The Lead

Depending on who you believe (which, by all accounts, really shouldn’t include Guillem Balague), Pep Guardiola seems intent to start managing again next season following his “sabbatical” in New York.

The Guardian reports he loves the Premier League. That said, it’s not clear the former Barcelona coach has done his homework. He said this for example ahead of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebration:

“I’ve always found English football very fascinating, for the environment, the crowd and the supporters,” Guardiola said. “In Italy, Latin people will support you when you are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England I’m always surprised that people always support everything and that is nice. That’s why, maybe, I hope to have the challenge or the opportunity to train there.

Now while it’s true that, for the most part, English football supporters don’t travel to grounds and hold players hostage. Those days, for better or worse, have been gentrified right out the game.

Instead, the English gentry is more comfortable with chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing,” “Sacked in the morning,” and various banners or, more commonly these days it seems, 8 1/2 x 11 print outs with nasty epithets on them. It’s ironic after all that the same day Roman Abramovich’s hopes and dreams declared for England, his likely Chelsea predecessor told reporters:

“You have a word in English: manager,” said Benítez. “The manager has to manage and consider everything, and afterwards he has to decide. I talk with my staff, the players, and I have all the feedback and information. Then I make a decision. I consider everything before making a decision. I told you about Fernando’s stomach problems last week, and about Ba’s slight problem, and I was not making excuses. I was telling you something you didn’t know, but still people criticise me for the decisions I made despite the fact Demba Ba had a niggle.

Essentially in England—as with everywhere else in the world—fans only support you if you are winning. And even then it might not be enough. Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in English history, and leader of first place Manchester United, still has to answer as to why Ryan Giggs is still allowed to play football. Pep will get a honeymoon for the ages should he arrive there this August, but as soon as Chelsea pair a couple of Ls—even in games that Chelsea has outshot and out-played its opponents—expect a Daily Mail story on his poncy Euro GQ tactical notebook.

England

QPR to secure signings of Loic Remy and Yann M’Vila by the end of this week.

Michael Johnson reveals he suffers from mental health issues, contributed to his decline.

Guardiola sees his future in England.

Ferguson says feigning injury and diving set bad examples for youngsters.

Italy

Sneijder refuses to make a hasty decision regarding his future.

Palermo eyeing Gala’s Baros to avoid relegation.

AC Milan escape punishment for walking off the pitch against Pro Patria.

La Liga

Messi says he’s grown considerably since his first Ballon d’Or.

Chelsea’s Lucas Piazon joins Malaga on loan.

According to Guillem Balague, Guardiola in advanced talks with Bayern.

Germany

Schalke 04 confirm the signing of Brazilian midfielder Raffael from Dynamo Kiev.

Santana says he won’t leave Dortmund despite rumours.

Robben fit and ready for the second half of the Bundesliga season.

MLS

‘Livestrong’ no longer part of Sporting KC’s stadium name.

Bit and Bobs

Scotland’s new manager hopes to emulate the German model.

A look at the Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Iranian teammates sent off for brawl.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.