Three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies in four seasons, even if he did have the most talented group of players ever assembled, helps you on your resume. Pep Guardiola has been out of a job, by choice, for five months now, and it looks like every big club in the continent (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Milan, Inter and even Barcelona) are thinking about him.
Sometimes it’s actual news, with someone from one of the teams or someone close to Guardiola speaking about something having to do with football that puts everyone on alert. It’s still needs proving if Guardiola can actually coach a team successfully without having Lionel Messi and the Xavi-Iniesta monster in the midfield,but it doesn’t stop teams from trying to get his attention.
The big news most for most of the week was Manchester United looking for the heir to Alex Ferguson endless reign of Premier League titles. Some even say that Ferguson himself wants Cesc to pick him, and that officials from the club have already sat down with the Catalan in order to see if he’d be willing to take over the team in 2013 or 2014.
On the other side of town, Manchester City’s struggles immediately put the crosshair on Roberto Mancini’s back. He hasn’t lost a league match yet, but people were expecting a bit more when it came to their second run in the Champions League. Every time things get hard, Mancini’s job is theoretically on the line, and Guardiola’s name comes up. I’m not saying that Mancini is the most talented and influential of managers in the word; he’s probably not. But I don’t think he’s at any risk of losing his job unless some collapse happens.
And how about Chelsea? Roman Abramovich is currently happy with Roberto Di Matteo, but he never stays happy for too long, and he might be inclined to think that Guardiola’s much more suitable to lead a team in their attempts to convert from last ditch defending to an attractive, pass & move style.
The strongest linking and desire for the Midas touch of Guardiola was coming from AC Milan. The talk that Silvio Berlusconi was tightening his pockets this season was only to prove to the Italian public he can run a tight ship as he goes for another shot at Prime Minister, but now he has jail time to look forward to. Now, a lot of what happened this summer seems a lot more logical. The selling of all the stars while holding talks with Vladimir Putin to take the team. Berlusconi will probably get off with less than the four years he was sentenced to, but it’s hard seeing Guardiola being convinced to come and coach a team with such a mirky future.
Again, there are the crosstown rivals to consider. Massimo Moratti is also cutting corners when it comes to spending this season. Still, his team is winning and doing quite well under Andrea Stramaccioni, but a man who is fond of big names and titles won’t stay dormant and content with just OK for long.
What about Bayern Munich? Luca Toni discussed with reporters that upon speaking with Guardiola, the former defensive midfielder talked about his intrigue with coaching in the Bundesliga and for Bayern Munich specifically, a club Luca Toni played for. Bayern have never had a Spanish coach, but considering that it’s unlikely that Jupp Heynckes will be there forever, it seems like an intriguing possibility indeed.
And then there’s Barcelona. Tito Vilanova is just short of a flawless start in the La Liga, winning eight for the first nine matches. Something even Guardiola couldn’t achieve. But I’m one of those who believes that Guardiola’s special connection to the club is what made his so great there, and I doubt if without it he’ll be able to duplicate that kind of success, even with unlimited funds and talent at his disposal. Still, there’s no moving Vilanova in the foreseeable future, but at the first sign of some sort of crisis and Pep’s name will be quickly brought up.