There’s no doubt that Pep Guardiola is about to embark on his biggest managerial challenge at Manchester City.
The Spaniard has dominated both La Liga and the Bundesliga with Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively, but doing the same with City is likely to prove far more difficult.
Guardiola won three league titles at each of Barcelona and Bayern but, with the Premier League looking increasingly competitive this season and the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all competing for the title, he will have his work cut out for him at the Etihad.
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But there’s one man who knows him very well and is adamant that Guardiola will be a success in England. That man is Barcelona legend Xavi.
Not only did Xavi play alongside Guardiola at the Camp Nou for three seasons, he played under him for a further four years. The legendary midfielder believes Guardiola will continue his philosophy to great effect at the Citizens.
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Xavi on Guardiola
"Guardiola is meticulous, focused on every little detail,” Xavi wrote in his Guardian column.
"Even as a player he controlled everything; he knew exactly what he wanted to do, he had it all laid out in his mind.
"He loves football and a particular way of playing it. He really hated losing the ball, even as a player.
"Those of us who have been raised at Barcelona, with the ideals that Johan Cruyff brought to the club, have a very clear sense of how to play, an ideal. Pep especially. He is a purist, a radical.”
Those that have watched City during pre-season will have seen the immediate impact Guardiola has had on the squad. No matter which players are on the field, they have attempted to play the ball out from the back with indifferent results.
It’s one of the reasons that he has splashed almost £50million on John Stones, with the 22-year-old having the ability to pass the ball out of defence.
Xavi admits he will continue to sign players that fit into his way of playing but has named the four current stars that fit instantly into his philosophy, stating that they’re good enough to play for the La Liga champions.
"Barcelona kept a clear identity and there’s an element of that at City. David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Agüero and Yaya Touré are all players who could play for Barcelona and he will sign players that fit,” he said.
"And Guardiola can turn the screw on that, tighten everything up.”
Whether Guardiola can conquer England using his trusted tactics like he has in Spain and Germany remains to be seen but one thing is for sure, it’s definitely going to be his toughest challenge during his managerial career.
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