Welcome to the Virgin Media Midweek Kick-off! This week, as Pep Guardiola confirms he’ll be taking the reins at Manchester City in the summer, we ask football writers Andrew Lowry and Anis Bazza whether the Catalonian giant has the skillset to continue his glorious ways in the Premier League.
Pep must prep for Premier failure
“Pep’s shown himself an amateur at the PR game before he’s even landed at Gatwick” – Andrew Lowry, journalist
Riding his luck
Pep Guardiola’s record can’t be sniffed at, but until now he hasn’t so much created success as inherited it. At Barcelona he walked into a locker room already occupied by the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, while he took over Bayern immediately after they’d won the first treble in German history. No club in England is on that level. So, how good is he at reversing declines, or building sides from scratch?
No time to lose
History has taught us that all Premier League managers’ careers ultimately end in failure (unless their name rhymes with ‘Blerguson’). The current high turnover of coaches makes it next to impossible for managers to build squads over several seasons, meaning Guardiola will be at the mercy of owners who fail to grasp that lasting success takes time to build. Time he won’t be given.
His public persona is of a suave Spanish sophisticate, but behind closed doors he’s no people person. At Bayern, he routinely snubs the club hierarchy by sending assistants to deliver messages in his stead, miffing the higher-ups no end. And in a Mourinho-esque move, he’s fallen out big-time with the team doctor – and we all know how that turned out for Jose.
The meddling media
The British press is notoriously brutal, and with his awkward goodbye at Bayern Munich and even more awkward courtship of City over the past few months, He’s shown himself an amateur at the PR game before he’s even landed at Gatwick. More missteps along these lines, and the back-page hacks will be claiming another manager’s sanity for their trophy cabinet.
His tiki-taka trademark
He professes to hate the term, but the possession-hogging, one-touch style of play has been his sides’ trademark for years. That kind of thing may fly in the Nou Camp, but let’s see how it goes down on a cold, rainy night in Stoke.
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Guardiola is destined for success
“He might be known for tiki-taka football, but there’s more to him than that” – Anis Bazza, blogger, City Watch
Players will be afraid of him
Pep Guardiola will be a real breath of fresh air at Manchester City. He doesn’t care for reputation and he doesn’t care for status. If he doesn’t like you he’ll tell you, and if you mess him around, he’ll sell you. This is, after all, the same fella who literally slapped Thiago Alcantara clean across the face for not listening to instructions during a game, while millions were watching.
He’s going to do something mad
Someone, somewhere is going to have to say goodbye to his accustomed position forever. Pep is notorious for reinventing footballers by playing them in completely alien positions – and making it work. No one would’ve ever thought we’d see Philipp Lahm in midfield, David Alaba at centre back, or even Lionel Messi up front. Is this the season where Pablo Zabaleta becomes the finest box-to-box midfielder in all the land?
Superstars would line up to come to England
Guardiola is possibly the most respected football coach in the world and every player would give his right foot to play for him. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a host of superstars from abroad flock to the Premier League to settle here. A reunion with Leo “Ballon d’Or” Messi in Manchester, perhaps?
Champagne football every week
His teams always play beautiful attacking football. He might be known for so-called tiki-taka, but there’s much more to him than that. He’s a philosopher who once said that you could win a game in a thousand different ways. One thing’s for certain: the City team he leads to the title will be thoroughly entertaining.
An English team would actually be good in Europe for once.
Guardiola has never failed to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in his entire managerial career. Europe is his bread and butter. Should things head south, he could very well be the man to save the Barclays Premier League’s UEFA coefficient and that precious fourth Champions League qualification spot.
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