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Oct 29, 2012

Man City play down Guardiola talk

Manchester City have moved quickly to quash speculation that the appointments of former Barcelona director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano will lead to Pep Guardiola's arrival in the Premier League.

• Blog: City follow Barca path
• City dismiss revolt talk
• Begiristain takes Man City role
• Blog: Team of two halves

According to ESPN sources at Eastlands, Brian Marwood is supportive of the appointment of a new director of football who will have a key role alongside manager Roberto Mancini as a strategic part of the plan to make the club world leaders in developing and recruiting players.

But the behind-the-scenes shake-up does not include replacing manager Mancini with Guardiola, sources at Manchester City are at pains to point out. The club know that it is sure to draw intense media speculation while City are struggling in the Champions league.

The ESPN source said: "Roberto has won three trophies in two and a half years and was given a new five year contract in the summer, and that would not have happened if the powers to be thought they had the wrong manager.

"No, this is not about the manager or as some mischief-makers might assume. The possible recruitment of another former Barcelona man, that is just not what is going on here.

"We have a monster of a project with our new academy and Brian is going to oversee that while Txiki comes in as we need a division or roles.

"Brian met up with Txiki on Thursday and Friday and Brian has the respect of the chairman and has been a constant in all that has been going on with some big changes and the creation of a philosophy and everyone is working together toward that end."

The Premier League champions last week appointed the 48-year-old Begiristain, who held the same position at Barcelona from 2008 to 2010. He will "take responsibility for supporting the first-team manager, Roberto Mancini, in first-team recruitment and operations."

Marwood, formerly the club's football administrator, now takes on the role of managing director of the new City Football Academy when it opens at the start of the 2013/14 season, responsible for the recruitment, development, training and management of up to 400 players.

He and Begiristain will report to Soriano, who commented: "Sustainability has always been central to Sheikh Mansour's investment in Manchester City Football Club.

'The long term future of the football club is dependent upon our ability to recruit and develop young players all the way through to the first team squad. The focus must be on both academy and first team and the close co-ordination between them.

"Given the scale and importance of this challenge, we want to commit our very best people to it. I am delighted that Brian Marwood will take leadership of the CFA initiative and I am equally very pleased to welcome an individual of Txiki Begiristain's calibre to the club.

"I have no doubt that together, and in support of Roberto Mancini and the wider football club, they will be a formidable team."

Marwood added: "The club's new football operations structure is a hallmark of our hard work to date and the two leadership roles are a necessity borne of both success and ambition.

"Txiki and I have a shared philosophy when it comes to football operations and I very much look forward to the work that we will carry out together.

"The leadership of CFA allows me to take up an incredibly challenging role. We have a shared expectation that CFA will shape the footballing future of MCFC and as a result it is a role through which I feel I can make a major contribution to the club.'

But the re-shuffle behind-the-scenes at City comes at a time when Mancini looks like going out of the Champions League again at the group stage, and speculation about Guardiola is reaching new heights.

However, Guardiola is also linked with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. ESPN sources confirmed that Chelsea is still his most likely destination, unless Arsenal make a more positive move, with indications that they are monitoring the situation in the eventuality that Arsene Wenger opts to call time on his long career with the Gunners.

ESPN revealed in the summer that Roman Abramovich has made it clear to Guardiola that even a £20 million-a-year contract would not be out of the question if the Spaniard came to Stamford Bridge - hence the uncomfortable delay between winning the Champions League before the appointment of Di Matteo on a two-year contract.

Guardiola has, of course, been touted as an eventual replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson, a role for which Jose Mourinho is also perpetually linked. But Manchester United are also monitoring the progress of David Moyes whose stock has never been higher with Everton currently pushing for a Champions League spot, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season and the Everton manager putting talks of a new one on hold.

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