Football fans had been anticipating January eagerly as the transfer window was re- opening, preparing for mesmerizing speculation and ‘knee-jerk’ decisions, seeing which new players were bought into their club and observing who departed. So who would have thought that the biggest talking point so far in January, would be a managerial one, the decision of the sought after Pep Guardiola to take over at Bayern Munich in the summer.
I first heard the news, when I received a message by a good friend of mine who works for a leading broadcast company. I immediately dismissed the news, thinking it was a joke, a couple of minutes passed and I realised that no ‘you been had’ pings would be forthcoming. I flicked the television onto Sky Sports and they broke the news that this was so. (My inside scoop only lasted five minutes, but at least I know I have accurate sources).
Slowly as it sunk in, I realised how great the decision that Guardiola made was. The initial reason for doubting the breaking news, was that you and I know how much money talks and Chelsea are perennial chatterboxes. The former Barcelona manager had been courted by Chelsea and Manchester City, who had relied on their wealth to buy the Premiership title in recent years. Infact, since 2003, Manchester City’s net spend is £434.8 million and Chelsea’s is £524.5 million, (Statistical source: transferleague.co.uk). On the other hand, Bayern Munich’s net spend since 2002 has been £197.3 million, (Statistical source: swissramble.blogspot.co.uk). It can also be argued that Guardiola would have certainly had a greater pay package if he had put pen to paper at either of the two English clubs previously mentioned.
The Spaniard’s decision has definitely shaken up the footballing world and significantly shattered Chelsea’s future plans. Let’s see how.
Many thought that when Rafael Benitez’ tenure as Interim Manager came to an end, that Guardiola would be the man Roman Abramovich acquired to fill the hot seat. With the announced retirement of Jupp Heynckes from Bayern Munich this summer, it made Guardiola’s transistion to one of the grand danes of world football comparatively easy. Let us note that Roberto Di Matteo’s stay at Chelsea was also meant to be temporary, until he won the Champions League. It’s an often quoted cliché about football that ‘it’s a funny old game’.
Benitez was always walking the tight rope. As we all know Abramovich has shown no remorse in making changing at the helm. This reason adds to why Guardiola was reluctant to ply his trade. He wants full control of footballing matters at the club and the assumed prerequisite of having to play certain players (mainly Torres), who could blame him for doubting who was going to run the helm? Putting that much pressure on yourself to produce as well as having the leering figure of Abramovich over you, may not have resulted in Guardiola shining at his brightest.
Chelsea won’t be the only club detrimentally affected by this decision. Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund, could be hit by this scenario quite severely. Firstly, Guardiola takes charge of Bayern this summer, so if he hits the ground running Dortmund will continue to have fierce opposition for the title. Secondly, the rumour-mill suggests that Chelsea will now target Dortmund’s manager Jurgen Klopp after missing out on Guardiola. Nicknamed the ‘Mad Scientist’, he has received rave reviews for guiding Dortmund to back-to-back titles.
If not Klopp, why not the ‘Special One’. I’m still to this day not 100 per cent sure why Jose Mourinho was axed as Chelsea manger, but with trouble brewing in Madrid, will he and Abramovich both swallow their pride and look to work together again?
The irony is, Wednesday 16th January, marked the 150th Anniversary of the Football Association and videos were played at the ceremony simultaneously of Mourinho and Guardiola speaking about the English game. Somewhere in the midst of Mourinho’s rather narcissistic speech he spoke of wanting to come back and coach in England again.
Guardiola wanted to play in England but never had the chance. He spoke of wanting to coach in England because of this reason and the fact he knows the country is very passionate about Football and wanted to experience that, as it intrigued him. Many were presuming that his next choice would definitely be an English team, hence our bemusement.
Recently the name of Michael Laudrup has also been thrown into the mix. This idea may not be as far fetched as you first think. I know Laudrup hasn’t been at Swansea for a season yet, but let’s think Benitez somehow survives till the summer, in that case Laudrup would’ve had a year as Swansea manager.
He has looked impressive already, building upon the good work done before him. He has made the unheralded signing of the season in Michu and I believe Swansea are a good bet this week to reach their first ever League Cup final. At the moment Swansea sit 9th in the Premiership, playing tidy attractive passing football. Though Chelsea achieved Abramovich’s dream of winning the Champions League, they were slated in large quarters for their negative approach to games concentrating on defence. A different style is the outlook for the future, having already purchased the likes of Eden Hazard & Oscar. So who better than a former attacking midfielder to lead the new voyage to glory, a man the likes of Juan Mata, Marko Marin as well as Hazard, Oscar and company would look up to. A man the players can respect for what he did in the game as a player. A man that can take a lacklustre career like the one of Wayne Routledge and turn it around. Under Laudrup’s tutelage this child star is finally producing the performances we expected from him years ago. Abramovich has shown already he is willing to splash the cash to break contracts and this may be a feasible option.
Back to Pep, there is a lot of football to be played in the Bundesliga this season, but at the moment Bayern are running away with it, Guardiola will maintain the high standards of German football’s most famous club. Another thing I’m sure he will be doing is looking to bring through players from the youth team, replicating Barcelona’s technique. This would be important as Bayern’s transfer policy especially in the last 10-12 years has been to take the best players from other German teams; Lucio and Michael Ballack and Ze Roberto and Claudio Pizzaro and Mario Gomez and Manuel Neuer and Dante. As you can see just one or two names.
Pep’s ability to bring through players, again could be why Chelsea was not his choice of workplace. Chelsea have looked to spend mega bucks on players rather then bringing anyone substantial through the youth system, and this looks to continue with the likes of Falcao and Hulk and Luis Suarez and Willian and Klass-Jan Huntelaar. As you can see just one or two names.
Guardiola wants to coach in England and I feel this will happen one day and this is where the cycle comes into play. Whether Abramovich goes for one of the names mentioned already, you can believe that as soon as Pep is available again, he will go for him. Presenting the same scenario as what has just gone on. This could be in July 2016 when Guardiola’s contract runs out at Bayern, or it could be earlier. Guardiola doesn’t like to sign big contracts, so as he signed a three-year deal that reports have shown was actually signed before Christmas, I do believe that will be the time he exits Germany.
The likes of Guillem Balague have spoken of Guardiola’s love of the Bundesliga a long time ago and the more I think about his decision, the more I understand it. He has just made teams want him even more and I do feel Chelsea will come again for him. If he does go there in the future, he will better experienced and better equipped to deal with things there.