Risky move: Serial winner Pep Guardiola ready for a Premier League gamble with Manchester City
The Citizens pulled off a spectacular coup by naming the Spaniard as their manager from next season, but the super-coach admits he is taking a ‘risk’
Manchester City pulled off a spectacular coup on Monday by naming Pep Guardiola as their manager from next season, but the Spanish super-coach admitted that he is taking a “risk”.
Guardiola, who leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season, will take over from Chilean Manuel Pellegrini on a three-year deal reportedly worth more than £15 million (HK$168.2 million) a year.
Even though City are still in contention for four trophies, including the Champions League and the English Premier League, Pellegrini said he knew the club’s Abu Dhabi owners were in talks with Guardiola and supported the move to announce his appointment now.
And the 45-year-old Guardiola, one of the most successful coaches in history, said he was ready for “a new challenge”.
“If I were 55 or 60 years old, I’d stay (at Bayern) until Karl-Heinz Rummenigge or Matthias Sammer said, ‘Enough,’” Guardiola said.
But he said that he could not finish his career “without experiencing England”.
“I want to sample the atmosphere, the emotions,” he added. “I know it’s a risk, but it’s exactly what I love.”
The news far overshadowed any deal on the last day of the January transfer window.
City, bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, released a statement saying they had in recent weeks “commenced and finalised contractual negotiations” with Guardiola to become coach from 2016-17 onwards.
READ MORE: Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola gets his Premier League wish as he’s announced as Manuel Pellegrini’s successor at Manchester City
“The contract is for three years. These negotiations were a re-commencement of discussions that were curtailed in 2012,” the club said.
“Out of respect for Manuel Pellegrini and the players, the club wishes to make its decision public to remove the unnecessary burden of speculation.
“Manuel, who is fully supportive of the decision to make this communication, is entirely focused on achieving his targets for the season ahead and retains the respect and commitment of all involved with the leadership of the club.”
Guardiola announced in December that he would leave Bayern in May after three years and wanted to move to England.
He notched up Bundesliga titles in 2014 and 2015, but Bayern, European champions in 2013, have exited the Champions League at the semi-final stage in the past two seasons.
The ex-Spain international coached Barcelona from 2008 to 2012, winning three La Liga titles and masterminding two Champion League triumphs in a remarkable run of success.
The much-travelled Pellegrini, 62, signed for City in 2013 in place of Roberto Mancini.
During his tenure, City have won 64 of the 99 Premier League games they have played. The only coach to have won more in his opening 99 games is Jose Mourinho (73).
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Pellegrini guided City to Premier League and League Cup success in his first season, but they failed to defend their titles last season.
They are currently second in the league, behind Leicester City, and have reached the Champions League last 16, the FA Cup fifth round and the League Cup final, against Liverpool on February 28.
Pellegrini announced his departure at the end of a press conference to preview Tuesday’s Premier League game at Sunderland.
“Before we finish I will tell you that I talked with the club and I will finish my contract on the original date in June,” he said.
“We extended the contract one year more, but with the clause that one of the club or me may not use that extended contract. So, I will finish here on the original date, June 30.
“There has been a lot of speculation about things, but they (the club) are not doing anything behind me. I knew this one month ago. I don’t think it is good to have speculation about different things.”
The club statement quickly followed his comments. The move for Guardiola was quickly hailed as a masterstroke.
“He is one of the best managers in the world, no doubt about this,” said Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp.
“He had two big, big clubs where he has worked at and now he will do his job at Manchester City.”
Meanwhile, a source close to Manchester United “firmly denied” press reports that the club had made a late attempt to bring Guardiola to Old Trafford in place of their under-fire manager Louis van Gaal.
Guardiola’s appointment led to immediate speculation of a big-budget campaign by City to attract players such as Argentine megastar Lionel Messi.
But press reports said veteran midfielder Yaya Toure and Belgian centre back and captain Vincent Kompany could be on their way out.