Rumours that Manchester City are lining up Pep Guardiola to take over from Manuel Pelligrini have intensified following a report from the well sourced Middle East sports station BeIn sport that a “deal has been done”. But both City and Guardiola’s current employers Bayern Munich both issued hasty denials.
Up until his announcement to the contrary on Monday lunchtime the bookies were convinced Guardiola would be City’s next permanent manager, Sky Bet offering the hugely short odds of 1/5.
Next in the frame is Jurgen Klopp at at 7/1, then Carlo Ancelotti at 10/1, Patrick Viera 10/1 and Diego Simeone at 20/1.
If nothing else the odds highlight how Guardiola is currently revered as the world’s best coach – some naively salivating at the extent of the man’s powers.
Yes he is obviously a top coach but as Lionel Messi proved last week it’s magic players that ultimately make the difference now know matter how clever the boss is with his coaching wand.
After all it helped Guardiola no end to have magic man Messi to build his reputation as a coach when he took up his first senior managerial role at Barcelona.
To be fair to Guardiola – and this is one of his strengths – he is not sucked in by the all froth and hype that see some assert he has mystical powers of some sort. Indeed before last week’s Champions League first leg clash between Bayern and Barca at his old Nou Camp stomping ground Guardiola warned that it was virtually impossible to stop Messi.
On that front Guardiola was proved correct as Messi triggered Bayern’s late collapse with two superbly executed goals then set up Neymar to make it 3-0 and seemingly put the tie beyond Bayern and take Barca to the final.
But as brilliant as Messi was again Bayern were authors of their own demise and that was partly down to Guardiola.
He conceded he had got his tactics wrong at the start by switching from a back three to a back four after just 15 minutes with Bayern all over the shop.
It seemed strange that a man with such intimate knowledge of the Barca way could have got his strategy so wrong from the outset.
Guardiola was quick to re-group which displayed his ability to act decisively from the touchline. Another of his many attributes.
But his insistence on playing such a high line defensively against forwards such as Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar seemed destined to be punished. So it proved. And savagely . It caused Gary Lineker to slam the strategy as naïve.
There would seem no way back for Bayern but for those who believe in Guardiola the Guru then Bet 365 are offering 25/1 for them to win 3-0 and take the game into extra time.
The other semi final is obviously more finely balanced with Juventus taking a 2-1 lead to Real Madrid.
It’s bound to be tense and Madrid showed signs of feeling the strain when they only drew 2-2 with Valencia to put Barca in command of La Liga.
Juve know how to defend in the grand Italian tradition of Catanacio, so 0-0 at 12/1 is worth considering.
A 2-1 Bayern win taking the game into extra time is 9/1.