Previous
England
Croatia
2
1
FT
Game Details
Northern Ireland
Austria
1
2
FT
Game Details
Moldova
Luxembourg
1
1
FT
Game Details
San Marino
Belarus
0
2
FT
Game Details
Switzerland
Belgium
5
2
FT
Game Details
Greece
Estonia
0
1
FT
Game Details
Hungary
Finland
2
0
FT
Game Details
Next
 By Simon Curtis

Amid a myriad of Pellegrini successors stands one strong candidate for City

Speculation regarding Manuel Pellegrini's hold on the manager's job at Manchester City has reached boiling point since the 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace last Monday.

It is impossible to open a newspaper without reading conjecture of one kind or another regarding possible successors. Everyone has their inside information on what's coming next in the corridors of power at the Etihad.

If Pellegrini goes, the man most wanted by the owners of the club and those entrusted with running its day-to-day business is Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola. Depending on who you believe, he is either secure in his Bavarian stronghold or getting bored with winning everything at a canter.

The Spaniard with the golden touch has another year to run on his contract and that may be the deciding factor. If Bayern win the Champions League to go with a likely Bundesliga crown and a more-than-possible German Cup, he may think he has achieved all he can there but the most obvious scenario has him only open to offers in a year's time.

If City's season finishes with improvement and second place in the Premier League, the powers that be may think it's worth the risk waiting until 2016 and letting Pellegrini have another tilt at motivating his stellar squad properly for the tasks ahead. There is no reason to believe at this stage they are in possession of particularly itchy trigger fingers.

Turning their back on stability following one mediocre season may not be deemed worthwhile, and it is easy to understand such a line of thought.

This is a club that has spent far too much of its time in the last chance saloon, swapping managers like they were going swiftly out of fashion. Under previous regimes, it became second nature to hire and fire at a great rate of knots. The much-maligned Peter Swales began the trend in the 1970s and 80s, wading his way through a long line of bosses.

Since then, the club has passed through the ownership of ex-player Francis Lee, sports retailer John Wardle and deposed Thai dictator Thaksin Shinawatra, to seal an unlikely threesome in the driving seat at City. Each one had his moments of madness, hiring and losing the likes of Steve Coppell, Phil Neal, Frank Clark, Joe Royle, Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce and Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Most came and went under extraordinary circumstances. Manchester City's blessed ability to carry out the washing of its smalls in public has become legendary.

Managing at City these days does not necessarily come with a health risk attached to the job description, although stakes are now unbelievably high and the definition of failure is quite unlike that of the 80s and 90s.

These days, finishing in fourth place with no cup success immediately attracts funny looks. Non-appearance at Wembley provokes irritation. With a history of relaxing on the high moral step of continual failure, Manchester City are now a club that cannot remain motionless for long.

What if that desired improvement does not happen? With the Manchester derby up next, the possibility of another painful defeat will further undercut the trembling soil beneath the manager's feet. Failure to haul those tired bodies up to at least third place and automatic entry to the Champions League may sound the death knell for the current managerial team.

Rafa Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti, Diego Simeone, Brendan Rodgers, Marcelo Bielsa, Jurgen Klopp, Patrick Vieira and Alex Sabella have all been mentioned as possible successors to the troubled Pellegrini.

One man, conspicuous by his absence in all this speculation, may just trump them all, however. He is a master of clever communication, an advocate of the style of football City's paymasters yearn for and is currently a title-holding manager of great worth.

His teams play clever, precise passing football and he has been responsible for turning their fortunes around in astonishing style from a period in the wilderness to the top of the football tree.

He is a man with perfect pedigree, great instincts and an obviously lucky streak. He is the personification of controlled calm and positive thinking. Like Guardiola, he is under contract until the summer of 2016, but the wait may be worth it. His name? Joachim Low.

Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.