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Pep Guardiola and the other 4 top managers facing make-or-break seasons

Europe's biggest clubs are far from stable. There are five managers who won't be in the same place next season unless they win trophies -- and two who need to do even more than that.

Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

At the end of the 2015-16 season, many of Europe's biggest clubs will be looking for a new manager. The reason for that simply boils down to this August being the start of must-win campaigns for many of UEFA's biggest powers, where the future of these sides could look radically different at season’s end.

Bayern Munich, Manchester City and PSG are among those with their managers on shaky grounds. And with big names such as Carlo Ancelotti and Jürgen Klopp lurking in the wings, while Diego Simeone and Unai Emery could be ready to take on big new jobs, notable faces on the touchline are on high alert.

Whether it’s winning the Champions League or just needing to vastly improve from a disappointing 2014-15, it’s a make-or-break season for managers at many of the planet’s most glamorous clubs.

Let’s take a look at which coaches are under the warmest of hot seats.

Pep Guardiola -- Bayern Munich

The former Barcelona manager was brought in to build off the club’s 2012-13 treble-winning season under Jupp Heynckes. But only domestic domination is what he’s achieved, while defeats against Real Madrid and Barcelona in the past two Champions League semifinals have clouded his tenure. Injuries have been a key factor in preventing Bayern from adding to their five European Cups, but Guardiola’s possession-obsession style has come under criticism from even the likes of club legend Franz Beckenbauer, calling it "boring." His refusal to sign a contract extension with the club has alienated the Bayern board and could already spell his exit from the German power, regardless of what happens this season.

How he’ll keep his job -- Winning the Champions League is paramount to whether his tenure can be considered a success or disappointment, and if the club really does want him to stay for one more season. If key players like Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Medhi Benatia actually stay healthy this season, that will help a lot.

How he’ll lose his job -- Another year without a European crown will certainly make it difficult for him to return to the Allianz Arena, no matter what his team does in the Bundesliga or DFB-Pokal.

Manuel Pellegrini -- Manchester City

The man who will allegedly be replaced by Guardiola just signed a one-year contract extension. But Pellegrini was in a lame duck position with the club, and they've managed to fix that without making him expensive to get rid of.

City were disappointing for most of last season and finished the year with zero trophies. The amicable Chilean is a delightful person all around, but with City always rumored to be looking for a new manager, Pellegrini knows one bad run of form from his side will likely have his days numbered at the Eithad.

How he’ll keep his job -- Pellegrini must win the Premier League this season, and at least be a true Champions League title contender with nothing less than a semifinal appearance.

How he’ll lose lose it -- A bad stretch in which he sees his center back group of Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala fall apart could finally end Pellegrini’s time in the blue side of Manchester.

Laurent Blanc -- Paris Saint-Germain

A huge psychological win over Chelsea in the Champions League Round of 16 and having the support of many of his players has given the 49-year-old some breathing room. But with Qatar Sports Investments still obsessed with its club winning Europe’s club crown jewel, all of Blanc’s current good standing will mean nothing if he doesn't at least get them to the finals at the San Siro this year. Bringing in Angel Di Maria as another superstar option at his disposal only ratchets up the expectations more.

How he’ll keep his job -- A deep run to the ultimate match of the Champions League is now mandatory for Blanc. Only an unexpected array of injuries harming PSG’s lofty ambitions is the lone excuse he can afford to have.

How he’ll lose his job -- Just like with Guardiola, all the domestic domination will be irrelevant if he's not successful in Europe.

Rafa Benitez -- Real Madrid

Every second as a Real Madrid manager is pressurized no matter who is at the helm. And already, not even into his first official match, there is negativity and uncertainty surrounding the veteran Spanish tactician. Most, if not all, of Real’s key players loved Ancelotti -- particularly Cristiano Ronaldo -- and are still annoyed at Florentino Perez for jettisoning the man who brought their long-coveted La Decima crown.

Between his dreadful tenures at both Inter Milan and Chelsea, no one has much confidence in Benitez being the man to lead Real to their first La Liga title in four years. He already has drawn the ire of Ronaldo in the preseason, and a rocky start could lead to Perez pulling the trigger quick.

How he’ll keep his job -- Unlike most of the other managers listed here, Benitez does have the benefit of being in his first year. If he at least gets strong results with no less than a league crown, while keeping Real among Europe’s elite, he should have no fears of returning for a second season.

How he’ll lose his job -- A poor stretch, locker room grumbles about his tactics and criticism from Bernabeu supporters could easily see him gone in year one.

Louis van Gaal -- Manchester United

The Dutch taskmaster erased the horrible malaise that David Moyes cast over Manchester United. His top-four finish was a welcoming result to ease fears of the club slipping into an extended period of mediocrity. But David de Gea was the main reason why the Red Devils returned to the Champions League, not van Gaal’s unpredictable and unestablished philosophy. Now with de Gea rumored to be heading to Madrid, van Gaal could be without his best player from last year as expectations grow for the Red Devils this season.

With the large amount of money the cantankerous manager spent this summer (and he's expected to spend some more), finishing fourth again is not an option. And considering how van Gaal can blow up at the media at any moment, a run of shaky results could lead to bust-ups with reporters, as well as his players.

How he’ll keep his job -- A return to both Premier League title contention and formidable Champions League form will ensure the Iron Tulip (he hates that nickname) continues entertaining fans, players and unfortunate media alike.

How he’ll lose his job -- If his new signings don’t pan out while the team struggles to clinch a top-four finish, Red Devils supporters will be calling for another change.


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