Insider: Guardiola to Manchester City and Mourinho to...

Pep Guardiola

Exclusive: Jenny Leigh reports on the summer plans of two highly sought-after managers, with Manchester City and Chelsea on their horizons.

I have no idea where Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho or his former Barcelona counterpart Pep Guardiola will be vacationing this summer. I have, however, been told that Mourinho will likely be returning to Stamford Bridge before the start of next season and that Guardiola is being lined up to take over the reigns at Manchester City.

Firstly, this is the same source that revealed Daniel Sturridge’s ‘done deal’ to Liverpool in the first week of December, long before the club officially announced the signing from Chelsea this month. This is the same source that correctly called the Fernando Torres transfer months in advance of the Spaniard’s £50 million move in the opposite direction back in 2011.

There is no ‘formula’ to predicting these things – but inside information can help piece together a puzzle until the picture starts to look a little clearer.

Lets look at the logistics of the moves – Jose Mourinho will almost definitely leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.

He’s lost large and powerful sections of the dressing room, along with a sizeable chunk of the fan-base and the current La Liga title holders now find themselves 3rd in the Spanish league table, 5 points behind Atletico Madrid and an astonishing 16 points behind the leaders Barcelona.

The former Chelsea manager tends to stay at one club for not more than two or three years – he left Porto after 2 years, Chelsea after 3, Inter Milan after 2, and he’s coming up to his third year in charge of Real Madrid. I can’t see him, especially in light of the season he’s having there, breaking a habit of a lifetime (or managerial career, at least).

Meanwhile, Chelsea fired Roberto Di Matteo after a slight dip in form in the team that he won the Champions League and FA Cup with last term and they brought in Rafael Benitez. The Chelsea fans are not Benitez fans, to put it politely, and the main factor in bringing him in was to get Fernando Torres to liven up.

Roman Abramovich spent £50 million bringing him from Benitez’ former club Liverpool where he had been one of the best strikers in the world – now he’s not even the best striker at Chelsea Football Club and, with the pressure now on the Spaniard in the form of January acquisition Demba Ba, the Spaniard will likely jump or be pushed from the club in the summer.

He’ll likely make way for Radamel Falcao who is the reason Atletico Madrid are ahead of their Real rivals this season and with no need for Torres, there’s no need for Benitez either – Chelsea are keen to bring back their ‘special one’.

They will, however, face competition from Paris Saint-Germain who are monitoring the unrest at Real Madrid with glee. They want him to replace another former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti but my source tells me Mourinho wants to go back to Stamford Bridge and win the Champions League for his third time with the Blues.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s sabbatical has to come to an end at some point and my source claims it will be this summer and that he will almost certainly move to Manchester City.

The former Barcelona coach has been biding him time and weighing up his options, of which there are many – AC Milan have courted him, but he is understood to be underwhelmed by the recent corruption scandals in Italy and is thought to prefer a move to the Premier League.

He wants to go to a club where he can build and become the architect of a project. He also wants job security, which is why he has no interest in taking over at Chelsea (I’m also told he was asked before Benitez) because they get through almost a manager a season and he wants to be able to build a lasting legacy somewhere.

Manchester City, despite their big-spending, are a club with a more ethical philosophy, which is really important to the Spaniard. FC Barcelona is for the Catalan people a representation of their opposition to the fascist General Franco regime in Spain which, in many ways, delivered Real Madrid the success they had and are still enjoying today – Franco’s financing of the club made it almost an unofficial sports wing of the anti-communist far-right Falange movement.

Barcelona operates in the exact opposite manner – their grow your own talent policy within what is at its core a socialist model at the Nou Camp and, having spent 23 years of his life at the club between the ages of 12 and 40, Guardiola is completely conditioned to function within the club’s philosophy and framework.

His preference is to take over at City because he believes he can build an empire there – he can build physically in the form of visible structures and new facilities and he can build teams and squads and scouting networks and youth academies to rival that of Barca’s. He wants to find himself a home away from home and, according to my source, Manchester City will offer him that. He would also get the chance to work with former colleague Txiki Begiristan again, who was last year handed a role in the City boardroom.

Roberto Mancini has won the Premier League but his failure to win a single game in the Champions League this term and their early exit from the competition at the group stage yet again puts his position at the club under pressure.

He’s now fallen behind Manchester United in the league and they’re out of the League Cup which now means they are realistically only chasing the FA Cup now, unless United go on an unforeseen losing streak in the league.

There is an acceptance that he’s tried his best and achieved good results but the club will replace him in search of something greater than that and Guardiola is the man they want to take them forward.

image: © tpower1978

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