Guardiola: Barca's best ever?

Published Add your comment

Football News

They have been the four most successful years in Barcelona's history. Since 5 June 2008 and Pep Guardiola's appointment, the Catalan side has enjoyed complete world domination.

Three La Liga titles, two Champions League trophies, two Club World Championships, and a single Copa del Rey, all masterminded by a former B-team coach with zero first-team managerial experience. The former-Spanish international has won 13 of a possible 18 trophies available, a remarkable record.

When Pep Guardiola took over from Frank Rijkaard he inherited a talented team, but one struggling to compete with Real Madrid. Their fierce rivals had finished 18 points clear of Rijkaard's men in 2007-08, successfully defending their La Liga title at a canter.

Pep's appointment certainly raised a few eyebrows, he had only one season of experience with Barcelona B after all, but club president Joan Laporta recognised Pep personified Barca. Since joining La Masia as a 13-year-old, Guardiola has spent a total of 24 years at the club, as a player and manager, with a brief break abroad.

He lives and breathes the club and their style, which has won so many plaudits, is down to his steadfast commitment to a footballing philosophy that trusts his players to retain possession. His success has drawn comparison with Barca's other club colossus, Johan Cruyff, and his record suggests he has surpassed even Cruyff's achievements.

The Dutchman won seven major trophies over a eight-year Barca career, including four consecutive La Liga titles. But Cruyff's comparison with Guardiola cannot be restricted to simply a trophy count. Cryuff rebuilt Barca, bringing in players like Guardiola, Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov, Gheorghe Hagi and Romario, and ushering in a period of dominance unmatched until Guardiola returned in 2008.

Upon his appointment Guardiola did likewise, immediately showing Ronaldinho and Deco the exit door, and promoting Sergio Busquets and Pedro into the first-team. Cruyff left a hugely influential legacy at Barca, which still hovers over the Nou Camp today. But Pep has achieved a similar feat in only four years, a period of such success executed so perfectly that it almost feels unprecedented.

So how does his reign compare with the other managerial greats? In terms of numbers, his trophy haul obviously pales in comparison to the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Marcello Lippi and Giovanni Trapattoni.

But a case for inclusion onto any top list can be made when you look at honours per years in management. Pep has eight major trophies, and 13 in total, in just four years of management, the equivalent of winning the double every season, all with a win percentage of 73%. Ferguson has 33 major trophies over a 38 year managerial career, an average of close to one a season, at a win percentage of 58%.

Other contenders include Lippi, who has nine top titles but crucially includes a World Cup with Italy in his personal trophy cabinet. His Italian colleague, Trapattoni, also must be mentioned, with 20 major trophies, including league titles in four different countries.

Franz Beckenbauer's brief coaching career was littered with silverware, including a World Cup, league titles in France and Germany, and a UEFA Cup. Similarly, Vincent del Bosque skilfully brought together a team of disparate Galacticos at Real Madrid, before guiding Spain to their first ever World Cup win in 2010.

Real Madrid's current manager Jose Mourinho has league winners medal from England, Italy, Portugal and soon to be Spain. He also has two Champions Leagues, a win percentage to rival Pep's at 69% and 14 trophies in a 12 year career so far.

Carlos Bianchi, Arrigo Sacchi, the AC Milan innovator, or, Rinus Michels, the creator of 'total football' and FIFA's Coach of the 20th Century also make any top list of managers. Liverpool legends Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly built dynasties at the Anfield club while Brian Clough turned Derby County into league winners and Nottingham Forest into European Champions.

As such, when attempting to place Pep on such a list, factors other than relentless trophy gathering come into play. Longevity is important, and the ability to build a club from a position of weakness to one of domestic and continental dominance is crucial. Here Pep cannot compete with the likes of Sacchi, Ferguson, Shankly or Clough.

The best ever also have a habit of breaking the mould. Michels overturned preconceptions regarding rigid formations when he created Total Football, giving players the freedom to use their own discretion to interchange freely on the pitch. Likewise, Ferguson has built so-many title winning teams at United it's almost impossible to count, each with a subtle tactical variation or new, surprising formation.

But the ability to build several title-winning sides only comes with time and Pep is still in the infancy of his managerial career. His initial success suggests his place on the list is merited and he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as other greats of the game.

However, time will tell if, away from the club into which he is so ingrained, he can still succeed. He may be Barca's best but it remains to be seen if a place in the pantheon of the game's greats awaits him. With a record like his, though, few would bet against him.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

UEFA Champions League

Article Comments

Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again