Is Pep Guardiola the greatest manager of all time?
When he won 15 odd trophies with FC Barcelona, including every title in World football, in a single season they said he had the finest squad on the planet including arguably the best footballer of all time in Lionel Messi. At Bayern Munich, they said that he failed to replicate former manager, Jupp Heynckes, success as he didn't win the Champions League with the club. He did however claim three Bundesliga titles in a row and two German Cup triumphs. Now, as the manager of Manchester City, they say he will be judged by his Champions League results regardless of the fact that he has turned the club into one of the most formidable forces in Premier League history within two years - yes, I said history, like ever.
Guardiola deploys a high pressure system with a focus on ball retention. When his team lose the ball their immediate press on the opposition from the full-backs playing high usually enables them to regain the ball quite quickly. He encourages triangular football with the man on the ball having two passing options at all times. The fact that the Premier League is such a high intensity competition and he can still utilise this system to aplomb lends to the fact that he is the master of beautiful football. They said that letting Joe Hart leave City was a catastrophic error but his system deploys the goalkeeper as a 12th man therefore one that can't play with his feet is rendered surplus to requirements.
They say a great manager is one who can deploy multiple systems and adapt to the opposition but isn't it actually the opposite? A manager who has a conviction that football is an art that should be played beautifully is my opinion of great. A brand where his/her team plays with confidence in their ability to retain possession and make the other team adapt is admirable. I understand that there are variables such as financial prowess and different football cultures which lend to tactical deployment however, it's called the beautiful game for a reason.
Guardiola is the greatest manager of all time because he makes football fantasy a reality and he has the conviction that there is only one way the game should be played - with elegance and flair ultimately rendering success of which he has, and will continue to have, an abundance of.