Tag Archives: Pep Guardiola

The Guardiola Effect

With Portsmouth appointing Danny Cowley and his Brother Nicky as new coaches yesterday and having watched their interview, It was hard not to start thinking of the Guardiola Effect.

In case you haven’t seen the interview, the Cowley brothers were asked how they like their teams to play football.

The answer …

With a High Pressing line, attacking on the front foot and fast, giving the opposition no time to think

Having listened to this, the mind started to wander towards Pep Guardiola. You see his teams have played that way for years. The results are obvious. Trophies!

Now you can argue that he has brought success, but there are many negations for that, because players still have to perform. Although, if you were in charge of a team that had very very rich owners giving you a blank cheque book to buy the best, then I challenge you to not buy them.

Its this transition caused by Guardiola, that has led a number of managers to follow suit. Some examples are: Mauricio Pochettino, now at Paris St Germain, Maurizio Sarri, formerly of Chelsea and Juventus and Jurgen Klopp, of… Oh Yes, Liverpool.

Now these are some more famous examples. Each of course would argue that he has his own ideas behind that philosophy. Lets, however, look closer to home for some more examples of The Guardiola Effect.

In the Championship, Darren Moore now at Sheffield Wednesday, while in League One: Grant McCann at Hull City, Russ Martin at MK Dons. More on MK Dons in a moment. Mark Robinson at AFC Wimbledon and finally Darren Ferguson at Peterborough All of these are managers who, are adapting the Guardiola effect.

Now when you actually stop and think about it, the principle is very simple. Your team has two parts of its game. In Possession and Out of Possession. Simply put, when you lose the ball your have to win it back again and keep control of it so you can dictate the pace of the game and wear the other team down.

Ultimately, you want to be playing in your opponents defensive area, which is your final third because attack is the best form of defence.

Make Sense?…

Games of Football are won by scoring goals and not conceding them. This was embodied by Guardiola’s teams at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City

If you concede more than one every game, then clearly you are not going to be very successful. This brings me on very nicely to two team who through the years, do this very well.

First cast your mind back, waayy back to the mid-eighties. Wimbledon, love them or loathe them, played the game this way. In those days they played the POMO game – Possession Of Maximum Opportunity.

It was successful, though they bypassed the midfield and relied on winning second balls, they gained lots of promotions this way and won an FA Cup Final in 1988 against Liverpool thanks to a Lawrie Sanchez goal.

Bolton Wanderers, years later under Sam Allardyce, were also as successful playing like this. Now fast forward to date and this current season. Currently in League One, MK Dons under the guidance of Russ Martin, they are arguably playing the most successful brand of football throughout the Football League.

They play possession based football, which week in week out causes their opponents no end of problems and Martin’s side invariably win the stats charts by miles compared to other teams.

MK Dons, play the Guardiola Effect very well, wearing teams down and it is no coincidence that they often score last minute goals, simply because the other team are tired from trying to win the ball back.

The transition is fairly smooth and the opposition very rarely get to touch the ball. A testament to how effective this style of play is demonstrated by regular appearances of MK Dons players’ names appearing in the League One Team of the Week.

Now they may not win promotion this season, but the play-offs are a possibility along with Portsmouth. They will be strong favourites for automatic promotion, possibly even as champions next season from League One.

Whether Portsmouth do get Promotion this season via the play-offs, due to the Guardiola effect remains to be seen, but it will be an exciting period in PO4 for the next 12 games.

So, who else will the Guardiola Effect… Affect?

Will Harry Kane’s loyalty for Spurs be tested?

A few months is a long time in football, especially it appears this season where so many sides are experiencing fluctuating fortunes.  

Take Liverpool for example, up until the last two months could do no wrong, but have now suffered back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Brendan Rodger’s Leicester.  They subsequently face a battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League. 

Then there is Tottenham Hotspur. Back in November they produced a Jose Mourinho masterclass to secure a 2-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side.  They were in fact setting the pace at the top of the Premier League, both Son-Heung min and Harry Kane were the most prolific pairing in the division and there appeared a new found reliance, which was installed by Mourinho.  

Fast forward, however, to what is commonly referred to as the business end of the campaign and Spurs now find themselves down in ninth in the table, 17 points behind league leaders City following a rather chastening experience of a 3-0 loss at the Etihad.  

Indeed, since that previously highlighted 2-0 loss in November Guardiola’s men have now gone 16 games unbeaten in all competitions and during that time have just conceded three goals, while scoring 36. 

The North London side, meanwhile, have only won four games in 14 since that impressive 2-0 win, the goals have dried up and Kane has looked an increasingly fore lawn figure leading the line. 

During Tottenham’s latest defeat, the England captain failed to register a single touch in the opposition penalty area.  In fact Kane put in an impressive performance as a defender having registered four clearances during yesterday’s 3-0 loss, which was the joint highest of any Spurs player.  

Following the game, however, Jamie Redknapp in the Sky Studio said:

“Harry Kane must look at that and think: ‘I want touches, I want to be the main man, not just taking free-kicks!’ He won’t be happy doing that.”

Redknapp is not the only former Spurs player to have highlighted that Kane would not be happy to be feeding off limited service.  

Prior to the match at the Etihad former fans favourite Clive Allan, who coached Kane during his days in the Tottenham academy raised the point that the England striker will not want to end his career without getting his hands on silverware.   

Allan said on TalkSport: 

“He is integral to Spurs achieving any sort of success, because without him they are not as strong a team. The way he links the play, the way he scores goals, the way he creates chances for other players.

“But, I have no doubt he has had thoughts about it [leaving].

“He’s been fantastic at the club from the first moment he walked in as a 16-year-old. I worked with him at that early age, and you could see he had the most incredible appetite and desire to improve himself, to get the best out of himself, which obviously we have seen he has done.

“But I think he will want a career where he has won something.”

This then leads on to where would Kane go if he were to leave his beloved boyhood club? 

Well, Manchester City are certainly one of the few clubs who can afford the England international and will almost certainly be in the market for a world class striker despite managing so impressively without Sergio Aguero.   

Then there is City’s rivals Manchester United, who have long been reported admirers of Kane and he would certainly provide them with a more cutting edge that times appears to be missing at crucial moments in big games.  

Abroad, meanwhile, there is Real Madrid who are the obvious candidates and Zinedine Zidane’s men are currently experiencing one of the club’s most disappointing season’s to date as they are eight points behind city rivals Atletico Madrid and have already been eliminated from the Copa Del Rey this year.

The likes of Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona would also undoubtedly be interested, despite not being as good as previous Catalan teams they are still a side that offer an obvious attraction. 

In short, Kane will have no shortage of options should he choose to leave his boyhood club and a lot will depend on what happens in the remaining months of the season and also whether he fancies a crack at pastures anew. 

Do you think that Harry Kane will leave his boyhood club this summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…..

From failed Rovers move to Worlds Best

Cast your minds back to the 2009/2010 season, when Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers side were sitting mid-table and were relying on the creative skills of Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn.  The likes of Jason Roberts and Franco Di Santo were not being clinical enough in front of goal and Allardyce was crying out for someone to convert the chances that his midfield were producing. 

Head of Recruitment at the time for the Lancashire club Martyn Glover had reportedly scouted out a promising Polish forward at the time, who had scored 21 goals in 34 appearances for Lech Poznan and Glover envisioned that this striker could perhaps be as good as the man who fired Rovers to the Premier League title in 1995, Alan Shearer.  

Glover, who is now Head of Recruitment at Southampton and has been since 2019, said:

“We had seen a lot of Robert Levandowksi and we knew we were dealing with a top class striker.”

Discussions with the club president went as planned and we had outlined a proposal for him to join Rovers. 

However, the chairman (John Williams) was worried that Poland was not famous for producing prolific goal scorers and there was also questions surrounding the fee, which was £3 million possibly rising to £4 million.

Indeed, Rovers hesitation surrounding the player proved costly as the player had a pal at the Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund and before the Premier League side could do anything Dortmund snapped him up for the same fee. 

Glover added: 

He’s certainly close to the top of the list of the ones that got away!”

Allardyce subsequently bought Croatian Nikola Kalinic instead for a reported £6 million. 

The prolific Polish International striker certainly proved that he was indeed the one that got away.  Having joined Dortmund 2010, under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp he became the complete striker.  He immediately endeared himself to the Dortmund fans by scoring his first goal for the club against fierce rivals Schalke in the Revierderby.     

Lewandowkski spent four seasons at die Schwarzgelben scoring an impressive 103 goals in 187 appearances. He helped his team to the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Bundesliga titles, plus the 2012 DFB-Pokal Cup.  While at the same time also playing a key role in Dortmund’s run to the 2013 Champions League final, which they subsequently lost to Bayern Munich. 

The highlight of that memorable 2012-13 Champions League campaign was undoubtedly his four goals against Real Madrid in the semi-final. 

The Pole broke Dortmund fans hearts, however, by agreeing to move to their fierce rivals, Bayern Munich, in 2014 on a five-year deal.  At Bayern he got to work with the likes of Pep Guardiola and won title after title. 

There were periods, however, where it was not plane sailing but it all came to together last season with manager Hans Flick. League crown thanks to a 1-0 win over French Champions Paris Saint Germain.

The incredible year for Lewandowski was capped off by winning the Best FIFA award for men’s player of the year and finished first in the Guardian’s 100 best male footballers. The past season saw Lewandowski score 55 goals in just 47 games.  

Under the guidance of Flick, Lewandowski has clearly become more of a team player. His team mate Thomas Muller added:

“It has even gone so far that he can almost enjoy an assist now.” 

Jacek Grembocki, the coach of the Pole’s first ever-professional team Znicz Pruszkow, meanwhile, said:

“Players like Lewandowski only think about one thing: success, success and success.  Now he plays not only for Poland, but for Bayern too.  And he is a legend up there with Messi and Ronaldo.  

“He is the best player in the history of Polish football.”

Its back: Premier league weekend preview

After the final international break of the calendar year top flight domestic football is back and heading into the most hectic part of an already condensed 2020/21 schedule.

The Premier League has already seen plenty of shock results this campaign and as things stand the top of the table is delicately poised with a host of clubs vying for supremacy.

Here are your big match previews for the weekend…

Premier League

Newcastle United v Chelsea Saturday 12.30pm

Frank Lampard’s side were in fine form before the break and the Blues legend will be hoping his side can pick up where they left off as they head to the North East.

Lampard will be without Ka Havertz and Christian Pulisic for the clash at St James’ Park while experienced centre-back Thiago Silva is a doubt.

Steve Bruce’s Magpies have been typically inconsistent so far this term without setting the world alight. However with the attacking threats of Ryan Fraser, Allan Saint Maximin and Callum Wilson, they can be confident of stopping the visitors heading to the top of the table.

Tottenham v Manchester City Saturday 5.30pm

A huge test of Tottenham’s early title credentials as Jose Mourinho’s men look to seize the opportunity to reach the summit of the table, albeit potentially for just 24 hours.

Spurs have been a tough team to beat this season and with the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Heung Min-Son in attack they pose a danger to any team.

Pep Guardiola, fresh off the back of a new contract, will be looking for more consistency from his side as they look to close the small gap to the league leaders. Gabriel Jesus is likely to be available whilst Sergio Aguero is a doubt.

Manchester United v West Brom Saturday 8.00pm

United went into the break on the back of a morale boosting victory over Everton, a victory that arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjær from a difficult conversation over this job.

Slaven Bilic’s Baggies meanwhile are desperate for points already as they flounder in the relegation zone without a win in their opening eight matches.

Leeds United v Arsenal Sunday 4.30pm

Perhaps evevery neutral’s favourite side to watch, Leeds United have made for enthralling viewing this season, unless you’re a fan of stout defending.

Marcelo Bielsa’s charges are a fast flowing bunch who always look to play on the front-foot, occasionally to their detriment. The Yorkshire side have already shocked the big boys this season, taking a point from the game with Man City.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners could almost do no wrong until they came unstuck in a big way against Aston Villa before the break. The North Londoners sit 11th in the table and will be desperate to start clawing their way up.

Liverpool v Leicester City Sunday 7.15pm

Arguably the game of the weekend as the reigning champions host the current leagues leaders at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side come into this game with almost an unprecedented amount of injuries with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for the majority of the season at least. Captain Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all major doubts for the clash whilst Fabinho has returned to full training.

The Foxes, not without their own injury concerns, must fancy their chances of taking a positive result back to the Midlands as former Reds boss Brendan Rodger’s pits his wits against Klopp.

Wolves v Southampton Monday 8.00pm

The weekend’s action rounds up at Molineux as this seasons surprise package Southampton head to Wolverhampton hoping to continue their positive start.

Ralph Hassenhutl’s Saints sit fourth in the table heading into the weekend after a 2-0 victory over Newcastle before the international hiatus. The visitors are likely to be without talismanic striker Danny Ings however as he recovers from a knee issue.

Wolves meanwhile haven’t quite hit the heights perhaps many expected this term so far as they struggle to get going with a host of new signings in their ranks. Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping this period can bring about a new level of consistency from his talented squad.

Other Fixtures

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion Saturday 3.00pm

Fulham v Everton Sunday 12.00pm

Sheffield United v West Ham United Sunday 2.00pm

Burnley v Crystal Palace Monday 5.30pm

Pep Guardiola signs new contract with Manchester City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has signed a new two- year deal with the club that will extend his stay until the summer of 2023.

The former Spanish and Barcelona defensive midfielder has been in charge of the ‘Sky Blues’ since 2016 and his previous deal was set to expire at the end of the season. 

During that period Guardiola has guided City to two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and three League Cups.  While to date the team has won 181 of the 245 games that the 49-year-old has taken charge of, which equates to an impressive win ratio of 73.87%.

Indeed, Guardiola’s five-year commitment with City is already the longest he has stayed at a football club since becoming a manager in 2008. 

If he were to see out the new contract, the Spaniard would become City’s second longest serving post-war manager, behind Les McDowall, who managed the club between 1950 and 1963.

Speaking to the club website, Guardiola said:

“Ever since I arrived at Manchester City I have been made to feel so welcome to the club and in the city itself – from the players, the staff, the supporters, the people of Manchester and the Chairman and the Owner. 

“Since then we have achieved a great deal together, scored goals, won games and trophies and are all very proud of that success. 

“The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving, and I am very excited about helping Manchester City do that.”

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, meanwhile added:

“Pep’s contract extension is the natural next step in a journey which has evolved over many years.”

Record as manager

In his 11 full seasons as manager, Guardiola has in total won an incredible 29 major trophies.  During his four year stint with Barcelona he won a grand total of 14, which included the club’s first ever treble in 2009. 

After taking a year out of the game, Guardiola went to German side Bayern Munich where he won three Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokal Cups. 

Then in 2016 Guardiola arrived at Manchester City and after finishing third in his first season in charge, the 2017-18 campaign saw him set a new Premier League points record of 100 points on his way to winning his first title with the club.

The following year, Guardiola would guide the Citizens to another title, making them the first side to win back-to-back Premier League trophies this decade. 

What will the contract extension mean for City?

The news that Guardiola has now committed his future to the club will clearly delight City fans and the team can now focus on their quest to secure their first ever Champions League title. 

This is something that Guardiola will clearly be determined to achieve as he has not won the biggest prize in European football since 2011 with Barcelona. 

While there is also the question of whether Lionel Messi will arrive at the Ethiad in the summer of 2021? The Argentine was blocked from leaving the Nou Camp this year and with Messi’s contract officially expiring the prospect of him moving to Manchester is certainly looking more and more likely. 

Indeed, a reunion with the manager who he won so much with must be an exciting proposition for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and truth be told, would be terrific to witness for fans of the English Premier League.  

Will Guardiola finally be able to lead City to Champions League glory this season? Will Messi join the club in the summer? Feel free to give us your thoughts in the comments below….