IAN LADYMAN: Why Pep Guardiola should stay at Manchester City


IAN LADYMAN: Pep Guardiola should STAY at Man City. He’s a great coach facing his greatest challenge and needs to rise to it – just as Sir Alex Ferguson did when United were rivalled

  • Manchester City have not matched the dizzying heights of the last two years 
  • Pep Guardiola should reboot and stay at the club to overcome the next challenge
  • Irrespective of the result, Jurgen Klopp should’ve been in the dugout in midweek
  • After Jose Mourinho’s comical rant, fourth officials should change positions  

Pep Guardiola is being cryptic about his future and his history tells us Manchester City supporters should be mildly concerned.

He did four seasons at Barcelona and then took a year off. He then did three years at Bayern Munich.

Not the kind of manager who will remain in the profession for ever — there is too much other stuff he wishes to do — it would surprise nobody if Guardiola does not stay beyond the terms of his current City contract, which expires at the end of next season.

Pep Guardiola’s contract at Manchester City is due to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season

Currently, he is doing what he does when his team are not producing the perfection he craves. He is seeing things in the shadows that are not there.

This weekend he suggested Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty was saved at Spurs because Hugo Lloris moved too early off his line. He says they have different interpretations of the law in the Premier League as opposed to Europe.

Lloris did indeed move but Guardiola’s subsequent point was abstract even by his own standards and overlooks the fact it was just a bad penalty taken by the wrong player. Who knows? Maybe it was even his own fault. He is the coach, after all.

The Spanish coach has not stayed longer than four years at either of his previous two clubs 

The previous week, Guardiola had advocated scrapping the Carabao Cup, which I am sure was appreciated by Aston Villa fans who charged on to the pitch to celebrate their thrilling semi-final victory over Leicester a few days later.

So we know what we are seeing here. We are seeing a manager feeling the pressure, a man struggling to understand why everything isn’t falling into place like it did last season and the one before that.

And that’s exactly why I hope he does stay. Into next year and beyond. It is marvellous to watch a Guardiola team play with perfect synchronicity. 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are champions-elect with a 22-point lead over holders Man City

At their best, City remain marginally better to watch even than Liverpool. But equally fascinating in a different way is watching great managers when they are not winning. This, in some ways, is an even greater test of their talents. 

Sir Alex Ferguson never had it all his own way once trophies started flowing at Manchester United. 

But on each occasion, whether it be to the frustration of Arsenal, Chelsea or City, he found a way back to the summit. This is the challenge facing Guardiola now.

When he is struggling it is hard to take your eyes off him. His emotions are so transparent, you feel like you are looking straight into his soul. He would be an awful poker player.

Sir Alex Ferguson bounced back to win the title after Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City emerged

It was like this in his first season, a time when the media were accused of revelling in his battle to impose his style on his City team. We weren’t revelling in it at all, merely enjoying the sight of a great coach facing a great challenge.

I hope it is the same this summer and into next season and beyond. I hope we get to witness a Guardiola reboot. I suspect I may be wrong but I hope not.

People at City have moved mountains to give him the environment he demanded at the Etihad. If he does walk as soon as the wind changes, I am not sure what it would really say about him.

There is a viewpoint that says Liverpool’s defeat of Shrewsbury in the FA Cup vindicated Jurgen Klopp’s decision not to attend the game.

The truth is that the result is irrelevant.

Liverpool beat the League One club with a scratch side at Anfield which went some way to calming the debate about whether the manager of the first team actually had to be there.

Jurgen Klopp wasn’t present for Liverpool’s FA Cup win in midweek – but he should’ve been 

Nevertheless, he categorically should have been. Firstly, it is Klopp’s job to manage the team and somebody at Anfield should have reminded him of that.

Secondly, what message does it send to Liverpool’s young players that the man they look up to above all others at the club did not fancy interrupting his holiday to witness the biggest night of their careers?

Fourth officials are actively encouraged to have a dialogue with managers on the touchline but it is hard to see what they get out of it.

Jose Mourinho’s impression of a man who had left his cat inside a burning house at Tottenham last weekend was perhaps a new low point for the profession. 

In dashing from his dugout to try to get Raheem Sterling sent off, Mourinho looked more ridiculous than ever before. And the bar was already pretty high.

Jose Mourinho was fuming that Raheem Sterling was not shown a second booking last week

So what is to be done about it? The managers are incapable of self-policing and don’t care enough anyway while the match referees seem to think their colleagues on the touchline are fair game for whatever intimidation and verbal flagellation comes their way.

The only answer is to take the fourth officials out of the line of fire. Ask them to stand somewhere else entirely.

If the managers wish to shout and scream, let them do it to each other. The rest of us can then get on with the game.

Sunday’s postponement at the Etihad Stadium due to Storm Ciara means Manchester City will probably have two matches in hand on Liverpool by the time they miss another Premier League game — to face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final on March 1. 

If nothing else, it should serve to drag the title race out for another week or two. 

Maybe we will make it to Easter after all. 

Manchester City’s game against West Ham was postponed due to the impact of Storm Ciara

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