For those who are not aware of the announcement, the Premier League will be receiving at least one new manager at the beginning of next season… but it’s not just any manager. It’s a manager who’s won two Champions League trophies in the last decade, and possibly a third depending on how his current season pans out. As soon as Pep Guardiola revealed that the 2015/16 season would be his last at Bayern Munich, there was rampant conjecture and speculation about his next destination. The Premier League was a frequently mentioned option, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all touted as possible clubs for him take over at. In order to stop the press from persistently badgering both Guardiola and the club, Manchester City recently went public with the news that Guardiola will indeed be replacing current manager Manuel Pelligrini at the Etihad from next season onwards.
This is a major coup not only for Manchester City, but also for the Premier League. Guardiola is one of the most successful managers in recent history, with a trophy haul in less than a decade that most managers would gladly acquire over their entire careers. While success is almost certain for the prodigious Spaniard, there are challenges that will await him when he touches down in England. Below, we’ll look at some of the things he has to look forward to, as well as a few obstacles that he’ll need to be aware of if he’s going to deliver silverware to the Citizens.
One of the obvious benefits for Guardiola of choosing Manchester City as his destination is that their financial power guarantees that whatever transfer targets he has are all within the realm of possibility. Since their relatively recent takeover, City haven’t been shy to add enthusiastically to their squad, and to pay whatever is necessary to make sure they get the most elite talent available. The already attractive proposition of playing for title contenders will only be enhanced by the prospect of playing for one of the best managers in the world. City’s squad is in significant need of rejuvenation in key positions, and Guardiola has both the keen eye for talent and managerial quality to ensure any player he desires is likely to sign on the dotted line.
Who are those players likely to be? Well, Guardiola has expressed public admiration for both Neymar of Barcelona and Paul Pogba of Juventus… only two of the most gifted young players of their generation. While it’s still far too soon to assume they’ll land either of these players or even pursue them, City will have both the finances and the appeal to make deals of that caliber happen should they elect to do so. It is safe to say that from next season onward, Manchester City will be the most attractive club in the Premier League for any super stars with their eyes set on a move to England.
By appointing Guardiola the focus on domestic competitions are likely to take a backseat to more prestigious trophies, though. Guardiola’s selection by the owners of Manchester City suggests they chose him largely because of his success in European competition; an arena where City have been perpetually out of their depth. Manuel Pelligrini does not appear to have the tactical knowledge to cut it in the continental game, but Guardiola’s experience is likely to provide the boost necessary for the club to go further in the competition, a feat the owning family value quite highly. Most of the European clubs that are subject to big money takeovers identify the Champions League as their Holy Grail, and City have conquered England multiple times in the last few years but have yet to make their mark in UEFA’s flagship tournament.
Now, when it was first announced, many neutrals and City fans alike began to sense that the perfect storm might be brewing for Guardiola to lead the club into an era of dominance. Others, however, are convinced that Guardiola is a one-trick pony that won’t cut it in the hyper competitive Premier League environment. As usual, the correct answer is likely to lie somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. While it is true that his previous positions will have been in leagues where only two or three clubs legitimately pose a threat to one another, his managerial record both at a domestic level and in Europe suggests he will have a significant impact on City’s ability to win trophies. His win percentage in all competitions throughout his tenure at Barcelona and Bayern Munich averages out at 74%, a small sample considering it’s only two clubs, but quite staggering considering it has been over a seven-year period.
His success isn’t guaranteed by any measure, as he’ll learn by observing this season’s Premier League unfold, but the success of his methods is evident. If he’s smart, which he seems to be, he’ll be looking at the likes of Louis van Gaal and Jurgen Klopp to get an indication of what awaits him when he arrives in England.
Both Louis van Gaal and Jurgen Klopp boast title wins and dominant performances with their respective former clubs, but have struggled so far in achieving that same level of success with Manchester United and Liverpool respectively. Both of those managers also had their last club positions in the Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich perpetually dominates, with occasional interruptions by clubs like Borussia Dortmund or Wolfsburg. When Guardiola arrives in the Premier League, just like van Gaal and Klopp before him, he’ll have to realize quite quickly that instead of only needing to play at 100% against three or four quality teams in the league, he will need his team to fire on all cylinders in each and every game if he wants a title in England. The competitive level will stress the depth and fitness of his squad in a way that he isn’t familiar with, and he won’t be able to rely solely on having several hundred million pounds worth of players coasting through “easy” games.
If Leicester City’s climb to the summit has proven anything, it is that with the correct tactical setup and team effort a squad does not require big names to unseat Premier League giants. Leicester’s entire squad is likely worth less than half of what is parked in Manchester City’s training ground parking lot – and yet they are currently 9 points ahead of the Citizens.
Guardiola may not be the only high-profile managerial change, though, so a few other big name clubs may go through some teething with new managers in charge too. Arsenal’s title challenge is falling apart at the seams, which does not bode well for Arsene Wenger; Guus Hiddink has already stated that he will not be continuing at Chelsea; and Louis van Gaal can’t stop making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. If a few of the usual suspects are also welcoming new managers, Guardiola may have a more even playing field for his debut season.
He suffered a few hiccups at Bayern Munich during his early days there, an aggregate 7-0 humbling at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League being a notable one, but his ability and name are sure to imbue Manchester City with renewed confidence that they can compete both domestically and in Europe. He’s a man that’s set in his ways, so several players and backroom staff are likely to be replaced with haste, but his history shows that once he’s sculpted a team in his image it is quite a sight to behold.
City fans must be rubbing their hands in glee, while others are probably resigned to the imminent goal-scoring onslaught a textbook Guardiola side inflicts on its opponents. Will Guardiola sweep all challengers aside, or is the Premier League going to claim another new manager as its victim? It’s not going to be too long before we find out.
Guardiola’s trophies since 2008:
5 League titles
3 Domestic cups
2 Champions League titles
19 Total titles