Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola will be coming to the Premier League next season with a massive reputation. Is he worth the hype? David Gorman and Brein McGinn debate
Why Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world
By David Gorman
“I was embarrassed by my coaching after watching Pep take the session. He was so bloody brilliant. He has got some of the best players in the world - Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller - and he just worked them so hard. It was -3C and they came off the field dripping with sweat.”
These are the words of new England rugby coach Eddie Jones after watching Pep Guardiola take a training session with Bayern Munich. It is clear that Guardiola’s coaching influence transcends football.
As a result, Premier League clubs are queuing up for his signature after he declared that he wanted to manage in England. It is hard to argue that any other current manager in the world would demand that level of respect.
While he has inherited great players at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, he has formed two fantastic teams, full of successful players with egos to boot, who perform consistently at an incredibly high level.
This is much easier said than done as previous experiments such as the Galacticos and indeed Barcelona just before he took over show.
The general consensus at Barcelona in Frank Rijkaard’s final year was that they had good players, who were poorly coached. They finished third in La Liga in 2007-08, 18 points behind Real Madrid. The following season under Guardiola, they won the league by nine points, along with the Copa del Rey and the Champions League en route to an historic treble.
There is no doubt that Guardiola is the most innovative manager in the game regarding tactics and it is his ambition when setting up a team is what marks him out a truly great manager.
There is no timidity in Guardiola’s approach. His teams do not play to just win. They play to dominate all over the pitch. At Barcelona, his influence was obvious and his team is often called one of the best teams of all-time for good reason.
Guardiola’s Barcelona were so dominant that it took the most extreme defensive tactics possible to defeat them , including an instruction by Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho for his players to deliberately lose the ball so as not to get caught out of position when they were ahead in a tie.
When team’s tried to engage with them on any sort of the same level, they were quickly dispatched as shown by their 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in 2010 and their 3-1 win over Man United in the Champions League final in 2011.
He is yet to win a Champions League at Bayern Munich but their dominance in Bundesliga again highlights how Guardiola seeks perfection from his teams.
His record in Bundesliga so far stands at a superb 68 wins, 8 draws and 8 wins, 220 goals scored and 49 conceded. This means Bayern’s average winning margin is by four goals. While you can argue that they have the best players in Bundesliga, a lesser manager may settle for cruising through games.
When Guardiola takes over a Premier League club next season, they can expect a similar level of application for a manager who is the best in the world.
Why Pep has more to prove
By Brein McGinn
With a win rate of above 73% and an average points-per-game rate of 2.39, Pep Guardiola is widely recognised as one of the best managers in the world in the present day. The 45-year old Spaniard has brought almost unlimited success to two of the world’s football giants, Barcelona and Bayern Munich and is known for his high-pressing, but organised style of play.
Sure, he has won 5 top-flight titles in Spain and Germany and has a phenomenal record of winning a trophy every 18 games he manages, but the question is, is he the undisputed best there is? Personally I believe he falls just short of this title.
The two major clubs he has managed were European superpowers even before he took over. I will concede he has augmented the already high standard in place at both clubs, but how much has he been tested? His minimal tinkering changing Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona and Jupp Heynckes Munich into his own style was hardly ever too testing?
Two men I feel who are on par with Guardiola are Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, who also bring success anywhere they go. The former, famously winning the Champions league with dark horses Porto and Inter Milan and the latter, turning problematic AC Milan into one of the best clubs Europe has ever seen.
These tests are examples of managerial excellence that Pep does not have yet under his belt and in my view needs to experience and share in order to get my vote as the greatest in the game.
If Pep is to become an all-time great and the best from this generation, he needs to inherit a side with real problems, not with the pedigree of recent Champions League success within the squad.
His next move is widely touted in the direction of the Premier League when he leaves the Germans in the summer and with the league in disarray in terms of quality of football, it might be his chance to stamp his authority as the outright hottest property in football management today once and for all