Thursday's soccer news starts with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola now under contract with the club through the 2022-23 season. Rumors linked Guardiola with a return to Barcelona, perhaps playing off the idea that he isn't known for spending significant time at any club he's coached.
"Having that kind of support is the best thing any manager can have," Guardiola said in a press statement. "I have everything I could possibly want to do my job well and I am humbled by the confidence the Owner, Chairman, Ferran and Txiki have shown in me to continue for two more years after this season. The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving, and I am very excited and about helping Manchester City do that."
While it's easy to point to managers not seeing out their contract one way or the other, Guardiola commiting to City raises an interesting scenario. How much weight does an elite team put on results during the pandemic?
Barcelona deemed their 2019-20 Champions League exit such a problem that the quick answer was a new coach. Eventually, that also required a new president and board of directors. Juventus also decided their Champions League finish meant a coaching change after losing to Lyon on away goals in the round of 16
Manchester City exited the Champions League in the quarterfinals with an unlikely 3-1 loss to that same Lyon squad. Bayern Munich knocked Lyon out in semifinals 3-0 after beating Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals. It's worth the mention that Bayern beating Chelsea 7-1 in the round of 16 didn't overly threaten Frank Lampard's job.
As has been clear for several seasons now, there are only so many coaches a super club can trust with their brand. Those clubs will take risks with former players, but coaches rising through the ranks and ending up at the elite level are a small and well-compensated group. They also normally end up taking jobs at multiple elite clubs, carrying with them a proven set of tactical ideas. Those normally require a substantial payroll to work as intended.
Manchester City's Champions League struggles are well known, compounded by Liverpool beating Spurs in the 2018-19 final and not helped at all last season. That's as much the challenge as keeping pace at or near the top of the Premier League. Still, these are not normal times, and clubs need to weigh their decisions carefully. Barcelona is in 8th-place in La Liga. Juventus is 5th in Serie A. Manchester City is 10th in the Premier League, something that apparently isn't adding significant pressure onto Guardiola's long-term project at the club.
Also in the soccer news, in a statement LAFC, "confirmed that defender Diego Palacios, midfielder Jose Cifuentes, and forward Diego Rossi have tested positive for COVID-19 while with the Ecuador and Uruguay National Teams during the most recent November FIFA international window. Upon receipt of the positive results, the players entered self-isolation in their respective countries and will remain isolated and follow their local restrictions and protocol prior to returning to Los Angeles. Additionally, forward Brian Rodríguez, who has been with the Uruguayan National Team, continues to test negative at this time. His return to Los Angeles as well as his status for LAFC's playoff match against Seattle Sounders FC on Nov. 24 is still to be determined."
ESPN's Mark Ogden talks to third-choice Manchester City goalkeeper Scott Carson about his role in helping second-choice keeper Zack Steffen. SI.com's Jonathan Wilson argues that Germanty has little choice but to move on from the Joachim Low era. The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson repeats the call for more research into dementia and former professional soccer players. Inside World Football's Samindra Kunti explains the La Liga salary cap.
Frank Lampard reports Pulisic is not fit for Newcastle. Havertz's isolation is over and he has been training on his own mostly. Thiago Silva has just landed back in the UK and probably won't travel to Newcastle. Some other players are only arriving back today. #NEWCHE— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 19, 2020
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