Man City may turn to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers if Manuel Pellegrini is dismissed
Brendan Rodgers could have a decision to make about the Manchester City manager’s job this summer if he is interested in such deliberations.
Manuel Pellegrini’s position is contingent on City’s owners believing that the club is moving forward under their current manager. An emphatic win in Barcelona two weeks tomorrow could strengthen his position as much a surge of Premier League form allowing the champions to challenge Chelsea. But the club appear stuck, signings have failed and the only loud re-endorsements of him, in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat at Liverpool, have come from the man himself today.
The only real certainty surrounds the type of candidate City would want to replace Pellegrini. The philosophy of attacking, attractive, possession-based football which the club’s chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain want for the club remains little less than an obsession – and it is the relative shortage of top class managers capable of bringing that which make Rodgers a prime candidate.
Needless to say, Pep Guardiola would be the top choice for City as he would be for any club if he were available. You will not find anyone at City denying the appeal. Soriano and Begiristain know him better than any other manager. He was the one the pair together selected to take over after they sacked Frank Rikjaard at Barcelona and who subsequently took Barcelona to the top of Europe. Soriano and Begiristain’s reputation in football is underpinned by what he achieved in that time.
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Guardiola, whose contract expires next summer, appeared to declare himself unavailable today. "I am very happy at Bayern. It’s not an option that I leave this summer. I have a contract. I have not received offers and neither do I expect to," he said, though there is also no sign of him extending his original three year deal signed in 2013
If Guardiola is as good as his word, Rodgers is the manager who carries most appeal. “We like him very much,” Soriano told me two years ago. City wanted him as Mancini’s assistant in 2009. They took Rodgers to a hotel in Sardinia to meet him with a view to that happening, though Mancini wanted his own people. The Spaniards running City have not failed to notice his tactical ability this winter, as he has redrawn his formation to compensate for the absence of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
City’s problem would be persuading Rodgers to join them, because he is acutely aware the value attached to loyalty by supporters of his current club. Though City may be able the only one of the two clubs able to offer Rodgers Champions League football next season, it would take a brave individual to become the first manager to leave Anfield for another English club - undoing all the work he has done to earn himself the affection of the great club’s fans.
If neither Guardiola nor Rodgers is available, City could turn to Carlo Ancelotti, whose challenging relationship with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has always made a return to England possible and who has a personal attachment to Britain – albeit London. The prospect of a move for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone are unlikely, because the Atletico Madrid side do not play the Soriano/Begiristain way.
The elevation of Patrick Vieira, presently elite development squad manager, is a possibility – a move City had hoped they would not have to consider just yet. Contrary to reports by Spain’s AS paper, there has been no contact between City and Rafael Benitez, though the Spaniard will be available for work after his successful Napoli tenure ends this summer.
The task of persuading Rodgers to make the short move east would be a challenging one. But his retrieval of Liverpool’ situation under immense personal pressure last autumn makes him arguably manager of the season if Liverpool continue on their trajectory. If Pellegrini leaves, City will try.