Is Pep Guardiola The Best Manager To Grace The Premier League?
Pep Guardiola’s roots in football date back to 1981, when he started playing for Catalonian youth side Gimnàstic de Manresa.
Three years later, at the age of 13, he caught the eye of La Masia, Barcelona’s legendary youth academy.
He was recruited and played for the academy for six years until he would finally make his first team debut under the leadership of Barca icon Johan Cruyff.
He was first called up by Cruyff as a replacement for the suspended Guillermo Amor before becoming a first team regular in the 1991/92 season.
Guardiola was an integral part of the team that won the La Liga and European Cup trophies that year and would become a permanent fixture of Cruyff’s famed ‘Dream Team’ during his eight-year reign at Camp Nou.
Guardiola would turn out over 300 times in all competitions for Barcelona before moving on.
Although his playing career post-Barca was relatively quiet, it was near the end of it that he began learning about the coaching side of football.
Although he first knew he wanted to become a coach back in 1997 whilst under the tutelage of Bobby Robson, Guardiola names his friend and manager at Mexican outfit Dorados, Juan Manuel Lillo, as one of his biggest influences.
Upon retiring from the game he would return to Barcelona to coach their B team, where he would spend just a season before replacing Frank Rijkaard as manager of the first team.
He completed an unprecedented first season at Barcelona by winning the treble, the first Spanish side ever to do so.
He was also the youngest coach to ever win the Champions League at just 38-years-old.
The style of play he implemented at Barcelona has stuck with him all the way up to his move to Manchester City in July 2016, when he replaced Manuel Pellegrini.
His highly disciplined, possession based football has dazzled fans and pundits alike for well over a decade now and his coaching style has been lauded by the likes of Thierry Henry, Xavi Hernández, and Lionel Messi.
In fact, he is among the football managers with the most trophies.
Although his resume spoke for itself, many questioned whether his possession style football would translate to English football.
With a league known for its physicality, some believed that his teams would simply be bullied into changing their tactics.
Any critics were proven wrong relatively soon however when Guardiola would win his first Premier League title in his second season with the club and in an incredibly dominant fashion.
They would break numerous records by the end of the year including most points (100), most wins (32), most away wins (16) and most goals (106) in a season. Sport betting has City as favourites to lift the league title once again this season.
Such dominance has continued on the blue side of Manchester with Pep at the helm, winning the Premier League title four times in his six seasons so far.
In fact, since joining City his maiden season is the only trophyless season at the Etihad since he joined.
For over half a decade now, Guardiola’s skillset as a coach has almost made a mockery of the ‘most competitive league in the world’, posing the question: is he the greatest Premier League manager of all time?
The first name on everyone’s lips when this debate is brought forth is of course Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson.
He spent an incredible 27 years at Old Trafford, winning 13 premier league titles, three Champions League’s, five FA Cup’s and a whole host of individual honours.
The most decorated Premier League manager of all time, there is a clear argument for him as the GOAT.
However, there is no denying that Guardiola has dominated like no other manager has in the Premier League, as proven by that record breaking season.
He has also proven himself across the continent, bringing success at Barcelona and Bayern Munich where he won a combined six league titles across seven seasons.
There is just one thing that has eluded him during his time at Manchester City however. They have come close, but under his guidance they are yet to have won the Champions League trophy.
The most prestigious trophy in club football, Pep has not tasted success in the tournament since his second win at Barcelona in 2011.
Although he has claimed that he does not worry about his lack of success in the tournament since moving to England, it is at the very least an asterisk to many in the discussion of the greatest ever Premier League coaches.
However, Champions League trophy or not, his abilities as a coach are undeniable.
To lead a team that broke so many records in just his second season in the Premier League is a freakishly large accomplishment and one we will likely never see broken unless it is by himself.
The likes of Ferguson and Wenger may have had better longevity in their time as coaches, but Guardiola just might be the best of them all.