Pep Guardiola has won everything at this point in his managerial career.
Saturday’s Champions League victory is just another addition to the Spaniard’s incredible legacy.
But what’s left now?
At this point in his career, Pep is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time.
He has won at every place he’s stopped at; now, what does he have left?
It feels like winning the Champions League with City is the perfect culmination of his time in the Prem. Over his time there, he has overseen a massive project at the club that has essentially rebuilt it from the ground up. Now, he has delivered the club the ultimate prize, and there is nothing left for the Citizens.
What does the man who has won everything want next? Surely, there is no project left in Europe that may appeal to Pep. Is international management next, or could he be on the move to a different club?
Pep’s career arc in Europe feels like it’s coming to its natural end. The man has won everything where he’s gone, but will he be content with the same old project?
City was facing a pivotal point in its recent history when they appointed Pep as manager. While the 2008 takeover had made them relevant in the Prem, they were still lacking that extra push needed to reach the upper echelons of football.
Right away, Guardiola implemented his philosophy with the Citizens playing like a watered-down version of his Barça sides. It was an awkward fit at first, as there were plenty of players who just did not fit into what Pep was building. Players like Joe Hart were rushed out the door for Pep.
After a few windows and internal development, the City side started to reach its peak in recent seasons. This was due to fewer blockbuster signings and more rational ones, as well as the crucial development of players that Pep had placed his trust in. John Stones is a perfect example of a player who looked dead in the water in his first few seasons under Pep and slowly became integral to this treble-winning side.
However, perhaps the best thing that Pep had done in his time in Manchester has been his focus on building up the Citizens’ Academy. United had always been the Manchester side that produced world beaters, but under Pep, there was a renewed interest in building an organic movement. Considerable investment was made to build this movement, from the coaching staff to training centers rivaling professional sides.
The reason why this, outside the treble win, is Pep’s greatest impact in Manchester is that it will outlast him. By building a truly world-class academy system, there is a future that will not have to rely on big transfers. It won’t be la Masia, but Pep’s academy can help City rule the Prem for years to come.
While he will certainly be remembered for the trophies, Pep’s impact will be long felt in the culture he has built. City was already on a good path, but the Spaniard made them a global force.
What comes next is the most interesting question for Pep. Will he continue in Manchester or seek a greater project?
This wouldn’t be the first time Pep could walk out on a club after achieving all he could. When he felt the time was up in both Barcelona and Munich, he left for projects that intrigued him. Even as his previous clubs were going on historic runs, Pep knew when the time was right for him to exit.
Only two years remain on his current deal, and there doesn’t seem to be any rush on his part to ink a longer deal. Of course, anything can happen in that remaining time, but both parties may soon be preparing for the future. All the leverage is in his hands, as he has delivered all that the club has desired and more.
Every club on Earth will be ringing Pep’s phone the moment he becomes a free agent. He will have the chance to pick and dictate any project he likes.
After winning all that he has, is there any club that could truly intrigue Pep at this point? As much fun as it would be to see him carry a team from a lower league up to glory, it’s unlikely. While he could win with any top team, it feels like more of the same.
International management does make more sense, as it’s the one area that he has never tried his hand at. It would also give him complete control of a national team’s setup, from youth teams up. Additionally, few managers have succeeded at both the club and international level, giving Pep the chance to truly be the greatest manager of all time.
The future really is in Pep’s hands, and he can go in so many different directions. With nothing left to be won, perhaps this is the chance for him to leave the game on top.
City gave Pep the chance to have full control of a project, from the youth setup to the first team, and he has rewarded them with European glory.
At the same time, he has continued to etch his name into a sporting legend. Very few managers have accomplished what he has, but is this it for the Spaniard?