Blues look at Poch for changing of the Guard
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.