If you’re a Manchester City fan, please don’t be alarmed at the title of our article. We’re not for a single second suggesting that the Manchester City board is preparing to fire superstar manager Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard has won two Premier League trophies and an FA Cup while at the City of Manchester Stadium and might still add the Champions League trophy this season. They haven’t had the most auspicious of starts to the campaign, but there’s a lot of football yet to be played, and Guardiola has earned a little goodwill.
There is, however, the small matter of Guardiola’s contract. As things stand, it’s due to expire at the end of this season. He’s suggested in the press that he’d like to stay, but if both he and the club were keen on a new deal, it’s likely that one would have been signed already. This is Guardiola’s fifth season at Manchester City, which is the longest he’s stayed at a single club in his managerial career so far. It’s possible that he has other ambitions. He’s already confirmed that he wouldn’t manage another club in Spain after managing Barcelona, and he probably wouldn’t go back to Germany after managing Bayern Munich. Nor is it likely he’d work elsewhere in England, such is his love for Manchester City. A move to the right club in Italy, however, might appeal to him.
It might be the case that Pep signs on the dotted line for another two or three years, but it’s equally possible that Manchester City decides that this is the right time to say thank you and goodbye – especially if their indifferent domestic form continues. In the past, we’ve seen that the board and the chairman sometimes run the club as if they were playing a playtech slots. If you were to find yourself in front of one of the games at an online slots website, and you didn’t like the symbols you had on your reels, you’d pay money to spin again repeatedly until you got a result you were happy with. City did this when they offloaded Roberto Mancini and did it again when they offloaded Manuel Pellegrini, despite the fact that both men won Premier League championships for them. They have deeper pockets than any online slots player, and they wouldn’t be afraid to spin again if they felt like it was necessary to do so.
If they were to spin again, though, who might they come up with? Who has the qualities to replace Pep Guardiola in the manager’s dugout at Manchester City? Let’s run the rule over some candidates.
At one point, replacing Guardiola with Mikel Arteta was probably the long term plan at the Etihad. Arteta’s first role in coaching was as Guardiola’s assistant manager, and City hoped that he would soak up knowledge from his fellow Spaniard and one day step up to manage the team himself. He still might do so, but his stock has fallen since he left the position to take the manager’s job at Arsenal. The Gunners have been inconsistent with Arteta at the helm, and there are some Arsenal fans who want him sacked already. If he fails at Arsenal, his next job won’t be with Manchester City. In fact, it might not be in the English Premier League at all.
More than few Manchester City fans would be displeased to see Brendan Rodgers show up at the Etihad because of his previous association with Liverpool, but he’d soon win them over if the team performed well. Rodgers won everything it was possible to win in Scotland and came within a Steven Gerrard slip-up of winning the Premier League at Liverpool. He’s also turned Leicester City into genuine title contenders again. Rodgers has demonstrated that he can manage expectations at big clubs and get the best out of players. It’s hard to imagine he’d turn the job down if it were offered to him.
Italian coach Massimiliano Allegri has been linked consistently with a move to a big Premier League club for the past five seasons, but it’s never happened. Instead, he’s stayed in Italy with Juventus, where he won five consecutive Serie A championships to go with the one he won with AC Milan in 2011. His only failure in Turin was failing to bring home the Champions League trophy, although it’s arguable that the standard of Italian football has dropped in the past ten years, and it’s more likely for winners to come from Spain, England, or Germany. After apparently becoming bored with success, he resigned from the Juventus job at the end of the 2018-2019 season and hasn’t been involved with football since. He’s still only 53, so he hasn’t retired, and in February 2020, he confirmed that he’d been spending his time learning English. The smart money says he’s waiting for the chance to manage a big Premier League club, and they don’t come much bigger than Manchester City.
All the talk surrounding Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino at the moment is that he’s being lined up to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is under severe pressure at Manchester United. Some news agencies say that preliminary talks between Pochettino and United have taken place already. For the moment, though, Solskjaer remains in the role and might hang on until the end of the season if he can persuade his players to put in consistent performances. That would leave Pochettino available, and as someone who knows the Premier League inside out and took Tottenham Hotspur to the final of the Champions League, he’d be an attractive proposition for City. The fact that he’s never won a major trophy is a concern, but he’d never get a better chance to correct that record than he would in the blue half of Manchester.
Under the right circumstances, Allegri, Pochettino, or even Brendan Rodgers could become good Manchester City managers. It’s harder to make a case for Mikel Arteta at the moment, but that could change if he can turn Arsenal around. City’s priority is surely to keep hold of the manager they have, but they can at least rest assured that they have options if that isn’t possible.