Pep Guardiola owns a monumental resumé of achievements earned during his time at Manchester City.
But, things are not happy go lucky at the Etihad, at least over the last couple of months and days. Guardiola made a statement on his future on the same day Harry Kane declared he would stay at Tottenham for another season. Kane’s announcement assured Guardiola and City supporters that the Premier League’s best striker over recent seasons would not join the Sky Blues.
“I would need a break after seven years [at City],” Guardiola said at an XP Investimentos event.
“I need to stop and look around, learn from other coaches, and I might take [the international management] road.”
Guardiola differs from the standard-mold of managers.
Instead of fighting through obstacles, he seeks exit when things get contentious. After three straight LaLiga titles, Barcelona finished second to Real Madrid in 2012. The Catalan ditched the Camp Nou instead of bringing Barcelona back to the top.
“Four years is an eternity as Barca coach,” Guardiola said towards the end of that 2012 season.
“The main reason why I have taken this decision is because four years is many years,”
Tell that to Sir Alex Ferguson who managed Manchester United for 27 years. Or to Arsene Wenger who led Arsenal for 22 years and had to get fired before he left the club.
Those managers built their sides to be dominant for decades. Meanwhile, Guardiola seems to join previously successful teams before making his way out.
Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich
Pep Guardiola decided to take his next job at Bayern Munich. The Bavarians announced Guardiola’s arrival on January 16, 2013.
That season, Die Roten ended up winning the treble. It seemed like the Bayern Munich board forced Jupp Heynckes out. They locked their minds on hiring whom many considered the best tactician in the game. However, how can you improve a team that has won everything?
Bayern continued their domestic dominance under the four-time La Liga Coach of the Year. They extended their streak of Bundesliga titles to four in a row by winning three-straight Meisterschalen. The streak is now at nine.
Also, Bayern broke the points, goals-scored and goals-conceded records under Pep Guardiola.
In the Champions League, they lost three straight semifinals. Ironically, they were against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Perhaps the 2011 FIFA World Coach of the Year questioned his own tactics. With these clubs’ understanding his philosophies, Pep decided to make baffling decisions that backfired. Despite such great domestic success, domination in Europe eluded the manager.
Guardiola made it clear to Bayern Munich’s board that he would move on from the Allianz Arena.
Controversial move to England
During his last year in Germany, Manchester City announced that Guardiola would become their next manager.
In eerily similar fashion to Bayern and Jupp Heynckes, Manchester City seemed to be pushing Manuel Pellegrini out. With the former Barcelona captain available, clubs went out of their way to bring him in. Frustrated by the rumors, Pellegrini publicly addressed Guardiola’s arrival.
“They are not doing anything behind me,” Pellegrini said at a press conference in February 2016. “I knew this a month ago.”
“But, I don’t think it’s good, this rumor and speculation about different things. I would prefer to finish the speculation today.”
Under the Olympic gold medalist, the Citizens have won three Premier League titles, three Carabao Cups and one FA Cup. In four seasons under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City won three Premier League titles. Moreover, the Citizens won England’s first domestic treble in 2019. Under Guardiola’s regime, Manchester City broke the league’s points and goals-scored records.
Last season, the club reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history. The trophy slipped from their grasp, losing to Chelsea, 1-0.
Reminiscent of his Champions League stumbles in Germany, pundits criticized Pep Guardiola’s decisions.
Guardiola elected to put the team-leader in goals, Ilkay Gundogan, in a holding midfield role. The traditional defensive midfielders of Fernandinho and Rodri started on the bench. Also, he did not start Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus, going with a false nine instead.
Guardiola’s Next Move
With two years remaining on the three-time Premier League Manager of the Season’s contract, rumors of exit strategy surface.
“I would like to coach in a European Championship, a Copa America, a World Cup,” said the three-time Premier League winner.
It may be detrimental to the club during the recruitment process because players know that Pep will not be there past 2023.
Also, if things go wrong, he may step down next year. Perhaps, Pep Guardiola really needs a rest. Maybe he wants to learn some new approaches to the game, and that’s okay.
But, to some, it looks like he’s running away from the grind once again.
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