GUARDIOLA WILL NEED A MAJOR SHIFT IN MINDSET TO SEE SUCCESS IN ENGLAND
Pep Guardiola is one of
the most decorated managers in club football, largely due to his exploits at
Barcelona, where he blew teams away with a masterclass of possession-based, attacking
football. But in recent years he has failed to live up to expectations;
pedestrian success at Bayern Munich was followed by a tepid first season at
Manchester City. Here are the things he is doing wrong...
Imposition of the Barcelona style on Bayern Munich and
Manchester City. As earlier noted,
Guardiola inherited a system at Barcelona that supplied the players who fit the
football philosophy he is comfortable with. The
directors of Bayern complained when he arrived in Germany, that he is changing the way
they play their football; then, he tried to ‘play from the back’ in England,
and imported a ‘sweeper-keeper’. He won domestic trophies at Bayern because of
the squad depth, but failed in Europe. The jury is still out in England, but
the first season was a humbling experience. Perhaps if he had tried
to adapt or create a new style at these clubs, the story may have been
Messiah Complex. When
Guardiola took a year sabbatical, team lined up all the way from Anchorage to
Zululand, all queuing up for his services. The Barcelona success was
seductive, and Guardiola played on it. When the complaints started at Bayern,
he ignored it. He sent a list of players and conditions ahead of his arrival at
Man City. And don’t let us forget the way he deals with players: Zlatan
Ibrahimovic, Samuel Etoo, Yaya Toure, Joe Hart…all received the Guardiola
Players like to feel
appreciated; ‘big’ players always think they deserve different treatment; the only
player Pep molly-cuddled is Lionel Messi. Some of the players he treated badly would have helped his cause.
Failure to acknowledge other parts of the game: Once bitten, twice shy, so goes the saying, but Pep
has been bitten on several occasions and has failed to heed the lessons.
Defending, like scoring, is an art of football that Guardiola has surprisingly
failed to embrace. His three semi-final exits in the UCL during his Bayern
days were largely due to defensive lapses. It was the case again last season
against Monaco, where his City could not hold onto a 2 goal lead in the 2nd leg. Recent
EPL champions have had to battle to 1-0 victories on their way to success. Claudio
Ranieri, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, all did. But City under Pep just could
not defend for the points.
A History ofPoor recruitment: From his days at
Barcelona and Bayern Guardiola has struggled to get it right with transfers. The
trend is repeating itself again in England. After spending close to 400 million
pounds, City still look vulnerable. It would only take an injury to Sergio
Aguero/Gabriel Jesus and the goals would dry up; in defence Otamendi and Stones
have failed to find their feet and Kompany is injury prone.
This is not an indictment of
Guardiola’s tactical prowess, but ego driven decisions were the recipe for his
failure in the past (Toure and Hart come to mind). Luckily he has enough
transfer funds to play with. However, if the Spaniard fails to evolve this new
season, and doesn't win the league, the knives will be out.