Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-0 despite the away side (Guardiola’s Bayern Munich) having more than seventy percent of the possession. And worse, most of that position was inside Arsenal’s half but Bayern Munich, without the services of the talisman Arjen Robben could not break down Arsenal’s ten man defensive wall quickly enough to score a goal at the Emirates.
It really is embarrassing for an away side to have over 600 passes in a single game and not score a goal despite the fact that Arsenal’s (who are usually so proficient at racking up their own passing numbers) tally on successful passes made was hovering around 140.
So why am I interested in what happened at the emirates last night? Yes. It is because of Guardiola. Who has been a bit of a braggadocio since he left Barcelona, boasting about his achievements with, according to him and a couple of other guys like Guillem Balague and Graham Hunter, the greatest club side the world has ever seen, Barcelona.
Here is why I think that Guardiola was just born right and had little to do with the silverware Barcelona won between 2008 and 2012.
Has he done anything unique at Bayern Munich?
The answer is a simple no. Bayern Munich have been routing towards BundesLiga titles for years now. There is not a team in BundesLiga that even comes close to holding a candle to Bayern Munich.
If English Premier League people think that La Liga is competitive, let them watch BundesLiga and they’ll definitely come to know what a real one horse race looks like.
Even with that advantage, what has Guardiola done with Bayern Munich?
Yes, he has won league titles but that was already happening under Heynckes as well, so questions should be raised about Guardiola’s output since he claims to be the most successful coach in history as he hasn’t once failed to get to the semifinals of the Champions League with all the teams he has coached (namely the two best sides in the world Barcelona and Bayern Munich).
Guardiola is basically a guy who managed one of the greatest teams in football’s history when it was about to peak. It peaked and got immensely lucky, which resulted in lots of titles. Namely two Champions League and three league titles.
If he was anywhere near as good as he claims to be, then he would have done something special with this Bayern Munich side which, by no means, is behind Barcelona in terms of pure talent on the pitch.
And what has he achieved with such a great side Heynckes left for him? A drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid in his first season in the Champions League, then another humiliation at the hands of Barcelona and now a defeat vs Arsenal after playing his usual ‘tiki-taka’ play.
Compare that with someone like Mourinho or Alex Ferguson, who won major titles without ever having the best players on the planet. Mourinho won Champions League with Porto and was extremely unlucky to not win at least two more titles with Chelsea and Real Madrid.
Alex Ferguson also reached the finals and semifinals of the Champions League (with one win when Ronaldo was in charge at Manchester United in 2008) with a Manchester United side that was far away from being the best club side in the world.
If you look at Guardiola’s numbers, they are not all that amazing. I mean, those numbers are excellent but the likes of Jose Mourinho, Pellegrini, Ancelotti have put up similar numbers without ever getting the recognition Guardiola got with his Barcelona that had a number of fortuitous moments in big matches which eventually lead to their title triumphs.
Going head to head, Mourinho’s Real Madrid side from 2010 to 2013 was almost as great as Guardiola’s Barcelona side of 2008-2012 but without all benevolence of destiny and some propitious refereeing decisions.
Guardiola’s winning percentage with his so called ‘golden Barcelona’ was 72.4% while Mourinho’s Real Madrid had a winning percentage of 71.91% during the same period.
Just rounding off the numbers, make Real Madrid and Barcelona equal in terms of dominance on the pitch in a period which Barcelona claims to be its best.
Infact, if we can just put the controversial results of:
- Barcelona’s away game at Chelsea which was hampered with allegations of match fixing because the referee failed to give at least four clear cut penalties
- Inter Milan’s match at Camp Nou where Thiago Motta was sent off early in the game for no obvious reason and Chelsea had to play the rest of the game with ten men.
- The two legs against Real Madrid where at Bernabeu Pepe was sent off for a non-existent foul on Daniel Alves which resulted in the game opening up for Messi to exploit and the return leg where a perfectly legal goal from Higuain was disallowed
away for a moment then, Guardiola’s win percentage comes down to about 70.
So on what basis do experts like Graham Hunter rank Barcelona as perhaps the greatest club side ever, should be beyond anyone who has the least sense of justice and luck.
Give the 2008 Barcelona to anyone and he would win you titles.
Guardiola, even if we ignore the role played by the referee in his successes, wasn’t that special at all.
Case studies of Luis Enrique and Tito Vilanova, should prove beyond doubt that whatever silverware that came towards Barcelona, was because of it’s players and not because of its managers.
Enrique’s win percentage so far as been hovering around 80% and Tito Vilanova’s win percentage in La Liga was better in his maiden season with Barcelona, than Guardiola’s in his first season.
If we talk about Real Madrid for a moment that Ancelotti’s winning percentage was closer to 75% in his tenure at Real Madrid and Pellegrini’s was close to 75% in La Liga in his only season at the Bernabeu.
To me all these statistics show that whoever would have coached Barcelona in the period 2008-2012 would have probably won the same number of titles neglecting the influences of the referees on game outcomes.
If coaches who haven’t had a single professional season as a manager can outperform Guardiola with almost the same side then it says more about Guardiola’s limits as a manager than the good work done by the likes of Enrique and Vilanova at Barcelona.
At the end of it all, It was all Messi and his ten dwarfs .
Guardiola might have burned all the midnight oil Barcelona could afford to come up with game plans against difficult teams to get reasonable results but I am sure, the presence of the likes of:
- Daniel Alves
- David Villa
didn’t hurt either.
If the successes of Vilanova and Enrique has taught viewers anything, it is that Barcelona is the only club that is less reliant on it’s manager than it is on its star power.
Real Madrid have had similar star power but those big name players brought bigger egos with them in the dressing room which adversely affected their chemistry on the pitch and their passion to fight for the white shirt.
Whereas at Barcelona, most of these world class players inexplicably submitted their desire of individual glory,records and individual improvement (that comes only when a player is allowed to fully express himself on the pitch,) in favor of Lionel Messi’s.
Obviously, this action of theirs paid off as Messi was able to fully assert himself on the pitch knowing that he was answerable to no one and had to accommodate no one in under his shadow.
Consequently, his brilliance along with some selfies with referees did bring home a host of silverware that put Real Madrid, for the first time in their history, out of limelight in Spain as far as the tag of premier club was concerned
It was this decision of Barcelona management, that delivered them the goods rather than Guardiola’s brilliance as a manager.
Guardiola may yet prove a lot of people wrong and win something huge with Bayern Munich but if the last two seasons are anything to go by, Guardiola doesn’t belong in the big league with the likes of Mourinho and Ferguson