Should the very special one take charge at Manchester City this summer as expected then drastic changes lie in wait. Josh Lawless assesses the likely ins and outs of a revolution in the making.
In what could be the worst kept secret in football, Pep Guardiola looks almost destined to take over Manchester City in the summer.
The Spaniard has now confirmed that he will be leaving Bayern Munich and Pellegrini has basically endorsed Pep for the job. That, accompanied with the fact that Guardiola’s former colleagues Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano are in charge at City, all points towards Guardiola becoming the new Manchester City manager and taking the club to a new level.
Pellegrini, to his credit, has done well at City with two trophies in his first season, as well as treating fans to some of the best football the club have ever seen. It’s worth noting that City are still in all four competitions at present.
But is clear that the Chilean is not here for the long-term and Guardiola is the man to bring the club to the heights that the owners wish to reach.
And though there will be a number of people regularly in his ear, Guardiola is expected to be able to make his mark at City – in the same way that he did in his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
So how exactly will Pep do this should he join the club as expected in the summer?
Guardiola has changed things up in both of his managerial stints, implementing his own style and disposing of any dead wood in the ranks – the departures of the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco etc prime examples at Barcelona.
And he has displayed a level of tactical flexibility that is unmatched in the world of football. He is known for his possession-based football which served him so well at Barcelona, but as much as he has carried that tradition on at Bayern, he has still incorporated some of the direct, high energy style used by his predecessor Jupp Heynckes.
With the technical players at City, the infrastructure at the club and the unpredictable Premier League, Pep is undoubtedly the right fit though undoubtedly he would have some tinkering to do.
Guardiola has a ruthless side and isn’t afraid of making big decisions, so that will likely mean he will get rid of a plethora of players at City; possibly even some fan favourites.
The left-back area has been a glaring weakness for City in recent years. Aleksandar Kolarov can be a great weapon going forward but has great defensive deficiencies and can be horribly exposed. Gael Clichy is normally a more solid option but he has moments of sloppiness himself and has struggled with injuries.
Sead Kolasninac from Schalke has been touted as a potential signing, but Pep will surely promote youngster Angelino from the academy.
The Spaniard is Pep’s sort of player, intelligent and devastating when going forward. We could see him used in a similar role to how Pep has utilised Bernat at Bayern.
On the opposite side, Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta should both be retained. Sagna has been one of City’s better performers this season while Guardiola could really get the best out of Zabaleta – who can be a great attacking outlet on the right flank.
Joe Hart will surely stay at the club – in fact, there would probably be massive outrage among City supporters if he was to ever depart. Caballero has flattered to deceive and hasn’t really posed a serious challenge to Hart. Guardiola should look to bring in another goalkeeper to keep Hart on his toes.
Central defence is a tricky one. Vincent Kompany is the club’s best defender but is riddled with injuries. It’s frightening how many games he misses because of niggles. Guardiola’s training regime may be too much for him but the Belgian is a leader and epitomises everything about Manchester City. Guardiola would surely give him a chance.
Moreover, Martin Demichelis may not be here for much longer. He has been a good servant and came good last season but has struggled this term. A return to Argentina seems feasible.
Guardiola wants his players to be comfortable on the ball and play it out from the back. Eliaquim Mangala is someone who still looks shaky on the ball though he has improved in his defensive contributions – particularly when paired with Kompany. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mangala was sold and Jason Denayer, currently on loan at Galatasaray, is brought into the squad.
A few years junior, Cameron Humphreys and Tosin Adarabioyo have a genuine chance of making it under Guardiola’s tutelage.
Midfield is probably where Pep would change it up the most. Fernando has looked steadier this season but you get the impression he won’t be here for much longer. His Brazilian compatriot Fernandinho is a shoo-in to stay, bringing unparalleled energy, drive and control in central areas. Yaya Toure is still a useful player for City and still has a knack of scoring important goals but is showing signs of decline in his overall game. The fact that Guardiola sold Toure at Barcelona could mean the Ivorian leaves this summer.
Ilkay Gundogan and Pep’s apprentice Thiago could be potential replacements while talented youngsters Manu Garcia and Brahim Diaz would surely have more first-team opportunities under the 44-year old.
I would expect both Nasri and Navas to be offloaded. The former has been plagued by injuries his season and it’s hard to see a future for him at City. Navas is subjected to a great amount of criticism from City fans and though his work-rate is admirable, for an attacking player, he is not anywhere near productive enough to play in a Guardiola side.
Isco is being heavily linked with the club and it’s a transfer I could see happening. Pep could take De Bruyne and Sterling to new heights in the way he has done with so many other players.
You would expect David Silva, widely considered as one of the club’s greatest ever players, to still have a part to play should Guardiola join, but Guardiola does have a ruthless side and even he might not be safe.
Sergio Aguero, though hampered by injury problems, would thrive under Guardiola’s guidance. Wilfried Bony may well be ousted by promising youngster Kelechi Iheanacho and another ingredient to the Manchester City attacking recipe will be added if the ‘Pep talk’ is to be believed. Suarez is the dream and he does have links with Guardiola as his agent is Pep’s brother, but prising him away from an incredible Barcelona team will be some task. Someone like Paulo Dybala could be an option.
The signs are positive that Guardiola will move to City irrespective of this season’s achievements and City fans would be right to be excited if he was to be appointed. He can turn the club into the European powerhouse the owners crave, but will not be afraid to make drastic changes.