Blues look at Poch for chang­ing of the Guard

Manchester Evening News - - CITY - By SIMON BAJKOWSKI

PEP Guardi­ola was al­ways the ul­ti­mate prize for the City hi­er­ar­chy.

So proud were the club when they fi­nally landed one of the best man­agers in the game that they de­clared ne­go­ti­a­tions be­fore his 2016 ap­point­ment as ‘a recom­mence­ment of dis­cus­sions that were cur­tailed in 2012.’

The ‘higher-ups’ had been try­ing for years to se­cure Guardi­ola and were not afraid to let ev­ery­one know.

Txiki Be­giris­tain and Fer­ran So­ri­ano could hardly have asked for it to go much bet­ter. The Cham­pi­ons League may re­main elu­sive but the for­mer Barcelona supremo has trans­formed a squad that scraped fourth place un­der Manuel Pel­le­grini to record the two high­est points tal­lies in the his­tory of the Premier League.

Hav­ing put so much ef­fort into get­ting Guardi­ola, the big ques­tion loom­ing is how they carry on with­out him.

The de­par­ture may not come as soon as Bay­ern Mu­nich hope, but it is close enough for City bosses to be lin­ing up their op­tions.

Mikel Arteta is the clear fron­trun­ner. A coach­ing rookie when he ar­rived, he quickly es­tab­lished him­self as an in­flu­en­tial voice on the back­room staff and stepped up fur­ther when long­time Guardi­ola No.2 Dome Tor­rent moved away to be­come head coach at New York City in 2018 – when the man­ager served a touch­line ban in the Cham­pi­ons League, it was Arteta that ran the team.

Other clubs have al­ready come call­ing though, and even if the Spaniard re­buffs any fu­ture in­ter­est re­plac­ing Guardi­ola will be no easy feat.

Arteta ap­pears to be the best way of con­tin­u­ing the style of foot­ball that Guardi­ola de­mands at the Eti­had, but – as United have found to their con­tin­u­ing cost over the past six years – the rea­son the best man­agers in the world are the best man­agers in the world can’t al­ways be de­fined by mea­sur­able char­ac­ter­is­tics.

At the very least, City should con­sider Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino as an op­tion.

If the sacked Spurs boss can ex­pect to be talked up as an at­trac­tive op­tion for Bay­ern, Real Madrid, Barcelona and United, that should be the kind of com­pany the Blues want to keep to stay at the top of the game.

Po­chet­tino has shown dur­ing his years in Eng­land that he is ca­pa­ble of build­ing sides ca­pa­ble of play­ing at­trac­tive, ex­hil­a­rat­ing foot­ball and also has an ex­cel­lent record at de­vel­op­ing young, home­grown tal­ent.

Phil Fo­den and City’s other gems would be in ex­cel­lent hands.

The top man­agers in the game have shown a will­ing­ness to bide their time and wait for the right job to come along as they look for a way back to the sum­mit of the game.

It would be re­miss of City not to check Po­chet­tino’s in­ter­est in the Eti­had hot­seat as they plan for life be­yond Guardi­ola.

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