Guardiola to Bayern Munich: Have Chelsea Dodged a Bullet?

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Guardiola to Bayern Munich: Have Chelsea Dodged a Bullet?
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Why Guardiola was no good for the Blues

Pep Guardiola's decision to join Bayern Munich (full story) may come as a bitter blow to Roman Abramovich, but have Chelsea dodged a bullet in missing out on the Catalan coach?

It is widely thought that the Rusian oligarch had hoped to lure Guardiola to Stamford Bridge this summer in an attempt to finally make good on his wish for the Londoners to become the "Blue Barcelona."

However, the Chelsea hierarchy will now have to look at other possibilities following the Spaniards decision to take over from Jupp Heynckes at Bayern.

Guardiola's 14 trophies in four years at the Camp Nou–including three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues–has made him the most sought after manager in world football and his blend of stylish success is just what Abramovich has been trying to instill at Chelsea for 10 years.

But would the 41-year-old really have been a good fit for the Blues?  

The La Masia graduate presided over Barcelona's most trophy laden period in their history, doing so in a manner that tantalised neutrals and teased opponents in equal measure.

There can be no denying that under Guardiola's stewardship Barca were elevated to an exalted status few others have ever achieved. Los Blaugrana were talked about as being one of, if not the greatest club sides of all time and arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of the modern era.

But Guardiola achieved what he achieved at "his" club. A club where he was born, bred, revered and in control of all footballing matters from top to bottom. The landscape couldn't be more different from what he would have found himself in had he joined Chelsea.

Guardiola's Barca 'Dream Team'

How he would have handled Chelsea and how they could have handled him will now not be known but even despite his credentials and glittering C.V, I have strong reservations as to whether Guardiola was the right man to be installed as the next "permanent" Chelsea manager.

At Barcelona he was blessed with the nucleus of a phenomenal side, which had won two of the previous four Primera Divisions with the a host of the worlds best players in their prime.

Of course, Guardiola has to take the credit for adroitly shaping this collection into one of the most formidable sides in the world, but he did so in a league and at a club he knows inside out. The Premier League is a much different environment.

At Chelsea he too would have been presented a squad mixed with some precocious talent and proven lieutenants and while he would have commanded the respect from the whole dressing room, Stamford Bridge can be a fractious and fragmented place with cabal's deeply ingrained into the fabric of the club.

Guardiola's assignment at Chelsea would have encompassed much more than just tinkering with a talented team to get them playing in the idyllic manner which was his blueprint at Barcelona. Guardiola would have needed to oversee the likely departures of Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole and even though he would have been granted the funds to refurnish the playing staff, in truth his transfer record at Barcelona was pretty chequered.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, Keirrison, Martin Caceras, Aleksandr Hleb, were all Pep purchases which went wrong and with no Messi, Iniesta or Xavi to fall back on, those deficiencies could have been more exposed.

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The two Champions League wins which Barca mustered over Manchester United were another feather in Guardiola's cap but not enough gets mentioned about the two that got away.

Inter Milan and Chelsea both dumped the Catalans out of Europe in semi-finals which partitioned those wins, and on either occasion Guardiola's lack of a plan B was one of the reasons his side fell short.

His principles of keeping the ball on the dance floor are non-negotiable and were exposed as both Inter and Chelsea defended stubbornly to dump Barca out. It's also easy to forget that but for an injury time winner from Iniesta and a plethora of dubious penalty claims at Stamford Bridge in 2009, it could easily have been three semi-final losses. Such failures would not be tolerated at Chelsea.

We also need to have a look at what Tito Villanova has done since stepping into his good friends shoes in the Barca dugout. Villanova has led his charges into an 11 point La Liga lead at the midway point with an astonishing record of 18 wins from 19 games with largely the same collection of players.

Villanova's managerial abilities have not particularly been trumpeted too much, so is it a matter of having a set of supremely gifted players playing for them simply dictating results?

After dismissing Roberto Di Matteo in November, Chelsea must get their next managerial appointment right. Had they procured Guardiola, they would have had to stand by him through thick and thin at the risk of losing what credibility is left in terms of hiring and firing managers.

The final blessing about Guardiola opting to move to Germany is that this now arguably leaves Chelsea with a shortlist of one potential coaching candidate: Jose Mourinho.

The Special One has unfinished business at Chelsea and is better suited to a league which he knows and one which requires his brand of tactical acumen in differing destinations.

Guardiola may have been Abramovich's fantasy choice but the Russian has already demonstrated on a number of occasions that his decision making leaves a lot to be desired. Guardiola's switch to Bayern means he needs to reappraise the situation but after dodging a bullet with Pep, Abramovich must hit the target with Mourinho.

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