As a summer of transfers continues, Manchester City assistant manager Juanma Lillo is one of the latest departures from the Etihad Stadium. The 56-year-old who has been at City for the last two years leaves to join Qatari club Al-Sadd as their new head coach.
City have enjoyed two years of success winning the Premier League title back-to-back as he served beside Pep Guardiola. Needless to say, Guardiola holds him in high regard, electing to bring him to the Etihad Stadium in June 2020 as a replacement for Mikel Arteta who left in December 2019 to take over at Arsenal.
The Spanish manager has reflected on his time at City, expressing gratitude for the opportunity.
“My time at Manchester City has been one of the most enjoyable periods of my career,” said Lillo.
“To work alongside Pep, his backroom staff and this group of players has been a pleasure and I hope to have contributed in a small way to the fantastic success we have enjoyed on the pitch.
“I wish the club the very best and hope they can achieve all of their ambitions moving forwards.”
Prior to coming to Manchester City, Lillo had been a much-traveled coach. He had managed several teams on several continents including South America and Asia. He now heads to Qatar to lead a team that was previously managed by Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez.
It does seem the Qatari club owners are looking for a particular brand of football with a philosophy similar to that of Pep Guardiola. They are also counting on the experience acquired by Lillo in his long career as a manager at many club sides to move them forward.
In an official statement, Man City have wished Lillo well in his new adventure. A statement by director of football Txiki Begiristain read: “Juanma has been an integral part of a team that has won back-to-back Premier League titles.
“It has been a pleasure working with Juanma over the last two seasons and everybody at Manchester City wishes him well in his new venture.”
Lillo’s departure leaves Guardiola with the task of finding another assistant. One of those that could be picked for the position is Enzo Maresca. The 42-year-old previously coached City’s Under-23s and led the team to the Premier League 2 title before leaving for Parma in 2021.
But things did not go as planned over there as he was sacked by the Italian club in November 2021 for failing to lead the side back to the Italian top flight.
The development with Lillo means Guardiola will not only be pursuing deals for players but also actively searching for an assistant prior to the commencement of the new season.