Sunday, November 27, 2022

Pep Guardiola blocking Steven Gerrard’s route to becoming the next Liverpool manager.

Pep Guardiola blocking Steven Gerrard’s route to becoming the next Liverpool manager.

Steven Gerrard has been broadly lauded as the obvious heir to Jürgen Klopp when the former Mainz and Borussia Dortmund boss resolves to step down.

Liverpool would surely be excited to keep hold of Klopp for as long as he is ready to stay, but with his latest deal expiring in 2024 it looks increasingly likely that this will be the parting of the ways.

However, while Gerrard is shining at Rangers in his fledgling managerial career, several other possible candidates could block the club legend’s return to Anfield.

Mauricio Pochettino, Julian Nagelsmann and Pepijn Ljinders are all names that have been associated with the top job in the past. More recently, John Barnes has sensationally hinted that Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola should be the man to take over. Along with Gerrard, that makes a shortlist of five.

Liverpool’s former captain began his coaching profession with the club’s under 18s, but was soon awarded the opportunity to make the step up into the senior game north of the border.

Gerrard has quickly charmed himself with the Rangers supporters: following a season of laying solid foundations, the team has reached hardly believable heights in the 2020/21 campaign.

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The Scottish side went through the whole league season unbeaten, conceding just 13 goals and racking up 102 points in the process. Each of these achievements are individually remarkable: combined, they leave no option but to start taking Gerrard precariously as a manager.

A second successive round of 16 Europa League series was also a fair showing. However, by 2024, Gerrard will hope to have made a mark in the Champions League. Entering at the penultimate qualifying round this season, Rangers have a fair chance of at least making the group stage.

Famed for his European genealogy as a player with Liverpool, replicating these heroics as a manager would make Gerrard an even more charming candidate as Klopp’s successor.

Fending off the approaches of Celtic will also be key to Gerrard’s Liverpool possibilities. Rangers denied their rivals an historic 10th consecutive title last season, but the team are looking to rebuild under Ange Postecoglou.

Come 2024, there’s a good chance that Gerrard will be ready to return to Anfield, battle-hardened by some intense Old Firm clashes.

From one Pep to another, this is surely the most fantastical name on the list. Guardiola has done engagement with Klopp over the past three seasons, with the pair duelling on both the domestic and European fronts.

Barnes lately admitted that Guardiola would be his pick for Liverpool, and in many ways it’s hard to dispute. The Catalan has won trophies at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, and will go down as one of the coaches who shaped the current era of football.

However, Liverpool would not be able to offer him a clear cheque — for all his prominence, he would not be used to working under such restrictions.

That said, if Guardiola’s availability happens to line up rightly, a move shouldn’t be completely discounted. While he appears to have the confidence of City’s board, there have been some early stirrings of discontent among the fanbase about the continued failure to deliver the Champions League.

His contract runs out in 2023: if he were to see this out and then take a year’s sabbatical, FSG would be unwise not to ask the question.

Guardiola has beforehand called Anfield a stadium “like no other in the world.” Maybe he’d like to experience it as the home manager. Even so, there’s a lot that would need to fall into place for this one.

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Pep Guardiola blocking Steven Gerrard’s route to becoming the next Liverpool manager.

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