LONDON • With Pep Guardiola expected to confirm today that he will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season, talk is rife that Manchester City are in pole position to appoint the Spanish coach next summer, if he does not take a sabbatical.
But, even as City's incumbent manager Manuel Pellegrini claimed that he would have an "impossible" job trying to manage the English football club if he allowed himself to be distracted by the shadow of Guardiola, Rio Ferdinand implored Manchester United to make a move for the Spaniard - or risk losing out on him forever.
Pellegrini, 62, has endured persistent speculation about his future and the prospect of 44-year-old Guardiola replacing him over the past 18 months.
Yet, the Chilean said it was inevitable that a manager of Guardiola's talents - who has won three La Liga, two Bundesliga and two Champions League titles in his time with Barcelona and Bayern - would be linked with a host of leading jobs.
He claimed his experience at Real Madrid (2009-10) had taught him to cope with uncertainty.
"I think Pep is one of the best coaches in the world, so if he doesn't continue at Bayern, maybe a lot of clubs can try to have him manage their team," Pellegrini said before City's Premier League game away to Arsenal tomorrow.
I think Pep is one of the best coaches in the world, so if he doesn't continue at Bayern, maybe a lot of clubs can try to have him manage their team. In my case, I don't have any pressure about that.''
MANUEL PELLEGRINI, Manchester City manager
"In my case, I don't have any pressure about that.
"The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself to win."
The jury remains out on Pellegrini in many quarters. City go to the Emirates having not won away in the Premier League since Sept 12 against Crystal Palace.
They have scored just once on their travels in the top flight after that tie.
The game against Arsenal is the first of five away matches in their next six fixtures in all competitions.
Pellegrini admitted that record had to improve. "Maybe the last results of the games we played away were not as good as we want but playing away is always more difficult," he said. "It's a very important game but not decisive."
Another manager presiding over a poor run is Louis van Gaal.
His United side, before their game against Norwich City last night, had not won in five matches, during which they were knocked out of the Champions League and scored only four times.
And former United defender Ferdinand, who has been critical of the team's style under van Gaal, 64, is concerned that an opportunity to attract Guardiola to Old Trafford would not come around twice.
"The thing with Manchester United is that he will go to one Premier League team and won't be going to another (after that)," Ferdinand, 37, said. "There is one chance - you have one chance to get him.
"He won't go to Manchester City and then to United; he's not going to go to Chelsea and then United.
"It won't happen so you've got one chance to get the best manager on the planet."
To Ferdinand, van Gaal's intention to depart Old Trafford - when his contract expires in 2017 - could make any severance, and installation of Guardiola, more straightforward than with a longer-term incumbent.
According to The Guardian, Carlo Ancelotti has agreed a contract in principle - for three years- with Bayern to replace Guardiola at the end of the season.
The German club hope the news that Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League three times, has agreed to take over will soften the blow of losing Guardiola.
Ancelotti has been on a sabbatical since leaving Real Madrid in the summer, taking time out to recharge his batteries after two successful seasons in Spain.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN