Khaldoon Al Mubarak comments prove Man City won’t collapse if Pep Guardiola leaves – Alex Brotherton
It was a nervy final few weeks of the season for Manchester City supporters, but in the end the Blues got over the line to be crowned Premier League champions for the fourth time in five years.
Another point of anxiety in the final stretch of the season was the pursuit of Erling Haaland. City had for months gone head-to-head with Real Madrid for the young striker’s signature, but ultimately they proved successful.
Now attentions are turning to the future of manager Pep Guardiola — although in truth it has been a point of speculation for a few months now. The City boss has little more than 12 months remaining on his current contract, and has in recent weeks taken the stance that he will not consider his future until the end of next season.
In contradiction, a recent report has suggested that he and City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak will hold talks before the end of next season, as Guardiola does not want to leave City in a scramble to find a new coach should he decide to leave.
In his end of season interview, the City chairman said that the conversation regarding Guardiola’s future “will be had at the right time, at the right pace, and with the pace, time and framework that works for Pep.”
While Guardiola has never been one to discuss his own contract situation during the season — signing a two-year extension in November 2020 was an exception to the rule — the situation is not one that fills City fans with confidence. With the current season over and a good month before pre-season starts, surely now is the time for the Catalan to lay down his future plans?
It appears that Guardiola is keeping his options open; after all, he is in unchartered territory. Before joining City, the longest he had spent in a managerial role was the four years at Barcelona. In August, he’ll begin his seventh season at City, so perhaps it’s only natural he wants to see how he feels nearer the end of the next campaign.
On the flip side, it’s hard to imagine that Haaland — convinced to join City ahead of Real Madrid in part because of the chance to work with Guardiola — was not given assurances that Guardiola will be around for a while yet.
Whatever happens and whatever the reason, what is clear is that when the best coach in the world does eventually leave, there will be no drastic collapse. Over the years rival fans have clung to the hope that City’s dominance will end when Guardiola leaves, but a post-Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United style malaise seems unlikely to consume the Blues.
For years City have — and are continuing to — plan for the future. As the average age of the squad has begun to creep up, the latest overhaul has already been set in motion with the departure of Fernandinho (37) and the arrivals of Erling Haaland (21) and Julian Alvarez (22). The Blues are also widely believed to be interested in signing both Kalvin Phillips (26) and Marc Cucurella (23).
But even if for some reason City decided to not spend a single penny more in the transfer market, the foundations are in place to build a successful team with a strong link to the local community.
In his end of season interview, City chairman Khaldoon revealed a remarkable statistic about City’s academy teams.
“In the age groups between eight and 23, City have over 200 players and 85 per cent are local,” he told CityTV. “When you look at all the records and success at every age group, it is happening while we’re developing our local talent base in the area.”
That is not only good for the financial and sporting sustainability of the club, but also in maintaining the connection between club and fanbase over generations. City changed a lot when Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008, but the roots in the local community have only grown deeper.
Whenever Guardiola leaves, there will likely be a slight dip in on-field fortunes; he’ll be a tough act to follow. But rest assured: City are in good hands.