Nobody at Manchester City is freaking out about Pep Guardiola’s future as manager of the Premier League champions – but there is an acceptance that it won’t be long before the questions begin again.
Guardiola’s contract, 51, will expire in the summer, and without agreeing new terms, he could leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season. City have made no secret of their desire to keep Guardiola, who has won four Premier League titles and five more since his arrival in 2016, but asked in August if this would be his last year at the club, former Barcelona. The Bayern Munich coach was usually vague.
“I won’t change my life here for one second,” he said. “It’s seven seasons already. We’ve spoken with the club. In the middle of the season, the end of the season, we’ll talk again about how we feel and decide what’s best for the club.”
“I said many times, if they want to, I would like to stay longer, but at the same time I have to make sure.”
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Ideally, City would like to be in a position to announce Guardiola’s contract extension during the World Cup break.
Premier League matches between November 13 and December 26 have been suspended to accommodate the tournament in Qatar, leaving plenty of time to complete negotiations and sign on the dotted line. Confirmation before restarting on Boxing Day would put the problem to bed before Guardiola enters the final six months of his contract and leave everyone in the federation free to focus on the title race and the end of the business in the Champions League.
But if it starts to stretch into the second half of the season, it will become a problem that City can do without. If the players start returning from the World Cup with Guardiola’s future in the air, it will invite inescapable questions about what happens next – for both Guardiola and the club.
The city will need time to find a new manager. They admire Julian Nagelsmann’s work with Bayern Munich, and former New York City coach Patrick Vieira has impressed Crystal Palace and the former City captain. Vincent Company He started well at Burnley – but hiring a new manager, whoever he is, is not an easy process.
Speaking in the summer, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak agreed that Guardiola’s position would always be a moot point – especially when his contract starts to expire.
“Pep never stayed as long as he stayed here with any club, be it Barcelona or Bayern Munich,” Mubarak said during his regular end-of-season address to fans. “The question is just right. It was just right last year, three years ago, and of course this year. It’s a partnership that has done wonders over the years.”
Blessed was here before. Guardiola entered the final year of his last contract at the start of the 2020-21 season. There was speculation as to when he was eager to get some rest, having already stayed in Manchester longer than he had in Barcelona or Munich.
In the end he stayed, with a new two-year deal announced in November 2020. Guardiola cited his relationship with the club as one of the main reasons behind his decision to stay, and he will certainly be an important factor again. the time.
“Having that kind of support is the best thing a manager can get,” he said two years ago. “I have everything I could possibly desire to do well in my job and am humbled by the confidence of the owner and Chairman Ferran. [Soriano] and Txiki [Begiristain]He showed me to carry on for another two years after this season.”
Thanks in part to his friendship with Soriano and Begiristain, which grew up during their time together at Barcelona, Guardiola knows he may never have that quality as he does at City. But he also fully understands that he is as good as his players and that his success as a coach requires the team to constantly buy what they are trying to do.
“It’s not the second or third season, it’s been many years already and I have to see how the players behave,” Guardiola said in August. “I don’t want to be a problem. Sometimes when you stretch and force things, it’s not good, so you have to go through it and relax.”
“This kind of situation happens when it happens in a natural way. If you force it, it will not go well. We will see what happens during the season and how we feel and the best decision will be made for the club.”
Bernardo Silva He admitted over the summer that working under Guardiola can be “stressful” – but if the start of the season for City is anything to go through, his methods still work.
Moreover, Begiristain has managed to modernize the team so much that only four players – Kevin De BruyneAnd the Kyle WalkerAnd the Ilkay Gundogan And the Riyad Mahrez – Over 30 years old. The average age of the team selected for the 3-0 win over Wolves before the international break was just 26 years old, and with players like Erling Haaland And the Phil Foden Not near its peak, there is a high chance that the cycle of success will continue.
Guardiola does not want to be a manager forever, but he has ambitions that go beyond the union. He will likely take a break after City – to travel, spend time with his family and get better at golf – but after that, he has not ruled out taking charge of a national team at a major tournament. However, Khaldoun, Begiristain and Soriano hope to have the motivation to extend his stay for at least another two years.
With no desire to act in his 60s and 70s like Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, Guardiola’s time on the touchline will eventually come to an end. Siti hopes, though, that he’s ensured that, for now, there’s nowhere he’d rather be.