 2012, that’s when the Guardiola red – or should that be sky blue? – carpet started to be rolled out.
Because it was in September 2012 that former Barcelona vice-president Ferran Soriano became City’s Chief Executive, and then a month later the former Barca player and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain came on board, reprising the role he held at the Nou Camp. If City couldn’t tempt Guardiola outright back then, then they were going to make it as difficult as possible for him to resist their charms the next time they came calling.
Of course, Guardiola chose Bayern Munich when he decided to return to football for the 2013/14 season, a decision perhaps made from a sporting rather than financial viewpoint. Bayern have always been one of the great names in football and are attractive to any student of the game, something City have not been, and it could just have been that he wanted to further his coaching experience in another environment.
But ever since those appointments in 2012, there has been a certain inevitability about Guardiola ending up at the Etihad Stadium eventually.
Manuel Pellegrini – a man and manager a lot smarter than he’s often given credit for – would have known that when he arrived in Manchester at around the same time Guardiola was touching down in Munich.
The money available to Manchester City was always going to ensure that they were going to challenge for honours under the Chilean, but perhaps even he wouldn’t have expected to win the league title in his first season – a messy campaign in which many struggled and City eventually pipped a gung-ho Liverpool at the post.
The same could happen again this season, with Leicester taking over in the role of the thwarted have-a-go heroes, but from 2016/17 and beyond you can be sure that there will be a clear structure and ideal in place at City, who have been busy creating a fantastic off-field infrastructure in preparation for the right figurehead.
Guardiola will be that man, and his arrival will place huge pressure on both Chelsea and Manchester United to get their next managerial appointments right.
With their Jose Mourinho love affair now consigned to the history books, the Londoners will be seeking a new identity and a man who can tap in to the ideals which make them the club they are.
That might take time to achieve, and indeed it could be that they turn to a Pellegrini-type figure – perhaps even Pellegrini – to hold the fort whilst they get their house in order a la City in 2012, preparing the ground for the next super-manager to come along.
At United, there has to be a worry that the morale-sapping stasis which has occurred ever since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson has now set in and become too difficult to remove. They need only look at the struggles experienced by Liverpool – and revelled in by themselves – over the past two-and-a-half decades to see what they could become. In fact, what they are becoming.
Both clubs will look at Guardiola in his City tracksuit and be fearful of his impact, whilst elsewhere Arsene Wenger continues to be the model of calmness in increasingly frenzied times, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham revolution gathers pace, and Jurgen Klopp’s sheer force of personality will get Liverpool up to speed once they become a team in his image.
Indeed, Guardiola’s arrival can be considered monumental for all of the clubs at the top end of the Premier League, somewhere he could well end up setting up camp at the summit of if others don’t get their houses in order.
This was an appointment at least four years in the making, and one which could just revolutionise English football.
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