Friday 23 February 2018

'People think he is a genius but I don't': Is the RTE panel right about Pep Guardiola?

Pep Guardiola (PA)
Pep Guardiola (PA)
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Pep Guardiola has won five league titles as a top-flight manager but his recent record in the Champions League has caused many football pundits to call his achievements into question.

Guardiola has enjoyed almost unprecedented domestic dominance during four seasons with Barcelona and three campaigns with Bayern Munich, winning five (soon to be six) league crowns and three domestic cups (with a possible fourth to follow). His run in the Champions League hasn't been as seamless despite winning the competition twice in his first three years at Barcelona.

In his four subsequent attempts to win the European Cup, his side has been knocked out at the semi-final stage, with this year's loss to Atletico Madrid a particularly agonising way to go.

Despite dominating possession and chances against Diego Simeone's side, one sucker punch goal from Antoine Griezmann in the second leg saw the Spanish side through to the final on away goals. It represented the third straight season that Guardiola's Bayern team had been knocked out by Spanish opposition - one loss each to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Given that he inherited a team that had won the treble under Jupp Heynckes, it is fair to say that Guardiola hasn't met his own ridiculously high standards.

The RTE panel had a predictably forthright debate about how good a manager he really is after last night's second semi-final concluded, with Eamon Dunphy and Didi Hamann both feeling that the Spaniard is somewhat overrated.

Hamann gave a particularly scathing criticism of the outgoing Bayern boss.

"I think he is self-obsessed. He has to be at the centre of attention," Hamann said.

Liam Brady praised Guardiola's work at Barcelona but Dunphy took him to task for failing to match or better the achievements of his German predecessor and also questioned some of his transfer dealings.

"He has big questions to answer," Dunphy said.

"There is a cult around Pep Guardiola. People think he is a genius but I don't think he is genius. He was brought in to make them better and he hasn't. His predecessor, Jupp Heynckes, won the treble with them.

"Look at the players he has brought to Bayern Munich. Douglas Costa - nothing. Kingsley Coman - No good."

Guardiola has worked for some of the world's biggest football clubs and he has chosen his next job wisely, replacing Manuel Pellegrini at wealthy Manchester City.

There is certainly work to be done with the side given their meek Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid last night, but it will give Guardiola a chance to prove first-hand to his doubters in England that he is worthy of all the praise heaped upon him.

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