The English Premier League is big stakes, big money, and big personalities, so I should not be surprised that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan is bringing in Pep Guardiola to replace Manuel Pellegrini as manager at Manchester City. After all, they pursued him in 2012 before he joined Bayern Munich and by all accounts told him they wanted him when he was ready.
But it is still pretty fascinating that Man City is dropping a pretty successful manager in Manuel Pellegrini. Yes, Pep is the hot ticket these days. And clearly he is on a mission to get into the EPL, as heading Barcelona and Bayern Munich -- two of the finest clubs on the planet -- apparently did not satisfy him. Consider that not only did the team win the league title and the FA cup once each within Pellegrini's three year window the team, they will also finish in the top four in the league every year. And they made it to the semi finals in the Champions League this year.
Perhaps the owner expected more, especially after the club won the league title and the cup in Pellegrini's first year. He has managed the team when many of his players were in their prime ages of 26 to 29 years-old. The one line of reasoning that makes sense for me is that the Man City roster is now getting old. Most of the everyday players are between 30 and 34 years old. Maybe bringing in a new manager now at the front end of a roster transition is a good idea.
But Guardiola left Barcelona when most of his everyday players were still in their mid to late 20s, so he has not had to manage an age-based transition like this before. When he joined Barca in 2008 a lot of the core players were already on the roster (Messi, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Alves, Puyol, Pedro, Pique, Valdes, Dos Santos). Granted they added some great players at both Barca and Bayern when he was at the helm, but Barca was a young squad and Bayern's current squad, while starting to age in spots, has more young players and is younger on average that Man City's.
Perhaps Pep's tenure at FC Barcelona B, where he managed many of Barca's young stars before they were promoted, holds some attraction as Man City looks to transition?
But I suspect it was a 'win now' decision more than an investment in the future. It will be interesting to watch Guardiola manage an aging roster while under what will be intense pressure and high expectations from the club's owner and fans.