The Lead

Though Halloween is over as evidenced by the putrid pumpkins and soggy cardboard skeletons that litter our city streets, a lone ghost lingers over the European football world (this is my journalism school lead sentence—do you like it?). His stylistic preferences haunt elite sides to this day, and now he’s been spotted hovering over two of England’s biggest clubs. From the Telegraph this morning:

Guardiola, the former Barcelona manager, has reportedly told close associates that he is open to the idea of taking over at Stamford Bridge when he ends his self-imposed sabbatical next summer.

The 41 year-old quit the Nou Camp earlier this year after securing 14 titles in four seasons and was sounded out by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich before opting to spend the next 12 months in New York with his family.

Where, incidentally, he was also reportedly approached by David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson last month over the possibility of the latter when he finally retires as manager of Manchester United.

But that’s not the only object of his perhaps entirely-made-up fancy. Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was forced to respond to rumours his job could be in jeopardy thanks to Pep’s advances following City’s appointment of Barca’s former technical director, Txiki Begiristain. Mancini said on Friday:

“I’m very happy because we have a new sporting director (Begiristain), he worked for Barca and has big experience with a top team. I have my job, Txiki will have his job, Ferran has his job but together I think we can work.

“If you write that maybe next year we (City) arrive with Guardiola or another manager, I don’t know, this is not my problem.”

So Pep Guardiola via preternatural retirement from Barcelona has now morphed into a kind of managerial boogeyman, a device for anxious chairmen and needling reporters to imply, “You’d better start winning games or Pep’s going to come and take your job!” I’m no child development expert, but I’m pretty sure the ‘fear-reinforcement’ approach doesn’t work. It adds to job stress, undermines confidence, and leaves children screaming in a pool of their own tears and, I dunno, fear-induced vomit.

Moreover, it really doesn’t reflect well on either football’s leading chairmen or the assembled press corps to speak of Guardiola like he’s football’s unstoppable, Doom-like character, who will simply win everything once he’s put in charge of any club, anywhere (you’re thinking of Mourinho). His only managerial stint has been with Barcelona, and his success may be in part down to his intimate, life-long mastery of the Barcelona approach, with its current crop of elite La Masia graduates. It’s possible, just possible, this approach may not translate to a gilded, Galacticos-like side like Chelsea or Manchester City.

But that’s just me. I’m sure everyone in football knows better, so carry on…


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