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Doubting Pep: Is he really the best manager in the world?

Pep Guardiola must surely be the next best thing since sliced bread, possibly even better than the latter according to a lot of experts.

Published: 27th October 2016 07:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2016 07:25 PM   |  A+A-

Britain Soccer Premie_Mukh

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola | AP

So is he as good as we think he is?

Of course! How can he not be? The record speaks for itself. A treble in his first full season as manager. The youngest manager ever to win the Champions League. Fourteen titles in his first four years. The numbers cannot lie, for they are numbers. Pep Guardiola must surely be the next best thing since sliced bread, possibly even better than the latter according to a lot of experts. 

But when you splash 30 million on Dani Alves and add Gerard Pique to a team that already has Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o and Yaya Toure, aren't you going to expect to win a couple of titles anyway?

Nonsense! Real Madrid was not exactly full of Galacticos that year, but they still had Gonzalo Higuain, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and (an aging) Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Barcelona still beat them by a comfortable 9 points. And while Barca never came across Real in the Copa del Rey, they still had to get past Atletico Madrid, not exactly at their Diego Simeone-managed heights, but still with Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan.

But wasn't Spain tiki-taka-ing their way to easy wins, way before Pep even started his managerial career?

Nobody is claiming Pep invented tiki-taka. That is a style of play refined under a number of managers from Johan Cryuff to Louis Van Gaal to Javier Clemente to Pep's predecessor Frank Rijkaard. But there is no denying the fact that Barca was playing a rather ridiculous version of football under him. Of course, you can credit Xavi and Iniesta for that, but it would be laughable to claim that the manager was simply someone in the right place at the right time.

It's tough to spot chinks in Pep's Barcelona record, but surely he underperformed at Bayern?

Three league wins in three years! Not to mention the two DFB Pokkals.

But when you take over a team that had just won the treble and win only two titles, isn't that something of an underperformance? For the first year, Pep had Jurgen Klopp to contend with, but he took care of that threat by buying Robert Lewandowski in the summer. Talk about multiple birds with one stone! Dortmund struggle all season finishing seventh, Klopp grows disillusioned and quits the Bundesliga, leaving Pep to stroll to everything there is to win the next year. But keep in mind, Pep was hired for Europe. He reached the semifinals three times with Bayern, the spine of the team that won the Champions League still intact, and that was it.

But now he is in for quite the test! The Premier League is no La Liga or Bundesliga and Pep, despite spending more than 150 million will not find it easy. Klopp is there with a rejuvenated Liverpool, as is Antonio Conte with Chelsea. You can never write off Arsene Wenger and there is always that chance that someone like Mauro Pochettino's Tottenham can spring a surprise. And then there is Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United, with no one quite sure what to make of them.

Early days, but guess who is still on top of the table? Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City. This season is going pretty well, isn't it?

Four of their six league wins were against Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea, and Bournemouth. He got thrashed 4-0 by Barcelona and were held to a draw by Brendan Rodgers' Celtic. They are already out of their first cup. And did somebody mention that six-game winless streak?

Look over there! It's Jose Mourinho!



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