Pep’s Problem is Pragmatism

I have spent a great deal of time following and studying Pep Guardiola. It’s sufficient to say I am a huge fan of his. Growing up in rural Jamaica, we did not have large spaces to play football. It was natural for us to play short, snappy passes in small spaces. Seeing what Pep did with Barcelona made me fall in love with his philosophy. Men like la Volpe, Sarri and Lillo espouse the same ideology, ball possession is key, pass out from the back and high press when you lose the ball.

Pep is stubborn and that may well be key to his success but also his downfall. Tinkering with teams in critical games isn’t a break from his stubbornness. Instead, it is evidence of his unwavering belief in his ideas. Having watched last night’s Champions League Final, where Tuchel outsmarted Pep, we are left wondering: Why did he not start Rodri of Fernandinho?

Manchester City formation

What if his experiment had worked? What would the pundits be saying today?

The following is an assessment of Guardiola’s approach from a good friend and pundit in Oxfordshire:

“Just to put into context what Pep has achieved, as I know he will be criticized left, right, and centre. Sir Alex was a supreme manager, but what Sir Alex had going for him was his ability to adapt. This showed in his teams over the years. Today, Manchester United could be as explosive as a grenade and tomorrow they could be as pragmatic as a parked bus. They adapted to whatever was needed on the day. Pep, on the other hand, doesn’t have a millimetre of adaptability in him. This is a critique definitely.

But, let’s view it from another angle. Imagine being “one dimensional” while still having great success. Sarri did it at Napoli but couldn’t dethrone Juventus. Bielsa has been doing it all his managerial career without coming close to hitting the heights Pep has hit. Admittedly, Pep has had the funds to buy “his players.” The same can be said for every top coach in Europe. They are afforded the funds to buy “their players” and even surplus.

On the balance, Pep brought his “one dimensional” approach to arguably the toughest league in the world (EPL) and dismantled his opponents. In some minds, He’s not the goat as yet. In my view he’s definitely a STRONG contender for GOAT manager.” Donald Brown

Until Pep accepts that on some days brawn is better than brains, he will continue to falter like this. Still you must ask, with his level of success, does he need to change tactics?

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