Despite leading Barcelona to two Champions League trophies over Manchester United, not everybody will be convinced about Pep Guardiola until he proves himself at Bayern Munich next season. Thomas Williamson takes a look.
An accusation that could be made of the ex-Barcelona and soon-to-be-Bayern Munich manager is that he got lucky at the Catalan club, that he was in the right place when the music stopped, lucky to have an outstanding squad and one of the best players in the world and in history playing at the top of his game in Lionel Messi.
So it will be interesting to see how he gets on in Germany. In my opinion success at multiple clubs as Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson have achieved is the only item missing from his CV, something that is understandable due to his age and rapid rise through the world of management.
His selection of Bayern Munich as his next club shows however that we will not get to see what I think is the true test of managerial ability, and what Ferguson and Mourinho have achieved, getting an average group of players to achieve outstanding things.
Pep Guardiola is clearly overrated. I mean how hard is it to manage a team with Lionel Messi at his peak, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez etc? With players that good you are guaranteed moments of genius and individual skill that win games whatever you do as manager. Also, look how his assistant Tito Vilanova has got similar results out of this squad. One sign of a great manager is if the team falls apart without him. Porto have not come even close to winning the Champions’ League without Mourinho. This raises the question, just how important is the manager when the playing squad is that talented?
On occasions, Guardiola also appeared to have no other plan other than tika-taka. When Chelsea placed the entire team in the six yard box, his team had no plan to counter this. This suggests Guardiola is not very tactically astute, despite the fact he must have known they would do that. His fans cite his huge trophy haul, especially two Champions’ League medals in three years, but something that has been forgotten is how his first Champions’ League win was based on luck. They were only in a position to win due to a terrible refereeing performance at Stamford Bridge, nothing to do with the performance of the team or the manager. So that 2009 success can be diminished to an extent.
How hard is it to manage a team full of superstars? Very. Remember how Frank Riijkard struggled to get the best out of a team which included Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto'o. Star players need man-management; they need tactical organisation and they need to be moulded by their manager into a solid unit, rather than just being a group of great individuals, as Barcelona were before Guardiola took over.
Look at how Real Madrid struggled to get the best out of their ‘galácticos’ team, as it lacked balance. Pep Guardiola took a bunch of extremely talented players and turned them into a formidable unit, one that had the English champions twice chasing shadows. Only an outstandingly talented manager could do such a thing. Managers at this level face a problem of how to handle the rival egos of players each of whom wants to be the star of the team. Roberto Mancini has yet to come up with a proper plan for doing. Alex Ferguson has always made sure his players know they are not bigger than the team, to sublimate their ego into a desire to help the team succeed.
image: © tpower1978