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Pep Guardiola: coach beloved by many, admired by most and respected by all. With an unbelievable record, across three of Europe’s elite leagues, Pep has constructed a more than impressive reputation in the world of football.
The question ‘Is Pep a Great?’ is, however, not as straightforward as it seems. Firstly, we must consider what being a ‘great’ consists of. Is it trophies? Impact on individual players? Impact on a team? We must also ask what is vital to be considered a ‘great’. To do this one must look at the two overarching questions: ‘Do you need to win trophies to be successful?’ and ‘Can you be classed as a world-class coach when you have only coached world-class teams?’.
The importance of trophies has been a question that has fizzled upon the tongues of the football faithful for many a year. The likes of Jose Mourinho would postulate with dogmatism, the vitality of trophies. However, it is not as if Pep has lacked the ability to win such titles: winning 7 domestic league titles, 2 Champions League titles and 15 domestic cups in 9 seasons at the helm of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City – alongside a plethora of illustrious individual awards.
We must question whether this proves that he is a ‘great’. To contrast this, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino have failed to win a solitary trophy, for Liverpool and Tottenham respectively, despite having several seasons in charge – yet I implore you to find any Liverpool or Spurs fan who would say that Klopp and Pochettino have been unsuccessful.
Even if you concede that winning trophies is a sufficient measure of success then the question of the club calibre still remains. Many argue that Guardiola has only ever overseen a club whereby the stature of the players and the budget at his disposal have both been of epic proportions. However, to these people I ask why this question is not enforced upon players.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta (to name a mere few) are never questioned in terms of being world-class and legendary footballers, yet they have only played at their peak alongside other top-class players. To my knowledge, Lionel Messi never joined Accrington Stanley and helped them gain promotion through the leagues, thus illustrating his ability to be superhuman in his footballing class. So why should Pep have to join an average team to prove his worth?
Guardiola should be judged by his impact that he has made: on the players, the teams and the leagues in which he has been. Perhaps to prove his worth Pep need not turn bad players to good, but his ability to grasp the souls of his players and motivate them to become the best that they can possibly be is the greatest accomplishment a coach can receive.
The quote, “If Pep told me to throw myself off the second tier at the Camp Nou, I’d think: There must be something good down there” (Dani Alves) signifies the impact that Pep can have on even the most renowned of footballers. Pep’s style of play has evolved subtly over the years to remain fresh and effective, yet his style embodies the ‘beautiful game’ in the finest way imaginable.
Many said that his obsessive and expansive philosophy would not work in the English leagues. Despite a haphazard first season with Manchester City, in his second season in charge Pep orchestrated one of the best Premier League season’s ever by constructing a record-breaking team with an intimidatingly effective playing style.
Guardiola’s enthusiasm is infectious and his influence ubiquitous. His footprint is firmly cemented in football’s hall of fame. Pep Guardiola: coach beloved by many, admired by most and respected by all. Pep Guardiola: not merely a good coach, but truly ‘a great’.