A year ago on this site, I set out the arguments for and against Pep Guardiola being overrated, but decided to leave it up to you, the readers, to make up your minds. Now, a year on, and with Guardiola having got a season at Bayern Munich under his belt, I have come to the conclusion that Guardiola is indeed overrated. Many of you will no doubt profoundly disagree with me, but I ask you to consider the arguments below.
My first and biggest criticism of Guardiola is that he takes easy challenges and runs away from difficult ones. Is it really so hard to manage a treble-winning team who had finished 19 points above their nearest rivals, a team who can afford a €37 million release fee for one of their rivals’ best players? In my opinion, the answer is no.
When you stop to think about it and compare his record to other managers, the ‘Pep Delusion’ becomes clear. Does any of his work, however impressive, compare to Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen, Jose Mourinho at Porto and Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund?
The answer is no because all four of these managers got their teams to punch above their weights, which is not something you can say about Guardiola, who arguably has made Bayern worse. I am not a regular follower of German football, but I have seen both the 2013 and 2014 Bayern teams play at Arsenal.
I was much more impressed with the former, who were much more incisive and quicker in their play. I would like to see him take over teams such as Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal or Everton, and try to take them to the title. If he does that, then we would be able to see whether or not he is one of the true greats.
When Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012, we saw a man who could not face difficult challenges. His side had just lost their La Liga and Champions League crowns, and so instead of trying to take on the task of winning them back, the 43-year-old simply upped sticks and left, saying that he was unable to “motivate” his players.
Can you imagine Ferguson having even considered that when his Manchester United team faced the challenges of first Arsenal and then to a much greater extent Chelsea? Surely motivating players is part of the reason why managers are paid so much?
Guardiola is also tactically inept as his teams have no 'Plan B' when tika-taka doesn’t work. I remember when his Barcelona side failed to break down Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League semi-finals. His players simply didn’t know what to do against a team who sat deep and stopped them from playing their passing game.
My abiding memory of that night is the Spaniard flailing around in frustration on the touchline. Can you imagine Mourinho having no idea what to do in such a situation? The Real Madrid game this year again showed this to be the case, as tika-taka was ruthlessly exposed by a quick, counter-attacking team.
Guardiola’s tactical ability pales in comparison to that of his nemesis Mourinho, who is second to none in his ability to set up a team to get the result he wants as well as being highly tactically pragmatic. Of course, the Portuguese is not without criticism, but I believe that Mourinho is a better manager.
Guardiola did certainly get lucky with the players he got at Barcelona, especially Lionel Messi in his prime, as well as Xavi and Andres Iniesta - all three took naturally to his passing game. At Bayern we have seen how tika-tika is harder to adapt to a different group of players, especially in the Champions League.
Lucky to have a very good set of players at Barcelona, taking the easy route in life, running away from a challenge, his teams having no plan B - Guardiola really is overrated.