Manchester Evening News

PEP ON SHIFT FROM BLUE TO RED

- By TYRONE MARSHALL

PEP Guardiola has told United they should name a stand after new chief executive Omar Berrada if he manages to turn the club back into a major force on his own.

Berrada’s switch across town to Old Trafford has caused shock in football circles and left City disappoint­ed at seeing a key figure in their rise to the top move to their rivals.

But Guardiola has no animosity towards someone he worked with at Barcelona as well and has wished Berrada well in his new role at United, having left the job as chief football operations officer at City.

The lure of the top job at United was too much to turn down for Berrada, who has already stopped working at City and will take up post at Old Trafford in the summer.

The appointmen­t of a footballfo­cused chief executive is a change of approach from United under the minority ownership of INEOS and a signal that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is serious about his ambition to return the club to the top of the game, but Guardiola insists it will take more than poaching one key executive from City to achieve that.

“Kevin De Bruyne is still in Man City. De Bruyne will play here. Erling Haaland will play here so in the end it’s not that simple like that,” he said.

“Otherwise with the power of United they would have done it before. Maybe United thinks with this person everything is going to change – congratula­tions. I don’t know if this is going to happen. He is a lovely person, incredible character, incredible profession­al.

“Yesterday I saw him, we hugged and I wished him all the best, deeply I wish him the best because he’s a fantastic person. But I don’t know if [by] doing this (clicks his fingers) everything is going to be sorted and it works. If it does happen then oh my god, they have to make a stand for Omar Berrada in the future because he’d deserve it.”

Berrada worked as head of sponsorshi­p at Barcelona but graduated to a more footballor­ientated role in close to a decade at the Etihad, working closely with chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristai­n and Guardiola admits his departure will see something of a brain drain at Old Trafford. “Obviously his knowledge goes to United, that’s the reality. When you buy a player from another club you buy the knowledge that this player has had in the past with other managers and team-mates. That is normal,” he said. “In this club, these situations happen. The club will move forward. “Maybe we’ll find a way to replace him and we’ll continue, because the new guy is coming maybe from here, Ferran and Khaldoon will decide. We will be well prepared, we will adapt and adjust and move forward. We learned a lot from Omar but he’s learned a lot from the club and now he’s gone to United.”

Guardiola also opened the door to players swapping the Etihad for Old Trafford, or vice versa, in the wake of Berrada switching allegiance­s in Manchester.

“Why not? If a person is unhappy here and wants to go to United and there’s a deal for the right price then why not? No problem,” he said.

Maybe United think with this person everything changes – congratula­tions Pep Guardiola on Omar Berrada’s switch to United

‘I don’t know if by doing this (clicks fingers) everything is going to be sorted, but if it does they (United) have to make a stand for Omar Berrada’

“If Omar is not happy here and wants to go there he has to go. What can we do? There is nothing wrong with that. In clubs this situation happens. If we want a player from them, United have to agree to sell and he wants to come and they agree a transfer why should we not do it?”

As disappoint­ed as Guardiola was to lose to Berrada, the departure of director of football Txiki Begiristai­n would be harder to take. The pair were team-mates at Barcelona before teaming up to bring the glory days back to the Nou Camp.

Begiristai­n then moved to City before Guardiola arrived and their working relationsh­ip has been key to the success at the Etihad over the last seven-and-a-half years.

“If you take a look at the clubs who have success, they have the same sporting director or hierarchy for a long time. When this happens at the big clubs, you have success,” said Guardiola.

“If you change sporting directors or managers, it’s more difficult. Building something takes time. If they believe in the sporting director and the manager and the manager with the players, you know exactly what you have to do.

“Txiki has been massively important at this club. He was here before I arrived and was stable in the club. He has been really important in these years and part of the enormous success we’ve had in terms of results and many things, he has been so important.”

Guardiola side-stepped questions around how long Begiristai­n would remain at City and the sense that he was taken for granted at the club, but did joke that he had called on him to share some of his media commitment­s during the season.

“I ask him to take responsibi­lity with the media, talk a bit, but he’s so shy, he wants to be behind the scenes and all the shots and the weapons are directed to me,” he said.

“He doesn’t do it but it was the same in Barcelona, he likes that position, he’s a close friend and we played together, we’ve known each other 25 or 30 years. He’s calm and the balance helps us work perfectly together.”

 ?? ?? Pep Guardiola, right, alongside chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chief executive Ferran Soriano and Director of Football, Txiki Begiristai­n
Pep Guardiola, right, alongside chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chief executive Ferran Soriano and Director of Football, Txiki Begiristai­n
 ?? ?? Omar Berrada
Omar Berrada
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