at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Pep Guardiola has announced his decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the season and two Italian managers are looking on with interest.
Now that he has decided to leave Nou Camp after a disastrous 10 days for Barcelona, does he replace Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea or Roberto Mancini at Manchester City?
The multi-billionaire owners of both clubs would be interested in hiring him. Alongside Jose Mourinho, the 41-year-old former Spain midfielder has become the most coveted coach in football.
But those who claimed to be in the know in Barcelona insist he will not be going anywhere else for a while, the need for a year-long sabbatical coming before any desire to accept a mind-boggling offer from Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour.
Let’s face it, he would have to be slightly nuts to trade the finest club side we have seen for the challenges at Stamford Bridge or the Etihad. Lionel Messi or David Silva? Xavi and Iniesta or Mata and Malouda? With the greatest respect to some fine players who might yet emerge as champions of England and Europe this season, it would be a step down.
More money? That isn’t thought to be Guardiola’s style. The man has class, so we must assume a decision to quit would be based on health and lifestyle alone. He is said to be suffering from serious burn-out, and wants time off for much the same reason Frank Rijkaard did after a brief but phenomenally successful spell in charge at the Nou Camp.
Guardiola has not just won 13 trophies in four years but taken the club to another level with his unique footballing philosophy. Yet the demands of the job may well have taken their toll given the intense scrutiny under which the manager of Barcelona is placed.
Even before Barca lost their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night, back-to-back defeats by Chelsea and Real Madrid were being hailed as the end of an era. In the press conference Guardiola gave on Monday, it was clear he was unimpressed.
Not everyone is like Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. On Thursday, the 70-year-old manager of Manchester United described himself as a ‘masochist’ of nearly 26 years, and one only has to recall one of his main reasons for shelving the plans he had to retire more than 10 years ago. He just could not walk away from such a talented group of players, just as he could not imagine someone else in charge of them.
It appears Guardiola can. It’s just not certain what he does next.
On Thursday the leading Barcelona newspaper, El Mundo Deportivo, suggested Guardiola might soon be occupying a role at the FA, possibly as a consultant but perhaps as a permanent successor to Fabio Capello. The same Capello, it is worth noting with a view to Chelsea, who on Thursday declared a desire to manage “for another two years ... in the Premier League”.
What we can say with confidence is that Guardiola will not be the next England manager. The FA are refusing to discuss a search that is still expected to end with the appointment of Harry Redknapp.
Guardiola is not on their radar for the main job anyway. Talk of him becoming the new technical director has also been dismissed. Agents claiming to represent the Barcelona manager contacted the FA when Capello quit in February but they were ignored, not least because their links to Guardiola did not appear terribly strong.
Guardiola met his employers on Wednesday and we are told he was offered whatever he wanted in a bid to persuade him to stay. More money not only for himself but for new players.
He said no, it is claimed, but he was then asked to take another day to think things over; to let the pain and frustration of Tuesday night’s defeat by Chelsea subside a little.
On Friday, however, he to broke the news to his players before joining Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona president, in giving a press conference.
The timing is far from ideal for City and Chelsea. City no more want to unsettle Mancini, just days before the biggest Manchester derby in history, than Chelsea want to send Di Matteo into two cup finals convinced he cannot keep his job. They will do nothing, particularly when it might well turn out that no amount of money can tempt Guardiola to come to the Barclays Premier League just yet.
They are sure to ask the question at some point, though, irrespective of what happens between now and the end of the season. It just might make sense to stick with what they have for now, and wait. – Daily Mail