Pep Guardiola will discuss a new contract with Manchester City in the summer, with the club believing he possesses the same qualities that led to Sir Alex Ferguson creating a long-term dynasty at Manchester United.
There is an acknowledgement at City that the modern era means elite coaches have a natural cycle of three seasons at the helm yet those in charge at the Premier League’s runaway leaders, who secured their 16th successive top-flight win with the 4-1 victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, believe the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager can be persuaded to remain in situ for much longer.
While City do not expect the Spaniard’s reign to match Ferguson’s tenure of 26 and a half years at Old Trafford, it is understood that the chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, alongside the sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, and the chief executive, Ferran Soriano, believe the 46-year-old could establish his own era of domination and success at the Etihad Stadium, and remain in place for a decade at least. His three-year deal ends in the summer of 2019 and he has previously indicated that will be the maximum length of his stay at City.
The news came after it was confirmed that Raheem Sterling was racially abused and attacked by a stranger as he arrived at City’s training base on Saturday, before the Spurs match. A source close to Sterling told the Guardian that, as was reported by the Daily Telegraph, the 23-year-old was kicked and called an offensive word by a man who was waiting for him by the players’ entrance.
Sterling was not injured and the club will speak to the player on Monday to ascertain if he wishes to press charges, although it is believed there is CCTV footage to back up a complaint. On a happier note, Sterling scored twice in City’s latest triumph and one that has further invigorated Guardiola. A 16th successive victory remains short of his best winning run in league football as a manager – 19 consecutive wins with Bayern between October 2013 and March 2014 – but it may be significant enough to help secure City a third Premier League title.
They are 11 points clear of their neighbours after second-placed Manchester United registered a 2-1 triumph at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
In Guardiola’s debut season in charge last term, City finished third, 15 points behind the champions, Chelsea. That disappointment forced a serious rethink, making him open to advice regarding how to make the team more successful this campaign. He was given unswerving support by the club’s board and is known to be impressed by the structure of the club. The City Football Academy, which represents a £200m investment by the owner, Sheikh Mansour, was built to develop home-grown players. This is a key element of Guardiola’s philosophy because he is intent on harnessing in-house talent, and he attends as many youth-age games as possible.
Against Spurs, Guardiola gave Phil Foden his league debut, the 17-year-old forward coming on as an 83rd-minute replacement for Gündogan. Foden, who has been at City since he was 10 and was a standout performer for England’s Under-17s during their World Cup triumph this year, has also made his Champions League debut for the Spaniard this season.
“There have been ups and downs, of course, at Bournemouth we won in the last minute, Southampton we won in the last minute,” Guardiola said as he reflected on City’s blistering start. “Last season was last season. This season is completely different. Tottenham Hotspur last season, I think compared to Chelsea, played the best football in the Premier League. I’m quite happy because I think this season started going well in our game in LA against Tottenham in pre-season.
“Our first game in pre-season was against United and we lost [2-0]. The second one was against Tottenham and there we created eight, nine or 10 chances to score loads of goals and we missed a lot. But there we saw all together – the players as well, not just me – that is the way we have to do that. Since then, we’ve maintained that level.”
Guardiola replaced Sergio Agüero with Jesus after 58 minutes on Saturday, which led to the Argentina striker dropping his gloves to the turf in a clear show of disappointment. Commenting on the substitution, Guardiola said: “A manager takes a decision and we win, always you are right. When you don’t win, you make a mistake. Simple as that.
“Always when I take a decision, I think many things. It’s never personal because I trust the guys a lot, that’s why I don’t want to offend some players. I understand, I was a football player, I know they want to play.
“It always breaks my heart when Danilo cannot play, when Bernardo [Silva] cannot play, when Yaya [Touré] cannot play, when the other players cannot play. That always broke my heart because they deserve it but it is what it is.”