Guardiola’s latest Novelty was thought Impossible
In the history of world club football, only two coaches have won more titles than Manchester City coach, Pep Guardiola; Romanian Mircea Lucescu ,32 trophies with 14 teams and Sir Alex Ferguson with 49 Trophies. Pep Guardiola has amassed 30 trophies with 3 teams, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man. City, and currently has the possibility to add another 4 trophies this year to his haul.
30 trophies won in 12 years coaching career is not only phenomenal and unequalled, it has been achieved playing some of the most enterprising,offensive and qualitative football at the club level. Just when many thought Guardiola’s style of play was beginning to lose its shine and efficacy, especially after the relatively, less successful season last year with Man. City. Though he still won a trophy,the league cup, he has seemed to reinvent his style and fine tuned it to a new level with a total new dimension.
To understand Guardiola and Before going into details on how and what he has changed in his game plan, I feel that it is worth while to visit Guardiola’s coaching past to understand why his future might be even better.
Guardiola’s first top flight coaching job was at Barcelona in 2008, and barely minutes after signing his working contract, he created a mini tsunami in Spain my announcing the ‘unwelcomeness’ of an alarming 10 1st team players. Of which included absolute world superstars of the game; Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Deco, Gianlucca Zambrotta, Giovanni dos santos, Edmilson, Oleguer, Santiago Ezquero and Marc Crosas. Eventually Samuel Eto’o was allowed to stay on for the season.
Many mocked Guardiola as he lost his first League game to Numancia 1-0, but were quickly silenced when he complimented this defeat with a subsequent 20 matches unbeaten run, in La Liga, to go clear top of the Spanish la Liga table.
Guardiola forced the team to play a total passing game, full of constant movements and disponible football,coupled with a fierce pressing football when not in possession. A modern-day Spanish ‘Tiki taka’ football ridiculed with spectacular play and passing from the back, on the ground and if necessary, pass until they tucked the ball into the net, 50 centimeters from the goal line. He was obsessed with possession football.
Revolutionary it was to say the least and he went on to win in his first season, the Spanish league, Spanish Domestic cup and the European UEFA Champions league trophy. His 1st season was tagged Barcelona’s finest season in its club history as Guardiola became the youngest man ever, to coach a Champions League winning team.
Guardiola transfereed this philosophy to his subsequent clubs; Bayern Munich and Man. City,winning record number trophies with seeming ease until last season, where, like his 1st season at Man. City,he seemed to relatively struggle a bit.
This season we are witnessing a totally improved Guardiola and Man City like never seen before. In the past Guardiola seemed to favour high offensive play and the obsession with short passes and scoring heavily each game, regardless if his team conceded goals.
Guardiola’s man city version 2020/2021 has metamorphosed into a team that is defense conscious,with more mechanical defenders and defending as opposed to pure technical play oriented defenders, a team that has the most clean sheets in the English Premier League . The end result has been the 2nd best defense in Europe for the 2020/2021 season,only Diego Simeone’s Athletico Madrid has better statistics.
Man. City this season is not shy to alternate the short passing game with long passing at times over 50 meters.
Guardiola now demands more physical engagements in duels,and for the very first time in his coaching career,seems to be ready to at times play ugly to win difficult games.
Since he left Barcelona in 2012, Guardiola has struggled to win the UEFA champions league with star studded Bayern Munich nor man. City. Arguably because defensively they have erred in the past. Could this evolution be a forced move to try to win the only trophy that has eluded him for the past 8 years? Only time will tell.
Guardiola version 2021 is for sure looking more defensive and result oriented than ever!