Sitting high in the stands at Old Trafford in 2011, then Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola looked to his personal assistant and said: “I like this atmosphere. I could see myself coaching here one day.”
Now at German giants Bayern Munich, Guardiola’s personal ambition to one day manage Manchester United is again hitting the headlines in Spanish journalist Martí Perarnau’s latest book Pep Confidential.
Guardiola, who lifted 16 trophies in his four-year managerial tenure in Catalonia which ended in 2012, was a key factor in ‘tika-taka’s’ rise to prominence.
Perarnau had open-door access to Guardiola for the past year, and even though Louis van Gaal has just passed the three-month month in charge at United having signed a three-year deal, the admission is unlikely to go unnoticed by Old Trafford chiefs.
“From the start, Pep was well disposed to the overtures from the Bayern Munich,” Perarnau writes.
“A year before, in late July 2011, Barcelona competed in the Audi Cup in Munich.
“Pep liked the set-up at Bayern’s training complex, despite the fact that it was smaller than Barca’s training ground and had fewer technical facilities.
“I like this place. I could see myself coaching here one day. Pep had said something very similar a few months before, at Manchester United.
“The day after beating Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, Guardiola and Manel Estiarte travelled to Manchester to watch their next opponent in action.
“It was May, 2011, and the pair sat together in the stands of Old Trafford watching Sir Alex Ferguson’s team beat Schalke 4-1. Once again Pep had turned to his friend and said: ‘I like this atmosphere. I could see myself coaching here one day.’”
A true believer in total football, the Spaniard took a year long sabbatical from football upon leaving the Camp Nou in 2012, pondering the next step in his illustrious career.
But amid reported interest from Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester City, it was German monolith’s Bayern who clinched his signature on a three-year deal.
And Guardiola got off to a flying start in Bavaria, winning his first trophy of the season in his maiden competitive match by defeating Chelsea – managed by long-time adversary José Mourinho – in the Uefa Super Cup.
More success followed, and despite crashing out to Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League, the 43-year-old ended the season having won four trophies – including the Bundesliga title in record speed by mid-March.
Perarnau continues: “Guardiola has always felt a deep admiration, almost veneration, for the legendary teams and players of Europe.”
Although there is very little doubt that Guardiola will see out his contract in Bavaria, he does seem likely to move on once it is up.
There is also no doubt that United look to be back on the right tracks under Van Gaal after a year in the wilderness.
If the Dutchman succeeds in steadying the United ship in the seasons to come, Guardiola may well kick-start a new footballing dynasty in Manchester soon enough.
Main image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube, with thanks.