Don’t panic! Our favourite Catalan coach isn’t about to pack his bags and leave. But having now spent longer at Manchester City than any other club during his managerial career, we do have to consider the inevitability that one day, the sunset will finally arrive on the Pep Guardiola era. Past evidence already suggests that once he reaches a certain limit, it’s time to take a break and then look at different career options.
After a single season managing the FC Barcelona B team between June 2007 and June 2008, Guardiola stepped up to the big job at the Camp Nou, immediately ushering in an unprecedented era of success. Having won 14 trophies in just four magnificent seasons, he decided to walk away. Claiming to be physically and emotionally drained, Guardiola later admitted that the intensity of life had been too much to bear.
Whilst enjoying a sabbatical away from the game, Guardiola was inundated with offers according to ‘Pep Confidential’ book excerpts via Goal, including approaches from Chelsea and Manchester City. However, the Bundesliga and Bavarian giants Bayern Munich would be his next port of call. Three years and seven trophies later, Guardiola tired of battling the club’s board over transfer policy and once again, decided it was time to move on.
Guardiola content with feeling blue
Even before Guardiola had left Bayern Munich, he had already agreed to join Manchester City at the start of the 2016-17 season, promised virtually unlimited resources to build a project entirely to his liking. That first campaign was certainly a baptism of fire for Guardiola in English football, concluding the season without any trophies for the first time in his illustrious managerial career.
But that frustrating first season also laid the foundations of a dynasty for the Citizens, ensuring they would never go empty handed again with Guardiola at the helm. Three campaigns later and by the end of the 2020-21 season, Manchester City had achieved all but total domestic dominance by lifting ten trophies, including the unprecedented 2018-19 English treble.
Despite the circulation of rumours that he might call time on his tenure, Guardiola signed a contract extension in February 2021, ensuring that he would remain at the club until June 2023 at the very least. Along with reviewing sites based on safety and security, the detailed SBO football betting guide also compares the best value odds and offers, although every online bookmaker agrees that Man City will win the 2021-22 Premier League title. Some are even starting to offer odds on who might eventually replace Guardiola.
The ‘Holy Grail’ of sorts for Guardiola will be winning the UEFA Champions League, yet his team are also the outright favourites in that competition. While he appears content with life at Man City, it’s hard to shake the sensation that his job won’t be complete until they lift that most prestigious of trophies. Beyond such a theoretical point, it’s always hard to know exactly what Pep might be planning for his personal future.
Coaching candidates in a post-Guardiola era
“The next step will be a national team, if the opportunity presents itself,” Eurosport quoted Guardiola as pondering in August 2021. Given his fierce support of the Catalan independence movement, it’s unlikely he will ever get the call to manage Spain, although their current head coach might be an ideal candidate to replace Guardiola, once he eventually leaves Man City.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that Luis Enrique is perhaps the only genuine candidate, principally due to their shared tactical and technical ideals. Interestingly, Enrique would potentially be available following the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, depending how Spain have fared at the tournament. It would also be the ideal time for Man City to make their move, were Guardiola have already decided he no longer wants to continue flying the flag.
Providing he doesn’t move to Manchester United beforehand, as the Red Devils look towards their next long-term head coaching appointment, current Ajax boss Erik ten Hag would be another interesting option to continue the legacy left by Guardiola. The Dutchman was actually manager of the Bayern Munich II team when Pep was in Bavaria, therefore following in his wake at Man City would potentially be pretty seamless.
Finally, given the apparent fetish for German coaches in the Premier League at present, 34-year-old Julian Nagelsmann could be a great long-term option. His trajectory with Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig was impressive, before taking the helm at Bayern Munich this season, where he continues to be considered as one of the best young managers in world football. He would certainly be worthy of consideration, whenever we enter the hopefully distant post-Guardiola era.