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Guardiola to Juventus: It makes zero sense, but managerial madness is entering new territory

Guardiola to Juventus: It makes zero sense, but managerial madness is entering new territory
It will be the seismic footballing shock of the summer: Pep Guardiola abandoning Premier League champions Manchester City to take over at Italian giants Juventus.

A move so huge it will eclipse even the biggest transfers involving star players such as Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe or Neymar.  

At least, that’s according to sections of the Italian press.

Rumors are rife that City boss Guardiola is moving to Turin, with some reports even naming the date he pens his contract with Juve (June 4) and his unveiling at the Allianz Stadium (June 14).

The terms are also specified: Pep has apparently agreed a four-year deal that will see him replace the recently-departed Massimiliano Allegri and pocket a cool $27 million a season managing Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. 

Manchester City, meanwhile, have dismissed reports of their boss ditching the Etihad for the Allianz Arena as “ridiculous.”

You would expect them to do so, of course, but in this case that is exactly what the claims appear to be: pie-in-the-sky nonsense with zero basis in reality.  

Look at the facts: Guardiola, 48, has just completed his third term as City manager and has a contract that runs until 2021.

He has guided the team to back-to-back Premier League titles, sealing an historic domestic treble this season.

He is working on a project at City – alongside director of football Txiki Begiristain, a friend and fellow ex-Barcelona stalwart – that has been carefully calibrated to provide the conditions for him to flourish there. 

It’s a plan that has so far produced dazzling results, with the current City team hailed as among the finest ever seen in the Premier League.

But it is also very much a work in progress.

Guardiola himself has acknowledged that the Champions League is where he will ultimately be judged, and is where he will be desperate to succeed with City.   

In short, the Spaniard’s work in England is far from done, and he has shown no sign whatsoever of wanting out at the Etihad. 

So why the rumors that a shock departure to Juve is imminent?

The answer appears to be combination of factors, from the mundane to the more intriguing.

There may well have been a whiff of rumor seized on by the Italian press, mixed with wishful thinking that one of the game’s biggest managerial names will be heading to Serie A.

Combine that with the basic desire to generate clicks and interest, and you have a story.

But beyond that, the case shows something more interesting at play.  

Wild speculation of big-money moves is nothing new in football, but is typically applied to players rather than the men who manage them.

That is now changing with the current blockbuster names leading some of Europe's biggest clubs.

Guardiola is at the forefront of those, but the same applies to other charismatic forces such as Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.  

They are media mainstays to rival the biggest names among the players they manage.

Something akin to a cult of personality surrounding them has been willfully built up by some in the press – partly based on the legitimate substance behind their achievements and managerial nous, but also in order to make them far more sellable as characters.   

As such, it makes sense to generate stories around them, true or otherwise. 

Regardless of whether or not they appear firmly settled and happy at their current clubs – as at least two of the trio named above do – the suggestion that they could have their heads turned by a rival is major news. 

And then we have the somewhat bizarre scenario that has emerged at many of Europe’s biggest clubs – Juventus included – where domestic glory is no guarantor of keeping your job.

Juve wrapped up their eighth consecutive Scudetto this season, but the league title is now the bare minimum expected of any manager there.

The same can be said of Barcelona under Ernesto Valverde, French champions PSG under the tutelage of Thomas Tuchel and German counterparts Bayern Munich under Niko Kovac; while they all remain in a job, it would cause little surprise if any exited this summer following disappointment on Europe’s biggest stage.

For these clubs, domestic dominance has become so assured that it is taken for granted, while European glory is the real benchmark. 

What that means is that jobs at some of Europe’s biggest teams are increasingly likely to open up, whereas before they would have appeared much safer.

The current managerial landscape is also distorted by some big beasts roaming in the background, currently out of work. 

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will be appointed manager of Inter Milan, but Jose Mourinho remains on the lookout for a job, with the express intention of starting in July.

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Former Real Madrid and Spain coach Julen Lopetegui is unemployed, as are others such as ex-PSG manager Laurent Blanc and longtime Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger (who admittedly has said he may not return to the dugout, but rather in a different capacity at a club). Maurizio Sarri is another big name who is employed but appears in a precarious position, in his case at Chelsea.  

All of that means more names to throw around, and more potential moves to tout. 

There have, of course, been many giants of coaching down the years whose sackings and new appointments have been big news.

But we are in an era that goes beyond that, partly due to the nature of the current generation of managers and the blockbuster attraction they command, but also the increasingly insatiable appetite for football news and the unstable managerial times in which we live. 

Essentially, we have a summer ripe for speculation about moves such as the one that foresees Guardiola upping sticks to Juve.

It makes zero sense, but expect plenty more of it.

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