Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Nothing quite as it seems with Pep Guardiola

By Jim Gracey

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

For some reason, one of the great cinematic lines of all time, from the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects, came to mind with the publication of a new book about the wonderful, Catalan coaching genius Pep Guardiola.

In the film, nothing is ever quite as it seems. Nor, it seems, with footballing gods, like Guardiola.

Remember how the world of football rushed to embrace the so-called tiki-taka passing style of his all-conquering Barcelona as the way forward; the next big thing? Guess what? It didn't exist.

In Pep Confidential, by Spanish journalist Marti Perarnau, the story of Guardiola's double winning first season at Bayern Munich, the supposed perfector of the tiki-taka system confesses: "I hate it. Tiki-taka means passing the ball for the sake of it, with no clear intention. And it's pointless. Barca didn't do tiki-taka! It's completely made up!"

Guardiola also rejects suggestions that he is a creative genius, saying instead that he is a "ideas thief", studying the ideas of previous innovators such as Johan Cruyff, his coach when he played for Barcelona, then experimenting and adapting them.

But is he really? Can incredible success such as Guardiola has enjoyed in two vastly differing football cultures be all down to smoke and mirrors?

Like the impenetrable plot of The Usual Suspects, only of you want to believe it. Pep sounds more like a devil in disguise and for his next trick, look out Premier League when his conquest of Germany is complete two years hence.

Belfast Telegraph

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