Pep Guardiola is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time and the greatest manager of the current generation. While he has achieved some incredible feats there are those who argue that Guardiola was simply in the right place at the right time. Let’s take a close look at these achievements and try to untangle the man from the success.
Before Guardiola made his name as a manager he was a successful footballer. In the shadow cast by his managerial career, it is often forgotten how great a footballer he was. He played the majority of his career with Barcelona and was managed by both Cruyff and Robson. In this time Barcelona enjoyed domination for a number of years, winning the La Liga six times and Guardiola’s reputation made him heralded by some as the best midfielder in the world at the time and would become an idol for future greats like Fabregas.
As a manager though he has become world-renowned. During his time at Barcelona, he led the club to three league wins and two champions league wins. An incredible achievement. In doing so he also brought back scintillating football to the Spanish side. These achievements made Guardiola the famed manager he is today, but how much was he really responsible for?
He joined a team that had the incredible talents of Messi, Pique, Puyol, Eto, Alves, Henry, Iniesta, Xavi, Toure, and more. The team from one to eleven were a perfect mixture of youth and experience and success seemed guaranteed. Of course, this is easy to say now when we look back on the success they had and it is impossible to know what they would have achieved without them but it is clear that the team was stacked with talent.
Guardiola did instill his own tactical ideas in that team and has to be created with such. He made them an incredibly disciplined unit where passing was a must. The famous six-second rule was also introduced where the team aimed to dispossess the opposition within six seconds to catch them off guard. If they couldn’t do it within six seconds they gave up and became a compact unit again.
These same principles were brought in to both Bayern Munich and Manchester City and all brought success. However again, looking at both teams you could argue that Guardiola never had a tough time as a manager. He walked into an incredible Bayern Munich team and failed to win the Champions League with them. He then moved to Manchester City and spent record sums of money to bring in a wealth of players, many of whom were not successes but there was enough cash in reserve to keep buying until an incredible talent was found for every position. Still, despite their success in the English Premier League they also have not been able to win the Champions League.
If Man City can win the Champions League under Pep’s guidance it will be another giant leap for the manager. This will cause many to say that he really is one of the best of all time. However, there will still be those who point out how long it took and question whether it was the man, the players, or the money that was behind the win. Recently City became involved in considerable controversy and have been banned from the Champions League for a number of years. If this ban upholds many of the great players will leave the club and Guardiola may have to go too.
To be viewed as the greatest manager of all time Guardiola must do more. He has impacted the way football is played around the world due to his tactical systems. However, he has yet to get a team that is not the favorite to win everything to win anything. Surely winning with the favorite is not a sign of greatness but a minimum expectation?