Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola takes winning track record to Manchester City

Pep Guardiola is a proven winner and a man who has been looking at a move to the Barclays Premier League for some time.

His coaching record in Spain and Germany made him the most sought-after name on the planet when it was announced he would be leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

With Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea all potentially looking for a new manager in the summer, it is the former who have landed the Spaniard.

The 45-year-old has already collected 19 major trophies since first taking charge of his beloved Barcelona in 2008, having previously served as coach of the B team.

Born in Santpedor, Catalonia - Guardiola has two older sisters while his brother Pere works as a football agent.

He joined Barcelona's fabled La Masia academy at the age of 13 before rising through the ranks and breaking into the first-team under Johan Cruyff.

His success as a player was turned into managerial achievements as he developed the talent of Lionel Messi and promoted youth players such as Pedro and Sergio Busquets.

Guardiola made a stunning impact at the Nou Camp, telling established stars such as Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco that they had no future at the club.

His time at the club as a player, spending over a decade in the first-team picture as part of the 1990s 'Dream Team', meant he knew just what was required and he also knew just how to deliver it.

Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win the 'treble' of Champions League, Primera Division and Copa del Rey in the same season - Guardiola's first at the helm.

As 2009 became 2010, Guardiola had collected six trophies in the calendar year and his success continued until his decision to leave the club in 2012.

By then he had signed Cesc Fabregas, now of Chelsea, and Alexis Sanchez - who has since joined Arsenal.

City revealed on Monday that they had first held talks with Guardiola in 2012 but at that time he had opted to take a sabbatical, spending time in New York, and he was also sounded out by Sir Alex Ferguson for the job of replacing him as manager of Manchester United.

Instead a move to Germany would be Guardiola's next challenge, replacing Jupp Heynckes at the Allianz Arena despite the experienced German having won the treble ahead of his departure.

Guardiola's character was defined as he spoke in German at his unveiling with Bayern, and the success on the pitch continued and he has always wanted to be his own man, pushing his own boundaries.

"I strive to live with passion and not to be desensitised to life," he told Graham Hunter for his book 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'.

"Things matter to me. You've got to live like that. Otherwise what's the point. It's not possible to please everyone and there is no point in trying to be what other people think you should be.

"For me, it's important to be who I am, not just to be different but to be as authentic as I can be."

While at Munich, he married long-term partner Cristina Serra in 2014 with their three children at a low-key ceremony in Spain.

Back-to-back Bundesliga titles as well as the Super Cup and Club World Cup were all secured and, with an eight-point lead this season and a Champions League clash with Juventus on the horizon, he looks set to leave Bavaria with even more silverware.

Guardiola's decision to join City will no doubt have been influenced by the presence at the Etihad Stadium of football director Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano, who he knows from his time at Barcelona.

A high-pressing game, demanding fitness and passing quality - the idea of 'tiki-taka' - came to the fore under Guardiola's tutelage and has been copied and tweaked across the world since.

He may already be having an impact on British sport, too, having made an impression on new England rugby head coach Eddie Jones after they spent time together recently.

"I talk to a lot of people. I try to meet people who are smarter than me. Last year in November was one of the best meetings I had," Jones said last week.

"I went to Bayern Munich and met Pep Guardiola. It was absolutely fascinating. I watched him taking a training session and it made me embarrassed by my coaching - he was so bloody brilliant."

Guardiola's past glories and former successes will make him a uniquely popular choice but he will know they count for nothing when next season gets under way.


From Belfast Telegraph