Pep Guardiola has reflected that he will stay true to Barcelona’s style of play when coaching elsewhere and that it is one that is more simple than it looks.
In an interview published today that was held last week, prior to this confirmation, Guardiola discussed the concept behind the style of play he reintroduced to Barcelona during a four-year spell there from 2008 to 2012.
“The principle behind Barcelona’s style was very simple: play with the ball, do everything with it,” the Coach enthused to FIFA’s official website.
“Every footballer around the world decided to play football because one day in some corner of their small village or big city, wherever it was, they kicked a ball around and enjoyed it.
“Barca’s system, even if people say it’s very complicated, is as simple as that: we’ll get the ball and just let them try and take it off us; let’s pass it between us as much as possible and see if we can score a goal.
“That’s what my predecessors handed down to me and the message I tried to get across while I was there too. I don’t know how they’re doing things now but, from what I’ve seen of how they’re playing, I imagine it’s still similar.
“So when you go and coach somewhere you have to believe in what you’re trying to put across. And what I’ll try and do in the future is what I did when I was a player, what I believed in, and what I’ve coached for the past five years: attack as well as you possibly can, keep hold of the ball and pass it to a guy wearing the same colour shirt.”
Guardiola was enthusiastic in his response when asked of how he has seen Tito Vilanova maintain a similar playing philosophy.
“Yes, of course. The best present, the best prize that I could receive would be for everything to keep going well.
“When you do things right then they can continue to go well, and that’s a real honour for me. After what was passed down to me, the fact I was somehow able to pass the message on and that things are still going so well is really rewarding.
“The recurrence of his illness hit me very hard. But I know he’ll be strong and that he’s in good hands medically, at a club that will protect him and particularly with a family that’ll stick by his side and I’m sure will be ready to fight to make sure he comes through.”
Under Vilanova the team have amassed 55 points from a possible 57 in the League and sit 11 points clear of nearest rivals Atletico Madrid.
“Too many things, far too many things, would have to go wrong for Barcelona to lose this Liga title. I don’t see it happening, the gap’s virtually insurmountable.
“Not because Madrid aren’t capable of winning all their games, but because I don’t see Barcelona losing enough matches either. It’s too big an ask.
“The Barcelona players are used to success and they’ve got so many qualities. I think that this La Liga race is pretty much over.”
Guardiola was asked if in taking a job after the one at Barca that his success of winning 14 titles in four years will be an added pressure.
“Yes, but I wouldn’t change it! I prefer to carry on like this, having experienced what I’ve been through, rather than starting out somewhere you’ve got to win everyone over.
“Things are a bit different now: when I started out at Barcelona some 86 or 87 per cent of people didn’t want me.
“Now, thanks to how well everything went, there’ll be clubs that are more interested in me. These things happen in life and you can’t control them.
“We achieved what we did all together, thanks to so many people, and I’ll remember everything I experienced during those years. Whatever anybody says, those experiences belong to me and nobody can take them away from me.”
The 41-year-old was linked with a host of Europe’s top clubs before Bayern confirmed his signature.
“The speculation made me feel bad for the Coaches who were in the clubs at the time. I personally wouldn’t like it if I was coaching somewhere and my club was releasing this kind of information while I was still there.
“But I’ve kept out of everything, I’m still out of it and I’ll stay that way, out of respect for the people who are trying to do their jobs.
“That said, it makes you think that you’re not getting the offer because of how good you are, but because of what you’ve won.
“We won a lot and that’s why I’m more in demand now than when I started out, when only three or four people at Barcelona believed in me. The others didn’t feel the same way.”
Guardiola was also asked for his assessment in what has gone wrong at struggling Athletic Bilbao this year, who are under the leadership of Marcelo Bielsa, a Coach that Guardiola has always spoken highly of.
“It’s difficult to make an assessment when you’re not around, though I do think that the legacy he leaves the club will be very great indeed. What they achieved last season was huge, and the game we had against them was one of the best we ever played in.
“They’ve lost some very important players and it’s a club where it’s hard to make signings, because they’ve got a very restricted market to work in. If you’re asking me my personal opinion about him, I’d say I value him even more highly than before.
“My admiration for him is fully intact. I admire the way he faces up to problems, his bravery and the way he doesn’t hide when things go wrong. The way he looks for solutions using his methodology and hard work too. I try to learn a lot, because I know that in sport you don’t have great times all the time.
“And I admire the fortitude he shows when things don’t go well. I think the fact that Marcelo’s still got that level of drive is a gift for Spanish football and football as a whole.”