It can’t go on like this, can it? With the best will in the world, Manuel Pellegrini’s position at Manchester City is all but untenable now. Sheikh Mansour has invested over a billion pounds into this football club since 2008, he did so with the aim of winning the Champions League. Now there’s a serious risk that they won’t even be invited to play in it next season.
But to whom do City turn now? It’s no secret that Pep Guardiola tops their shortlist, but he’s not going anywhere yet. He has over a year left to run on his Bayern Munich contract and, for all the speculation, there’s no guarantee that he won’t sign a new one in the summer. Even if he does leave, would he choose City? It has been suggested that he sees himself more as a manager of the grand old names of European football, that he’d rather go to a club like Manchester United or even Liverpool. City may well want Guardiola, Chelsea wanted him too, but they might not be able to get him.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the other leading candidates to replace Pellegrini:
High expectations? Big budgets? Worried about stressing out your manager? Hire Carlo Ancelotti. He takes your stress, he rolls it up and he smokes it. In a non-smoking area. Because he can. He worked for Silvio Berlusconi at AC Milan, he worked for Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, he worked for Nasser Al-Khelaifi at PSG. He thrives on pressure. If Westeros had a national football team in the reign of King Joffrey, Ancelotti would sign a four year contract without questioning for a moment the precise meaning of ‘severance terms’. At least not until a surprise 1-0 defeat to Essos saw Joffrey order the removal of his eyebrows.
A good company man. Patrick Vieira knows ‘The Project’, understands the importance of holism and is well regarded by those above him. He’s spent the last three years rattling through his coaching badges and he’ll soon be fully qualified. He’s hot property too. Bayern Munich have been sniffing around, intrigued by the possibility of letting Vieira have a go on their second team. He may want more than that. He has the City development squad in third in the U21 league, he took them to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League for the second time in a row and he has just two months left on his City contract. Use him or lose him.
It’s unlikely that Rafa Benitez would have ever seen himself as a short-term manager, but it’s a niche he has worked well since leaving Liverpool. Granted, he would have preferred to be not-quite-so-short-term at Internazionale, but he went on to win the Europa League with an unbalanced Chelsea squad and then picked up the Italian Cup with Napoli. This has been a less successful year, with Napoli now outside the Champions League spots, and he wants to come home. His family are settled on Merseyside, but there are no vacancies there. For now. He’d stabilise City, for sure. But he’s a pugnacious sort of chap and the suits in the boardroom might prefer a quiet life.
If this contest was all about great big shiny teeth, it would be over already. Jurgen Klopp is larger than your life has ever been. He is the regional manager who bounds into the conference room on the first morning and shouts slogans at you while you try to force your entire hungover body to seep into the carpet. But he is very good. Or at least he was, until this season. Borussia Dortmund look tired and in need of a reboot. Klopp might fancy a new challenge. And, if nothing else, it would be worth it to see Samir Nasri’s response to Klopp’s boundless positivity.
Don’t laugh. It’s not as unlikely as it sounds. City’s owners were seriously considering Rodgers in 2013. He was on the shortlist. They really like him. They like the way he plays football, they like his faith in young players. He would be a tough sell to City’s supporters, who quite enjoyed getting the better of him in 2014 and have seen little in 2015 from his team to convince them that he’s a better option. After all, he hasn’t actually won anything of note yet. Would he leave Liverpool? Not voluntarily, you suspect. But that may not be a problem if they don’t start winning again soon…
Who do you think will be the next Manchester City manager? One of these names? Someone new? Or is this is all a hysterical over-reaction and yet more evidence of the media conspiracy against the club? Write to us: [email protected]