Why Guardiola’s arrival means Man City will join the elite

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The biggest secret in the soccer world is out.

Pep Guardiola, 45, will be Manchester City’s head coach for the 2016-17 Premier League season with the Spanish coach signing a three-year deal.

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The news broke on Monday, as Transfer Deadline Day was dominated first by the rather nonchalant and typically classy announcement from Manuel Pellegrini that he would leave City at the end of this season and moments later Guardiola was named as City’s new boss.

Already an aura of invincibility is surrounding City with the appointment of the former Barcelona and current Bayern Munich confirmed.

Before we get in to the nuts and bolts of how and why Pep will push City into the elite of European and World soccer, a word must be reserved for Pellegrini. A banner has been held up by Man City fans of a smiling Pellegrini under the words “This Charming Man” which is a reference to The Smiths and their song of the same name.

[ MORE: Guardiola to leave Bayern

Pellegrini, 62, is charming and has been a breath of fresh air in the PL over the last two-and-a-half-years. The Chilean boss arrived from Malaga with plenty to prove but delivered a PL title and a League Cup in his debut season in England, finished second last season and City has a real chance of completing a quadruple this campaign. All three seasons they have made it into the UEFA Champions League knockout stages — something they’d never achieved before — and when we look back at his time in charge, his class, grace and ability to manufacture a team who play silky, attractive soccer will be at the forefront of our minds. He won’t find it hard to get a top job this summer.

When Guardiola takes over from Pellegrini in July, he will be taking charge of a team in very good shape thanks to the astute Chilean coach and his staff. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling are all approaching or are years away from their prime and the man who made his name at Barca is well known for producing teams who press high up the pitch and pass the opposition to death.

That ideology fits in very well with the players City possess — it will need some tweaking, here and there — and if Vincent Kompany can stay fit and a few defensive additions can arrive, City will not only thrive in the PL under Pep but also in Europe. City have won two PL titles in the last three years but conquering Europe is the main aim and employing a man who has dominated in Spain and Germany during his coaching career makes perfect sense.

There’s no secret that getting Guardiola to the Etihad Stadium has been City’s long-term plan to do just that. Getting Guardiola on board is a once in a generation opportunity.

Pep Guardiola , Philipp Lahm

Back in 2012 the Abu Dhabi-based owners placed Catalan duo Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain in charge of the soccer side of the club as directors mainly due to their close links with Guardiola whom they worked with at Barcelona. That factor was a huge bonus in fending off interest in Pep from Manchester United and Chelsea who are both now looking over their shoulder enviously towards the Etihad.

In the actual news release on Monday, City confirmed negotiations with Pep were well under way back in 2012 before he decided to take a sabbatical and then join Bayern Munich. Getting Guardiola on board was part of the master plan and he can take them to the next level. Make no mistake, the initial deal may be for three years but we are now talking about a man that City want to be the figurehead of one of the greatest soccer dynasties the world has ever seen.

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They have the facilties at their world class City Football Academy and the Etihad, they have the huge financial input from Sheikh Mansour and now they have the best coach on the planet.

What is perhaps the most exciting aspect of luring Pep to the Premier League is not only how he will nurture and get the best out of City’s hugely talented current squad, but who else he may entice to join him. Lionel Messi flourished under Guardiola and if the Argentina superstar ever fancies a move away from the Nou Camp then it would be to link up with his old boss at City. Sure, it would be the most expensive deal in history but it could happen with Guardiola in charge.

Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets are other names from Guardiola’s dominant Barca teams who could arrive, and then there’s the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Phillip Lahm at Bayern Munich. His work as a coach doesn’t suit every player and he’s known to be demanding and controlling but boy, does it get results. In his six-and-a-half campaigns as a coach Guardiola has won 19 of the 30 competitions he’s challenged for. That’s an incredible 63 percent success rate.

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He has delivered trophies wherever he has coached and now he has the chance to deliver a glut of titles to a club who have been desperately building up to this moment and now aim to dominate the global game with not only their financial power off the pitch but their play on nit.

No player in the world wouldn’t want to work with Pep. City can afford pretty much every player in the world. And sooner rather than later they will become one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Pep meshes everything together and the announcement he’s arriving comes after years of hard ground work being laid to finally get their man.

City have been close to joining the elite clubs on the planet for some time. With Guardiola’s arrival, they’ve finally done it.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Brighton, Sheffield Utd v. Newcastle

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Matchweek 15 of the 2019-20 Premier League season wraps up on Thursday, with two more midweek clashes featuring two mid-table sides, and two more from much nearer to the relegation zone, in action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

First up, PL new boys (and 9th-place side) Sheffield United will host 14th-place Newcastle United, who sit just two points outside the relegation zone ahead of kickoff. 45 minutes later, 10th-place Arsenal will host 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game as Arsenal interim manager.

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The schedule for Thursday’s two games is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


2:30 p.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Newcastle United [STREAM]
3:15 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion [STREAM]

Marco Silva fired by Everton

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Marco Silva has been fired as manager of Everton, making him the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job in the last 16 days.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Silva reported for a regular day’s work at Everton’s training ground on Thursday, a day after suffering a 5-2 defeat to local rivals Liverpool, all while a conference call was expected to take place involving the relevant figures: owner Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenright, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and director of football Marcel Brands.

15 games into the 2019-20 PL season, the Toffees currently sit 18th in the league table with less than a point per game — relegation territory — on the back of three straight losses and just four wins all season. Silva’s only victory since mid-October came against fellow bottom-four side Southampton nearly a month ago.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (now up to nine) on the season thus far, but many of the sides to which they’ve lost (newly promoted Aston Villa, 12th-place Bournemouth, newly promoted Sheffield United, 11th-place Burnley, 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion and 19th-place Norwich, to name a few) that forced them further and further down the table and made relegation a semi-serious threat, at least for the time being.

Atleti escapes major punishment for fans’ Griezmann threats

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid escaped major punishment Wednesday after its fans made threatening chants against former player Antoine Griezmann during last weekend’s La Liga match against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The Spanish league had denounced the club after some fans chanted “Die Griezmann” in Sunday’s match, won by Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Spanish soccer federation said it would fine Atletico $333 because the game was disrupted, but it did not cite the chants against Griezmann. The fine was prompted mainly because fans threw objects — including an umbrella — onto the field.

The Spanish league had denounced the club to the federation’s anti-violence committee, saying about 2,000 fans from Atletico’s “ultras” section made the chants for about 20 seconds before the start of the second half, and again later in the game.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Griezmann left Atletico for Barcelona at the end of last season in a transfer worth more than $132 million.

The France forward was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball at the Metropolitano on Sunday. It was his first match at Atletico’s stadium since leaving the club.

Klopp to take first team to Club World Cup, leave youth for EFL Cup

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Jurgen Klopp has chosen his strongest possible Liverpool squad to take to the Club World Cup later this month, leaving a reserve- and youth-laden team behind to compete in the EFL Cup during the same period.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Liverpool will head to Doha, Qatar, for the Club World Cup, where they’ll play their semifinal fixture against one of Monterrey (Mexico), Al-Saad (Qatar) or Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia) on Dec. 18. The day prior, on Dec. 17, the Reds will also play away to Aston Villa in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. With the club’s star-studded first team in Qatar, progression to the semifinals of the League Cup will be down to a team full of teenage prospects.

Only defender Joel Matip and midfielder Fabinho, both of whom are currently injured and unavailable, were left out of the Club World Cup squad.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Players suffering from illness or injury prior to Liverpool’s first Club World Cup game can be replaced in the squad up to 24 hours before kickoff.

Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan

Defenders: Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams

Forwards: Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster, Divock Origi