Let's hope Pep has the right answers when Roman comes calling
01:45 GMT, 25 November 2012
As he watches the last leaves of autumn scuttle across Central Park, Josep Guardiola considers his options.
Does he take a cab to the Garden to
watch the Knicks play the Detroit Pistons Will he go across to Jersey
to see the Giants against the Packers
Or should he simply enjoy a lazy family lunch in his elegant apartment on the Upper West Side
Waiting game: Pep Guardiola will likely get the call at the end of the season
He could, of course, jab a few buttons and watch Chelsea v Manchester City, direct from Stamford Bridge.
But having treated himself to a year's sabbatical from the game, he may resist the temptation.
In any case, City are no more than marginal figures on the European scene.
As for Chelsea, what possible interest could they hold for a serious man like Pep Guardiola
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Dismissed: Roberto Di Matteo just another Chelsea manager to be ousted
It was these two fine fellows who backed John Terry at every stage of his defence to the charge of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
And it was they who masterminded the club's calamitous handling of the Mark Clattenburg affair, when an honest referee was baselessly accused of racially insulting John Obi Mikel.
The complaint having been investigated and contemptuously dismissed by both the police and the FA, Chelsea concocted a noxious piece of selfjustification which concluded: 'Chelsea FC now hopes that all concerned can continue to carry out their duties without prejudice.'
If they really believe that poor Clattenburg will not become the target of vile chants the first time he makes a contentious decision, then they are as stupid as they are cynical.
The owner of the club is not stupid. But neither is he omniscient. When it comes to cultivating the good opinion of Vladimir Putin, or generating billions from the mineral assets of the old Soviet Union, then Roman Abramovich is your only man.
Yet you would need to be daft or desperate to seek his views on football.
Keeping the seat warm: Chelsea's new interim coach Rafael Benitez
But his are the views which prevail, whether he is championing the cause of his favoured players like Andriy Shevchenko or Fernando Torres, or selecting a stream of managers that he will ultimately fire.
In effect, he is a fan with absurdly unlimited funds. He pays the bills and sets the tone.
Thus we have a situation in which one person serves an FA ban for racial abuse and yet retains the club captaincy, while another can win the Champions League and lose his job.
That is the kind of club that Abramovich has created. Yet he knows precisely who he needs to take them forward.
Not Rafael Benitez; he has been hired at considerable expense to serve a short-term purpose.
No, the answer is the man currently enjoying the delights of New York City.
Pep Guardiola is, by common consent, the finest football coach in the world, having created a team that embodied his own ideals.
Thumbs up: Roman Abramovich moved swiftly to replace Di Matteo
Barcelona have set unprecedented standards of technique and imagination. They play with a purity and flair which is frequently beautiful and occasionally irresistible.
When you employ Guardiola, you believe not only that he will bring success, but that he will endow your club with the class and style which he brought to Catalonia.
Such virtues command a fabulous price, sufficient even to tempt one as wealthy as Guardiola.
But as winter takes hold of Manhattan and the city shimmers with the glad glitter of Christmas, this civilised, cultivated individual may ask himself some fundamental questions.
Did he leave the Nou Camp merely to sprinkle some class over Stamford Bridge
Should it all go wrong, could he honestly endure the prospect of a late-night visit from Bruce and Ron
Finally, most importantly, did he really launch his mighty project and build his glorious team in order to become a billionaire's bauble in South-West London
Only Guardiola knows the answers. We trust that they will be the right ones.
QPR or Kiev There's only one winner for Harry
Harry Redknapp knows how the game is played.
The big game, the one where the winner lands the job he was after all the time.
Tiring of enforced unemployment, Harry had started to raise his profile.
Hints were dropped, ribs were nudged. Harry was available.
Last weekend, he went on Match of the Day and, with a risible show of reluctance, refused to answer the patently rehearsed question about his chances of following Mark Hughes at QPR.
Playing the game: Queens Park Rangers new manager Harry Redknapp
Later, he confirmed the offer of an international post. Very lucrative. Huge challenge.
Why, his new nation might even knock England out of the World Cup.
Which would deeply offend his patriotic sensibilities but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. When he's the manager of Ukraine.
Ukraine! Can you imagine it Kiev is 1,618.2 miles from Bournemouth. How would Harry get home for tea
No, it was never going to happen and he knew it.
But it brought matters to a head.
Mark Hughes, pointless and apparently clueless, was suddenly out of work.
And Redknapp was manager of QPR.
We should not expect high achievement because they are a truly dreadful side.
But if it's low cunning you're after, then look no further. Harry's your man.
Knee jerk reactions: Neil Warnock
Since the misdeeds of minor clowns occasionally escape our attention, let's hear it for Neil Warnock, of Leeds United.
Last week, he saw his player, Luke Varney, dismissed for assaulting a Millwall opponent.
Warnock performed a series of knee-jerk responses. The Millwall player was acting. Referees didn't understand.
'You want to educate them on what's a sending-off and what isn't,' said Warnock.
Best of all: 'The game's getting soft. That's not a proper sending-off.'
The FA have charged Warnock with improper conduct.
Presumably for reinforcing the notion that certain football managers are dim, arrogant and terminally pompous.
I hope he is given an educational suspension.