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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Ranking the Premier League summer transfers that are already completed #1

We look at and rank some of the summer transfers already completed in the Premier League. From Liverpool to Swansea, can these signings make a name for themselves at their new clubs this season?

Roberto Firmino – Liverpool

Starting his career with Figueirense in 2009, Firmino spent four-and-a-half seasons at Hoffenheim, helping them to promotion to the Bundesliga in the process. His 16 goals in 33 games for the 2013–14 Bundesliga season earned him the award for the league’s ‘Breakthrough player of the season’. The Brazillian attacking midfielder signed for Liverpool back in July for a sum of around £29 million.

Roberto Firmino has stated upon his arrival in the Premier League that “of course, everything will once again be new to me at the start. I’m going to have to get used to a new style of play but I’ll also get the opportunity to improve my game even further. Of course, I want to be a regular starter at Liverpool and be successful with my new team.”

Firmino Liverpool

Although a huge sum of money was needed to acquire the services of Roberto Firmino for Liverpool, I believe that he has the skill and technical capability to thrive in front of the Kop at Anfield. A midfield three of Firmino, Lallana and Coutinho sat behind Daniel Sturrdige could prove to be a winning formula for the Merseyside club next season in their quest for a top four finish.

B+

 

Cedric Soares – Southampton

Cedric Soares, known simply as Cedric, is a Portuguese right back whom became Southampton’s second signing of the summer when he joined on a four-year deal in June. The 23 year old has a growing reputation due to his strong performances at former club Sporting Lisbon and his representation of Portugal at every level from Under-16 upwards, gaining 72 youth caps in total. Cedric further has 4 caps for senior Portuguese national side.  Cedric is known for his attacking instincts and ability and desire to bomb forward from full-back. These are attributes which should suit him well at Southampton, who utilised the attacking combinations of full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand to great effect last season.

In an interview with Southampton’s official website, Cedric stated that “everyone knows that the Premier League is a very, very good league – maybe the best one in the world – so for me it’s a pleasure to be here, but even more of a pleasure to be in Southampton. Southampton is a big, big club in England and is very respected. It’s a club with a lot of history and, for me, it’s very important to play for a big club. I think this is a very good move.”

Southampton’s move for Cedric Soares was key for the club to fill the vacant position left behind by Nathaniel Clyne who has since moved to Premier League rivals Liverpool. With a rumoured transfer fee of only £5 million involved, Southampton have got a great deal here. The pacey right back will be a consistent player for Southampton next year as the club look to further improve in the future.

B+

 

Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham

Tottenham signed Toby Alderweireld for an undisclosed fee from Atletico Madrid on a five-year contract earlier this month. Alderweireld, who was on loan at Southampton last season from the La Liga side, is a solid signing for the North London club. The 26-year-old Belgium defender made 26 Premier League appearances last season. The defender has spoken about his move to Spurs stating that he was “looking forward to this but also looking back at a great Southampton season. Great club and fans,” he said. Alderweireld added he was “very proud” to be a Tottenham player and hoped “to have a wonderful time with this team”.

It is still been rumoured however that the Saints may take legal action against the transfer as the club believed they had an option to buy the centre-back for £6.8m unless Atletico paid £1.5m to buy back that clause but are understood to have not proceeded with this option. The centre back has 47 caps for Belgium and joins international team-mates Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen at White Hart Lane. “It’s a big club and it’s always been a dream to play at a club like Spurs,” he told Tottenham’s website further adding “now that dream is coming true so I’m very happy, very proud and I will give my best.”

Alderweireld started his career at Ajax and won three Dutch Eredivisie titles in nine seasons at the club. He moved to Atletico Madrid in September 2013 and, in his only season at the club before moving to Southampton, helped them to the Spanish league title and final of the Champions League, which they lost to rivals Real Madrid.

This signing is shrewd business for Tottenham who have substantially improved their back line with the acquisition of Toby Alderweireld. The transfer is said to be worth around £8 million which could prove to be a steal for the North London club.

A-

 

Dimitri Payet – West Ham United

What a signing this could prove to be for West Ham! A team that is use to mid table obscurity within recent seasons, this transfer signals a real intent at the London club to make strides forward and to possibly challenge for a top eight finish next season.

West Ham United completed the signing of the Marseille forward Dimitri Payet for a fee believed to be £10.7m in late June. The east London club announced that Payet, 28, have signed a five-year deal with a further one-year option and becomes a major addition to the playing squad under their new manager, Slaven Bilic.

“West Ham really showed me that they wanted me to come, both the joint-chairmen [David Gold and David Sullivan] and the manager,” Payet told the club’s website. “That’s very important for me. I was also keen to sign up to a clear project. West Ham’s is very interesting and matches perfectly with my ambitions. “I’m an attacking footballer and that they’re counting on me to help achieve that gives me a sense of responsibility. It’s true that it’s taken a little while but that’s normal negotiations are like that. But now that it’s done, I’m very happy.”

Payet WHU

The versatile Payet topped the Ligue 1 assist charts last season with 16 in 36 appearances, as well as scoring seven goals for a Marseille side who came fourth in Ligue 1 last season. He can play in a number of attacking positions, adding depth and variation to a frontline. Payet, who spent two seasons at Marseille after playing for Nantes, Saint-Étienne and Lille, also has 15 caps for France.

This is a fantastic singing for the Hammers who are developing an exciting forward line which further includes Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sahko. Although a large transfer fee for a mid-table team, Payet will be a success at West Ham and in the Premier League in general.

A

 

Yohann Cabaye – Crystal Palace

Today, Crystal Palace have completed the signing of Yohan Cabaye from French champions Paris St-Germain for a club-record transfer fee of £10m. Palace have announced that the 29-year-old midfielder has joined on a three-year deal, with the fee possibly rising to around £13m with add-ons. Cabaye joined PSG from Newcastle for £19m in January 2014 but started just 13 matches as Laurent Blanc’s side won a domestic treble last season. Further, Palace manager Alan Pardew signed Cabaye from Lille in 2011 during his time as Newcastle boss, with the France international going on to score 18 goals in 93 appearances for the Magpies.

Cabaye said he was focused on his “new life” and believed that Palace could “compete to get into the top eight”. He said: “I also know the gaffer and have worked with him before and I’m confident with him. I want to do my best for him because he’s made a big effort to get me to come here, as well as the chairman.”

Signing Cabaye is a huge coup for Crystal Palace, a club who until 12 months ago had never survived relegation from the Premier League. Cabaye comes in and adds true quality and an eye for goal to the midfield of a team which played superbly under Pardew in the second half of last season.

Just like Payet at West Ham United, Yohann Cabaye represents a huge outlay for Crystal Palace but brings a sense of intrigue and class to their central midfield position. The signing of the French international could propel Palace further up the league table and could see them achieve a top ten finish in the 2015/2016 season under Alan Pardew.

A

 

Joselu – Stoke City

Stoke City confirmed that they had signed Hannover 96 striker Joselu for a fee of €8 million (£5.7m) in late June.  The striker became the club’s second acquisition of the summer, after goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, with the club announcing that they have paid £5.7 million for the forward. Joselu – full name Jose Luis Sanmartin Mato – is a 6ft 3in striker, a good finisher whom possesses the pace to stretch defences. For Hannover last season, the 25-year-old Joselu won 188 aerial duels, more than any player in the Premier League managed.

The 25-year-old, who joined Real Madrid as a teenager before leaving for the Bundesliga, becomes the third Spaniard at the Britannia Stadium alongside Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa. Joselu scored eight goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances last season, whilst also providing four assists, and it has been reported that the deal could cost over £7 million in total, when both wages and transfer fee are factored in.

Prior to his stint at Bundesliga side Hannover, Joselu played for Real Madrid Castilla (B team) for two full seasons, pairing up with Alvaro Morata – now of Juventus – in the forward positions. He scored 40 goals in 72 games between 2010 and 2012 for Castilla and managed to score in both first team matches he played a part in.

This transfer further emphasises Stoke City and Mark Hughes move to a more possession and skill based style of play as opposed to a previous style which was based on physicality and long balls under Tony Pulis. However Joselu’s height, at 6ft 3, gives Hughes many options in how to play the forward next season at the Britannia Stadium.

B

 

Andre Ayew – Swansea City

In what could be the transfer coup of the summer so far, Ghana forward André Ayew has joined Swansea on a four-year deal, subject to international clearance on a free transfer. The 25-year-old midfielder was out of contract at Marseille and will now join the Premier League club who have been looking to strengthen their forward options since Wilfried Bony was sold to Manchester City in January.

Ayew, who was on target against the United States and Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has won more than 60 caps for Ghana, playing in four African Cup of Nations and two World Cups, and had scored 52 goals in 181 games for Marseille since making his debut in 2007 for the Ligue 1 side.

On Sky Sports News, Andre Ayew said “I looked left and right and I thought Swansea was the best choice for me to grow as player, not only football-wise but I heard about the squad, how the players live together and the team spirit. So I thought it was great to come to Swansea because I know how positive it is here. I’m going to do everything to be ready to adapt but I’m lucky because I’ve played against a lot of English players in the Champions League. I’ll have a pre-season to get ready before the season starts, so I’ll have time to adapt.”

Swansea City Unveil New Signing Andre Ayew

With an impressive record of scoring from midfielder, Andre Ayew looks like he will fit in well at the Liberty Stadium alongside other midfielders such as Jonjo Shelvey, who just signed a new four year deal, and Gylfi Sigurðsson. To further get a player of his stature on a free transfer, Swansea have taken another great step in the right direction.

A –

What next for Liverpool F.C.?

What does life after Steven Gerrard mean for the Merseyside club?

To say that Liverpool have relied on their captain for 10-12+ years would be an understatement. Gerrard has stuck with the Merseyside club through thick and thin down the years and fully deserves his ‘legend’ title both within the North-Western city but also in the world of football in general. With his move to the L.A Galaxy in the rapidly developing MLS however, their once captain leaves a massive void within the club both on and off the pitch. Understandably in recent years, Gerrard has slowed down and made fewer appearances at the club but his presence will be sorely missed.

First of all, there doesn’t need to be a change in management. Brendan Rodgers will be the first to admit that his team have underwhelmed this season both in the league and the cup competitions but his young age and previous managerial record show that his knowledge within the sport is only going to grow further. It needs to be addressed too that Liverpool fans themselves need to understand that the club will not find another Steven Gerrard figure in this summer’s transfer market and need to possess patience in the near future.

This summer it will be the clubs new potential new signings that will have to do all the talking. First of all, Liverpool desperately need a new central defensive midfielder as Lucas Leiva has had a poor season. Emre Can could provide cover in that position but Rodgers seems to like the German international in a back three system. Liverpool need a defensive powerhouse that will shield the back two and give Henderson the freedom to move forward up the pitch. Victor Wanyama would fit perfectly within this role after having another fantastic season at Southampton and importantly he is tried and tested in the BPL. Yann M’Vila of Rubin Kazan, Axel Witsel of Zenit and Fernando from Shakhtar Donetsk could also fit this demanding role in front of the Kop next season.

Victor Wanyama in action for Southampton.
Victor Wanyama in action for Southampton.

It is not difficult to see that Liverpool have struggled massively in terms of goal scoring either this term as Gerrard himself is top scorer for the team with 12 goals in all competitions subject to this weekend’s final game of the season away at Stoke. Gonzalo Higuaín would cost too much for the club with transfers needed elsewhere on the team however both Aston Villa’s inform Christian Benteke, subject to very heavy rumours http://goo.gl/bvzQNB, and Lyon’s hometown hero Alexandre Lacazette could offer solutions for Rodgers, when Sturridge is out injured, for close to the £20 million mark.

Benteke could make the  move to Anfield this summer.
Benteke could make the move to Anfield this summer.

The Merseyside club further need to make a move for an attacking right-back to fit into Rodgers formation and tactics as Glen Johnson is phased out of the club. The front-runner according to various news articles, including Metro http://goo.gl/UaroqI, is Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal after the Spanish giants signing of Danilo from Porto for £23 million.

Carvajal is subject to strong rumours.
Carvajal is subject to strong rumours.

A new back up goalkeeper and centre back could be on the agenda too as the club look to drop unwanted contracts whilst bringing depth into the overall squad for next season. Peter Cech has been subject to heavy press rumours linking him with a move to Liverpool this summer as he plays second best to teammate Thibaut Courtois at rivals Chelsea however the Reds are more likely to revisit Fiorentina to pick up Brazilian stopper Neto for close to £2 million. At centre-back Rodgers needs strength in-depth. Skrtel has had his usual solid season but Lovren has struggled whilst Sakho has suffered various injury setbacks throughout the course of the year.

Other depth signings could include James Milner whom is sought after by Liverpool and Asier Illarreamendi for £15 million from Real Madrid.