As football's most wanted manager, Guardiola will have pick of the top jobs
15:42 GMT, 22 November 2012
Had you delved into the heart of the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport on the day Chelsea were beaten in Turin you would have found a cartoon.
The features were exaggerated but the image was familiar, a smartly-suited and shaven-headed man with stubble, dwarfed by the skyscrapers of New York, studying a signpost.
London, Milan, Munich and Manchester were the options available. Across European football, everyone is asking the same question: Where now for Pep Guardiola, the world’s most wanted coach
Where next, Pep Guardiola could have the pick of jobs when he returns to football
Roman Abramovich likes to think it is Stamford Bridge whereupon he will be expected to recreate the success he enjoyed in Barcelona, turning Chelsea into the world’s finest and most popular team.
What can go wrong The first thing for Abramovich is that Guardiola could swerve him for one of the other offers.
AC Milan and Bayern Munich are serious about their interest and Manchester City have recently appointed Txiki Begiristain as their director of football.
It was Begiristain, when in a similar role at Barcelona, who lured Guardiola back to the club in his first coaching role, in charge of the reserve team. City were favourites among the British bookies until yesterday’s shift.
Then there is Manchester United, the quiet option out of respect for Sir Alex Ferguson’s longevity, but if there is one person who might smooth the sensitivities of all sides of the Fergie exit, it is probably Guardiola.
Repeat performance Guardliola could find it difficult to replicate his success at Barcelona
There is even a suggestion in some quarters he would be prepared to work in tandem with Ferguson as he learns more about the club.
And here is the second point. Guardiola’s incredible success at Barcelona is rooted in his emotional bond with his boyhood club and his understanding of their culture.
His reign started with a team meeting which would pass into legend at the start of a pre-season tour in Scotland, when the new boss summoned the players and mapped out his philosophy.
This was the spiritual birth of Pep’s Barca, the greatest team-talk ever heard to inspire the greatest team ever seen.
Players told of his communication skills – he is inclusive, a teacher rather than a dictator – and his discipline – strict but reasonable – and his attention to detail – he cut down-time spent in hotels in an effort to keep his players relaxed and free from stress.
Guardiola demanded standards were raised and his values struck a chord. He focused at first on creating an environment of mutual trust.
Only one: Lionel Messi was central to Barcelona's success under Guardiola
He proved a natural leader, as he was as a player, but all this was founded upon his deep love for Barcelona. Whether it can be transplanted at will is questionable. As an intelligent man, he will realise this.
His tactics too were soaked in heritage. Possession is nine tenths of the law where Guardiola is concerned, as it was with Johan Cruyff, architect of Barcelona’s original 'Dream Team'.
If you have the ball, keep it. If you don’t have the ball, go and get it, fast. He promotes simplicity, which is why he trusted Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, when his predecessor doubted them.
Without him this season, Barca seem to operate with a fraction less control but just as potently, thanks in a large part to the Argentine striker recognised as the world’s best footballer.
Guardiola oversaw a new training ground and promoted young talent from the La Masia talent factory, and readily moved those on who did not fully commit to the project, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
All of this produced the perfect stage for Lionel Messi to prosper in a position which became known as the 'False Nine'. Curiously, Roberto Di Matteo deployed Eden Hazard in this same role against Juventus.
Vacation station: Guardiola is currently in New York as he ponders his next move
It was the first (and last) time Di Matteo tried it and, whatever the reasoning, it only strengthened the suspicion that this team is being designed with Guardiola in mind, either with or without his recruitment advice.
But there is only one Messi and prising him from the Nou Camp is impossible.
So, if Guardiola opts to satisfy his inquisitive mind and his thirst for new experiences with a job at the Bridge, he will have to prove he can create a new team without Messi. Can he export success like Jose Mourinho does It is another of the key questions to sit alongside others such as: Why would anyone who does not need the money want to work for Abramovich
Having worked at Barcelona he is no stranger to expectation but the Russian once courted Carlo Ancelotti with the same enthusiasm he now devotes to Guardiola, setting up clandestine dates in France and Switzerland. Then, he fired him after two years, 12 months after the Italian secured Chelsea’s first league and FA Cup double.
Di Matteo became the first to clinch the Champions League, the trophy Abramovich wanted more than anything else. He is now out of work.
It is all about Guardiola not Rafa Benitez. But Guardiola, unlike Abramovich, has options to chew on as he savours his sabbatical in the Big Apple.
In fact, he has all the options in the world and the pick of the most illustrious football clubs on earth.