Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
- If Pep Guardiola becomes the England manager, be prepared for his press conferences to include his signature praise and patronizing comments towards opponents.
- Harry Kane may be dropped to accommodate a false 9 system, with Jude Bellingham or Jack Grealish potentially playing as the central attacking figure.
- Jordan Pickford may lose his spot as England’s goalkeeper, as Guardiola prioritizes ball-playing skills and may opt for alternative options like Aaron Ramsdale or James Trafford.
One of the most interesting new stories to have emerged this week as we enter the international break is the report that Gareth Southgate could walk away from his job as England manager after Euro 2024. Officials within the FA are even open to exploring the idea of hiring Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to replace him.
This would be some appointment for the Three Lions and it remains to be seen if the Catalan would be open to a move, but with his City contract running out in 2025 – and having just won the treble – perhaps he would be ready for a new challenge. Of course, having never coached at international level, it’s impossible to know just how Guardiola would get on with England, but it would certainly be fascinating to watch it all play out.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to list 11 things that would happen if the 52-year-old took over from Southgate…
11 Pep patronises Europe
As mentioned before, there is no knowing just how Pep would do outside of club football. But if there is one thing we can be sure of, it’s his press conference manner. After all, how many times have we seen him absolutely thump a Premier League rival 5-0 and then insist that they were in fact the most difficult team he’d actually played all season?
We can just imagine it now. Harry Kane has scored four goals in a 9-0 trouncing of San Marino. Guardiola is asked for his thoughts on the game. He shoots down a reporter who dared to suggest it was a walk in the park for the Three Lions. With a startling look in his eye, the ex-Barca man says: “No, seriously guys, you do not understand. I am so, so happy with my players. San Marino are unbelievable. To come here and win like that, it’s not easy. Trust me.”
10 Kane dropped to accommodate a false 9
Before Erling Haaland was banging in the goals for City, there was a debate over whether Guardiola actually preferred playing without a true centre-forward. After all, he never really fancied Zlatan Ibrahimović when the Swede was over in Barcelona, and instead got the best out of Lionel Messi acting as a false nine. Well, perhaps he would revert back to his old ways.
After all, by this stage, Harry Kane would now be well into his 30s and his new international manager might have some different ideas on how to get the best out of his attack without being so reliant on the Bayern Munich man. Perhaps he’d push Jude Bellingham up top, just as he’s been asked to do so at times already for Real Madrid who no longer have Karim Benzema leading the line. Jack Grealish has also shifted into that role for City in the past (pre-Haaland), so could be a candidate for the job.
9 Jordan Pickford suffers same fate as Joe Hart
We all remember what happened when Guardiola first arrived in the Premier League. Indeed, he swiftly axed England No.1 Joe Hart from his plans, replacing him with Claudio Bravo who was much more adept with his feet, before eventually signing Ederson as his ideal goalkeeping option at the Etihad.
Well, Jordan Pickford is comfortable with the ball at his feet, but he may not be elite. With that in mind, without Southgate’s loyalty, the Everton man could soon lose his spot in the team. Aaron Ramsdale would be a candidate to potentially come in but Nick Pope, who struggles with the ball-playing side of the game, wouldn’t have much hope. Perhaps the best option, however, would be Burnley shot-stopper James Trafford, who of course worked under Guardiola at City before his summer move to Turf Moor. What’s more, he also managed to win the 2023 UEFA Under 21 Euros in July without conceding a single goal (keeping six clean sheets).
8 John Stones moves to right-back
England have a number of outstanding options to play at right-back with Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Ben White and more all able to play the role with real class. Of course, then, Pep would have to go against the grain and overlook them all as he looks to revolutionise the international scene.
Instead of using any of those options, he may well opt to put John Stones at right-back. This is what he has done for Man City in the past, even picking the English defender ahead of Kyle Walker in the Champions League final so he would drop into the right-flank when defending, and then push into more central zones as a midfielder alongside Rodri when in possession.
7 Alexander-Arnold as a central midfielder
Of course, if Stones does play at right-back, that doesn’t necessarily mean Alexander-Arnold will have to drop out of the team. Instead, the new England boss could potentially do what many have been calling for over the last few years and play the Liverpool defender in the middle of the park.
More and more, Trent has been stepping into midfield for his club as inverted fullbacks become the norm. Well, perhaps Guardiola will just ask him to play the role for the full 90. After all, with Jordan Henderson heading towards the end of his career, and Kalvin Phillips barely playing, the Three Lions might need a fresh option to play alongside Declan Rice. In fact, Southgate has already tried this experiment, giving Alexander-Arnold the number 10 shirt against Malta. It worked brilliantly too as the 24-year-old pulled the strings, while also getting his name on the scoresheet too with a fine strike.
6 England win the World Cup
Let’s face it, Southgate has done a pretty good job in removing the toxic atmosphere from the England camp and deserves credit for making them consistently competitive on the international stage. However, he is not what you’d describe as a top-tier tactical thinker. He’s certainly not on Pep’s level (very few are) and with this current crop of English talent to play with, Guardiola could take this country to the next level. Having won everything you can in Europe as a club manager, the World Cup must be an ambition for the 52-year-old.
Well, if he takes over, he’ll have the 2026 tournament to work towards. And with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, and Trent Alexander-Arnold all in their prime years at this stage, England could take the United States, Mexico, and Canada by storm. Indeed, 60 years on from 1966, football would finally come home.
5 Man City fall out of the Champions League
Most Premier League fans won’t necessarily care that much if Guardiola ends up taking charge of England, but rather they will simply be relieved that his spell of dominance with Man City has come to an end. Since the 52-year-old arrived in England, the Cityzens have won the division five times out of seven attempts.
After such heights, however, the Manchester outfit almost certainly won’t be able to find a replacement on his level. In fact, we think they could go full Man United post-Sir Alex Ferguson and spend some time in the wilderness. Indeed, perhaps not right away, but within a few seasons, City end up dropping out of the Champions League spaces completely as they struggle to come to terms with life without the legendary boss calling the shots.
4 Jude Bellingham wins the Ballon d’Or
The Real Madrid ace is already taking Spain by storm having scored five La Liga goals and claiming one assist in just four outings since his big-money summer move from Borussia Dortmund. Truly, those are Cristiano Ronaldo-level numbers and he won the Ballon d’Or four times while playing for Los Blancos.
On his current trajectory, and with Ronaldo and Messi no longer the powers they once were, Bellingham really does have a good shout as being a genuine contender for the biggest individual award in football. Under Carlo Ancelotti, it looks as though he’s set to take his game to new heights, but one can only imagine how good he could become with Guardiola as his international coach. We’ll go out on a limb here and say the ex-Birmingham City youngster will one day receive the accolade if Pep ends up in charge of England.
3 Bukayo Saka also wins the Ballon d’Or
It’s all well and good being excited about Bellingham, but we shouldn’t forget that Saka has just been named England’s Men’s Player of the Year for the second time in a row. The 22-year-old was also recently handed the PFA Young Player of the Year award and truly has the world at his feet.
Under Mikel Arteta, he has taken his game to new levels and starred for Arsenal as they went toe-to-toe in their title race with Man City for most of last season, only to fall short at the final hurdle. Well, much like Bellingham, with Guardiola’s guidance, Saka could reach new heights on the international stage and prove himself worthy of winning the Ballon d’Or as the true starboy for both club and country.
2 Guardiola galaxy brains England
Of course, while it’s easy to look back on last year’s Champions League triumph and trust the Catalan coach to bring all his best ideas to the Three Lions, it wasn’t that long ago that he was criticised for being a text-book overthinker when it came to the big stage. Who can forget the time he cast aside both Rodri and Fernandinho and opted to play Ilkay Gundogan as the defensive midfielder against Chelsea in the Champions League final, with the Blues winning the match thanks to a single Kai Havertz goal.
You can just picture it now, it’s England against France in the World Cup final and although Kane has scored six goals in the tournament and Saka has four assists from the right flank, he opts to play Grealish up top and pushes the Arsenal winger into a left-wingback role. Kylian Mbappé nets the only goal of the game as the Three Lions are defeated 1-0…
1 Pep lose patience and quits
While the novelty of being an international coach might excite Guardiola in the short term, it’s hard to imagine a football fanatic such as him being content to work with his players just a handful of times a year. Indeed, the pain for a national team manager is their inability to train with their squads on a day-to-day or even weekly basis.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see Pep losing his patience rather quickly as he’s forced to spend most of the season sitting on the sidelines watching the domestic action he once ruled over. Before long, he’ll hand in his resignation to the FA and land himself a new job perhaps back at Barcelona or maybe even in the Saudi Pro League…
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