Unless you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean recently, you will be fully aware that a certain Josep Guardiola is set to embrace all things Gallagher and Adidas as he swaggers his way into the north-west next season. If indeed you are a mussel, then enjoy the breaking news. Pep is coming.
The Bayern Munich boss is finally making the jump into the helter-skelter, mistake-ridden world of the Premier League. The blue half of Manchester are cocker-hoop at the tiki-taka, tactical masterclass they look primed to enjoy for the next three years, while those of a red persuasion are enviously looking on and holding onto their decimated perch with a withering claw.
However, it should be supporters donning blue who are more concerned than their counterparts in red. No, calm yourselves City fans, I am not about to tell you appointing Pep is a mistake, that would be madness, the blue I refer to is royal in nature, rather than sky.
The talk has all been about how the appointment of the former Barcelona boss is set to have a huge impact on the Red Devils and could see them fall further behind their city rivals. All of this is true, but it should be to west London where we cast our eye to observe where Guardiola’s appointment will have the greatest detrimental effect.
Roman Abramovich has long yearned for the attentions of the world’s most sought-after leader and once again he has failed to tempt the Catalan to Stamford Bridge. It is the second time that the one-time midfielder has snubbed a move to Chelsea and this time it hurts all the more because he has gone to an English rival.
The Pensioners were caught on their heels. This move has seemed inevitable for months, yet they were slow to the pass and tied their hands in the shape of a certain Portuguese manager. Now they could be left to rue their indecision.
Chelsea may have won the Champions League in recent years and be the current Premier League champions but they are still not revered as one of Europe’s biggest clubs. Yes, they have attracted big players in the Abramovich era but the amount of money on offer and the pull of London has had a rather large say in that.
The Blues still don’t hold the aura of a Manchester United and maybe not even that of Arsenal or possibly even Liverpool. To say they are a club with no history is total folly, every club has a history and there should be no bitterness about the fact they have the cash to flash around, but they have still not reached that super club bracket that the owner and the fans crave.
The Champions League win was seen as a one-off, a fluke, while they have never truly built the dynasty they dream of in the English game. The appointment of Guardiola would have instantly raised their credibility and claims to be one of the continent’s true giants. He is probably the one manager on the planet who brings with him and aura that can propel a team to a different plain. Losing him to City has the potential to see Chelsea stall even further and fall massively behind the Manchester club.
Another pivotal issue in the loss of Guardiola is the fact that they will now have to convince players that turning him and City down to move to Chelsea is the correct move. Good luck with that one. Pretty much every footballer, maybe minus Zlatan Ibrahimović and Yaya Toure (that could be a problem) want to play for Pep.
Throw in the fact City are the club who can challenge Chelsea’s financial prowess more than any other along with the glaring realisation that the Blues aren’t likely to be in the Champions League and it looks a little bleak at the Bridge.
Paul Pogba is a player that Jose Mourinho allegedly wanted in the summer, it didn’t happen. There is little doubt that Guardiola will be sniffing around the Frenchman when he takes charge at the Etihad. Who better to replace Toure?
Antoine Griezmann has been heavily lined with a west London switch, but he was also being followed closely by Bayern Munich. If it comes to deciding between City and Chelsea in the summer, Pep will get his man. You can also count English talent John Stones in that list. City are going to gazump all rivals with annoying regularity but it is Chelsea it will hurt most.
Away from actual targets, the announcement of Guardiola as City manager means that they can now, and most likely already have started to, work on transfer targets. Chelsea are still in limbo with an interim manager and are apparently no closer to knowing who will be at the helm in 2016/17.
The current favourite for the hot seat at Stamford Bridge is Manuel Pellegrini. That has issues of its own. How can the club give the job to a man who was deemed sub-standard to Guardiola? It’s already an acceptance of inferiority, he starts on the back foot.
Then comes the financial ramifications. Yes Abramovich has a seemingly endless stream of money but he is going to have to splash major cash on compensation for a manager (if he opts against Pellegrini). Diego Simeone, for example, would command a fee of £15m-£20m. Follow that with the extortionate wages that would need to be on offer to tempt players to a team out of Europe’s premier competition. Even if they do convince a player to come on board, their mindset is clearly one primarily concerned with financial reward. It is a cruel and harrowing roundabout.
Something else Guardiola brings is the ability to develop young players and nurture them on a first team level. It is no secret that Chelsea have the best crop of youngsters in England, however, they have struggled to bring any into the men’s game, possibly excluding Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Pep would surely find a way of honing that young talent.
Instead he will walk into a set up at Man City that has seen them design a £200m facility that is the envy of most club’s in Europe and is already bearing fruit in the shape of Kelechi Iheanacho, who looks primed to explode. Their Under 18s team also sit top of the Northern section of the academy league, Chelsea are at the summit in the South.
Now comes the most important factor in the loss of Guardiola to Manchester City, at least for Abramovich himself. The Russian billionaire is a man obsessed with aesthetics. At first he was happy for Chelsea to just win trophies but then came his desire to win them in style. It was the condition given to Jose Mourinho on his re-appointment and, who knows, it could have been part of what ultimately saw him struggle this term.
The owner's first foray into crafting the exciting team he so craves failed. He gave Andre Villas Boas license to clear out the decks and implement a new style of play. That saw old heads rebel and unrest rule the roost as player power ultimately saw him sacked and more conservative ways were reinstalled as they won the Champions League.
However, you always felt it wasn’t quite the dream that the Russian had in mind. Roberto Di Matteo was not his manager and they had won it playing defensive football. For many winning the best club competitions on the planet would be enough, but Abramovich still yearns for perfection.
After that success he sort of had his hands tied. Then, three years ago with Mourinho available and Chelsea in danger of falling behind the pack he had little chance but to turn to the Portuguese, no matter how much he wanted free-flowing expansive football, success remained king.
Abramovich’s dream has become diluted. The balance between style and success have seen his policy look, for want of a better phrase, a little half arsed.
Pep Guardiola was his last hope. His stylish, likeable, sartorially exqusiite figurehead - the ultimate fillip. But now he has gone. The admiring and envious glances in the direction of the ex-Barca manager from the Bridge will continue but they will no longer be from across the continent, but more frustratingly from the next dugout.