Early Doors

Pep’s Chelsea snub a no-brainer

What a great day to be Rafa Benitez. Sure, your team threw away a two-goal lead at home to Southampton. Yes, you got booed by your own fans.

But with Pep Guardiola's move to Bayern Munich, Rafa moved a step closer to removing the word 'interim' from his job title.

Guardiola's decision should disappoint Chelsea fans, but it should absolutely not come as a surprise.

The Bundesliga has become something of a favourite in this country in recent years. Not because anyone watches the games, of course, but because of the culture.

Clubs majority-owned by the fans; youth systems that help the national team instead of hindering it; cheap tickets, huge attendances and a beer as you stand on the terraces.

It sounds like football heaven - at least it does if you gloss over the worrying spike in crowd trouble.

It's also a bit patronising - it paints the Bundesliga as a small-time backwater where suffocatingly bland commercialisation has yet to take hold, and fans can hold banners complaining about ticket prices without threat of arrest.

Germany is all good fun, but it's not meant to take the best players and coaches off us - after all, that's what Spain is for.

And yet, there goes Pep, thinking he can prove himself in a league not sponsored by a major bank. The fool.

He was probably attracted by the same things the rest of us like about the Bundesliga (except maybe the beer - ED isn't sure how he'll react to this sort of thing).

Maybe it's more than just a feeder league for English clubs unable to develop their own players?

What's more, this wasn't a choice for Germany over England. It was a choice for Bayern over Chelsea.

That's Bayern Munich. One of the greatest clubs in history. Champions of Germany 22 times; four-time European Cup winners. A club with pedigree, history and a structure in which he can thrive. Bayern have a magnificent stadium, a superb youth structure and a board - while full of egotistical ex-players - that will give him time to put his ideas in place.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are not the biggest team in their country. They aren't even the biggest team in their city. The only two clubs in England with a history to rival Bayern's are Manchester United and Liverpool, and they already have managers. Arsenal, too, might prove an attraction. But Chelsea?

Why on earth would he go to Chelsea? A club with an owner for whom 'time to rebuild the squad' means 10 games. A club where he would endure massive media attention and find himself constantly measured against Jose Mourinho, a man he loathes. A club whose academy turns out roughly one decent player a decade. A club whose stadium is little more than a hotel annexe, with no immediate prospect of a replacement.

Such is the demand for Guardiola, that he's basically starting up a game of Football Manager right now - he can pick his club.

What would you do? Go to Chelsea? Of course not. Too nouveau riche, too plastic, too much chance of getting sacked. And you don't even have the fun part where you buy an entire squad with Roman's cash. Claudio Ranieri and Jose got to do that.

Bayern? Ja, bitte. It just feels right, doesn't it?

Guardiola deserves some credit for not selling himself to the highest bidder.

Clearly 20 years in football have made him a very rich man. But where some people's wealth gives them little but an obligation to make more (that means you, Mr Adebayor), Guardiola has used to do what he wants, to give him genuine freedom.

Nobody motivated solely by money would take a year's sabbatical at a time when every club in the world wants; so when he did go back to work there was never any chance of him simply looking at the bottom line and choosing the largest number.

(Of course Bayern won't exactly be paying him minimum wage, and we're talking about a man who rejected Manchester United to go and play in Qatar.)

It's not all bad for Chelsea. If Abramovich tires of Benitez, and he surely will, he won't struggle to attract a decent coach to Stamford Bridge. There are too many managers vying for too few jobs - in any case it's a handy little payday, and getting sacked by Chelsea carries no stigma whatsoever, so your future career prospects are unharmed.

If Pep doesn't want to join the Chelski revolution, that's his loss. He's just a thin Spanish waiter.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Big Sam, conspiracy theorist: "There's no doubt about the difference between Rafael's handball and Jordan Spence's. Spence plays for West Ham and the away team, while Rafael plays for the home side at Old Trafford. With Rafael, the ball hits his hand but no penalty is given. With Jordan Spence, the ball hits his hand and it's a penalty. You see it time and time again at Old Trafford. The ref did not see Rafael's handball because of his position. But he was in a worse position to see Jordan Spence's than Rafael's."

BEYOND PARODY: When Early Doors saw this, it was absolutely convinced it was a hoax. Convinced. It isn't. From John Terry's Instagram account:

SPEAKING OF PARODY: Even if you don't know who Manti Te'o is - and you probably don't - you absolutely must read this story. It's absolutely mental. Deadspin: Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax