Juanma Lillo will make a high-profile Premier League debut on Sunday, taking charge of champions Man City in Pep Guardiola’s absence.
Guardiola’s relatively unknown second-in-command will take command from the dugout as the treble winners visit Sheffield United without their influential manager.
The experienced 57-year-old has built a diverse and intriguing coaching career, having operated in countries such as Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Japan, China, and his home country of Spain.
He initially became part of Guardiola’s backroom team in 2020 following Mikel Arteta’s departure and remained at the Etihad Stadium for two years before departing for a position in Qatar.
Guardiola is absent for City’s match against Sheffield due to a surgery
Man City achieved Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup success without him. However, Guardiola aimed to rehire him following the departures of Enzo Maresca and Rodolfo Borrell at the end of the season.
The two have maintained their friendship since Guardiola played under Juanma Lillo at the Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa and were eager to collaborate once more.
Lillo told reporters: “When I left was more of a ‘see you later’. He’s someone very special to me, not only in footballing terms.
“I am here to be with someone who’s been very important in my life.”
Lillo acknowledges that he has returned to a highly capable setup and is committed to doing his best to preserve its strength.
“A good team without good players is impossible, but at the moment we have good players and a really good coach. It’s very well managed.
“The way we train has a lot to do towards the way we play. That’s how we do it.
“Things might not always go our way, but I can assure you that we’re going to continue doing things the right way.”
Bernardo Silva, who recently inked a new contract with City, is once again available for the trip to Bramall Lane after recovering from illness.
The coaching staff might consider including the new signing Jeremy Doku in the selection, but John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne are unavailable due to injury.