Former Barcelona player and manager Charly Rexach has sensationally claimed that Pep Guardiola and former assistant Tito Vilanova were offered the chance to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Furthermore, Rexach claims Vilanova’s decision to replace Guardiola as Barcelona’s first-team coach in the summer of 2012 led to the breakdown in their friendship.
Guardiola was offered the chance to manage United during his season-long sabbatical, but eventually agreed to join Bayern Munich instead, signing a deal with the German giants in January 2013.
The former Spain international, according to Rexach, was bothered by Vilanova’s decision to take charge of Barcelona rather than follow him to a new club after a year-long break - and this subsequently resulted in a conflict between the two men.
Vilanova tragically died in April 2014 following a lengthy battle with cancer after helping Barcelona win the Spanish league title in his one full season as head coach at the Camp Nou.
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Rexach: Guardiola fell out with Vilanova after United job offer
“Tito had a strong character,” Rexach revealed in an interview with Catalan paper Regiò7, according to the Daily Mail. “The conflict arose when he chose to take over [from Guardiola] as first team coach.
“At first Pep seemed to understand the decision but in the end it bothered him. They both had an offer to coach Manchester [United] once Pep’s sabbatical had passed.
“Things got worse when Tito went to a clinic in New York to received cancer treatment and Pep, who was at the time living there with his family, never visited him. Pep knew [he was there] because the two wives had bumped into each other during his time there.”
Vilanova instrumental for Barcelona
Shortly after Vilanova’s tragic passing, Guardiola told reporters that his friend’s death would affect him for the rest of his days.
"The sadness I feel will accompany me for the rest of my life," Guardiola said at the time, according to BBC Sport. "We have experienced a lot together, lost together, won together. It is a difficult situation."
Indeed, while Guardiola may have taken the plaudits for assembling and coaching arguably the greatest team in club football history - and rightly so - his right-hand man Vilanova was by his side every step of the way and proved his managerial class following Pep’s departure.
David Moyes disaster
Manchester United - on the advice of Ferguson - eventually hired former Everton boss David Moyes. However, the Scottish manager lasted just 10 months before he was unceremoniously sacked and replaced by former Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal last summer.
That United missed out on Guardiola - a coach considered by some to be the best manager of the current era - will no doubt disappoint many of the club’s fans. The Red Devils have failed to entertain the Old Trafford crowd since Ferguson’s departure in May 2013, and questions marks remain over Van Gaal’s suitability.
United must hire Guardiola if the chance arises again
If Guardiola’s stay at Bayern Munich is a short one - which looks increasingly likely because of his desire to coach in the Premier League - then Manchester United would be foolish not to make a move for the Barcelona hero, even if it means sacking Van Gaal.
The popular book ‘Pep Confidential’ by Marti Perarnau, documenting Guardiola’s debut season at Bayern Munich, revealed that the world-class coach sees himself managing at Old Trafford one day.
“The Catalan was impressed and told [his personal assistant] Manuel Estiarte privately: ‘I like this place. I could see myself coaching here one day,’” Perarnau wrote following Guardiola’s visit to Manchester United’s home ground for last season’s Champions League encounter.
What’s certain is that if Manchester United fail to secure his services, then another top Premier League club inevitably will.
If Guardiola becomes available this summer, should Manchester United sack Van Gaal? Have your say in the comments below!