Pep Guardiola is the best coach in the world. There are no questions. The results prove it, the titles prove it, the style proves it. Pep has a specific way of playing and wants his teams to win while looking good. His teams do it and do it well, and until the day he decides to quit coaching, he’ll never change his ideas.
However, last season Pep Guardiola went through something that never happened to him: a bad season. Pep joined Manchester City and there were giant expectations for what his team would do. City went on to win their first 10 games of the season and there was talk of the Sky Blues being the first English team to win all four trophies.
The four trophies never came. Three trophies never came. Two trophies never came. One trophy never came. Pep saw his team go through an entire footballing season without winning a title, which was a first in his illustrious career.
Because this is England and English football thinks it’s better than everything else, Pep Guardiola was labeled a fraud, a coach who only won things because he had two incredible squads at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and he couldn’t get the Champions League with Bayern because he didn’t have Lionel Messi anymore.
In England, Guardiola is seen as a stubborn idealist who thinks he doesn’t need to adapt to the Premier League and will win his way, without listening to anyone. Pep is seen as a romantic who wants to win with short, technical midfielders instead of doing what every Premier League champion supposedly does: have tall players, run all over the pitch for 90 minutes, kick long balls.
No matter how much we try to explain why Pep didn’t win last season and prove it with numbers and pictures, the critics will not accept the arguments and will see them as excuses for a mediocre coach who’s nothing but a man who takes advantage of world-class squads to build his own brand.
And you know what? The critics are right: there are no more excuses for Pep Guardiola. He must deliver this season.
Whether it’s the Premier League or the European Cup, Guardiola will not survive the pressure if he ends up without trophies again. And it’s not just the pressure from outside: it’s his own pressure. Pep’s standards are incredibly high, and he won’t accept anything less than perfection from himself before anyone else.
Pep might be stubborn, he might be an idealistic, he might be a romantic. But Pep is also pragmatic, and he knows his City career will be judged by the results he’ll achieve. Pep wants to win, but what makes him special is not only how he wants to win, but how he convinces his players that no other way is better.
When the players he’s able to convince have incredible talent, then his team is going to win things. Manchester City did not have many players with incredible talent last season, especially on the defensive side, but the summer transfer window addressed that problem and then some: Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Danilo are three very good full-backs, and Mendy might just become the best left-back on Earth working with Pep. Éderson is the most expensive goalkeeper in history, and he has the talent to prove he’s worth the price.
City’s attack was already very good last season, but the addition of Bernardo Silva and another year of learning and implementing Pep Ball will make the Blues’ offense even more potent. Pep has all the tools at his disposal, and he has all types of players to face all types of styles and score a load of goals to win matches. City also have a great defense on paper, and if reality is the same as theory, City won’t concede too many either.
So what we’ve learned is that Guardiola has the squad he wanted, with many players with different skill sets who can all adapt to his style, and he already knows the Premier League enough to understand what he needs to do to win each match.
Pep has all the tools, and his past shows he has the quality to coach this team to a trophy or three this season. If he can’t, the critics might be right after all.