Pep Guardiola has been one of the most talked-about figures in recent football history ever since he first started out his coaching career with Barcelona in 2008.
The Spaniard had instant success with the Catalans, spending four fruitful years at Nou Camp and winning multiple coveted trophies.
That is why it was no surprise that Bayern Munich fans were elated when they heard the news that Guardiola is going to coach the team and despite his stay in Germany proved to be a bit controversial at the end, the same applied to the Manchester City faithful when they heard the news back in 2016.
It would be foolish to outright dismiss Guardiola’s success as he’s won the domestic title in three of the biggest European leagues multiple times.
His teams have been known to play one of the most dynamic and attractive styles ever to be seen on a football pitch and there have been numerous players that have praised him for his ingenious tactical and man-management approach.
However, beneath all this, there is a bigger context and in this post, I try to explore all angles before giving my verdict on how well Pep Guardiola has done since becoming a manager back in 2008.
Pep Guardiola’s Managerial Career in Numbers
Without a doubt, Pep’s most successful years in management were the ones spent as Barcelona head coach.
He won three La Liga titles, clinched the Champions League trophy on two occasions, and also won the Spanish Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup twice.
We will probably never know all the details that made him leave the Catalans but a lot of reputable sources have cited physical and mental exhaustion as the main reason.
Guardiola is said to have felt drained by the intensity of the four years spent at the club and after a brief hiatus chose to transfer his talents to the German Bundesliga as he accepted Bayern Munich’s proposal.
Again, Guardiola proved to be an instinct hit on the new scene as he romped to three straight league titles and also added two DFB Pokal trophies.
However, his failure to deliver the Champions League was what prompted the Bayern board to end his contract in 2016 and replace him with Carlo Ancelotti.
This opened the door for a move to Manchester City where he had the personnel and resources to quickly transfer his tactical vision and start building a new project in England.
He missed out on the Premier League trophy in his first year with the club but then claimed back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019.
Pep also won the FA Cup last year and has been successful in the League Cup no less than three times.
But again, his attempts at winning the Champions League have proved insufficient.
The club had several frustrating exits from the tournament during his tenure with possibly the latest defeat by Lyon being the biggest hit that Guardiola has had to take thus far.
My Verdict and Final Words
As I said earlier, Guardiola’s number of trophies won can’t be disputed by anyone.
However, my personal opinion is that he should have done a lot better with the resources he was given at all three of his clubs.
After all, when starting out at Barcelona he had the luxury of taking over a team that boasted players like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi Hernandez in their prime.
And it’s not like he didn’t spend money despite all the world-class talent he had at his disposal.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, and Alexis Sanchez were bought for huge sums at the time and Villa aside, the manager wasn’t able to successfully integrate any of them.
The high spending continued with Bayern Munich where the Spaniard was allowed to bring in top-quality internationals such as Arturo Vidal, Mario Goetze, Douglas Costa, and Thiago Alcantara.
So, failing to win the Champions League there is a stain that will be hard to clean.
Now approaching his fourth season with Manchester City, Guardiola is facing a similar problem.
With the spending he’s done since taking over, his overall tally now exceeds 1 billion pounds and it doesn’t look good especially after conceding the title to a much less expensive Liverpool team and going out of the Champions League by losing to the French side Lyon.
In a recent interview, Yaya Toure criticized his former manager saying that Guardiola has it easy in Manchester and would’ve already been sacked if he were leading another club.
It may sound harsh and we all know Toure has a personal agenda against Guardiola but I feel he’s right here.
Pep has definitely built a comfortable setting for him at City. He can buy any player he wants and has full control over all the decisions concerning the club’s playing personnel.
Some would say he deserves to have that much power but it’s also true that it comes with greater responsibility and winning two Premier League titles alone after such a big investment falls short in my book.
To top it all off, I’m not convinced that he has the capacity to be a long-serving manager in the same way that Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were.
It seems that the pressure of high expectations does get to him more often as evidenced by several incidents he has had with his own players and the media.
I’m certain that Guardiola will continue to win trophies in his career but in my view, he has to improve on a lot more aspects of his management to really earn a place alongside the greats.