The former Real Sociedad, Vissel Kobe, and Real Oviedo manager Juanma Lillo joined Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach – a position he held with Sevilla and Chile under Jorge Sampaoli.
Lillo was in charge of the Qingdao Huanghai Chinese Club until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the decision to make him Mikel Arteta’s replacement at the Etihad reunited him with Guardiola, whom he coached at the end of the playing career of the City Manager and with whom he had long been close. Guardiola regards a mentor to the 54-year-old.
In a quote on the City website, Lillo said: “I am pleased to have joined the coaching staff at Manchester City. My relationship with Pep goes back many years and as part of this exciting team, I am thrilled to be joining him.
In September 1996, Lillo first met Guardiola, when the then Barcelona midfielder knocked on the door of Oviedo’s dressing room after a match and asked to meet the man whose team had just impressed him so much. He was deeply committed to a positional game and with a reputation as a philosopher.
In 2003, When Guardiola first agreed to join Barcelona as sporting director, he had intended to name Lillo as manager but they did not win the election. He joined with presidential candidate Lluis Bassat. When Guardiola saw his play career at Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico in 2005, he was his mentor and Lillo helped plan training sessions when the City Manager began his coaching career for the first time.
This is Lillo’s twentieth coaching stint in six countries including Andrés Iniesta managing in Japan. After bringing Salamanca to the top flight in 1995, he became the youngest boss at La Liga, aged 29. Lillo’s last time employed in Spain as a director was with Almería. He was sacked after an 8-0 loss – to Barcelona’s Guardiola.