Battle for Guardiola begins
LONDON — Pep Guardiola was back in Barcelona on Sunday night as he considered the next move in his career, with the Premier League his probable destination after it was announced he will be leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season.
Manchester City are in the strongest position but a final decision has not yet been made and there has been significant interest from a wide range of clubs including Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, as well as French champions Paris Saint-germain.
A decision is not expected imminently but what is now known is Guardiola will not be continuing at Bayern.
The 44-year-old had said things would be “clearer” by the weekend and Bayern announced on Sunday he will leave in the summer. That was swiftly followed by confirmation Carlo Ancelotti would be his replacement in Munich.
Ancelotti immediately described the chance to coach the German champions as an “honour”, but Guardiola did not immediately make a statement.
With the Bundesliga breaking for the winter, Guardiola flew to Catalonia to spend Christmas with his family, where he will have time to think carefully about the proposals that have been placed before him, all of which are attractive.
Something of a casting process has opened up, as clubs seek to convince him. No deadline has been set for a decision, although it is not expected to extend much beyond the end of January.
Guardiola was determined to make the decision in what he considers the right order, deciding on and announcing his departure before choosing where he goes next.
He will not speak until he returns to Munich in early January but there is no guarantee a decision will have been taken by that stage.
Bayern’s chief executive, Karl-heinz Rummenigge, said he was convinced Guardiola’s departure will only reinforce the club’s determination this season.
Manchester City, whose sporting director, Txiki Beguiristain, worked with Guardiola at Barcelona and whose chief executive is former Barcelona director Ferrán Soriano, are the best placed at the moment and there is a fear among some of his suitors that he has already chosen the Etihad.
City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, hinted at that when he said: “I am sure Guardiola will work here some day.
I even hope he will have the opportunity to work at Manchester City too because I love this club and I care about its future and I am sure he would do a good job.
“When is the future I don’t know but if the future turns out to be next year the most important thing for me to do is to try to win the title again.”
Some of the other clubs pursuing Guardiola recognise the difficulties in landing him but while his future is unconfirmed they will continue to try to win him over. Promises have been made and projects presented.
Wherever he chooses, his salary will be huge and he will be given the authority to work as he wishes and there is much to attract him to suitors beyond City.
He has friends at Chelsea and Arsenal and London is a factor. The departure of José Mourinho means Chelsea have a vacancy in the long term, with Guus Hiddink taking over on an interim basis.
Roman Abramovich has long been an admirer of Guardiola and much has been made of the Chelsea owner’s desire to forge not only a winning team but an attractive one.
United have not given up hope of convincing Guardiola though they have been saying they are happy to stick with Louis van Gaal and are waiting for a clear signal of the Spaniard’s intentions.
The desire to convince him to move to Old Trafford can only have been heightened by the pressure building on Van Gaal who admitted after the home defeat by Norwich on Saturday he is concerned about the possibility of being sacked.
For Guardiola, United’s status, size and history are significant attractions. Guardiola will leave Bayern with at least five trophies to his name, including two consecutive Bundesliga titles.
A third is likely to follow. So far, though, the Champions League has evaded him. “We are grateful to Pep Guardiola for everything he has given our club since 2013,” Rummenigge said. .
Meanwhile, Bayern director of sport Matthias Sammer feels Guardiola has been JOSEP ‘Pep’ Guardiola Sala was born on 18 January 1971. He played as a defensive midfielder and spent the majority of his career with Barcelona, forming part of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” that won the club’s first European Cup in 1992, and four successive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994.
He later captained the team from 1997 to 2001. He then played for Brescia and Roma in Italy, AlAhli in Qatar, and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico while training to be a manager.
While playing in Italy, he served a four-month ban for a positive drug test, although he was cleared of wrongdoing twice on appeal in 2009 before the Courts of Justice of the Italian Football Federation and the Federal Anti-doping Courts of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).
Guardiola was capped 47 times
treated unfairly by the media because of his success. Despite back-to-back Bundesliga titles, his methods have been the source of debate.
“In Germany we always have the feeling that when somebody’s getting so much praise, then there has got to be another extreme and they’ve got to be brought down somehow,” Sammer told Sky Sport Deutschland.
“What he has achieved, also for German football, is extraordinary and we’ve got to recognise that. for Spain, winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 1992, and appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
A deep-lying playmaker, he was highly regarded throughout his career for his vision of the game, ball control, technical ability, passing range, and composure.
After retiring as a player, Guardiola became coach of Barcelona B, and in 2008, succeeded Frank Rijkaard as the first team manager.
In his first season as manager, Guardiola guided Barcelona to a treble, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League.
In doing so, Guardiola became the youngest manager to win the Champions League.
The following season, Guardiola led Barcelona to the Supercopa de España, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup, bringing his tally to six trophies out of six competitions in one year, thus achieving the sextuple.
In 2011, Guardiola was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal, their highest honour. That same year, Guardiola was also named FIFA World Coach of the Year.
On 30 June 2012, Guardiola announced his departure from Barcelona after winning 14 trophies in just four years in charge of the club.
After a sabbatical, Bayern Munich announced on 16 January 2013 that Guardiola would join the club as manager for the 2013–14 season following the retirement of Jupp Heynckes.
In his first season at the club, Guardiola won the Bundesliga, the Dfb-pokal, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.-
“We have got to bring an end to seeing negatively somebody who works so painstakingly, as if tomorrow never comes.
“In recent days, Pep’s come off far too badly. What he does with his hard work, his dedication and his positive craziness can be discussed, but it cannot ever be questioned.”
Sammer says Bayern will not fall apart now that Guardiola is leaving, however, saying that he had always been planning for this eventuality.
Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League one time more than Guardiola, will
be filling the Catalan’s boots next summer.
“It’s a pity (that Guardiola is leaving), but this is football,” Sammer added. “It’s always a loss, but on the other hand we have to serve our responsibility for this club and get back to normal.
“What the players have achieved in these past four years is absolutely honourable, and now we’ve got to find the right time to get back to talking about what matters.
“Ancelotti is the man we really wanted; nobody else came into the frame.”
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola