So, it’s official. Pep Guardiola is leaving Barcelona, and Tito Vilanova will be his replacement.
Both decisions make sense. Real Madrid look like they have a better team than Barcelona right now, and if Guardiola were to fail to win the league title for a second year running, it would ruin his reputation. The pressure of constantly putting his beloved club against Real Madrid’s limitless resources was definitely getting to him.
Meanwhile, who better than Vilanova to replave him? He knows the squad and Barcelona philosophy better than anyone, and he already has a rivalry with Mourinho. Barca wisely continue to promote assistant coaches.
So, where will Pep go next?
Chelsea: I just don’t like the fit here. Chelsea’s style is the polar opposite of Barcelona’s, and I don’t see Guardiola being very successful in his first year away from Catalonia. One bad year as coach of Chelsea means one year as coach of Chelsea. The pressure here is terrible. Chelsea should keep Di Matteo.
Abramovich will undoubtedly go after Pep, and offer him much more money that anyone else, but if Guardiola is smart, he will turn the offer down.
Manchester United: Guardiola has indicated he would like to take a break from football. If he does, this move could make a lot of sense.
Who would you rather have: the seventy-year-old Sir Alex Ferguson, or Pep Guardiola, at forty-one? If United want to ensure success after Ferguson, they need to pounce on Guardiola while he is available.
The problem here is Ferguson himself. The club would never fire him, so United must hope SAF decides to retire in one or two years.
England: The rumors about this one are growing really strong. But, England, really? I can’t see it. Again, this one makes sense if he does take a break. Right after the Euros would be a good time to take over.
Arsenal: Of all the English clubs, Arsenal are the best fit for Guardiola. But Wenger’s job appears safe (France job after the Euros?), and it would be against Arsenal’s current owners tendencies to spend big. In a couple of years though, when Wenger’s contract expires, this could look a lot more likely. Poor Fabregas…
Manchester City: The dark horse. Have the most to offer Guardiola. Are they so closely related to Chelsea that they make a bid here? They seem to really like Mancini, although nobody knows anything about what is going on in Eastlands.
After that, almost every club in England has been linked to him, but none of them will be in contention for a title, or even a Champions League spot, for a while.
He won’t want to play against Barcelona twice a year, so that leaves Italy, a country with many options. Inter, AC Milan, Juventus, and Napoli should all be in the mix, but the last year has proved that Italian teams don’t have the money to compete on the transfer market.
So, in review…
Chelsea will put all their time and energy into Guardiola. If he says no, the two Manchester teams, Arsenal, and the two Milan teams are all attractive for different reasons.
-The two biggest games of the Premier League season come in the next three days. The Manchester derby, on Monday, and Chelsea-Newcastle, on Wednesday, could decide the title and fourth place, respectively.
-Surprise Montpellier realistically clinched Ligue 1 after PSG lost to Lille. That leaves two major leagues still to be decided: England (City is three points behind United, but would be ahead on goal difference if they win tomorrow) and Italy (Juventus is three points ahead of Milan; the teams do not play, and both have very easy remaining schedules)