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Pep talk begins as the big clubs close in

By Jim Gracey

Published 17/12/2015

Job on line: Manuel Pellegrini favourite to be replaced by Pep Guardiola next season
Job on line: Manuel Pellegrini favourite to be replaced by Pep Guardiola next season

Wanted man Pep Guardiola can take his pick from any one of four Premier League club management jobs after signalling his intention to leave Bayern Munich this summer.

The two Manchester clubs, City and United, Chelsea and even Arsenal have been put on alert for an expected announcement from former Barcelona coaching genius Guardiola as to his future intentions following Bayern's Bundesliga encounter with Hannover on Saturday.

City are the early favourites to land the 44-year-old Spaniard. City director of football, Txiki Begiristain, and the club's chief executive, Ferran Soriano, both have a long-standing friendship with Guardiola from their time together at Barcelona and the pair have convinced City's Abu Dhabi hierarchy that they can lure the Bayern coach to the Etihad.

And that being the case, rivals United would be double losers with Bayern ready to hand Carlo Ancelotti the task of replacing Guardiola as manager at the Allianz Arena.

United would have to sack under-pressure Louis van Gaal to lure either Guardiola or Ancelotti, both of whom are multiple Champions League winners.

Former Chelsea boss Ancelotti has made clear his admiration for United and ambition to manage at Old Trafford, but with Van Gaal still in a job at the club, he could be forced to wait until June 2017 - when the Dutchman's contract is due to expire - to take the position.

But with Ancelotti lined up by Bayern and City in the leading position to land Guardiola, United could be faced with a lack of credible options should the increasing pressure on Van Gaal force a change of management at the club.

Current United No2 Ryan Giggs, whose association with Van Gaal’s regime has led to his stock falling somewhat, could return to being the leading candidate.

With senior figures at Bayern losing patience with Guardiola’s refusal to resolve his future at the club, moves have already been made to secure Ancelotti as his successor, with Bayern determined to avoid a period of uncertainty at the club.

Ancelotti, out of work since being sacked by Real Madrid at the end of last season, is understood to have already been offered the opportunity to succeed Guardiola. That is a blow to Manchester United, who could soon also be looking for a new manager and would see Guardiola as the obvious alternative.

In an interview last week, the Italian admitted his desire to return to work next summer, having chosen to spend a year out of the game after his departure from Real, whom he guided to Champions League glory in 2014.

While Ancelotti had been keen to work again in the Premier League, following a successful two-year spell at Chelsea, the opportunity to take charge of Bayern is likely to prove too great a position to reject in order to wait for the potential chance to succeed Van Gaal at United.

Ancelotti has already turned down a lucrative offer to succeed Andre Villas-Boas as Zenit St Petersburg coach, but Bayern are prepared to offer the 56-year-old a two-year deal with the challenge of restoring the club to European champions.

Bayern could announce their managerial plans as early as this weekend owing to an increasing frustration with the perception that they are allowing Guardiola to control the situation. On Tuesday Guardiola, when asked about his future, said: “Tonight, I have no answer. Next week, you will know the answer. Next week there will be clarity.”

Guardiola has made no secret of his desire to work in the Premier League at some stage of his career.

And although the current City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, was given a one-year contract extension in August, securing him to the club until June 2017, the Chilean would make way for Guardiola next summer should City persuade him to make the move.

Belfast Telegraph

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