An undying penchant for the most perfect version of football- Pep Guardiola’s life post coaching has revolved around finding the style that does not even exist. He is a football romantic. From playing in Johan Cryuff’s ‘Dream Team’ to managing Manchester City, Pep’s story is everything that makes football such a wonderful sport to watch. A story that’s worth telling and listening to.
Pep Guardiola is a football obsessive. A perfectionist who changed the way Barcelona played and won a treble in his first season becoming the youngest manager to win the Champions League.
Understanding Pep Guardiola’s managerial craft during Barcelona days
A decade ago, Barcelona revolutionised the way of playing football after the arrival of one man. One-man-WHO? Not Lionel Messi but it was the catalan – Pep Guardiola.
Initially, he used the 4-3-3 formation. The formation that he was a part of during his playing days under the legendary Cryuff. When you take a dip into the bastion he created during his time at Barca, you realize the value of his tactics.
“Intelligence is often expressed in how well you adapt to where you are, to your circumstances. And he is very, very intelligent. He would adapt to any football anywhere. He is a perfectionist, obsessive: he keeps going until he gets it right, no matter what he’s doing. If Pep Guardiola decided to be a musician, he would be a good musician. If he wanted to be a psychologist, he would be a good psychologist.” said Xavi in one of his interviews.
He switched to 3-4-3 in the coming seasons. Pep wanted Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi to stay near one another and create some kind of unspoken chemistry that football had never seen.
Pep’s philosophy led him to winning 14 major trophies with Barcelona.
It would not be fair to say that it was just Pep’s tactics which led to Barca’s domination in world football but his imagination did manage to change football. Forever.
A call from Germany, Herr Guardiola: Switch to Bayern Munich (2013-16)
After an year-long sabbatical, Pep was back. Football missed him. I did. Real Madrid supporters did not.
Guardiola replaced Jupp Heynckes as Bayern’s manager. Such is his level of commitment that Pep Guardiola practised German for 4-5 hours a day and gave an impressive first press conference as Bayern’s boss. The modern managerial king of football had arrived in Germany.
Pep’s aura is quite something. His insights regarding modern football will take you by surprise. The depth of knowledge is something.. There is something in the man that makes you fall in his awe.
During his 3-year long stint at Bayern Munich, the transformation of Javi Martinez was what took me (a football fan) by surprise.
“Pep makes a player better. He’s helped me to understand football better. We work a lot on tactics, he’s taught me with 200 videos. He taught me a completely different role as a central defender than I was playing under Marcelo Bielsa [at Athletic Bilbao]. He dared to ask [Philipp] Lahm to play in the middle, he made [Jerome] Boateng the best central defender in Europe with the ball at his feet. He hates it when players get hurt, because, first of all, he appreciates you as a person. He makes you feel important. That’s crucial for us on a mental level.” – Javi Martinez
Pep ended remarkably with 7 trophies in three years with Bayern.
Premier League’s call – Pep, can you do it on a cold rainy night at Stoke?
Did he actually do it? The answer is – Yes. 4 wins out of 4 against Stoke in Premier League since he arrived in England as Manchester City’s manager.
Man City finished 3rd in Premier League in 2016-17, however, they ended up with no trophies. The genius failed in his first season and there were serious doubts if he could ever fit in the Premier League.
How did he reply to the critics?
A tactical tweak once again to his rescue. He invested heavily in full-backs and GK in 2017-18 summer transfer window. Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Ederson arrived at the club.
The reason behind it?
What was the result?
Man City had won the Premier League. This was Classic Pep. Manchester City also won Carabao Cup as they defeated Arsenal by a convincing 3-0.