Can Pep Guardiola become Man City’s Sir Alex Ferguson?
Lee Gormley | February 18, 2016
Guardiola a huge boost for City prospects
Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson from Old Trafford, Manchester United have struggled to find their way again, stumbling from one season to the next without any solid guidance, despite having spent fortunes on new arrivals.
What’s worse for the Red Devils and their passionate supporters is the fact that as the red half of Manchester seemingly declines in stature, losing its previously superior aura, the blue side is swiftly overseeing a rampant rise to prominence.
While Man Utd are fighting to keep a coveted spot in Europe’s elite club competition each campaign, City have been pushing further ahead and aiming at silverware success, with the recent news that Pep Guardiola will take charge this summer a massive boost for their future prospects.
The foundations are in place and the funds are available for Guardiola to arrive at the Etihad and oversee a switch in power in this great footballing city, with the Spaniard 15/8 from Coral to help clinch a 2016/17 Premier League crown, as he begins what could be a Ferguson-like reign.
Can Guardiola become Man City’s Ferguson?
Man City have been crowned champions in two of the last four top-flight campaigns, and are still seeking another title triumph this term under Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, before he makes way for current Bayern Munich boss Guardiola.
The appointment of the former Barcelona manager sent shockwaves around Europe, with the Spaniard set to take on his toughest challenge to date, following trophy-laden spells at the Nou Camp and in the Bundesliga.
With the teams surrounding City still not fully complete, as Man Utd reportedly look set to replace Louis van Gaal with Jose Mourinho and Chelsea are without a named permanent boss for next season, Guardiola’s early announcement will have sent alarm bells ringing in rival camps.
It’s unquestionable that Guardiola has the managerial capabilities to turn this already talented Sky Blues roster into a formidable outfit, not to mention an abundance of transfer riches, but his drive and all-round love of building an empire could see him become the club’s answer to Ferguson.
Domestically, City are only a few world class signings away from possessing a squad which can dominate under their new man, with the Spaniard’s respected background a deal breaker for potential fresh faces, and it’s a new era which could well see the Citizens reign supreme for years to come.
Announcement timing raised eyebrows
Guardiola had already previously outlined that he would depart Germany this summer before Pellegrini announced the news of his successor to the world.
The news will have been a worry to Premier League rivals, as they scramble to finally reassemble teams capable of keeping pace with City, while the current Sky Blues roster would have welcomed such a promising managerial switch. Not all parties were impressed though, with Bayern’s sporting director Matthias Sammer having to defend the actions taken.
“I have to clarify one thing and that is that Pep Guardiola is one of the most correct people out there. I work with him every day,” Sammer stated.
“Of course, he can be emotional every now and then, but you can always take him for his word.
“People are reading too much into all this. It’s nonsense to say the timing of his announcement was wrong. We deliberately chose to announce it at that moment and communicated things as they should have been communicated.
“I don’t understand why people are turning this into a talking point. All coaches have certain characteristics. Pep is the way he is and is completely reliable. I enjoy working with him.”
The main criticisms and worry will have stemmed from those surrounding the Allianz Arena, especially the fans, with much cause for concern around whether Guardiola will delve back into his successful squad to bring with him on his latest ventures to Manchester.
European supremacy the club’s main goal
Guardiola’s esteemed coaching career has been defined by a true domestic dominance in both La Liga and the Bundesliga, securing three straight Spanish titles at Barca and is on his way to another trio of victories with Munich this season.
Such league success will be an exciting prospect for those involved at the Etihad, with this current Premier League campaign proving that England’s top tier has never been more wide open, but that’s something that may well change when Guardiola arrives.
Though, for all the Santpedor-born boss’ league title triumphs, his new employers will have their sights set firmly on finally claiming the ultimate prize in club football; the Champions League, assuming City don’t prevail this term under Pellegrini.
European glory is something Ferguson achieved at Man Utd on three occasions, but is a tally which the Scot admitted should have been a lot higher for a club of the Red Devils’ stature, for all their domestic superiority down the years.
Guardiola is similar to the former Man Utd boss in many ways, with Ferguson’s ability to reel off consecutive league titles after rebuilding each year being his main claim to greatness, as well as a genuine faith shown in youth.
For all City’s wealth, as well as short and long term goals, the aspect of continuously implementing youth players into the senior squad is one which could be lost under the list of transfer targets and stacks of cash, though Guardiola is sure to keep to his beliefs in trusting those coming through the ranks.
Youth key to long-term future
Ferguson’s squads were frequently made up of homegrown players, and it’s a policy that Van Gaal has even continued during his tenure, possibly being the one element of his time at Old Trafford that fans would praise the Dutchman for.
Of course, United still possess the incredible record of having involved at least one youth player either in the starting line-up or on the substitute’s bench since 1937, amazingly stretching back over 3,782 first-team games and several managerial reigns, from Scott Duncan to Sir Matt Busby, Wilf McGuiness to Tommy Docherty and Ron Atkinson to Ferguson.
Such an impressive youth policy does really set the bar high, but Guardiola will be keen to build a strong base of starlets to choose from in his City set-up, with promising teenage frontman Kelechi Iheanacho being the only current youngster to emerge of late.
City have previously undergone a wide-scale restructuring of their academy in the hope of emulating their neighbours in the long-term, and there may not be a better first-team manager to have in place to oversee such a target than Guardiola.
The Spaniard knew all about the talent bursting out of Barcelona’s youth ranks from his time as Barca B boss, and his faith and understanding proved pivotal as he promoted no less than 22 players, including all of Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alacantara, Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya.
Rivals Man Utd can’t afford to wait around
Hopes are high with the imminent arrival of such an esteemed coach, with City installed at 12/1 to lift the 2016/17 Champions League and 6/1 to earn an FA Cup victory next season, while a treble triumph in Guardiola’s maiden term is seen as a 100/1 chance.
With City having moved swiftly in getting things into place for next season already, such early business should be a warning sign to bitter close rivals Man Utd, who are yet to indicate what the future holds for Van Gaal, with Mourinho’s presence looming large.
Of course, announcing the former Blues boss as their coach in similar fashion to how City handled Guardiola may have the opposite effect at Old Trafford, with Van Gaal not the type to just keep the dugout seat warm for a few months, while the players are already under pressure to finish in the top four. The Europa League may yet be a saving grace for the Dutchman though.
Guardiola’s best achievement to date is arguably his assembly of one of the greatest club sides in football history at Barcelona, with Ferguson having previously warned European rivals and Man Utd of such overwhelming dominance.
“It’s not going to be easy [to catch-up to Barca], but that’s the challenge. You shouldn’t be afraid of a challenge,” stated the Scot after his Man Utd were beaten 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final.
“This may be the kind of stepping stone that we had some years ago when we got beat 4-0 [at the Nou Camp in 1994]. We improved after that and we want to improve after tonight.”
“Nobody’s given us a hiding like that but they deserve it. In my time as manager, it’s the best team I’ve faced.”
Ferguson’s words may apply again in the coming months if Guardiola’s City side begin the 2016/17 campaign strongly, after the Spaniard constructed a Catalan crop that simply mesmerised Man Utd at Wembley, as the Sky Blues hope that he can fashion a similarly devastating set-up this summer.
Pep has much to prove despite CV
Despite Guardiola having lifted two European crowns with Barca and a host of league titles in both Spain and Germany, there are those that still question his true talents, claiming he simply inherited already world class sides.
True, the Spanish tactician did walk into clubs which possessed the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and later Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller within them, but his ability to bring out the best in those superstars is what makes him a threat to City’s Premier League rivals.
Nevertheless, Guardiola still has much to prove in spite of boasting such an impressive CV, with England’s testing top-flight set to make or break him but, if the Spaniard can enjoy an encouraging summer of rebuilding, then Man City may be involved in a truly exciting period of success.