Last night it was confirmed that Bayern Munich would be playing in the Champions League finals, at the expense of Barcelona, who suffered the greatest aggregate defeat of the club's history. Aww. One can't help but acknowledge the irony of the team that Pep Guardiola will be managing next decapitating the team he left behind, seemingly in ruins.
For the last few weeks I've been reading Pep Guardiola's biography and, after a considerable amount of time of believing that the squad's ability trumped that of Pep's managerial ability, I think I have been converted. This embarrassing defeat for Barcelona with virtually the same squad that Pep left Barcelona with goes some way to proving that.
Before reading the biography, I questioned how good a manager Pep really was. Friends and I debated whether he would be able to do it with a not so amazing squad - Spain + the greatest player in the world. How the hell can you go wrong?! Should have given me the job, would have cost them less for the same results... And, despite his trophy haul in such a short period (making him the most successful manager in Barcelona's history, might I add) I just wasn't convinced that he deserved as much credit as had been given. Now, my mind has changed. And the final nail in the coffin has been dealt by the loss to Bayern.
Pep is a sensational leader and no doubt both a student and scholar of the beautiful game with a near-limitless knowledge amassed over the years due to hiss passion for the sport which he has been able to impart upon others. I think that, even with lesser players, he would have been able to do the same. Lesser players at Barcelona, that is. So then comes the next question, can Pep do this at a team that he doesn't know like the back of his hand, with cultural differences to the one which he was born and raised within? I can't predict the answer to that, but if he can indeed replicate his success at Bayern Munich then he will edge that bit closer to eventually being crowned the greatest ever.
But, let's say Bayern Munich, who have already won the Bundesliga, go on to win at Wembley on May 25th, and then win the DFB-Pokal (their equivalent of the FA Cup), completing a hat-trick, surely the only way is down, for Pep's Bayern? Even if we take the DFB-Pokal out of the equation, that still leaves the league, and the Champions League. And this is where I present to you The Hypothetical Guardiola Conundrum.
No team has successfully defended their Champions League title. Ever. If Bayern win it this year, and then win it again under Pep next year, how do we adjudicate credit?
Why Pep would deserve credit
- He still did what had never done before; steered the team to a consecutive CL title
- He successfully implemented his ideals into a team, immediately at that
- It's harder to retain a title as everybody always want to beat the champions, i.e. make it harder
Why Pep wouldn't deserve the credit
- He inherited a team of champions
- Unlike previous champions trying to retain a title, this is under new management, new style, new ethos etc., arguably making it harder for other teams as they're trying to beat a reinvented team
I wouldn't, by any means, call that a comprehensive argument but more-so just a few points to assist a devil's advocate. This could all turn out to be unnecessary if's and but's, but until we know that, what do you think? In the event that this all came to pass, would Pep Guardiola be deserving of the inevitable profile boost that would come with him assisting Bayern Munich in retaining their European title? Drop a comment in the box below to let me know what you think.
Currently listening to: J. Cole - Cole Summer