Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City could land Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

By Ian Herbert

Brendan Rodgers could have a decision to make about the Manchester City manager's job this summer if Ancelotti and Pep bids fail.

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 today would strengthen his position, as much as 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 Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Liverpool came from the man himself yesterday.

The only real certainty surrounds the type of manager City would want to replace Pellegrini.

The philosophy of attacking, attractive, possession-based football which 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 makes Ulsterman 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 selected to take over at Barcelona after they sacked Frank Rijkaard and who subsequently took the club to the top in Europe.

Soriano's and Begiristain's reputations in football are underpinned by what Guardiola achieved in that time.

The Spaniard, whose contract expires next summer, appeared to declare himself unavailable yesterday.

"I am very happy at Bayern," he said.

"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" - 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 Roberto 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 redrawing 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 of the value attached to loyalty by supporters of his current club.

Though City may be 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 that has earned him the affection of the 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 Diego Simeone is unlikely, because his Atletico Madrid side do not play the Soriano/Begiristain way.

The elevation of Patrick Vieira, presently elite development squad manager, is a possibility, but contrary to reports by Spain's AS paper, there has been no contact between City and Rafael Benitez, whose successful Napoli tenure ends this summer.

Pellegrini yesterday delivered the most emotive performance of his 21-month tenure as Manchester City manager, declaring that the way his team develop - not the trophies won - is the real measure of progress.

He also insisted the club's Abu Dhabi owners are not "desperate" for silverware this season.

The Chilean quoted the "five trophies in five seasons" target Soriano publicly set after hiring him and insisted: "I was never told I must win a title every year."

For a manager who is usually so taciturn and has made an art form of saying nothing in his press conferences, Pellegrini's defence of his work suggested he feels his Etihad position is under threat.

City, who entertain Leicester City tonight, have fallen five points adrift of Chelsea after playing one more game.

Pellegrini, who won the Premier League title and Capital One Cup in his first year in charge, added: "There are different ways to analyse the season. The title is important but it is not the only important thing."

Premier League: Man City v Leicester,  Etihad Stadium, 7.45pm.

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