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2nd February 2016

Guardiola is a Blue

It’s now official—and it’s what we were all expecting. Pep Guardiola has been named Manchester City manager for next season

In what is possibly the least surprising news to enter the football world, Manchester City have formally announced that Pep Guardiola will be joining the club as first team manager at the start of the 2016 – 17 Premier League season. In other news, water is wet, the North is cold, and Tomáš Rosický is still playing football.

Despite how Manuel Pellegrini sees his team sitting in a pretty comfortable position in all four competitions, this will be his last season in charge of them. Manchester City interrupted a dull transfer deadline day—saving Sky Sports News from pretending anything interesting was happening—to announce the news. It described how they had managed to acquire Guardiola after having discussions which had stretched as far back to 2012.

The way in which Pellegrini has conducted himself in his reign as manager of Manchester City has been nothing short of commendable. Despite constant questioning about the worst kept secret in football history, the Chilean has been calm and collected. When instated as manager, Pellegrini was described as a “holistic” choice by City, and as his reign is nearing to an end, it is clear that this is a fair statement. The Chilean will continue to manage the first team for the rest of the season and will leave the club with a Premier League trophy and a Capital One Cup from his first season in charge—and possibly, one to four more trophies will be won this season.

Guardiola will also continue managing Bayern Munich until the end of the season. This opens up an interesting prospect if both teams continue to progress in the UEFA Champions League, as the two could potentially meet in the next stage. Despite how Pellegrini has behaved with the utmost respect for the club, his players and even Guardiola himself—that would be a match he would love to win. Pellegrini has previously insisted in interviews that he would welcome Guardiola to the club in the future and believed that he would one day manage Manchester City.

Guardiola’s record speaks for itself as to why he is being touted by the blues. With only 19 league losses in his managerial career, and officially Barcelona’s most successful manager in terms of trophies, it dwarves many other records. The 45-year-old will join City on the 1st July 2016 on a three year deal.

How long has Manuel Pellegrini been aware of City’s communications with Guardiola is uncertain, although he was keen to defend the club in his press conference on Monday. “The club are not doing anything behind me. I knew this one month ago but I don’t think it’s good to have rumour or speculation about these things” he said in their defense. He then goes on to say how the players were informed on the same day as the press. The decision to tell the press was made two weeks ago between Pellegrini and the club. In the official statement from the Premier League big boys, they also stated that Pellegrini is “fully supportive of the decision to make this communication, [and] is entirely focused on achieving his targets.”

Pellegrini has been a rare phenomenon in the Premier League, as a manager at a big club who likes to keep himself to himself, and a man who does not make any rash statements about any other club or manager. Despite Alan Pardew graphically insulting the Chilean last season, Pellegrini rose above this and never turned to insult Pardew himself. Never one for controversy, he will definitely be missed from the Premier League, and it would be surprising if he didn’t feature in the league again in the future.

A question that may be asked, however, is how will the players react? Although every footballer loves to win trophies, surely the news that their manager is already a dead man walking will affect their future performances—whether this will be negatively or positively is an uncertainty. Weeks will tell whether this has any effect at all; it may spur the team on to go and win a trophy for the man that has shown faith in them for this long, or it may even demotivate the team playing for a man with no future at the club.

Ignoring this season for a moment, this is certainly fantastic news for Manchester City and the Premier League for next year! Guardiola is a proven winner and will no doubt rise to the targets set before him, and will not give in to any pressure that will definitely be present. With City currently finding themselves with quite an aged starting eleven, the Guardiola era is likely to begin with a massive change to the squad to bring in players more suited to his style of play. City’s starting eleven at weekend against Aston Villa, in the FA Cup, consisted of six players aged 30 or over: Willy Caballero, Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Gaël Clichy, Fernandinho, and Jesús Navas. These players are regular starters for City, and big omissions such as Yaya Touré and David Silva are also over 30. As Touré was sold by Guardiola to City during his reign as Barcelona FC’s manager, it is most likely that this will spell the end to the controversial Ivorian’s Manchester City career.

Manchester City have always been a big football club, but 2008 saw them shift into a global brand that could bring in all sorts of names from around the world. 2016 has the potential to spark the next step in this evolution for Manchester City—as of now, they have the hottest property out there at a time where Guardiola can mold any team he so wishes. Exciting times are certainly ahead for them.

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