Lillo appointed assistant manager by Manchester City
Written by Simon Austin — June 9, 2020
MANCHESTER CITY have appointed Juan Manuel Lillo - described by Pep Guardiola as “the best coach I ever had” - as the club’s new assistant manager.
This is the 20th coaching assignment of the 54-year-old’s career, yet his achievements (or lack of) belie his influence as a football thinker. Guardiola had his first meaningful encounter with Lillo when he was still a player.
After his Barcelona side had beaten Oviedo 4-2, the Spain midfielder sought out the opposition manager.
“He said he liked my way of playing and we talked,” Lillo remembered in an interview with the New York Times in October 2016. “We always stayed in touch after that.”
Lillo then signed the Spain international for Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico in 2005. The team were relegated during Guardiola’s five months there, but the experience was a formative one for the aspiring coach.
Guardiola has described Lillo as the “maestro” and “the best coach I ever had”, while Lillo has returned the compliments by saying City's manager is “one of the most important people in my life, like a son to me.”
The Spaniard joins from Qingdao Huanghai after leading them to promotion to the Chinese Super League.
He said: “My relationship with Pep goes back many years and I am thrilled to be joining him as part of this exciting team. Manchester City has enjoyed much success over recent seasons and played a brand of beautiful football we have come to expect from this club and its manager.
“It’s a pleasure to become a part of this group and I hope to make an important contribution to the club’s success going forwards.”
Director of Football Txiki Begiristain added: “We are delighted to welcome Juanma to Manchester City. His vast experience working across three continents and with some of the most famous names in world football will be an invaluable asset to Pep and his team.
“We look forward to him playing a vital role as we return to football.”
Lillo replaces Mikel Arteta, who left to become manager of Arsenal in December 2019.