Barcelona’s goalless draw with AC Milan in Italy that leaves a Champions League semi-final place some way away for the Catalan club won’t be the biggest source of concern for Barça fans at the moment. Not by some margin.
Instead, it’s Pep Guardiola set to go into April still failing to have renewed his contract which expires this summer. Whilst his players have been calling for Pep to put pen to paper on what is a rolling deal, the Barça boss is still trying to decide whether he has the energy and enthusiasm for an exhausting fifth campaign at the Camp Nou in charge of arguably the best club in the world.
With Guardiola’s future still in some doubt, possible replacements have begun to be bandied around should the manager’s response to his bosses offer of another season be a negative one. Here’s just three of the names that have been brought up and mulled over in the gossip-loving Spanish press.
With Guardiola’s future still in some doubt, possible replacements have begun to be bandied around should the manager’s response to his bosses offer of another season be a negative one.
The strong favourite by far. Enrique left Barcelona ‘B’ last summer - where Guardiola began his Camp Nou career - to take over at Roma, where the former Real Madrid and Barcelona forward has made a decent fist at a high pressure job in Serie A.
In Enrique’s advantage, the potential coach is a Masia man who lead the team’s second side to fifth, second and third in Spain’s second division and is now a manager who has added ‘big club’ experience to his CV. However, a feisty Enrique is thought to have rubbed a few people up the wrong way in his time at Barcelona and may not be a popular choice in some institutional parts.
One of Pep Guardiola’s managerial mentors who would certainly get the nod of approval from his potential predecessor. Bielsa is currently performing an experiment at Athletic Bilbao by melding the high pressure, passing game of Barça onto a Basque DNA of designed for furious, physical football. The two wins against Manchester United showed that the Argentinean is having some success in his experiment.
However, it’s unlikely that Bielsa would want to leave the Basque country having been entrusted with the role by a new president who took some risk in making the move last summer. It’s possibly even more unlikely that Bielsa would want a brand new job with Barcelona where speaking to the media and being under constant scrutiny come with the gig, two things that Bielsa hates. Oh, then there’s the fact that Bielsa is quite, quite, mad.
Not as silly as the suggestion sounds, after all AVB was recently spotted in the stands at one of the club’s ‘B’ team games. A bruising spell in charge at Chelsea - a club where many a great name have come a cropper - may have dented the reputation of a promising, intelligent coach in England but on the continent the former Porto boss is still seen as a smart cookie with a bright future. The Barcelona job would be institutionally less challenging that that the short-lived experience at Stamford Bridge as no major squad overhaul is required at Barcelona and the draining dressing room battles that requires.
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