Why Pep Guardiola Should Set His Sights on Manchester United, Not Chelsea
Money can by many things and it certainly has for Roman Abramovich. Ironically, all the money he has spent on managers has come at a cost. He will never be able to recruit a manager who demands complete control of a club or one who has ambitions to build for the future. Most importantly, it will be difficult to attract a manager who wants security to complete his vision. In other words, Pep Guardiola will never be the manager at Chelsea.
If all the stories are to be believed, he is the man Abramovich is targeting to be the next permanent manager at Stamford Bridge. Surely Guardiola will have no interest given the club’s recent history of firing managers on a whim. Guardiola walked out of Barcelona to rest and regenerate, and to wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. That opportunity is not a short stint and a big payday in West London.
There are two positions in the Premier League that would attract the Spaniard; Manchester City and Manchester United. However, with regard to both clubs there is the question of timing. It is hard to imagine Sheikh Mansour firing Roberto Mancini having just extended his contract for 5 years, even with his financial resources. Mansour seems to admire the structure Sir Alex Ferguson created at United, and he is attempting to build a similar dynasty. Moreover, the owner has invested in a plethora of behind the scenes projects and clearly has faith in Mancini to oversee the process. Nevertheless, that could all change if Guardiola indicated a desire to come to the club. In addition, a failure to win the league coupled with further embarrassment in Europe could lead to serious internal inquiries.
With regard to United, Guardiola is unquestionably the preferred man to replace Ferguson. His vision is similar to Ferguson’s in terms of team building and thinking about the long-term. It is evident that Guardiola wants to think in terms of years, not months. The fit is there, but so is Ferguson. Unless this is to be Ferguson’s last year in charge, Guardiola will have to accept a position elsewhere. One wonders if it might be the right time for Ferguson to step down. It could very well be the final season for Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand. If Guardiola wanted the job, Ferguson could step aside with his trusted servants and let him take over. Guardiola would have the opportunity to inject new blood, and take United in a new direction.
This is a very EPL centric view of Guardiola’s options. Other big European clubs, particularly in Italy, will definitely be tabling offers. Chelsea will be among the suitors but for all of their success during the Russian regime there does not seem to be the required philosophical compatibility. Apart from the right fit, timing is everything. Whether that will prohibit the Manchester clubs from signing the greatest free agent manager remains to be seen.