If any City fans have been questioning exactly what Txiki Begiristain has been doing to justify his role as director of football, now you have your answer.
As the club were keen to emphasise in yesterday’s statement their pursuit of Pep Guardiola has been four years in the making and when Begiristain was being interviewed for the job in 2012 you can imagine the answer to the question, ‘what do you think you can bring to this job?’, was simply: Pep Guardiola.
Because for all the questionable activity in the transfer market, lack of synergy between first team and the academy, short of signing Lionel Messi, Begiristain has got City the man every other club on the planet – even Real Madrid – would want. It’s been the trump card he’s had tucked in his back pocket throughout Eliaquim Mangala, Stevan Jovetic and Fernando.
And although it’s behind schedule, Guardiola’s appointment for next season looks to be a stroke of genius because – Arsenal aside (although just how much longer will Arsene Wenger be in charge?) – the rest of City’s likely title rivals are in flux, and the field is wide open to establish the sort of dominance he’s enjoyed at Barca and Bayern.
The disconnect at United between corporate and football ambitions has led to £250m being spent with little return. Louis van Gaal almost certainly won’t be their manager next season and we are no closer to learning of his successor beyond the very real fact it could be Ryan Giggs. Or will this now force them to quash any deeply-held principles and do a deal to make Jose Mourinho a Red Devil?
Chelsea are running out of managers to appoint and assuming Diego Simeone will turn them down, Manuel Pellegrini is the likely next man in the dugout but inherits a squad in need of significant surgery and with their best player, in Eden Hazard, potentially leaving.
Jurgen Klopp should eventually get there with Liverpool, but another season without Champions League football will damage their chances of making significant acquisitions this summer. Tottenham are a genuine emerging force but the growing belief is they are still one or two years off and can Mauricio Pochettino keep Harry Kane at White Hart Lane?
That’s not to say City’s squad doesn’t need renovation; particularly in defence, moving Yaya Toure on (it’s painful just imagining him in Guardiola’s pressing game) and filling that midfield void plus at least one forward to lighten the load of Sergio Aguero, irrespective of Kelechi Iheanacho’s expected development curve.
When you add City’s financial strength with a coach pretty much every player on the planet wants to play for, it’s an intoxicating combination
But then Guardiola won’t be taking this job without knowing there’s a huge pot of gold for him to play with. When you add that financial strength with a coach pretty much every player on the planet wants to play for, it’s an intoxicating combination.
As well as the arrival of quality personnel and Guardiola possessing one of the sharpest tactical minds in the game, what will also be the key is a shift in attitude.
City have been drifting post-Roberto Mancini. Pellegrini has done an admirable job, but was always a short-term fix and his influence beyond the training ground and matchday has been minimal.
They now have a leader who is all-encompassing. Guardiola is an exhaustive micromanager, he will influence every detail at the club in order to make it more competitive, from academy to first-team level.
The rest of the Premier League must be very concerned right now.
The club’s surprise statement ends considerable speculation linking them with outgoing Bayern Munich boss Guardiola and over Pellegrini’s future.
Guardiola will take over from the start of the 2016-17 season having agreed a three-year contract with the club.
A statement from the club read: “Manchester City can confirm that in recent weeks it has commenced and finalised contractual negotiations with Pep Guardiola to become MCFC head coach for the 16/17 EPL season onwards.The contract is for three years.
“These negotiations were a re-commencement of discussions that were curtailed in 2012.
“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 Pellegrini, 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.”
Guardiola announced in December that he would leave current club Bayern Munich in May after three years at the helm, with an intention to coach in England next season.
The 45-year-old Guardiola notched up the treble of Champions League, German Cup and Bundesliga titles in 2013, but in the last two seasons, Bayern have exited the Champions League at the semi-final stage.
The ex-Spain international previously coached Barcelona from 2008-12, leading the Catalan giants to domestic and Champions League glory in a remarkable run of success.
The much-travelled Pellegrini, 62, signed for City in 2013, becoming the first Chilean to coach in the Premier League.
During his tenure, City have won 64 of the 99 games played. The only coach to have won more in his opening 99 Premier League games is Jose Mourinho (73).
Manchester City, who sit second in the Premier League behind Leicester, remain in the running for four trophies this season.
Chelsea captain John Terry has not been offered a new contract and looks set to leave at the end of the season.
The 35-year-old defender, who joined the club at the age of 14, has won four Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League with the Blues.
Here are some of the reactions to the announcement on Twitter.
John Terry reveals to the press that he'll leave Chelsea at the end of the season as club will not renew his contract. Could've told us.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 31, 2016
John Terry has just said that Chelsea will not renew his contract. He does not want to join another Eng club but will keep playing— Jeremy Wilson (@JWTelegraph) January 31, 2016
John Terry says he is leaving the club at the end of the season. Promised not to play for another english club. MLS bound?— ANDRES CANTOR (@AndresCantorGOL) February 1, 2016
Captain, Leader, Legend, Leaving. John Terry, talking at stadium mk now, says #cfc are not renewing his contract.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 31, 2016
Genuinely wouldn't be surprised if a Chinese Super League club offered John Terry even more money than any European / MLS team in the summer— sportingintelligence (@sportingintel) January 31, 2016
John Terry confirms post-match he is not having his contract renewed by #CFC. End of an era...— Dominic Fifield (@domfifield) January 31, 2016
Terry revealing he's leaving @CFC strongly suggests it wasn't his decision and he's not happy about it.— Matt Hughes (@MattHughesTimes) January 31, 2016
John Terry says he's leaving. Chelsea say he might get a contract after all. Chelsea fans have a right to feel like the club is winging this— Matt Somerford (@somerfjord) February 1, 2016