Guardiola’s successes as a manager have often been downplayed by many. At Barcelona, it was supposedly Lionel Messi who brought him his success, whilst at Bayern Munich he had far and away the best players in the league. Any success he has at Manchester City many will claim it is down to his rather healthy cheque book allowance.
Of course, those are all sufficient reasons for expecting and then achieving success.
Guardiola was extremely fortunate to inherit arguably the greatest football squad of all time at Barcelona.
The likes of Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets would have surely won trophy after trophy with or without Pep. The same could be said of Bayern who had by far and away the most talented squad in the Bundesliga.
In fact, you could say that Guardiola flattered to deceive in his first ever season as a manager where the title and trophies could have gone to four or five other clubs.
Last season’s woes
Last season was the first time in Guardiola’s career where he failed to win a trophy, despite winning his first ten games as manager. His decision making was at times confusing. The Spaniard was aiming to play expressive and risky football with players who struggled at the back. They were often far too open and individual errors were commonplace.
However, due to his reputation and the money he spends, people will often forget how demanding his style of football is both tactically and physically. City did not have a squad primed and ready to play his style of football and to expect immediate results was foolish and futile, despite his terrific start.
It was a similar scenario when he first took charge of Munich. Again, despite having the best players in the league, performances would often be hit and miss, despite positive results that were achieved by having far superior players and being the best side in the league.
City did not have that luxury and so points were dropped. However, once Bayern adapted to Guardiola, and he, in a way, adapted to Bayern, they were ruthless and unstoppable in the Bundesliga and won the league title every season he was manager of the club. He failed to win the Champions League whilst in Germany however, and that did stop his time in the country from being a resounding success.
You only have to look at the situation Bayern are currently in to realise the influence Guardiola had at the club and how much of an effect it has had on the side since his departure.
Carlo Ancelotti may have won the league last season, but they have struggled badly this year, leading to the Italian leaving the club.
Barcelona went through a similar lull when Guardiola left the club, and have still failed to produce a side who was as mesmerising and successful as Guardiola’s.
Like it or not, to win the treble is an incredible achievement at any club.
Guardiola has revolutionised football
Messi would have gone on to become the greatest player ever anyway, however it was Guardiola’s decision to utilise Messi as what is now known as a false nine, which saw the Argentine elevated to the levels he has since produced.
Guardiola utilised the inverted full back system at Munich with Phillip Lahm and David Alaba to great success. It was a tactic that was innovative and largely unseen in today’s game. Not only that, Guardiola got the best out of players not seen as being necessarily world class or to the level of the clubs he managed at. The signing of Juan Bernat was unexpected yet brilliant as the Spaniard slotted straight in to his demanding set up despite not being a household name.
Guardiola had a hand in turning Rafinha into of the best right backs in Europe. Guardiola didn’t and doesn’t care about reputation. Another facet of his management that has been overlooked.
Pep trusted his youth at Barcelona and Munich and ensured there was a healthy mix of new signings and players who understood the values of the club.
City are title ready
However, this is about what Guardiola is currently achieving and City are looking like everything Guardiola desires from his side. They have scored 22 goals in their first seven league games, only conceding twice. They look ruthless and creative in attack and solid in defence. Against Chelsea, he ‘out tactic’d’ Antonio Conte.
The Blues were dominated, and Pep’s style forced Chelsea to go into their shell, despite being without Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy. The decision to start Fabian Delph at left back was a master stroke yet his genius will no doubt be overlooked. How many managers in world football would play Delph as the left back away to the champions and make it work?
Yes, Guardiola may require a high class of player and hefty cheque book, however elite systems require elite players.
And Guardiola is certainly an elite manager.
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