Will Pep Guardiola leave Manchester City at the end of the season?

At the end of this season, Pep Guardiola will have spent four years in Manchester. He’s never coached a team for longer than three years and so many have questioned as to whether he will remain at Manchester City beyond the end of the season.

The Spaniard has already stated he will see out his contract with the Premier League club, but there’s still that small possibility that he could leave the reigning champions, despite unfinished business.

He came to Manchester to win the Champions League. He’s yet to do that, with two consecutive Champions League quarter-final exits, against runners-up on both occasions – Liverpool in 2018 and Tottenham Hotspur in 2019. If he wins the Champions League this reason, then perhaps he doesn’t have a reason to stay.

With interest coming from former club Bayern Munich following their dismissal of Niko Kovac after a thrashing defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt, rumours of a Guardiola return to the Allianz Arena have been strong.

Guardiola says he was “incredibly happy” at Bayern Munich but insists he will honour his Manchester City contract. However, we know that these things change on a day-to-day basis in football.

When asked about a potential return to Bayern Munich, Guardiola responded: “When these things appear, is it the media or the club? We don’t know. It could be one guy [starting a rumour] and then people take it.

“I like the people from Bayern a lot. I was incredibly happy there, but they know I’m a guy that respects what I sign.

“In football, when you are not getting results you can be sacked but in this case if the club [Manchester City] wants me, I want to stay here.

“It doesn’t matter if Bayern want me or not in the future. My love for the city, the club and the people I met there is incredible.

“It is the same in Barcelona because it is my hometown, but the same happened here. I have more things to do.”

The chances of Manchester City sacking Guardiola at the end of the season even if he misses out on the Premier League and Champions League is extremely slim. Therefore, the chances of him leaving the Etihad this summer is also slim. But you can never say never in football.

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has already expressed his interest in his former coach with Mauricio Pochetinno, Erik ten Hag and Thomas Tuchel also coaches that have been named with the vacant position. And with Bayern in no rush to name a successor to Kovac with interim Hansi Flick doing an adequate job, Bayern may prove a tempting proposition for Guardiola come the summer if he does part ways with Manchester City.

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Were Bayern Munich justified in sacking Kovac?

With the dust settling and the anger and frustrations dissipated somewhat the question remains were Bayern Munich justified in sacking Niko Kovac?

Kovac was sacked at the beginning of the month after Bayern lost 5-1 at Eintract Frankfurt. This is a result that Bayern were simply not used too and it was a terrible one, but was there too much knee jerk reaction to it? After all even in defeat Bayern were just 4 points from the top of the league.

Partly the problem seems to have been the clubs position at the time which took them down to 4th. Fourth place and Bayern have a bad relationship the two simply do not go hand in hand. Let’s face it Bayern have not really trusted Kovac either. Had an experienced coach been in charge of the club that position would have been looked on back and forth to the manager, Bayern would have swallowed some pride and got on with it. In sacking Kovac who has little experience the decision would have been a much easier one.

When Kovac was sacked Bayern had won 50% of their games and lost 2 matches. The damning fact for the club was that they had won 18 points from a possible 30, continue that trend and the club would be lucky to qualify for the Champions League.

Since Kovac was sacked Bayern have won 2 games in the Champions League and Bundesliga under Hans-Dieter Flick. The most impressive was beating rivals Borussia Dortmund 4-0. That could well tell us that Kovac had lost the dressing room, if so then Bayern had little choice but to sack him.

The problem though is what were Bayern expecting when they recruited him? And it seemed from the beginning that the moment Kovac had put pen to paper and signed his contract it was the moment that Bayern woke up and thought what have we done?

Kovac’s first season did look like it would turn into a nightmare but he got fully into his job and turned it around and Bayern won the league and the cup double and he became the first person in Germany to win the double as a player and then as a coach. His win rate of 69% was also excellent.

And yet here we are and Kovac is out at Bayern after such a glorious time. All in all Kovac’s sacking seems like a very harsh decision, but at the very top of the game that is how it is now. His full time replacement may not even be needed until next summer as Flick is doing such a fine job. As for Kovac he needs to chin up because he has a bright future ahead of him.

 

Arsene Wenger’s time as a footballing coach officially comes to an end

Arsene Wenger hasn’t admitted it but he might as well and that is, he will never coach a team again.

Since leaving Arsenal in the summer of 2018 Wenger has been tipped to join various clubs and national sides, some of those stories have been nothing but rumours and some Wenger has lent his words too. He has said from time to time that he would definitely be interested in managing a club again.

Just recently it looked like he was a shoe-in for the Bayern Munich job after the German giants sacked Niko Kovac. Wenger even spoke to the club and things seemed to be moving forward and then out of the blue he landed a job with FIFA. Wenger will the head of global football development, or in other words he has been put out to rest after a career in football.

One doesn’t just land such a job, not even Arsene Wenger and it is clear that Wenger would have had talks with FIFA over a few weeks possibly months before he took on such a role. Why then when being interviewed would be continually show an interest in managing a football club again?

The reason is Wenger can’t let go of the past and because of that the past won’t let him move on. In a nutshell Wenger cannot manage another club because his emotional ties to Arsenal are too great. It’s almost romantic but makes little sense. In taking a FIFA job that Wenger will be able to do blindfolded he is simply taking steps into a comfort zone. At 70 and with a huge career behind him can he really be blamed? In a way no, but it is the way that he left coaching clubs that leaves a feeling of, was that it?

Make no mistake for his first 6 years at Arsenal, Wenger should be seen as one of the greatest coaches. But for the majority of his time at the club the Gunners could not keep that level. By the time Wenger left, Arsenal looked in tatters, does a couple of FA Cup wins really make it better for Wenger? No league title in his last 14 seasons as a manager, and in many people’s eyes he was an elite one.

Had he shown more interest and taken the Bayern job he could have had one last hurrah. People might argue but he’s too old now, he deserves his rest. The reality is that Wenger could have stayed at Bayern only until the end of the season. Trophies are there to be won. What better way to end a career with a winning memory.

In taking the FIFA job it just seems that Wenger has opted for the easier role, but will it really, in the end, give him the satisfaction he craves?

 

 

Why Arsene Wenger needs one more managerial job and why that club should be Bayern Munich

Arsene Wenger will of course go down as one of the great managers of the modern game, but the way in which he left it with his time at Arsenal was on a sour note, a feeling of is that it? And Wenger deserves more, he owes it to himself.

The highly respected Frenchman has been without a job since the summer of 2018. He needed time away from football and that made sense. He’s made trips abroad, been invited to football gatherings and looks like he is genuinely enjoying life. But even at 70 in every interview he has had he has always maintained that he misses the game, and that he would love to coach again. And yet as the time passes by it looks inevitable that he never will. Well it did up until Bayern Munich sacked Niko Kovac, suddenly for Wenger there is an opening.

If reports are to be believed Bayern have now approached Wenger and made him their number 1 choice. Wenger himself has said that he would be interested, so surely it is just a matter of time? Wenger would be thrust into a very competitive Bundesliga season and of course Bayern are in the Champions League.

Not many managers out there have such loyalty as Wenger and his one worry returning as manager would be having to face his former club and the one he will always be remembered for coaching, Arsenal. Bayern does not represent that problem and it is unlikely the teams would meet in Europe, with Arsenal being in the Europa League and Bayern in the Champion League. The only way would be if Bayern were to finish 3rd in their Champions League group and that doesn’t look like happening anytime soon.

Wenger usually so secretive has spoken freely about what could happen and has been in contact with the club in the last few days. He has confirmed that brief talks have commenced and that more will follow next week. If all things go well Wenger could be the new manager of Bayern by the end of the month.

However there is still that feeling that Wenger wants to keep old memories and that his love for Arsenal would be tarnished if he didn’t make his time with the Gunners his final job in football. He needs to distance himself from that because he will be remembered as a great manager but we also tend to remember a manager’s final days in the game too. With Bayern he has a realistic chance of ending his glorious career on a high, and he needs to do everything he can to get that job.

 

Operation Departures: Paratici’s Dilemma

After securing the signing of Matthijs de Ligt, many lauded Juventus’ mercato and showered their sporting director, Fabio Paratici, with praise. After all, they had just signed one of Europe’s elite young defenders, fighting off Barcelona and a host of other clubs in the process.

However, in recent weeks, in an effort to balance the books, Juventus have looked to offload their high-prized assets on the cheap. First, Moise Kean left for Everton with no buy-back clause inserted in the deal. Then, Joao Cancelo was off to Manchester City for 30 million euros and Danilo, after just a season in Turin. Now, the bianconeri’s top brass are actively listening to offers for their jewel, Paulo Dybala. 

With Financial Fair Play restrictions in place, clubs, at the very least, must show they are spending as much as they’re making; generally speaking. Following the signature of Cristiano Ronaldo and de Ligt, sales were always going to be necessary.

Factor in that Juventus haven’t progressed deep into the Champions League since making the final in 2017 missing out on crucial revenue, it’s clear players were going to be sold. Let’s not forget, the Turin-based giants also reported a significant financial operating loss in their last fiscal year. Fabio Paratici is the man largely responsible with dealing with this, largely through high-profile sales. 

While, in an ideal world, Paratici would find buyers for Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others, reality is a different beast altogether. Currently, all of these players are on the wrong side of 30 and are on massive wages in comparison to their output.

Many of them have got a host of offers, but have regularly refused to leave the club. And why should they? Most, if not all, of the offers received for the bianconeri’s wantaways include lower salaries at less prestigious clubs. This has forced Paratici’s hand in his first mercato at the helm and has dictated which players he can and cannot sell. Simply put, there’s a bigger buying market for Dybala than there is for Higuain, for example.

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri recently alluded to this in a press conference.

As I said before, I can talk to Dybala all I like, but the market goes in a certain direction and my opinion counts for zero. We have to cut six players, that’s all there is to it,” said the former Napoli boss, as reported by Football Italia.

When thinking about Sarriball, you would expect Dybala to be one of the first names of the team-sheet. After a season in Massimiliano Allegri’s rigid setup, the Argentine could explode in a false-nine role. In Sarri’s first press conference at the club, the veteran tactician mentioned La Joya alongside Douglas Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo as players he was hoping to count on.

If Juventus are forced to sell Dybala this summer to balance the books, they will undoubtedly regret their decisions to hand Mandzukic and Khedira extensions while failing to definitively offload Higuain. Quite frankly, neither of these three players fit into Sarri’s tactics as well as Dybala does.

Sarri elaborated on this situation further and lashed out against Juventus’ current state.

It puts me in a difficult position. The last 20 days of the market will be difficult for us, it’s an embarrassing situation, because we risk having to leave out players of a very high level,” said Sarri.

It has also affected his pre-season preparation. Given the uncertainty surrounding the transfer window, Sarri has largely rotated between Higuain, Mandzukic and Dybala. Rather than sticking with one preferred front-line and implementing his mechanisms with them, Sarri has been forced to adapt. As a result, it may be long before we see Sarriball fully introduced in Turin.

With just over two weeks left to the mercato, it will be interesting to see who Juventus decide to move. Reports suggest Higuain will join Roma while Mandzukic favours a Bundesliga move. However, as we’ve seen, there are no guarantees and we can just as easily see, fan favourite, Dybala on his way out. Whether you like it or not, buckle your seat-belts Juventus fans, you’re in for a bumpy end to the summer transfer window.

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Why does it feel like Pep Guardiola still doesn’t trust Leroy Sane?

He is considered one of the best young wide attackers in the European game. Indeed, Leroy Sane has become a star during his time at Manchester City, winning back-to-back Premier League titles and a domestic Treble last season. The German has more justified his place at the Etihad Stadium.

And yet there is still a lingering sense that Sane is not fully trusted by Pep Guardiola. There have been suspicions of friction between the pair and this had led to suggestions that the German international could leave Man City this summer as he seeks a club where he will be guaranteed of a starting spot.

Bayern Munich have been very open in their pursuit of the 23-year-old, with Niko Kovac publicly describing him as their “dream player.” Bavaria would be a good place for Sane to end up with the Bundesliga champions currently looking for wingers following the departure of Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben at the end of last season.

Guardiola insists that he wants to keep Sane. “I like him a lot, I think he has an incredible chance to be better, incredible in terms of being connected in the game,” he said. “I think I said two times or three times, we want to keep him. We want him to stay, that’s the reason why for more than one year he has an offer waiting to talk with his agent to extend the contract.

“It’s not in our hands or in my hands. He has to decide if he wants to stay and if our agreement is good. If he’s going to leave we will be sad, but what can we do? Hopefully he stays.”

This isn’t the first time that the Catalan coach has made the case for Sane to stay, but when it comes to the big games Guardiola often omits the German. There remains a feeling that the Man City boss doesn’t fully trust Sane and that could result in the 23-year-old leaving the Etihad Stadium sooner rather than later.

From the outside, such a stance makes little sense. Sane gives City a different dimension to the likes of Riyad Mahrez who prefers to cut inside and make things more compact in the centre of the pitch. Bernardo Silva had an excellent season last term, but he does the same. Sane surely deserves to be shown a little more faith.

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Man City might regret not making most of Leroy Sane’s talent

It is an illustration of Manchester City’s attacking depth that Leroy Sane has yet to nail down a starting spot. The German international is regarded as one of the best wide men in the European game right now, but when City have to pick their strongest side Sane is often left on the peripheries.

The 23-year-old was even exiled from the first team at the start of last season leading to suggestions that Pep Guardiola has an issue with Sane’s attitude. This was just weeks after he had been forced to watch from afar as Germany took part in the 2018 World Cup. Sane, of course, was not picked by Joachim Low for the squad.

Leroy Sane

Indeed, there’s just something about Sane that leaves coaches unconvinced. He would be a starter for pretty much any other team in Europe, but at Man City Guardiola often turns to Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and even Riyad Mahrez ahead of the German.

This has led to reports that Sane could leave the Etihad Stadium this summer, with Bayern Munich apparently leading the pursuit to sign the 23-year-old. The Bundesliga champions haven’t even been put off by the reported £90 million transfer fee City are demanding for the wide man. They see him as a future face of the club.

Sane would likely thrive at the Allianz Arena. Bayern Munich are going through a transition, particularly on the wings. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben leaving the club at the end of last season. This means there would be a void for Sane to fill should he pitch up in Bavaria before the start of the season.

City could come to regret not making the most of Sane’s talent. Guardiola has swung back and forth on his public opinion of the German, like the time he underlined his quality on the wings while highlighting his unreadiness to play through the middle as a central attacker.

“He’s not ready to play in the middle now, you have to be so good to control the spaces,” Guardiola said at a point last season. “Maybe in the future. Sane is the best in the world playing out wide. I’d prefer to use him where he is strongest, he’s an incredible player. I’m not saying he can’t [play in middle] but at the moment we have better players to do that job.”

If Sane is truly the best wide player in the world in Guardiola’s mind then why is he so often left on the peripheries at Man City? The German would be harnessed at Bayern Munich. If that is an option that is open to him this summer he could be forgiven for finding it attractive.

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Is Leroy Sane’s time at Manchester City coming to an end?

Leroy Sane

Manchester City forward Leroy Sane is the latest to be wanted by German champions Bayern Munich as they look to build on their championship winning squad. The 23-year-old has garnered interest with the Bavarians looking to replace the departing Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Continue reading

Pep Guardiola’s time at Manchester City will not be complete without Champions League win

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There has been much praise towards Manchester City after their fantastic league win which they converted into a domestic treble at the weekend. Pep Guardiola’s side won the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup when they destroyed Watford 6-0. That was the joint equal highest score in a cup final since Bury won in 1903 and it is the first time ever that a domestic treble has been won in England.

This is all good news but super rich City and super slick Guardiola are missing one big trophy in the cabinet and that is the Champions League.

Manchester City have never won the competition even in the old style format of the European Cup, the nearest they have been is the semi-finals. It is a trophy that Guardiola as a manager has won two times before and yet both of those were with Barcelona and he hasn’t had his hands around the famous silver trophy since 2011 when Barcelona made light work of Manchester United.

Eight years is a long time in football and despite Guardiola’s successes at both Bayern Munich and City that trophy has eluded him for almost a decade. Guardiola will not want to leave the club without winning it, doing so considering all of the money that he has spent would feel as if something was missing.

If we compared how Chelsea and City have progressed after their big money takeovers, then it is Chelsea who have achieved more in a shorter space of time. Five years after Roman Abramovich took over the club and ploughed millions into the team Chelsea reached a Champions League final and in all it took the club 9 years to win it. City’s takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group commenced in 2008 and therefore the club have had a significant budget for 11 years and have not been able to reach the final of the Champions League.

Of course City are now stamping their authority on the Premier League just as their rivals Manchester United did for the past 20 years before, but football has become more than just winning your own league. Look at Barcelona, PSG and Juventus to see evident of that. Yes all happy teams and their achievements still fantastic but all are aiming for the bigger prize in their owners minds of Champions League glory. Guardiola recently admitted it himself, and it is clear that his legacy at City is going to be judged on it.

On this day: Remembering Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012

It was the greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club. Not for the first time during their Champions League run in 2011/12, the odds were stacked against the west Londoners heading into the final on 19 May: not only did they have to face a formidable Bayern Munich team stacked full of world-class players, they had to do so at their opponents’ own stadium, the Allianz Arena. Yet the Blues once again dug deep and found a way to win, becoming the first team from London to claim the continent’s biggest prize.

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