Manchester City are facing a crucial month for their season in March. Manuel Pellegrini is facing a crucial month for his career.
Not satisfied with the way the Citizens have performed, the owners are reportedly ready to sack Pellegrini unless the team turns their misfortune around before the end of the campaign. They face an uphill task to make it into the quarter-finals of the Champions League and all but gifted the Premier League title to Chelsea by losing against Liverpool at the weekend.
They are now facing the prospect of a season without any silverware. That's no uncommon thing at the top end of the Premier League. For all there promise, last season's Liverpool won nothing. For nine-years, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal won nothing. Even Jose Mourinho's Chelsea came back empty handed from the last campaign.
But Manchester City can afford to sack their manager on a whim and, barring a miracle, they probably will. But Sheik Mansour will not get rid of one manager without the knowledge that he replace him with someone deemed to be better.
The Independent believe that they are targeting two of the most reputable manager's in the world: Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola. Should they convince either one of them to take charge at the Etihad, it will be a significant coup and a massive embarrassment for Manchester United.
When Sir Alex Ferguson departed Old Trafford, the job always seemed to be heading to his mate David Moyes. Ferguson wanted him to be given the chance to grow into the role, but his former player's weren't having it and eventually agitated sufficiently to get him sacked after just nine months.
New reports are claiming that the job was first offered to Guardiola, before the Spaniard took charge of Bayern Munich. The deal never materialised and Moyes was hired, much to Manchester United's detriment.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez sings a similar tune with regards to Ancelotti. He claimed that Old Trafford officials tried desperately to get the Italian in the hot seat before choosing Moyes.
Perez said in May last year: "Ferguson called him (Ancelotti) to be his successor but he told him he had already promised to come here with us."
A short-term option
If both these reports are true then there can be little doubt that they would have returned to both of them less than a year later when the vacancy reopened. Eventually they hired Louis van Gaal, who as time goes on appears less and less suited for the role.
At 63-years-old, Van Gaal is eight-years Ancelotti's senior and 19-years Guardiola's. The Dutchman was always going to be a short-term option for Manchester United with no more than seven-years in charge realistic.
There is a sense that he was taken because he was the best available - the most reputable manager willing to take such a difficult task. Ancelotti with his cosy job at Real Madrid and Guardiola with his even cosier position at Bayern Munich unsurprisingly saw little to gain from cleaning up the mess that had been made at Manchester United.
An exciting project
Manchester City may be able to offer them something a little more enticing. The talent is there, but their ability to defend a Premier League title or challenge in Europe is mysteriously absent. With plenty of money available for transfers and a chance to manage in the world's most watched league, it is likely at least one will be interested.
If they manage to secure one of these reputable names then they should have a manager installed until at least the end of the decade. But more significantly, they would have succeeded where Manchester United have failed. They would have convinced one of the world's best managers to join them.
It would be the first real proof that the noisy neighbours have finally taken over the city.
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