Pep Guardiola today gave his clearest signal yet that his next job will be in the Premier League when the former Barcelona coach said that he wanted to manage in England having never fulfilled his dream to play there.
Guardiola, 41, has been at a coaching seminar at St George's Park, the FA's national football centre, over the past two days, along with, among others, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, who this week also stated his desire to return to the Premier League. Guardiola became the latest big figure to congratulate the Football Association on its 150th anniversary – the celebrations for which begin today at Wembley.
Currently on a sabbatical after four seasons in charge of Barcelona – during which he won three league titles and two Champions Leagues – Guardiola had hitherto said little about his future. He is the favoured candidate at Chelsea, who failed to appoint him in the summer. Should Manchester City decide to make a change it would seem inevitable that their two high-ranking former Barcelona executives, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, would choose Guardiola.
But arguably the greatest prize is if Ferguson quits United within the next two years. Getting that job would require Guardiola to be available when the 71-year-old incumbent finally calls it a day. Speaking to the FA's in-house media, he left little doubt that his next job would be in the Premier League.
He said: "As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there [in England]. But I hope in the future I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there. It is unique, to play in that league. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players and everything.
"I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could be able to train there and enjoy that. I've always found English football very fascinating.
"The support is amazing. In Italy, Latin people will support you when they are playing well and when you lose, they kill you. In England, I'm always surprised that people always support everything and that is nice. That's why, maybe, I hope to have the challenge or the opportunity to train there."
So far, the FA has rolled out a stellar cast to mark the beginning of its 150th celebrations, with more expected today at Wembley. As well as famous English figures from the game, there will be foreign footballers who have played a key role in the domestic game, especially the FA Cup, including Patrick Vieira.
Guardiola played at the old Wembley for Barcelona in their 1992 European Cup final win over Sampdoria. His second Champions League triumph as a manager in 2011 was at the new stadium. "That's why my relationship with England is pretty close."
The FA has also announced the launch of a national football day on 10 August, in the name of the late Sir Bobby Robson, to increase participation and raise money for his foundation. His widow, Lady Elsie Robson, said: "He'd have loved that."
Guardiola job odds
6-5 Bayern Munich
3-1 Manchester City
9-1 Manchester United
25-1 Milan, Paris St-Germain
33-1 Anzhi, Inter, Juventus, England
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