This is a guest publication written by Oliver. His website can be found here.
With an impressive 24 trophies to his name and soon to be 25, as Manchester City close in on the Premier League title for the fifth time in the club’s history, Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful football managers of all time.
Guardiola is known for revolutionising Spanish football with his Tiki-taka philosophy and his attacking tactics. Winning trophies wherever he goes, Guardiola has proved his worth at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Now in his second season at the Etihad, after a rather disappointing start to his career in English football, Pep finally looks set to add another league trophy to his cabinet.
However, despite Man City’s stunning season so far under Pep, many fans and pundits alike believe Guardiola has bought success and not earned it. Signing 19 players in under two seasons with the Catalan at the reigns, the club has spent a sensational £473 million.
City spent a total of £272 million in the two seasons prior to Guardiola becoming manager. That’s £200 million less than the total since Pep’s arrival, highlighting the astronomical amount of money spent by the club since he took charge.
Now, as the Premier League comes to the final few games of the 2017/18 season, it seems inevitable that the league’s most expensive squad will win the trophy once again, with the City boss no doubt getting all the praise. But has Guardiola really made the Blues the all-conquering side they supposedly are, or has he just done what any other manager could have done with the same financial backing?
Many Guardiola fans will be quick to point out his constant success at every club he’s been at, however, many will fail to mention the size of cheque the club will hand him, or the legacy of the teams he’s managed.
The evidence of Pep turning teams into winners is underwhelming and minimal.
Before appointing Guardiola as manager of Barcelona in 2008, Barca had already won both the league and Champions League two out of the three seasons before he joined, meaning he had taken charge of an already winning side. Barcelona went on to dominate the league for the next three years, as well as winning the UCL a further two times.
However, since Guardiola’s departure from Barcelona in 2012, the Spanish giants have successfully won the Spanish top flight three times as well as winning Europe’s elite competition once, proving their success wasn’t just because of Guardiola.
Over the four years he spent at Barcelona, Guardiola spent a total of £307 million on players, continuing Barcelona’s track record of out spending their rivals. Now, despite not spending more than Barca’s average seasonal expenditure, he still broke the bank every season on big name targets, out bidding rival teams to world class players.
Guardiola’s obsession of spending big may well have started at Barcelona, setting a trend for him to only go to Europe’s wealthiest teams, and therefore always having the money to outspend the other teams in the league.
Joining Bayern Munich in 2013 on the back of a title winning season for the club, Guardiola won the German league every year during his three year stay. However, this time, although Bayern won the UCL the season before signing Guardiola, they failed to get past the semi-final stage of the competition every year with Pep in charge, despite investing £183 million on new players.
Guardiola left Bayern in 2016, before joining the Blue half of Manchester a day later, only to finish third in the league in first season in charge, but now looks set for a trophy laden season in his second attempt after spending £473 million on a new team.
However, despite all of the evidence proving Pep Guardiola has only ever won by spending big and joining winning teams, many people will say that these facts are a one-sided view and don’t give him enough credit for his talent in spotting talented youth and perfecting tactics. The high tempo speed and deadly attacking play in every team he’s managed. The ability of creating world class talent from players other managers would over look and the confidence and creativity his teams play with is mesmerising.
But how can we judge if a manager is world class when he is surrounded by world class players and a bank that never runs out.
True great managers are those that prove their worth at small teams consistently, making a once average team into title winners. A world class manager doesn’t need a stack of money to hide behind or use in order to buy their way out of problems.
Perhaps one day Guardiola will leave the comfort of a wealthy team and prove that he is world class, or maybe he just doesn’t have what it takes.