Pep Guardiola's appointment as Manchester City's next manager was widely expected, but its confirmation still carried enough weight to reverberate throughout world football. The 45-year-old Catalan is the game's most coveted coach, a charismatic and intense personality who has achieved glittering success at Barcelona - where he won two Champions League finals against Manchester United in 2009 and 2011 - and Bayern Munich based on an artistic passing approach. Now Guardiola is coming to the Premier League to direct City to the sort of domination that has always been the ambition of their Abu Dhabi-based owners since they bought the club in 2008.
What will Guardiola bring to Manchester City?
Guardiola brings profile, success and a consummate coaching CV to a club that has effectively been assembled to accommodate his arrival. For all the speculation linking him with Manchester United and Chelsea , where Guardiola has always been owner Roman Abramovich's dream appointment - the presence of his former Barcelona cohorts Txiki Begiristain as director of football and chief executive Ferran Soriano meant the Etihad was always the favoured destination.
Guardiola comes with a stellar record at two European superpowers that demands instant respect, a name and reputation that can potentially attract any player in world football and a standing that now gives Manchester City a status and importance they have never had before. Barcelona's Brazil superstar Neymar said recently: "Guardiola is a guy that I really admire and who I would love to work with. It's tough to say if I want to play in other countries. Nobody knows tomorrow but I'm very happy where I am right now at Barcelona."
And former Chelsea forward Eidur Gudjohnsen, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, says: "Whatever team he goes to he will be successful. For me, it's almost a certainty. He's up there with the best. I had the pleasure of working with him, so you do get the sense he's at a very high level. When he started at Barcelona he was inexperienced at the top level, but we sensed as a team, as players, from day one: 'Yeah, this guy knows what he's talking about.'" Bayern's players, led by captain and World Cup winner Philipp Lahm, have also been universal in their praise for Guardiola during his three years in Munich. The testimony of Neymar proves that while pretty much any player in world football is within City's financial reach, Guardiola's arrival means they now also have a manager who can attract them on a footballing basis.
Are City now bigger than United?
The club once branded "the noisy neighbours" by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson now have a manager who will be the envy of most supporters at Old Trafford, a man many would have regarded as the perfect Old Trafford appointment. While Manchester United have served up a dull brand of football under the much-criticised Louis van Gaal, City have landed the man who has made his name producing football of the highest quality - with success to match. Since arriving at Bayern at the start of the 2013-14, Guardiola's teams have an 88% passing accuracy in Bundesliga games, averaged 71% possession and scored 224 goals, with Borussia Dortmund their nearest rivals on 179.
United may be able to call themselves a bigger business and have a larger worldwide fan base, but by acquiring Guardiola, a man who would have been welcomed any club in the game, City have confirmed they are currently moving forward at a greater pace. City can eclipse United, should they wish, with their financial firepower and they will use that to cash in on the appointment of one of the game's most celebrated and decorated figures. So are they now bigger? In footballing terms the answer is surely 'yes'. If Manchester United fans felt they were in danger of being left behind before, those fears will only have increased with Guardiola's appointment at City. There was even a suggestion they held off making any sort of approach for fear of it appearing they had been outflanked and beaten to him by their neighbours.
It certainly increases the pressure on Van Gaal and United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to at least look like they are on the right lines, which is not currently the case. And if Van Gaal continues to struggle and United make a change, surely the odds on Jose Mourinho arriving at Old Trafford shortened once Guardiola was announced as City's next manager? United need to make a powerful statement in response , and would they risk a rookie appointment like Ryan Giggs, who has no full-time managerial experience, in opposition to a man who has known little other than success? Once the noisy neighbours, City have proved by luring Guardiola they are currently the major footballing power in Manchester.