By Williams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
After what can be termed an abysmal (in recent development and expectation) season for football club Barcelona, Terry Gibson suggests Barcelona set their sights higher in their search for a new manager this summer.
Current manager Luis Enrique has announced his intention to leave at the end of the season when his contract runs out, with his assistant Juan Carlos Unzue a candidate to take over at the Nou Camp.
Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli and Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde have also been mentioned as contenders for the soon-to-be-vacant post. But Gibson, speaking on the latest edition of the La Liga Weekly podcast, believes Barca should aim to appoint a coach with an elite reputation.
Should they fail to lure the likes of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte or Jurgen Klopp, Gibson says Barca could then move on to a “more realistic” set of targets.
“I think any manager would find it hard to turn down so my list might surprise a few people, but I think Barcelona are in danger of setting their sights too low. “My first phone call would be to Pep Guardiola; see how much he’s in love with Manchester City. If he says no, move onto the next one.
“My second one would be to Simeone. He would be ideal in terms of a leader and I think he would be flexible enough to understand the players he’s got and work with them and build them into a team again, which is what they need.
“I’d go to Jurgen Klopp next and see if he was interested. Big clubs change managers, big managers go from one job to another; normally the top ones are in demand and they don’t wait to get the sack.
“I’d probably chuck Antonio Conte in there as well and test the water; that would be my job as sporting director to find the best and see if they were interested. “After that, I’ve got a more realistic list along the lines of those who’ve got a link with Barcelona in the past.
“Laurent Blanc is another name – played for Barcelona, won a title with Bordeaux as well as PSG because I know people say they usually win it by Christmas – and he’s been manager of France.
The pundit went on to indicate he would never put Unzue (current Barcelona assistant coach) in the running in the first place despite seeing that the defeat to Juventus (in the UCL quarter final) had apparently cost him any chance of the job [because of his association with Luis Enrique].