Cruyff ‘called Pep slower than gran’

Pep Guardiola has revealed that Johan Cruyff once said he was “slower than my granny” in a light-hearted reflection on the Barcelona legend.

Guardiola has never made any secret of Cruyff being his single biggest influence as a Coach, yet he recalled a time when he was just 18 that the Dutchman was not so impressed with his efforts on the pitch, to the extent the then-Barca midfielder would wait another 19 months for his La Liga debut.

“You were slower than my granny,” the Manchester City boss, in The Guardian, quoted Cruyff as saying.

“I was in a bad way because it was my first friendly in the first team. It was in the summer against a team [Banyoles] in the third division.

“I wanted to play the second half and Cruyff said: ‘No.’ Just like that. I sat there and thought: ‘Never again will I play for the first team at Barcelona. It’s over.’

“I didn’t understand it then. This was how Johan Cruyff worked. He was demanding a lot, but when you got there, and you were in his team, he was an incredible protector.

“He would push and push you and then he would protect you. He was a master at handling players. He knew when you needed to be pushed or protected.

“Every step you make he helps you realise why you are getting better. He teach me how I can get better. I am like this: ‘I want more and more.’ You can feel the desire in me to get better.

“This is not the same as being hungry to make it. We all feel that hunger in football. With Cruyff it was different.

“He deepened and changed the hunger so you became conscious of why you are getting better. It was often simple.

“He would shout at me: ‘Control with the left, control with the left!’ because in the beginning I only use my right foot. He made me use both feet. Even now I use this with my players.

“But he had such vision. That’s why I called him many times to get his thoughts when I had the idea of moving into coaching.”

Tags Johan Cruyff Manchester City Pep Guardiola