Friday 6 December 2019

City in pole position as Pep on way to England

Pep Guardiola in pensive mood during a press conference in Munich yesterday. PETER KNEFFEL/AFP/Getty Images
Pep Guardiola in pensive mood during a press conference in Munich yesterday. PETER KNEFFEL/AFP/Getty Images

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Pep Guardiola confirmed for the first time yesterday that he is moving to an English club this summer.

Guardiola, who admitted that he had received "several offers from England" but declined to name the clubs, is understood to be on the brink of taking over at Manchester City.

Manchester United and Chelsea are also both potential destinations, but City are favourites to secure him, not least because of his close friendship with their director of football Txiki Begiristain, who was a team-mate at Barcelona in the 1990s.

Guardiola worked with both Begiristain and the City chief executive, Ferran Soriano during his four years as manager of Barcelona, during which time he won the Champions League twice and La Liga three times.

The Bayern Munich coach said he has always wanted to work in the Premier League and is ready for a new chapter in his career, after winning multiple trophies during his spells in Spain and Germany.

"The reason I have not extended my contract is simple, I want to manage in the Premier League," Guardiola told a press conference. "I need a new challenge and I want to use that chance to be a manager in England."

Guardiola denied that he had already agreed a deal with his next club, although it would be a shock if he were to sign with anyone other than City.

"I want to experience the atmosphere in England and I look forward to [working at] the stadiums there," he said. "If I was 60 or 65 I would have stayed, but I think I am too young. I am 44 and it is the right time. There are offers but I haven't signed for anyone yet."

Guardiola, who denied that he would take any of his Bayern Munich team with him to his next club, could not promise that he would stay in England very long.

"I want new stadiums, cities and restaurants to know," he said. "Three years is enough in a club. I'm not a coach [to stay for] 30 years."

Although Manuel Pellegrini looks set to be replaced by Guardiola at City, the Chilean sounded relaxed during yesterday's press conference.

Pellegrini suggested that he would rather win the Premier League and be sacked this summer than have the security of a lengthy contract.

However, his long-term future at the Etihad Stadium looks increasingly uncertain after Guardiola's admission yesterday.

Pellegrini, who replaced Roberto Mancini at City in 2013, signed a two-year contract last August, but has acknowledged that he could be removed from office at the end of the season.

He does not believe that winning the Premier League will make a significant difference to his future, but is determined to be successful nonetheless.

He said: "I don't think my position in the future is linked to titles. For me, as a manager, it's important to win the title because it's my job.

"If you ask me, my way of thinking is that if I have the option to renew here for five years or to win the title and be sacked, I would prefer to win the title. For a manager, your work is to win the title, so other possibilities don't matter."

Pellegrini has dismissed the suggestion that City's board would find it more difficult to dismiss him if he were to win the Premier League or Champions League this season.


"I don't think so. I think that, if you are the owner of a club, you must have the option to replace the manager if they win the title or not.

"As a manager, it is about your trust in the way you work. That is more important than if you win a title or not for the owners. You can win a title, but the owner may not be happy with your work and they have the right to change. As managers, the most important thing is to win."

Despite the uncertainty over his future, Pellegrini's side are still in contention to win the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup.

City will aim to take a step closer to a first trophy of the season when they visit Everton for the first leg of their league Cup semi-final tonight.

Pellegrini has suggested that it is practically impossible for a club to complete the quadruple because of the fixture congestion it would bring.

"It's a lot of games. If you ask me, I always prefer to play in all the competitions. I am worried about the FA Cup, though, because after the early rounds you start having to postpone your Premier League games to continue in it. I am not sure if you can continue in all the competitions."

The only team in English football history to complete a treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup are Manchester United, who did it in 1999. (© Independent News Service)

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