Pep Guardiola gave his life to sport of soccer for 15 years as a player, and although he did not enter the pitch as much as he wanted because of injuries, it became a constant reminder how short and fragile the life of a soccer player was.
TEACHINGS FROM A MASTER
Guardiola grew up playing for Barcelona, and as a midfielder, his role was vital in their success. However, the 80s was not kind to the club. They did not see the kind of success that a club their size should be having. They were desperate for someone to steer the ship in the right direction, and that was why they brought in Johan Cruyuff.
Cruyuff was a legend in Barcelona, and his success coaching Ajax drew the attention of the soccer club. Once he held the manager position in Barcelona, he gave them an identity that they needed. He believed in playing the right way, and that meant passing the ball as frequently as possible. This style of play, where they dominate the game by dominating the ball, brought the club league championships for four straight seasons. This was when Guardiola was introduced to the playstyle of ‘total football’.
AS BARCELONA’S COACH
When Guardiola left Barcelona in 2001, it took him six years before returning. Having retired a year before, he was given the coaching position wherein he imposed his style of play that imposed players to play onto a team. He first implemented the philosophy in Barcelona’s Team B. Not long after, he was called up to coach the main team.
With this change, Guardiola brought the club three La Liga championships, and the Champion’s League twice. This marked the return of Barcelona soccer, success that they never had since Cruyuff, from which Guardiola took inspiration from.
In addition to the success, the playstyle was easy on the eye, and this resulted to Barcelona becoming an exciting team to watch once more.
HIS TIME IN GERMANY
Guardiola took a break from coaching, and when he returned, he went and do so in Germany. He coached Bayern Munich and continued to impose his style of play on to the German team. It took a while to get the players who would buy into his system, and once he did, he coached them to three Bundes Liga championships in every season that he was with them.
However, it was a Champions League that the club wanted, and he failed to deliver.
BUYING IN WITH THE ENGLISH
Manchester did everything they could to acquire Guardiola when he left Bundes Liga, and they did, but the first season ended in disappointment. The next ones, however, made everyone speechless.
During the 2017-18 season, they ran over the league and cumulated 100 points, a first in league history. However, that did not translate to championships in each of the two seasons he was with them.
Many would compare Guardiola to widely successful managers, especially in the Premier League who won multiple cups. Names like Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley are some that were brought up. However, many believe that he has not stayed in a club long enough to build continuous success a winning culture that he would have wanted. On the other hand, there are those who say that his teams are far greater in talent than other teams – he had Messi in Barcelona, and City was the most expensive team ever built.
Critics will tell you that Guardiola needs to win more before he can be considered as a great coach which he has plenty of time to do. Anyways, he has not turned 50, yet.