For it being such a huge event in the Premier League’s recent history, the announcement was somewhat understated.
Of course you’ve probably heard the news by now— Pep Guardiola will be the new manager at Manchester City starting next season.
According to the club’s statement, negotiations have been ongoing for the past few weeks and the talks mostly picked up where they left off the last time City tried to sign Pep in 2012. The paperwork for the three year deal has been signed and finalized.
The club also said the decision was made public now out of respect for Manuel Pellegrini, who of course is out of a job at the end of this season.
“Out of respect for Manuel Pellegrini and the players, the Club wishes to make its decision public to remove the unnecessary burden of speculation. Manuel, who is fully supportive of the decision to make this communication, is entirely focused on achieving his targets for the season ahead and retains the respect and commitment of all involved with the leadership of the Club.”
Pellegrini himself took a few moments out of his press conference in advance of the team’s league fixture against Sunderland to address the change.
“Before I finish, I want to tell you I have talked with the club and I will finish my contract on the original date. The club are not doing anything behind me, I knew this one month ago, but I don’t think it’s good to have rumour or speculation about these things, so I prefer to finish today, which I why I have told the players and I have told the press. I also spoke to the club two weeks ago and said that I would do it.”
Guardiola announced in December that he would be leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season. Last month he made it clear he was likely moving to a Premier League club, although he wouldn’t specify which one at the time. City were nearly always touted as the front-runners to land him given the resources at their disposal and several former Barcelona employees in executive positions, so while this is big news it’s not particularly surprising.
Pep’s reputation precedes him, but it’s worth noting again what he’s bringing to the Premiership. The architect of tiki-taka, the brains behind Barcelona’s ascendency in the late aughts, Guardiola served just four years on the touchline at the Camp Nou (not counting his season in charge of Barça B) and in that short period of won fourteen trophies, including three La Liga titles and two Champions League titles. After taking a year off to clear his head, he succeeded Jupp Heynckes at Bayern following their treble-winning 2012-13 season. Under Pep, Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga but have since been unable to replicate success in Europe, having gone out in the semifinals twice.
There’s a lot of hyperbole swirling around on the internet in the wake of the announcement— quelle surprise— but only some of it is disproportional to the news itself. Pep’s move to City dramatically shifts the balance of power in the Premier League in a way that nothing else has since… well, since City was bought out by wealthy oil barons. Perhaps the key quality that set the Premier League apart from the other big top flight leagues in Europe, apart from the money, was that there is no presumptive champion year in and year out. La Liga is always going to be a two- or three-horse race for the title. In Germany, France, and Italy, one team in each top division has had a vice grip on the title for the past few years (although Juventus is getting more of a fight than usual this season) and that will likely be the state of affairs for the foreseeable future. The Premier League has been, for the most part, a fairly competitive race at the top. There are four, maybe five teams who have a legitimate shot at the title, one of whom barely escaped relegation last season. The Premier League has been fun to watch in part because the title race wasn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion.
With Pep’s move to Manchester City, the days of a competitive title race in the Premier League may be drawing to a close.