Pep Guardiola has won 29 titles over his managerial career that has spanned over just 11 years. The Manchester City manager sat down for an in-depth interview with GOL over the summer and discussed his beliefs, tactics and what makes him tick as a serial-winner.
Part 1 is here:
Part 2 is here:
Part 3 is here:
And here’s the final part of the interview:
Q. You’re the coach with the best winning record around, with a lot of those wins coming at Barcelona. The normal thing in sport is losing, but you’ve changed a culture and turned the new generation of Barcelona fans into people who don’t expect to lose. How does this make you feel?
A. It’s not only at Barça. This is also at Madrid and even the Argentine people think, “We have to win! The others don’t prepare like us, they don’t do scouting like us. They don’t deserve it!” It’s crazy. Whenever they lose the game, it’s the end of the world. They never stop to think “Actually, we took a huge step forward this season.” They don’t get it.
At Bayern Munich they said, “You’ve failed!”, I was like, “Well, that’s it then. Congratulations.” It’s now the same at City when I don’t win the Champions League. The best they’ve ever done in their history is a semi-final, that’s the furthest they’ve ever got. Now when I don’t win the Champions League, I’m a failure? What about the two league titles we won?! What about the number of friends I’ve made? I can always come back and this is superior to reaching a final. You can’t imagine what I would’ve given to get there, but Tottenham deserved it. Liverpool deserved it. If Barça reached the final then they would’ve deserved it and so would Ajax. In the end, sport is that, against Ajax, the Tottenham goalkeeper knocked a long-ball forwards, it dropped nicely, and they scored. If the ball landed to the left, right, or somewhere else, Ajax were in the final. This is football. It’s important that we teach this to our kids; if we lose, we lose. Sometimes the others do deserve to win.
Q. In the blocks of analysing a player (Physical, Tactical, Technical) how much emphasis will you place on the mental aspects? Can you create a leader or does a player just have to have this quality?
A. Yes, I look at the psychological traits in a player’s character, but it’s always easier to find out more as time goes on. Experience has helped with that. I have helped bring the leadership skills out in players in the past, but it’s true that there are players who demand more of their teammates and then there’s others who just want to come, do their work, then go home.
Before, I used to poke at players, trying to coax out various social-skills in all of them, and I’d try to control everything in the dressing room. Now I take a step back, preferring not to disturb the natural atmosphere and let players be themselves. This is the healthiest, nicest thing about football; in the end, they all want to win and do well. I’ve never once been in a dressing room where the players want to do badly, therefore the dressing room will always take care of itself.
Q. You must have seen so many different personalities over the years. Will you make team selections based on those types of people who love the game, look you in the eyes as you speak and always want to improve?
A. Not really team selections. I mean, I think they all love the game, but there’s some who definitely love it more than others. Before starting a session, there’s lads that sprint out and start kicking the balls straight away. Others will be stood around daydreaming, some will be looking up at the sky that always rains. I love the guys that love the game.
In this world there’s people who love the game more than others. Like I said, they all love it, but there’s some who live for it: always watching games, always asking me questions. It’s cool to work around these types of people; giving me feedback, asking questions. I’ll never say, “It’s like this!” I love to converse and share ideas with people around me.
I think this is coaching; helping players with their doubts – things like “Try this, then this might happen for you.” It doesn’t matter who you are – the past is the past – it’s like a coach or player turning up to a new team and saying “I’ve won three Champions Leagues…” So what? We need to win the next game, what can we do to give ourselves a better chance?
Q. I want to ask you about Johan Cruyff. Do you worry that people will think his philosophies are flawed after Ajax and Barcelona suffered defensively in the latter stages of the Champions League?
A. If people think Cruyff’s philosophy will ever die then they’re more than confused. We saw glimpses of his beliefs in Ajax’s play when they were winning, but this is something they’ve been doing for many years. Sometimes they win and sometimes not, but Johan will never die. Never.
He taught so many players, including me, and we’ll continue to teach his ways to others and they’ll continue it. Does it mean that these teams will always win? No, I’ve never thought that. I never think about losing, but Cruyff’s way taught me how to prepare to win. This way of understanding football that he showed us is something I’ve never seen before or since. What he’s done makes him the most important person in the history of football; one man changing two different clubs as both a player and coach. Taking a club from a country as small as Holland and dominating European football, then going to Barcelona and changing the culture into a winning one as both a player and coach…unprecedented.
Translated by Alex Clapham