SIDEWAYS GLANCE; Pep Talk needed

Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola.
Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola.

There has been much merrymaking at ‘Etihad Airways’ at the announcement that Pep Guardiola was soon to join the brand.

This has been based largely on the fact that somebody told them that he was going to be the saviour of their stuttering overpaid band of mercenaries.

I’m far from convinced that Pep is quite the miracle worker the media paint him.

Eddie Mahon

Had they asked my opinion – and, let’s face it, there was absolutely no reason why they should have – I’d have cautioned them to keep their money in their sheets. For I’m afraid that I’m far from convinced that Pep is quite the miracle worker the media paint him.

Let’s look at what he’s done and, let’s be honest, his record is not inconsiderable. His first managerial appointment was with the Barcelona Youth team where he fell into Barca’s equivalent of the Manchester United’s Class of ’92 – the Messi generation. And, just like United’s, they grew together with an unbreakable bond of talent and team spirit which, again like United, brought them a collection of League Championships, Cups and a couple of Champions League titles. And here’s where Pep began to wilt just a little.

Unlike Sir Alex who was always able to refresh and rebuild, Guardiola decided to cut and run, originally by taking a ‘sabbatical’ and heading for the USA. A year later, with his reputation still intact, he walked into the current European champions, Bayern Munich, who already had the bulk of German national side plus stars like Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben who’d get into any team in the world.

In his time there, he’s failed to reclaim the Champions League and I have yet to be convinced that Bayern, who have all the advantages in the Bundesliga, have shown any improvement during his tenure. But this period in his managerial career, shows, if anything the flaws in his make-up.

Faced with the prospect of a fast fading Barca with the likes of Xavi very much on the wane and no sign yet of Neymar or Suarez, he hadn’t the stomach for the fight, and legged it.

Pep knew, like David Moyes and Louis van Gaal have found out, that re-building was a much more difficult task than building.

So a fully functioning Bayern were a godsend! When he eventually enters the Etihad Stadium he will be met by a ragbag of some of the most expensive players in the world who want to play sitting in armchairs. And, even then, THEY’LL decide when THEY want to play.

So when Luis Enrique eventually took over at the Nou Camp and made such a huge success of the job which so frightened Guardiola it put Pep’s stature in prospective. When the wheels eventually (as they will) come off the wagon in Manchester, remember where you heard it first!