There was a very interesting bet doing the rounds until this week. It was a treble, based on the expectation that this year we could witness an end of season manager merry-go-round to end them all, with vacancies occurring simultaneously at Man Utd; Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
The treble was focused on the first three of these clubs, and the money was going on Jose Mourinho to Man Utd; Pep Guardiola to Man City and David Moyes to Arsenal (though Pep for Chelsea was also talked up – but most punters thought Guardiola far too sensible to work for Abramovich).
If Arsene Wenger does get tired of the moaners – or the board get tired of him after a lacklustre season and/or failure to reach the Champs league – David Moyes does look like a good shout for the Gunners. He knows everything there is about working to a budget, that’s for sure, and he’s been building teams on comparative shoestrings for just over a decade at Everton. Some very good teams too, as the current assembly at Goodison demonstrates on a weekly basis.
He’d have much more money at Arsenal, of course, but he would still find himself ‘poor’ compared to the other three clubs listed above, at least if the Club’s board continues its current strategy. And surely Bill Kenwright wouldn’t stand in Moyes’ way if it came to the crunch?
Pep Guardiola at Man City also seemed to make a lot of sense. First off, he’s available and keen to join the fray. Barca takes a bit of beating as a previous location (and as a football team) but if Pep’s moving on, he’s going to want a club with real stability, very substantial funds for senior players (pace FFP) and a youth training plan to die for.
Looking at Man City’s intentions in the latter direction, well, the investment is little short of mind blowing. If you haven’t checked out the £100million plus project that will spin off the Etihad Stadium, click here
The plans include: a centre for up to 400 young players; classrooms for 200; accommodation for players of all ages (and even for the parents of boys selected for the Academy); a 7,000 capacity stadium for youth matches, and 16 training pitches (with one for the 1st team squad hidden from view). The whole thing links off the Emirates Stadium like a complex foetus on an umbilical cord.
Any manager would dribble at the prospect of a long term engagement with such ambitious owners who have the resources to match their vision. But for Pep, there appeared to be the added incentive of working under Man City’s newish CEO, Ferran Soriano, who was Guardiola’s old boss at the club he’ll love all his life: Barcelona. It looked like a shoe-in to quite a few punters.
But the news this week that Pep Guardiola will take over at Bayern Munich in summer has blown the treble, and the underlying assumption that ‘naturally’ the best-manager-in-the-world would want a berth on the good ship Premier league has been truly torpedoed.
Pep could have gone just about anywhere he wanted. His choice of Bayern underlines like nothing else his personal integrity and his recognition that the Bundesliga is the most stable; best-attended; sensibly organised league in the world. Bayern (like Barcelona) is a club owned by its own fans which has ( unlike Barcelona) delivered a profit annually for the past two decades.
When it comes to Man Utd, it’s hard to predict what the resident 71yr old Glaswegian will do. Ferguson can write his own history – and he’s currently playing down talk of retirement (though perhaps not as vigorously as he might). Whatever his plans, they will remain top secret while the club seeks out who will come after.
Everyone knows how difficult an act Fergie will be to follow, and the pitfalls awaiting his successor. Will any manager in future ever be able to notch up titles and honours over decades like he has? And would Mourinho’s defensive mentality go down well with the Old Trafford crowd (not that the Glazers have ever cared too much about what the fans think)? Whoever eventually inherits Fergie’s position, it’s gonna be a tough shift.
If it were me, I’d be want to be the manager after the manager who follows the greatest manager of all time.
THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES:
KEIR RADNEDGE: FOOTBALL IS THE PEOPLE’S SPORT…AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES PROVES IT
PROZONE: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES – EVALUATING STARTEGIES FOR MID-SEASON RECRUITMENT
DELROY ALEXANDER: TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO INTERVENE
ROGAN TAYLOR: THE BIRTHDAY PARTY’S STARTED EARLY
Dr Rogan Taylor is the Director of the Football Industry Group at the University of Liverpool. He is also a writer and broadcaster, with five football books and numerous radio and TV contributions. He has acted as a special adviser to The FA, The Premier League and Premier League Clubs.
The views of our regular columnists are independent, and as such do not represent those of Leaders in Football.