Pep Guardiola & his fantastic dilemma

In the world of football it’s unusual to see a manager so sought after by so many different major clubs however this is the case with Spaniard Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona manager and soon to be former Bayern Munich boss in the summer. A figure that has won 19 major trophies so far in his short but action packed managerial career, Guardiola has already stated his desire to leave the German champions in the summer and pursuit a new career path telling reporters that he next wants to manage in the English Premier League. With five league titles, three domestic cups and two Champions League wins under his belt already, Guardiola is fast becoming one of the greatest football managers in history. For those who enjoy their stats, Guardiola has an overall win percentage of 74% at Barcelona and Bayern Munich so far and is yet to go a single season without winning a major trophy, which isn’t surprising bearing in mind he only holds a loss ratio of just 11% as a manager.

But which Premier League teams are in the market for a new manager? Famed for his three year tenures, Pep Guardiola could provide a short term solution for some of the English giants who have being struggling so far this season but in the long term so far he has proved that maybe his employment is not the best case scenario in terms of future security for teams.

As for his relations at his current club, Bayern Munich, well they’re starting to sour with accusations from German and Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus claiming that the Spaniards head has been turned by speculation on his future. The former German international has also accused Guardiola of already planning his signings for Manchester City should he join them in the summer. Could Pep Guardiola’s attitude in terms of swapping clubs quite often be a problem for teams interested in employing him as manager?

Pep Guardiola has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City this summer.
Pep Guardiola has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City this summer.

Manchester City

Despite being third in the Premier League and only three points behind leaders Arsenal, many think that Manchester City have struggled to maintain form this season. Although progressing in the Champions League, where they play Zenit St Petersburg in the first knockout round, Manchester City have struggled for form this season in the league due mostly to frustrating injuries for star players, in particular Vincent Kompany who has been a huge loss for Manuel Pellegrini in defence. Despite this, many feel that Pellegrini’s tenure as manager at the Etihad Stadium is shortly to be up even if he manages to bring home Manchester City’s third Premier League title among other silverware this term. A little harsh maybe?

Granted, the decision to relieve a manager of his duties after a winning season would be harsh but when the chance to hire a manager of Pep Guardiola’s stature comes about, you simply can’t pass up on the opportunity. In my opinion a move to the Etihad would suit all parties involved. Firstly the fans will have the opportunity to watch their team play in a similar style to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, secondly it suits the owners of a team like Manchester City who have in the past sacked a fair amount of managers and due to the fact that Guardiola will be on a shorter contract means a smaller pay out if things backfire and thirdly it suits Pep Guardiola perfectly. In Manchester City the Spanish manager would take charge of a team, arguably with the best squad in the Premier League already, capable of challenging for major trophies even before he puts his own brand on the team. Guardiola further would be gifted with basically unlimited money to spend at City and will have the lure of the world’s best players as the Citizens now enjoy a growing reputation across Europe.

The only negative is a possible further slump in form this season for Manchester City as if Manuel Pellegrini knows that directors are making decisions behind his back, maybe his enthusiasm will wain slightly towards the end of the 2015-2016 season.

Manchester United

Judging by the performances Manchester United have been putting in this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that Louis Van Gaal won’t be in charge at Old Trafford next season. The Red Devils have lacked goals and good all round attacking play massively this season leading to a call from fans for the sacking of their Dutch head coach. The team this season has been a far cry from the team fielded by Alex Ferguson several years ago, a team full of star forwards who bagged goals by the hat full and never lacked a cutting edge.

For me, it’s time for a complete overhaul at Old Trafford, the squad is full of ‘dead wood’ that shouldn’t have a place in the Manchester United squad. It’s the blunt truth that players like Fellani, Januzaj, Valencia, Powell to name but a few are not real Manchester United quality and should be moved on this coming summer. Money isn’t a problem for United, the club is a global brand and moving these players on will bring in revenue so in that case Guardiola would be happy. The need for an overhaul at Old Trafford could be both appealing and off putting for an incoming manager.

Maybe a task to great for Pep Guardiola? As previously mentioned he likes to keep his managerial stints short at clubs and maybe the task in hand at Old Trafford would be better suited for a more experienced manager, a man with previous Premier League experience. A certain Jose Mourinho maybe..

Jose Mourinho could prove to be a better managerial target for the Manchester United hierarchy.

Arsenal

As well as the two Manchester clubs, reports are linking Pep Guardiola with a move to the Emirates over the summer but to be honest, I can’t see this happening. Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for a staggering 20 years now yet I can’t see him retiring in the summer regardless of how his team perform for the rest of the season and if he delivers another trophy this season, I can’t see him been ousted by the board any time soon. In Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have a true club legend, a type of manager that is extremely rare these days in terms of his duration at the club and even though the fans persist on having a pop at his tactics every now and again, Wenger continues to impress at the London club.

For Pep Guardiola a move to the Emirates would be ideal, it would represent the same challenges of his first two managerial jobs at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Like Manchester City, Arsenal possess a fantastic squad that is already challenging at the top of the Premier League and is use to featuring in the later stages of the major cup competitions. With a few new recruits, especially a 20 goals a season striker and a top anchorman in midfield, Arsenal would become the favourites to win the title in my opinion. However I just can’t see the Spanish maestro taking over at the Emirates any time soon.

Chelsea

Chelsea could be another very realistic proposition for Pep Guardiola. After Jose Mourinho’s sacking recently and the club announcing that Gus Hiddink will only be staying until the end of the season, the vacancy to manage the London club is there for Guardiola to take. Would this opportunity suit the former Spanish international though?

Chelsea have been extremely poor this season by their own standards. The team languishes near the foot of the table still and has only recently started to show better form in the league, the 3-0 win away at Crystal Palace has been a massive confidence booster. Chelsea are also through in the Champions League but have a tough match up against Paris St Germain in the first knockout round. After the sacking of Jose Mourinho the Chelsea board announced that former manager Gus Hiddink would be stepping in until summer leaving a place for Guardiola to take over after his departure. The challenge in hand at Chelsea represents a situation half way between the jobs in hand at Arsenal and Manchester United, the need for new personnel at the club is there for all to see but the current squad at Stamford Bridge is still easily one of the best in the Premier League, if not Europe on the whole.

This job opportunity is a fantastic one for Pep Guardiola and would suit his policy of keeping his managerial stints at clubs short as Chelsea are famed for changing their first team coach frequently. However taking over as manager of Chelsea offers zero job security after we’ve seen the departure of Jose Mourinho. Despite his team’s very poor results and performances the decision from the Chelsea board to sack their Portuguese legend still came as a shock to most football fans and now shows that taking over the managerial reins at Chelsea is a very difficult task. Take Roberto Di Matteo for an example, as caretaker manager of Chelsea he steered the club to double title success, winning both the FA Cup and the club’s first UEFA Champions League in 2012 but was then sacked the summer after their incredible success’. In my opinion the brutal nature of Chelsea football club in terms of sacking managers will work against them if they try to bring in Pep Guardiola in the summer.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Pep Guardiola. Could the Spaniard emulate Jose Mourinho's success at Stamford Bridge?
Chelsea have been linked with a move for Pep Guardiola. Could the Spaniard emulate Jose Mourinho’s success at Stamford Bridge?

Whichever way you look at the situation, one thing is definitely clear and that is that Pep Guardiola will be managing a side in the Premier League next season. His tactical genius is there for all to see thanks to his previous exploits as both Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss and with a points per match average as a manager of 2.38 you can expect that whichever team he manages from next season, they will be a force to be reckoned with in all competitions.

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Who will be Champions League victors, Barcelona or Juventus?

The 2015 UEFA Champions League Final will be the final match of the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League and the 60th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA. The final will be played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, on the 6th June 2015, between Italian side Juventus and Spanish side Barcelona.

The winners will also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League, Sevilla, in the 2015 UEFA Super Cup and will further qualify to enter the semi-finals of the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup as the UEFA representative.

The 2015 Champions League final is a battle between two major European powerhouses who this season have both won their individual domestic titles. Once again in the 2014/2015 season, Juventus eased to a fourth successive Serie A title in Italy with consistent performances both in the league and also at a European level where they defeated Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid over two legs at the semi-final stage, 3-2 on aggregate. Barcelona too eased to the La Liga title in contrast to other tighter seasons in La Liga history as Luis Suarez, Neymar and of course Lionel Messi hit top form towards the end of the season. Barcelona beat Bayern Munich 5-3 on aggregated to advance to the final in Berlin. Both Barcelona and Juventus have also won their respective domestic cups this season meaning that a win in the Champions League final for either side would see them complete a famous ‘treble’.

Possible line-up for Juventus:

Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, Vidal; Tévez, Morata.

Doubtful: Barzagli (thigh)
Out: Cáceres (ankle), Asamoah (knee), Rômulo (thigh).

With Andrea Barzagli doubtful for the Champions League final in Berlin and Marin Caceres out with an ankle injury, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is relying on squad depth in defence to fill out his sides bench on Saturday evening in the German capital.

Possible line-up for Barcelona:

Ter Stegen; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.

Unlike Massimiliano Allegri, Barceona manager Luis Enrique has a fully fit squad travelling to Berlin for Saturday nights Champions League final and is expected to pick the same team that has performed well throughout the season so far. His only selection headache is whether to use the experience of departing captain Xavi from the start in Berlin.

Where the game can be won and lost

Juventus’ defensive line will have to play exceptionally well to keep out Barcelona’s front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar who have been in sensational form for the Spanish giants this season. Star forward Lionel Messi has once again staked his claim as the best player in the world with a season of record breaking scoring. The Argentine has an incredible 58 goals in 56 appearances for the Catalan giants this season which has led to Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon claiming that Messi is in fact ‘extra-terrestrial’ hoping that the forward would ‘become human again’ on the 6th June 2015.

Can Juventus keep out Messi, Suarez and Neymar?
Can Juventus keep out Messi, Suarez and Neymar?

Not only do Juventus have to cope with Lionel Messi but Luis Suarez and winger Neymar as well. Although experiencing a slow start to his Barcelona career, Luis Suarez has thrived playing under the Camp Nou floodlights. Scoring 24 goals in 42 appearances for Barcelona, Suarez played a pivotal role in the teams semi-final against Bayern Munich where he set up both goals in the second leg of the match up to send the Spanish club to the final on Saturday night. Tricky Brazilian winger Neymar Jr has further been in scintillating form this campaign bagging 38 goals in 50 appearances in all competitions.

Unless Chellini and his back line for the Italian champions can deal to some extent with Messi, Suarez and Neymar then only a Barcelona win is surely conceivable in the Champions League final in Berlin on Saturday 6th June.

Prediction – 3-1 to Barcelona.

Where will Raheem Sterling be playing next season?

The latest new reports on the situation involving young Liverpool star Raheem Sterling state that the main reason behind the players proposed move away from Merseyside is due to his desire to move back home to London where he grew up as a child, the Daily Star reports. Prior to his move to the UK, Sterling in fact grew up in the country of Jamaica leaving for London at the age of 7. Sterling was part of the youth set up at London football club Queens Park Rangers prior to a move to Liverpool under Rafa Benitez at the time in 2010 for an initial fee of £650,000, expected to have since moved up to the £5 million mark. Since then, Sterling has shone for the Reds making 91 appearances for the team and scoring 18 goals in all competitions in the past four seasons.

Although struggling this season for Liverpool, the youngster enjoyed the 2013/2014 season where Liverpool boss Brenden Rodgers introduced him into his Premier League starting XI towards the middle part of the season. With strong performances came a place for Sterling within Roy Hodgsons England set up and further guaranteed his seat on the flight to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup where he showed his promise as one of the teams only highlights in a dismal campaign on the world stage. In 2014 Sterling further claimed the prestigious ‘Golden Boy’ award, previously won by Lionel Messi in 2005, recognising him as the best under-21 player playing in Europe during that season. His natural rapid pace coupled with his all-round general play which has improved dramatically since moving to Merseyside, has meant that Raheem Sterling has become one of the emerging talents on the world footballing stage.

Will Liverpool sell one of their star assets this summer?
Will Liverpool sell one of their star assets this summer?

After Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward last week claimed ‘he’d even reject £900,000-a-week if Liverpool offered it’, it is almost certain that Sterling will not be a Liverpool player by the start of next season even though the club have stated that he is not for sale at any price. Therefore with news that Sterling wants to move back to London where could the young footballing star end up? Manchester City and Manchester United are now unlikely destinations for the England international with Chelsea and Arsenal now leading the race for his signature. It is further possible that Sterling too could in fact move abroad, maybe to reunite with Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid if the Spaniard completes a move to the Santiago Bernabéu. Barcelona star midfielder Xavi stated in November 2014 that Sterling was in fact good enough to play for the La Liga club, praising his physical and technical qualities.

It can be stated that after a disappointing season with Liverpool on the whole, Raheem Sterling will want to once again play in the Champions League this time around as the youngster looks to develop into one of the world’s best attacking footballers.

Latest odds on where Sterling will be playing next season – http://www.paddypower.com/bet/football-specials/transfer-specials/Raheem-Sterling%27s-Next-Permanent-Club-7740854.html?force_racing_css=N.