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The Financial Express

Can we call Pep Guardiola the best of his generation?

| Updated: January 26, 2022 14:19:49


Photo: AS Photo: AS

Pep Guardiola is well on his way to winning another Premier League title. When he first came to England in 2016, after two relatively successful tenures at FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich, many managers believed he would not be able to dominate the Premier League in the same way he had dominated La Liga and Bundesliga. 

Even Sir Alex Ferguson himself said foreigners do not fare well in the Premier League. 

But after more than five and a half years later, when Pep is about to clinch his 4th EPL title adding to his numerous honours in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the question naturally arises, is he the Greatest manager of the present generation? 

There have been many excellent managers in world football from the 2000s. In fact, football is in its most modernised and technically superior form nowadays. 

A lot of new philosophies have originated along with a lot of tactically astute managers with the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Zinedine Zidane, Jose Mourinho, Vicente Del Bosque, Jupp Heynecs, Hansi Flick, Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and the list goes on. 

But there are some things which are quite particular to Pep Guardiola and cannot be found in these managers mentioned above. That is his way of seeing the game.

Pep, being a direct student of the legendary Johan Cruyff, sees the game in a way no one else does. His zonal positioning is totally different from the conventional system used in football with much emphasis being put on half-spaces. 

He, in a lot of circumstances, does not play with a traditional number nine, especially true for his all-conquering Barcelona side with Lionel Messi as the false number nine and the present Manchester City team with no recognised striker.

He also can immensely develop players in many aspects of the game. Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Kevin De Bruyne are some of the players who have tremendously grown under Pep Guardiola, not only in terms of their gameplay but also in terms of their footballing intelligence. 

Guardiola is a football romanticist. He wants to do experiments with his team and wants to have complete freedom, and on most occasions, these experiments pay off. 

His trophy collection is a testament to the fact. But his habit of experimenting in the biggest stages of the game has cost the teams he has managed quite a few times. 

The fact can easily be observed as he has won no Champions League Trophy with Manchester City and Bayern Munich, despite having some of the greatest teams of the time.

Guardiola might not be regarded as the greatest manager of the present decade. In fact, many may prefer result-oriented managers to him while playing important matches. 

But he surely is a revolutionary in football, someone who has done a lot for the aesthetics of the beautiful game and made it look even more beautiful.

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