It was viewed as one of the greatest managerial coups in English football history when it was announced at the beginning of February. Pep Guardiola, seen as one of the best managers in the world was confirmed as Manchester City’s new manager for next season, replacing Manuel Pellegrini. But despite his numerous qualities, City can’t afford to begin the Guardiola era without the luxury of Champions League football.
Sunday’s defeat against city rivals Manchester United saw the Citizens stay in fourth place, just one point clear of United and West Ham in fifth and sixth place respectively. It is no longer inconceivable that Guardiola could arrive at the Etihad Stadium to manage a team playing in the Europa League, not the Champions League.
Despite winning the Capital One Cup and making the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in the club’s history, City’s Premier League campaign has been poor based on their high standards. Only a miracle will see them win the title, and now they must be concerned with the possibility of missing out on a place in Europe’s premier cup competition.
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This will be a completely new challenge to Guardiola if it was to happen, given that in the past he has only taken charge of teams in very strong situations. At Barcelona, he took over a team who were consistently challenging for European and domestic titles, and had the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi at his disposal, while at Bayern Munich he was taking charge of the European and German champions.
Given his record of taking over the best teams, it may be difficult for Guardiola to come to terms with the difficulty of the challenge facing him. It may also be tough for him to bring in the quality of players he wants to if Man City weren’t in the Champions League.
The Spaniard looks likely to overhaul his squad in the summer, with the likes of Yaya Toure rumoured to be on their way out, and Guardiola reportedly unhappy with the injury record of Vincent Kompany. It may be difficult for him to bring in new players without the lure of Champions League football however.
City do have the finances in place to bring in top players, but so will a number of other Premier League clubs due to the new television deal in place. The likes of Leicester City and Tottenham on the other hand, will be able to offer new signings the chance to impress in the Champions League.
Man City will most likely be an improved side under the management of Pep Guardiola, but by how much will be decided on whether they make the Champions League or not, but they simply cannot afford to miss out.