So Pep Guardiola is heading to England. The Spanish manager has spoken of this himself at a press conference earlier this week. In December his current club, Bayern Munich, confirmed that he was leaving at the end of his three year contract this coming summer and they have moved quickly to secure the services of Carlo Ancelotti for next season. In his press conference Pep confirmed he had received offers, he did not say from whom but I suspect they have come from Manchester City and Chelsea for definite and maybe Manchester United. Many say Arsenal would be a perfect fit but there is a certain Arsene Wenger as the incumbent so the chances of a change at the Emirates are virtually nil. Pep would not confirm anything as nothing had been ‘agreed’ yet, but for me there is only ONE place he will be heading to next summer and that is the Etihad, the home of Manchester City.
Personally I think some kind of ‘agreement’ has been made and here are my reasons why:-
Manuel Pellegrini was (surprisingly at the time) given a one year contract extension last August (meaning it now ended after the 2016/17 season instead of this coming summer). This for me basically meant that the Chilean was guaranteed a payoff if his services were not to be required at the end of this season, ie the succession planning from Manchester City had begun then.
Guardiola’s mates are at Etihad. Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain were at Barcelona when Pep was manager in a hugely successful period for the club. The three of them had a great working relationship and know how each other works which means that the man born in Catalonia will be able to hit the ground running when he arrives. To be honest it would not surprise me if Soriano and Begiristain have been made aware of specific targets that the new manager may well want.
The only other team that may be able to get Pep for me is Chelsea (1% chance, if that), it is known he loves London as a city and if you ask Roman Abramovich who his ideal manager would be then Guardiola is the man. The Russian owner tried to lure him during his years sabbatical before he went to Bayern Munich in 2013, however the problem Guardiola has always had with Chelsea is the lack of stability at the club especially in regards to the manager’s position. At Manchester City that stability is assured.
For me it’s a ‘done deal’– whenever Pep Guardiola is unveiled as the new Manchester City figurehead, it will be huge news, but not a surprise. The blue half of Manchester will soon have arguably the greatest manager on the planet, as we stand, to progress their ‘project’. There are no guarantees in football but the rest of the Premier League and Europe watch out I say.
ONE UP WITH TWO TO PLAY
So we head to Johannesburg with England still 1-0 ahead in the series after the second test in Cape Town. After racking up 629 runs (chapeau to Stokes and Bairstow) , England did their best to throw the game away with crucial dropped catches as South Africa managed to rack up 627 with a number of their batsmen stepping up with a double century from Hashim Amla and a historic three figure score from Temba Bavuma. The final day nearly forced a result as another (and all too common) England collapse threatened an amazing South African victory. However even they caught the dropping disease and a crucial no ball did not help either.
ONTO THE SOUTH AFRICAN HIGHVELD
So the Wanderers is up next before the fourth test at Centurion, both on the Highveld where conditions can change very quickly – no flat docile pitches I suspect. It is tantalisingly poised with England’s early dominance of the series now blunted by their poor cricket brought on in my opinion by a bit of complacency and a resurgence from The Proteas. England currently have the edge with the lead in the series and their five man attack may just be the key factor as we move on. Two exciting tests to come, here’s hoping for no weather interventions, but some good and I suspect very hard cricket – may the best team win.
Let me know what you think.
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