From being a part of a “dream team” to creating a “dream team” – Pep has come a long way in terms of football and his journey has now taken him to Germany, where he is in the process of fine tuning an already well oiled German juggernaut commonly known to the people as FC Bayern Munich.
Pep epitomises what La Masia means to Barcelona, where he joined at the age of 13 and rose through the ranks and made his debut as a teenager. Johann Cryuff was instrumental in his development as he became the pivot of a team, which believed in attacking football. While injuries were not kind to him (they never have been to any professional athlete), to a certain extent it held him back from achieving further glories, especially with the national squad.
But his time with the Spanish squad was pretty eventful in terms of the Spanish teams of the 90’s, he captained the Spanish team to a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics and was also voted the best player under the age of 21.
While he didn’t win any notable titles with the Spanish squad, he did lead them with respect and quarter final appearances at the major tournaments are a testament to that. Though, 16 trophies in a span of 17 years playing career with Barcelona was still a good haul.
During his last press conference before moving from Barcelona his words were well stated i.e. “It’s been a long journey. I’m happy, proud, happy with the way people treated me and I have made many friends. I cannot ask for more. I have had many years in the elite. I did not come to make history but to make my own history.”
While the Barca fans were well aware of who Pep Guardiola was mainly because of his association with Barcelona, it was his coaching credentials which slowly but surely has made the world sit up and take notice, be it the footballing world or people in general. Pep can easily claim the title of “Mr. Barcelona”. While the Nou Camp has produced many such greats, Pep is much closer to the public due to his Catalan roots.
A lot has already been said and written about Pep’s time at Barcelona, where he built a tremendous squad, promoted youth and although not the architect of tiki-taka but was a promoter of it. In hindsight it can be said that he was the vessel which maximised the potential of this style of play.
The teams he built over 4 seasons swept aside teams and were the new visionaries of world football and this was justified through trophies and results. It has to be remembered though that one of the reasons for such heady success was the sharing of the same ideals with which he was brought up and to have players who could successfully implement these ideals.
As the sabbatical intervened and the world wondered where Pep would head, the Spaniard already knew what he wanted and at the start of this year he was revealed as the Bayern Munich coach and just to show that he was prepared, it was his meticulous German that enthralled the entire press gathering.
Now, that he is at Bayern who are already champions, it seems the weary Pep who left Barcelona is now reenergized and is brittling with childish enthusiasm. “Der Spiegel” – lesson in football, is what Bayern are looking to teach and Pep at the helm, he is not just fine tuning, but making them a more innovative team.
Germany for long has relied more on a counter attacking style but Lahm’s move from the right wing back to the centre defensive midfield, has enabled Bayern to make a more mobile movement through the centre. Lahm has already been hailed by Guardiola as one of the most intelligent players around.
No disrespect to Schweinsteiger or Martinez for that matter, but tiki-taka combined with German’s natural ability to counter attack is going to be quite a fearsome combination. The building blocks are being laid down as I write this article and the not so finished product could be seen on display against Manchester City and Schalke.
Bayern for all its reputation have been always associated with football of results and not style for that matter. With Guardiola’s experience and the resources available to Bayern, they now have the ability to surpass Barcelona in terms of style and build a brand of football which will herald a new era of football, that all teams will look to replicate.