In Depth

Pep Guardiola heads to Man City with a 'tarnished' reputation

'Tactics obsessed' coach to leave Bayern Munich under a cloud after failing to reach Champions League final again

Pep Guardiola will arrive at the Etihad next season with question marks over his reputation after his Bayern Munich side fell at the semi-final stage of the Champions League for the third year in a row.

He could still win a second German domestic double this season, with two league matches and a cup final against Borussia Dortmund to go, but defeat to Atletico Madrid last night means his reign will chiefly be remembered for his inability to conquer Europe.

And amid mounting criticism in what has been a difficult final season in Germany, Guardiola was forced onto the defensive. "I have given my life for this club... In terms of my period here, it's up to you what you want to think."

Things are in danger of ending badly for the world's most coveted coach. He "came to Munich to win the treble, and he will leave having suffered a treble nightmare in the Champions League," says Kit Holden of Mail Online, who notes that each of Bayern's defeats have come at the hands of Spanish opposition.

"[He] will not leave Bayern in disgrace. There is an enduring respect, if little love lost, for the Catalan in Munich," adds the journalist. "Ultimately, though, the world's most coveted coach has fallen victim to his own all-encompassing brilliance. When you hire Pep Guardiola, only absolutely everything is enough. Absolutely everything is just what Pep Guardiola couldn't deliver."

But where does that leave his new team, Manchester City, who could go one better than Bayern if they overcome Real Madrid in the second Champions League semi-final tonight?

Guardiola's German critics have dismissed him "as a tactic-obsessed freak", says Matt Hughes in The Times.

However, despite the fact that his tactics failed against Atletico, "City fans should not worry that the Spaniard will panic and bring a route one gameplan to the Etihad Stadium next season".

His "travails have demonstrated that no style or strategy is flawless, which of course is an integral part of football's charm", says Hughes. But it is easy to overlook his achievements – Guardiola has an 80 per cent win rate in the league and has made the last four of Europe three years in a row.

"[He] will leave Munich with his reputation slightly tarnished despite the club's ongoing domestic dominance after failing to replicate Jupp Heynckes' treble, but it would be ludicrous to label him as a failure," says Hughes. "The football his side have played... has been a joy to behold and will be a welcome addition to the Barclays Premier League."

However, it now seems that despite the arrival of Guardiola to Manchester and Antonio Conte to Chelsea this summer, along with the likely return of Jose Mourinho to the coaching scene and the presence of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino, the Premier League will still not boast the world's best manager - Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid.

The architect of Guardiola's latest downfall is described by Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph as a "Mourinho for the modern age". He was pictured on the front of the Spanish newspaper, Sport, as Che Guevara, a revolutionary overthrowing the tiki-taka regime.

Simeone's all-black outfits lend him a cultish aura, while his combative style belies a meticulous approach to coaching.

Chelsea and Manchester United have both pursued him, says Burt, but to no avail.

"Simeone would be perfect for the Premier League, not least because it would be fascinating to see how Guardiola, Klopp, Conte and so on react. The shame is, for now, he does not want to come," he says.

Man City hijack Deadline Day to confirm Guardiola as manager

01 February

Pep Guardiola is to replace Manuel Pellegrini as manager of Manchester City next season, the club have confirmed.

The Spanish coach, currently with Bayern Munich, had been tipped to take over at the Etihad at the end of the current campaign, after announcing last year that he was to leave the German club.

Now City have confirmed the news in a statement, which crashed the club's website on Monday lunchtime and maintained their track record of breaking big news on the last day of the transfer window.

In 2008, the club announced they were being taken over by Abu Dhabi on Deadline Day and the signing of Robinho. Now this latest piece of news has well and truly stolen the limelight.

The club said they had "commenced and finalised contractual negotiations" with Guardiola and were making the announcement "out of respect" for current boss Pellegrini, who is still in the running for four trophies this season.

"The club wishes to make its decision public to remove the unnecessary burden of speculation," said a statement. Pellegrini was "fully supportive" of the announcement, they added.

The City manager was "gracious" when facing the press on Monday, reports the Daily Telegraph, which picks up on another "interesting element" of the statement - that talks were held with Guardiola about the job in 2012

That "naturally invites the question, did Pellegrini understand from the outset that he was going to be jettisoned by the club when Guardiola’s spell at Bayern Munich ended?" asks the paper.

It also raises questions about Manchester United, claims the Telegraph. "Have the Old Trafford hierarchy known for all of this time that Guardiola was primed to join Manchester City? And if so, where does this leave Jose Mourinho?" it asks.

The announcement of Guardiola's arrival is not a surprise, says Phil McNulty of the BBC, "but the timing is", he adds.

"What is beyond question, however, is that this is the most powerful statement of intent from City's Abu Dhabi owners that they intend to construct a club to stand alongside any in world football."

Manchester United deny Paris meeting with Pep Guardiola

22 January

Manchester United have denied reports of talks with Pep Guardiola over the possibility of replacing Louis van Gaal as manager.

The under-pressure Dutchman has 18 months to run on his contract at Old Trafford but rumours have been growing of late that he will be gone by June following United's inconsistent form and lack of sparkle this season.

According to stories in the French media, picked up by, among others, The Sun, United officials "met Guardiola for face-to-face talks in Paris last week". It was alleged on television on Thursday evening by a journalist from the French sports daily L'Equipe that the meeting took place at the exclusive Le Bristol hotel in the French capital.

Guardiola, 45, has already announced he will leave Bayern at the end of this season and, according to the BBC Sport he has received "several offers from English clubs".

The Sun says Manchester City were favourites to land the former Barcelona coach and the reports of a meeting between Guardiola - whose Bayern side have just returned from a winter break - and United representatives "will stun" the Sky Blues.

United quickly denied that any such meeting had occurred but the Sun notes that the Le Bristol hotel is an establishment that the club's executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, "has used in the past for a meeting with super agent Jorge Mendes about signings".

It's believed that Woodward is leading the charge to lure Guardiola to Old Trafford, aware that City and also Chelsea have sounded out the Spaniard about becoming manager of their clubs.

In announcing his departure from Bayern in the summer, Guardiola said: "I want to coach in Premier League. That is the reason I did not prolong my contract. I have offers from England, but I have not signed a contract yet. When I have a new contract, then we will communicate it."

The Daily Mirror claims that whichever club does land Guardiola will likely have to pay him in the region of "£20m per season".

Manchester United, Louis van Gaal, Manchester City, Bayern Munich

Will Pep Guardiola succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

14 January

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has dampened speculation that he will move to the Premier League this summer - but fuelled rumours that he is set to take over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Spanish coach announced late last year that he would be leaving the German club at the end of the season and declared his next job would be in England.

Those comments were widely interpreted to mean he would replace Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City in the summer or be lured to either Manchester United or Chelsea.

Now Guardiola has apologised for putting current Premier League bosses under pressure and says he has not got a job lined up, says the Daily Mirror, which describes his comments as an attempt "to play down speculation that a move to the Etihad is done and dusted".

Guardiola has also come under fire in Germany from those who believe he will spend the final months of his time there plotting how to win the Premier League.

Speaking ahead of Bayern's first match of this year, Guardiola responded to the speculation by saying: "Maybe it will be two years until I will coach a team in England. I am very happy about my experience in Munich. I am working until my last second here. After that I will go home and wait to see if it is possible to move to England or not. If it's not, then I won't."

However, what could be seen as a throwaway comment has only added a fresh layer on intrigue over his next move as Wenger is expected to stand down in 2017.                     

"With Wenger's contract set to expire at the end of next season, Arsenal looked to be out of the running in the hunt for Guardiola with the expectation that he would move to England this summer," says The Independent. "However, the north London club are regarded as the type of side Guardiola would suit given his attacking style, and Wenger could decide to end his spell as manager in the summer of 2017 to allow Guardiola to take the reins."

Although Manchester City are still favourites to land the former Barcelona manager, Metro says Guardiola "may just have dropped the biggest hint yet that he could be willing to wait to succeed Arsene Wenger".

Will Man United, City, Chelsea or Arsenal lure Guardiola?

5 Janaury

Pep Guardiola will be coming to the Premier League next season but has yet to agree a deal with any club, setting up the prospect of a frantic scramble for his signature between some the biggest clubs in the country. Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are all likely to be interested.

The current Bayern Munich boss revealed last year that he would be leaving the German club at the end of the season, and has now made it clear that his next destination will be England.

"I want to experience a new city and I want to work in England," he said at his first press conference since his departure was confirmed. "I have several offers from England but I haven't signed anything yet.

"I have an opportunity to work in England. I think I'm at the right age and I feel it is the right move for me. That is the reason I have taken this decision."

Guardiola is regarded as the world's best manager and securing his services would be a massive coup.

"[Manchester] City are thought to be in pole position to land Guardiola, even though Manuel Pellegrini, their current manager, signed a new contract at the start of this season," says The Times. "The team's poor form, along with the presence of Txiki Begiristain, the former Barcelona director of football, in the same capacity at City, could make this the most likely move."

Guardiola made his name at Barcelona with Begiristain, where he developed his trademark brand of passing football.

There will be other suitors. "Guardiola has long been Roman Abramovich's dream choice to manage Chelsea and it seems the Russian owner would be prepared to pay any price to get his hands on him at Stamford Bridge," says Phil McNulty of the BBC. But "Guardiola and Chelsea has never seemed a natural fit, despite the perfect London location, and it would take all of Abramovich's pounds and powers of persuasion to make a difference as he searches for a successor to Mourinho", he adds.

The third most obvious option is Manchester United, although the Daily Telegraph notes that the club have publicly distanced themselves from reports linking them to Guardiola. That, though, could be a smokescreen to save face should the Spaniard opt for local rivals City, says McNulty of the BBC.

"It is almost inconceivable the most coveted coaching name in world football will not have been discussed as United plan for the future. Guardiola was considered when Sir Alex Ferguson left but he never returned their call," he says.

The outside choice could be Arsenal, adds McNulty. Were it not for the presence of Arsene Wenger, who is not due to retire until 2017, Arsenal would be the "perfect fit" for Guardiola.

But could the Gunners still get their man? "There have been reports that Guardiola sees the prospect of succeeding Wenger and continuing his methods of developing players and a philosophy of beautiful football as an attractive one. Wenger is not expected to go at the end of this season, but if Arsenal were to win the Premier League title and the ideal replacement were waiting to take over, could he be tempted to bow out?" asks Simon Rice of The Independent.


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