When Guardiola took over at Barcelona, his only previous coaching experience was in the Catalan's clubs youth teams. Nowadays things are rather different, and whilst the consensus has been that he wouldn't return to management for at least a year after quitting Barcelona, there have still been rumours linking him to several English clubs.
In a way, Manchester City are doing everything they can to invite that speculation to their club. Txiki Begiristain has now been appointed as their new director of football. Begiristain is the man often credited with appointing Guardiola after Fank Rijaard left Barcelona. In his new role he will report to Soriano, who was also a director at Barcelona when Guardiola was approached. With Guardiola currently on a break from management, and Roberto Mancini under increasing pressure after a disastrous start to City's Champions League campaign, many observers are suggesting the move for Begiristain may presage Guardiola's arrival.
Clearly there are many reasons why this is still very unlikely. Begiristain has been appointed beacuse of his excellent record at Barcelona, not just as a lure to Guardiola. Manchester City are clearly trying to adopt many of the traits that have made the Catalan club so successful, with a new training centre forged along the lines of La Masia already in place, but this doesn't necessarily extend to chasing Guardiola. Mancini is still the man who won them the league last year, and if his tinkering can settle down, City could well end up with plenty of silverware this year.
Also there is no indication of how favourably Guardiola would receive an approach from the blue half of Manchester. He stated when he left Barcelona that he wanted time off, and it is still difficult to see him at any club but the one he left. Manchester City could no doubt offer him a decent financial package, but I doubt he would be left short at any of the top clubs he could go too.
All in all, I would suggest the appointment of Begiristain, to go with that of Soriano, suggest simply that Manchester City are picking up some of the best backroom staff available, rather than anything else. The club has made huge strides off the pitch under the new owners, and are looking to set themselves up as one of the biggest sides in Europe. With his experience and success, Begiristain is a shrewd appointment to aid that.
image: © Mark Freeman