Two of the Premier League’s leading tacticians will pit their wits against each other tomorrow lunchtime, as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City host Antonio Conte’s Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.
But the two bosses could easily have been in opposite dugouts, it has emerged tonight.
According to Matt Law of the Telegraph, Conte was Chelsea’s second choice to take over after Pep Guardiola. And in a little known fact, then Italy boss Conte was also Manchester City’s second choice if Pep had decided to stay in Germany or chose Chelsea.
The presence of allies Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, among others, in the corridors of power at the Etihad, always meant City had the edge in recruiting Guardiola. However, if history had been a little bit different, it could have been another Italian in charge following the popular reign of Roberto Mancini from 2009 until 2013.
During their press conferences earlier, the two coaches had nothing but praise for each other. Conte claimed Guardiola as more famous than him, while Pep said Conte is one of the best managers in the world.
Tomorrow, with a single point separating their sides, the two lead their teams into battle in what could be one of the most intense matches of the Premier League season.
Be sure to check out our pre-match content ahead of Manchester City vs. Chelsea – our Match Preview, Ask the Opposition and Predicted City XI. And why not listen to our latest City Watch Podcast previewing the big game?