Pep Guardiola says he wants to manage in England
LONDON (AP) -Pep Guardiola wants to manage in England, an encouraging signal to the Premier League clubs constantly linked with the manager.
The 41-year-old Guardiola is on a one-year break from football since leaving Barcelona last May after four trophy-laden years in charge.
Having announced plans to return to management next season, Guardiola's services are in demand - particularly in England where he has been linked most strongly with Chelsea and Manchester City.
"As a player, I couldn't realize my dream to play there (in England),'' Guardiola said. "But I hope in the future, I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there.
"It is unique, to play in that league. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players and everything.''
Guardiola's glowing tribute to the English game features in a video to be shown Wednesday at the launch of celebrations marking the English Football Association's 150th anniversary.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, a former Chelsea manager, will also be shown via video at the event saying "one day I will come back because English football means a lot to myself.''
But with Mourinho committing his future to Madrid for now, the prospect of Guardiola joining an English club at the end of his sabbatical in New York next season is more realistic.
Guardiola has been long coveted by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, and interim manager Rafa Benitez is only contracted until the end of the season.
Roberto Mancini's job security at Manchester City won't be helped if his team fails to defend the Premier League title, especially after crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage for a second successive season. Key former Barca executives who worked with Guardiola have also recently joined City.
The Manchester United job could be attractive to Guardiola, but the 71-year-old Alex Ferguson has indicated that he has no immediate plans to retire.
"I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could be able to train (in England) and enjoy that,'' Guardiola said. "I've always found English football very fascinating ... the support of the home team is amazing.
"In Italy, Latin people will support you when they are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England, I'm always surprised that people always support everything and that is nice. That's why, maybe, I hope to have the challenge or the opportunity to train there.''
As a player, Guardiola won the European Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1992 when Barca beat Sampdoria and he lifted the same trophy at the rebuilt London venue as their manager in 2011 with a victory over Manchester United.
"I am a lucky guy, because I had the opportunity to play two finals, both in England at Wembley,'' Guardiola said. "And that's why my relationship with England is pretty close.''
The FA will use Wednesday's event in London to kickstart a year of events to mark its 150th anniversary, including high-profile friendlies against Brazil home and away, as well as fixtures against Ireland and Scotland.
"They created the rules of football and they have a responsibility for the game,'' Guardiola said of the FA. "They have been important in the development of our beautiful, beautiful game.''
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris