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Sunday, 20 January 2013

What does Pep Guardiola joining Bayern Munich mean for Chelsea, City and United?


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It’s hard to believe that Pep Guardiola has only been out of the game since last summer. Since he announced he was leaving Barcelona it has felt like not a day has gone by where the press, the pundits or the paying customers have speculated: “Where will Pep be manager next?”

It seemed almost inevitable that Guardiola’s next challenge would bring him to England. All of the Premier League’s top clubs were at some point linked with the Spaniard. Arsenal wanted him to replace Arsene, Chelsea wished to make him their next temporary coach, he was touted as the fabled Alex Ferguson's replacement at Manchester United and even Premier League champions Manchester City seemed willing to give Mancini the boot to accommodate Pep.

Yet in a move surprising to Premier League chairman up and down the country, Pep Guardiola will instead take the reins at Germany giants Bayern Munich come next season.

Rather senselessly, a lot of people fail to remember the name Bayern Munich when they think of big European teams. England is full of big teams. Italy is home to the two Milan sides and Juventus, and Spain boasts the best club football side in world football in Barcelona and a not-too-far-behind Real Madrid. For some reason, people seem to forget Germany.

Yet Bayern’s history is just as glory-filled as all the above names, and in some cases even more so. The club is currently home to some of Germany’s best players, and also to international superstars such as Ribery and Robben.

With all these facts in mind, it’s not too surprising that Guardiola has accepted the manager job at the Allianz Arena. Bayern is already a side challenging at the top of the table. They have an outstanding history. He already has a very strong side to pick from with the option of splashing the cash should he need to. In addition, and perhaps the most important factor, Guardiola is once again at a club where he can completely apply his own philosophies.

But what of the Premier League clubs that so desperately fought for Guardiola’s attention? What will their immediate futures hold now the world’s most wanted manager is tied down for a minimum of three years?

Chelsea’s future is by far the most uncertain. I can see almost no circumstance in which Rafa Benitez is offered the permanent manager position come the end of this season, meaning the Blues will once again be in the market for a new boss.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that Chelsea are on the slide. They will struggle now to attract the players they used to at Stamford Bridge and I worry that Roman Abramovich is becoming bored of life as the owner of the London club.

What emphasises this is that Abramovich is prepared, and willing, to lose arguably Chelsea’s best ever player on a free due to his age. Frank Lampard has even expressed a willing to take a massive pay cut to stay with Chelsea, but Roman wants Lamps gone.

It is obvious Frank Lampard loves the club, but now it’s likely he’ll depart Chelsea. And while there is evidently still a high level of quality in some of Chelsea’s players (Hazard, Mata and Oscar specifically), the standard of play from the Blues has declined over the last four years, and I believe they will struggle to get back to those heights.

For Manchester City, I believe one key factor has meant Guardiola was not approached for the manager’s position this season: The fans. City fans love Mancini, especially after he led them to the Premier League title last season. The owners know Mancini has done a good job at the club and, although they are out of the Champions League once again, they are still capable of winning the Premier League again this season.

Do I believe we’ll see Mancini in charge of City next season? No. Simply because of one man: Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho is widely expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of this season. And with Guardiola now out of the picture, the Portuguese mastermind will have the pick of the clubs in England. The only reason Mourinho wouldn’t move to City is if one other club came in for him: rivals Manchester United. If, in theory, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to retire at the end of the season, I would fully expect Mourinho to be the man United brought in to take over from the man who they say cannot be replaced. Goodness knows Mourinho would try.

Don’t expect Fergie to quit just yet though. I think he’d relish another battle with Jose Mourinho at the top of the Premier League, especially with his old rival taking charge of the noisy neighbours.

Regardless, English clubs will feel aggrieved to have missed out on Pep Guardiola: a brilliant manager who will surely grace the Premier League one day.

Follow Mitch on twitter for more football news, opinions and transfer updates: @MitchWaddon

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