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City have Pep

Published : Feb 5, 2016, 11:50 pm IST
Updated : Feb 5, 2016, 11:50 pm IST

The worst kept secret in football is out: the English Premier League would be even more ‘Pep’py from next season as Guardiola has agreed to succeed Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola
 Pep Guardiola

The worst kept secret in football is out: the English Premier League would be even more ‘Pep’py from next season as Guardiola has agreed to succeed Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City. The salary details aren’t out yet but it would be fair to surmise that City must have made the Spaniard the highest paid club manager in the world. The plummeting oil prices had not deterred the Gulf-based owners of City from splashing the cash. The package may well be above the budget of three fourths of national federations. Guardiola is an idealist as far as football is concerned but he never comes cheap.

Guardiola is the most accomplished manager for his age of 45. Barcelona had been a top club even before he assumed charge at Camp Nou but his contribution in transforming them into global giants was immense. Until his arrival, the Catalan club had won only two Champions League titles in their history. From 2008 to 2012, he clinched two more. Brand Barca reached dizzying heights under his watch. His team were efficient as well as effervescent. He won trophies in addition to winning over purists. That his tenure coincided with Lionel Messi’s peak was not a minor detail but no praise would be too high for his work at Camp Nou.

Guardiola’s stocks were in stratosphere after his exit from Barcelona. One must say that he failed to enhance his reputation at Bayern Munich, the club he next signed for after a year’s sabbatical. Not winning the Champions League with the German team in two seasons is a blot on his resplendent managerial career. The gulf between Bayern and the other top teams in the Bundesliga is so huge these days that managers half as good as Guardiola can guide Lahm and Co. home without fuss.

Pellegrini is a honourable man and the Chilean might have preferred the announcement of the Pep deal at the end of the season. It is never easy for any manager to work wholeheartedly with the shadow of his successor lurking behind him all the time. Maybe the City management let the cat out of the bag to alert some big players that it would be unwise for them to sign contract extensions with their existing clubs. An offer from Guardiola must be irresistible to turn down for anyone. Even Joe Hart, City’s goalkeeper, has expressed his excitement to play under the Spaniard as if he would be central to the coach’s tiki-taka system.

The arrival of Guardiola is a great PR coup for City and the EPL. City have proved that they are no longer the poor cousins of United in Manchester. If Guardiola is able to replicate the success he enjoyed at Barca, United’s exalted position as one of the top football brands in the world will suffer a dent. A club that can’t become the best in their city can’t aspire to conquer the wider world. Guardiola’s obsession with details is well documented. He will surely be a hit at the Etihad.

In the end, some questions remain about the penchant of top managers to find work only with the richest club in a league. The stupendous success of Luis Enrique in his maiden season at Camp Nou has proved that Barca can flourish without Guardiola. Do a team of Barca’s talents need a manager at all Why should not a person of Guardiola’s calibre try to prove his mettle at a mid-table club with modest resources Or a big club that haven’t won the league for ages such as Spurs or Newcastle Isn’t the joy greater in steering an underdog to the top Didn’t Jose Mourinho carve his reputation in stone by winning the Uefa Cup and the Champions League with Porto in successive seasons