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Josep Guardiola Sala, huh? What a man.
Regardless of what you think of him, you can’t deny that he’s one of the best at doing it.
He might have had hundreds of millions to blow off the players in all the clubs he has managed, but he has earned it through his relentless management and relentless football style that delights purists and blows rival teams away.
He took over his 700th game over the weekend, so it’s time to celebrate.
After a successful stage in charge of Barcelona B in which they achieved promotion to the second division, Guardiola was appointed to take charge of the first team for the 2007/08 season, replacing Frank Rijkaard. And it immediately became clear that it was the right choice.
After a dramatic exit from the team that saw Ronaldinho among those eliminated, they stormed the title in their first season and then retained it in 2008/09.
They did so with the help of a historic victory at the Bernabéu, in which Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi each raced with a double. Gonzalo Higuaín scored first, but it all went downhill from there.
That 6-2 win was part of the defining Guardiola’s season. When he got the treble for the first and only time in the history of Spanish football, when Pep’s tiki-taka took over.
A victory over Manchester United followed a Copa del Rey and La Liga, in a calendar year that would see them win six major trophies, the only time that has happened in the history of professional football.
Possibly the most impressive individual victory in Guardiola’s entire tenure came in one of the highest quality Champions League finals. Guardiola vs Ferguson II saw the Spaniard win in cunning and think the Scotsman at every turn, while Messi’s three forwards Pedro and David Villa put United on the sword.
This is seen by many as the pinnacle of Pep’s Barça, as Xavi and Andrés Iniesta passed United on the field on their way to another great honor.
After a short break from football leaving Barcelona, Guardiola took the reins at Bayern Munich before the 2013/14 season and was undeniably successful … even if it was a bit boxy on a round hole.
In its first season, Bayern won the Bundesliga with seven matches to spare, the first in German football history.
However, he had divided opinions across the country, his system based on possession was at odds with the fabric of German football and led to one or two surprising results.
One of the first indications that Guardiola’s magic could They have been wearing down came the following summer, when Mario Mandzukic left the club, criticizing Guardiola’s management and saying his style just “didn’t suit him.”
Quite strange, at the end of a season in which he had scored 26 goals and had 10 assists that season.
His replacement was an idiot named ‘Robert Lewandowski’.
The way things have been in the last two seasons, it’s easy to forget that things didn’t start out so well for him in England.
There were smug screams that one of the greatest coaches of all time ‘couldn’t make it in the Premier League’ after a debut campaign in which City finished third with 78 points.
Those screams were somewhat vindicated when, in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and in Guardiola’s 100th match as a coach in UEFA competition, they blew a 5-3 lead in Monaco to go out of the competition. .
To be fair, this was an excellent team from Monaco, with Fabinho, Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappé and future Cityzen Bernardo Silva … but still not a great look.
Yes, those doubts? Straight out the window the following season.
Gabriel Jesus’ delicate play against Southampton on the final day of the campaign put City on 100 points, the first and only time in the history of English football.
It turned out that Guardiola’s City was pretty good after all.
They managed to retain the title in 2018/19, although Liverpool, which was led by the man who emerged as their main managerial rival, Jurgen Klopp, made them work every inch.
The Reds had sent them out of the Champions League the previous season and they inflicted their only domestic defeat of the season, so they had hinted they would challenge the throne, but few would have expected them to score 98 points.
City took 99 as it turned out that their 2-1 win over the Reds at the Etihad I was the difference. There were doubts as to whether City could beat Liverpool further: they took 4 points away from them in a relentless 2018/19 season.
Despite a shaky start to this season, City didn’t bother and threw all their eggs into Guardiola’s basket once again. As a reward for two league titles and eight major trophies, the Spaniard extended his stay until 2023, putting an end to all the rampant speculation about his future.
Game 700 came and went with a routine 2-0 win over Burnley, though with six points between them and the top Spurs leaders, they have a lot of work to do.