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Pep talk: Guardiola is England-bound, but where exactly?

Guardiola is keeping English football in tenterhooks. Photo courtesy: The Malaysian Insider
Guardiola is keeping English football in tenterhooks. Photo courtesy: The Malaysian Insider
Guardiola is keeping English football on tenterhooks. Photo courtesy: The Malaysian Insider

That’s the million (or more) pound question: Just where will Pep Guardiola ultimately end up as manager in England? Manchester United? Chelsea? Manchester City? Arsenal (gasp!)?

“I need a new challenge and I want to use that chance to be a manager in England,” Pep said. “I want to experience the atmosphere in England and I look forward to the stadiums there. I am 44 and it is the right time. There are offers but I haven’t signed for anyone yet. When I have a new club I will let everyone know.”

The boards and owners of all major clubs in England – bar Liverpool, who already have a superstar manager in Jurgen Klopp – are breaking their heads and their bank accounts to secure the signature of the hottest property in football managerial circles today.

Manchester City

The most obvious destination, as we’ve repeatedly mentioned in these columns, and as the media in Europe is so certain of, is Manchester City. Who cares if Manuel Pellegrini, the man who took City to the Premier League title two years ago and who is in line to win an unthinkable Quadruple this year, is the man who must make way. Even less important is the fact that Pellegrini has just signed a contract extension until 2017.

The Chilean was asked what has become a cliched question. What does he feel of Pep Guardiola coming to England and taking his role?

“I don’t have a reaction about that or feelings on other managers,” Pellegrini said. It is a question I answered two weeks ago when I said no more about that.”

But all the signs point at a new manager at the Etihad come the summer. City’s chief executive sporting director were Guardiola’s colleagues at Barcelona, and the blue club of Manchester believe that will be a telling factor in luring the manager there.

Chelsea

However, Chelsea, too, are in the race to bag Guardiola. They just sacked Jose Mourinho, the most successful manager in their history, and appointed miracle worker Guus Hiddink to take charge until the end of the season. It is unlike Hiddink will continue into the 2016-17 season. That leaves the door wide open for owner Roman Abramovich, a massive Guardiola admirer, to do everything in his means to land his dream manager.

Manchester United

On the other hand, Manchester United may need a new manager as well. The pressure on the incumbent Louis Van Gaal may have diminished slightly after spirited performances in the draw against Chelsea and the win against Swansea. But the fact remains: United have won one game in the last 9, and that too playing the most boring brand of football on earth. If Van Gaal fails to get his hands on silverware this season, he can be assured of a summer sacking.

Arsenal

The final, and most outlandish, destination for Pep Guardiola could be Arsenal. Yes, Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger’s side have not managed a Premier League title in 11 years. And with the gaffer nearing retirement, this could be a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass on the mantle to someone who abides by the same footballing philosophy. For Guardiola, Arsenal are a team with the kind of playing style he likes to imbue in his teams, and the lack of trophies year in year out will only inspire the man to give it his all.

After all, he did say he wants a challenge.

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