5 Reasons To Hate.......Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola led Barcelona to such sublime greatness and will be looking to achieve similar in Munich next season. But for all his apparent flawlessness, today on the blog Andrew Thomas gives us five reasons to hate Pep Guardiola.
… the Cardigan
There's nothing inherently wrong with cardigans. If you lack the fortitude just to wear a shirt and the common sense to wear a jumper, then they're a handy halfway house. Also, they send a helpful signal to the rest of the world:
'I, the man in this cardigan, have no idea how to dress myself, and must not be trusted with children, heavy machinery, a naked flame, or any combination of the above.'
But when you're a football manager, there are certain standards in need of upkeeping. There are two choices. Either: some conglomeration of training gear, perhaps with a squad number, and maybe boots and shorts. This conveys to the team that their manager is having difficulty letting go of his youth part of the team, ready, able, and willing to muck in, even though there are rules and old age preventing this. Or: a suit, to tell the team that their manager’s a grown-up. (An exception can be made for Brian Clough's green jumper, because the only thing more important than tradition is superstition.)
What you don't do, Pep Cardi-ola, is turn up on the touchline wearing fuzzy, button-down, hipster effluvia.
... the Silver Spoon
Sam Allardyce started with Limerick. Martin O'Neill started with Grantham Town. Alex Ferguson's second job was with St. Mirren. Each proved their worth in these straitened circumstances, clawing their way up their profession inch by hard-earned inch.
Guardiola, by contrast, began his career as the manager of Barcelona, an act roughly as contemptible as beginning a game of Football Manager as the manager of Barcelona.
Of course, you can see why he took the gig. The chance to work with Bojan doesn’t come round every day. And he spoke the language, knew the way to the stadium, and had experience validating the bizarre investment priorities of Qatar. But having done that, time to mix things up. Time to show some imagination. Some balls. Go, Pep, and prove yourself somewhere skint and lowly and hopeless. York City, or Macclesfield Town, or Dulwich Hamlet, or Liverpool.
Or Bayern Munich.
... the Philosophy
When it comes to the great Messi vs. Ibrahimovic debate, which isn't really a great debate at all but should be, there is only one right answer, and that's to root for the Swede. Guardiola started promisingly here, splurging far too much Eto'o-plus-money on the ponytailed hero. Then he bungled it. Instead of reshaping the team around the maverick, he plumped for the safe, easy option: Messi moved into the middle, and Ibrahimovic moved first to the bench, then to Milan, seething with righteous contempt for the coward he calls 'the Philosopher'.
For Messi is basically a dull genius, and only grabs the attention because football is a thing that people like watching. Ibrahimovic, on the other hand, isn't just brilliant (though he is), he's charismatic. He would be a fascinating accountant, an entertaining train-spotter, a compelling data-entry technician. You'd pay money to watch him do his weekend shopping, or brush his teeth, or telephone the gas people about the alarming number of zeroes on the end of this red-edged letter. (Though he probably has people to do all that for him. Even the teeth.)
Messi is the better player, no doubt, but Ibrahimovic the more interesting man. To choose the former over the latter is to sacrifice entertainment for effectiveness, a sin so dark and unspeakable that Dante left it out of the Inferno altogether. Yes, he made his football team better, but at what cost? Messi may have won a Ballon d'Or or two, but Zlatan's become a verb.
... the Nickname
'Pep'. Peppy Peppington Peppo Pepperidge McPepperson. Spawn of a million million 'Pep talk' gags, each one exactly as funny as the last. Of course, a man can't help his nickname, and any man caught trying -- "Hi guys! Call me Ace!" -- should be taken out into the garden and beaten about the face with a leathern slipper. But any high-profile man known to his intimates as 'Pep' has a responsibility to say, first chance he gets, "look, guys, the name's Jose".
People are mimetic tragedies, and if this nonsense doesn’t get nipped in the earliest possible bud, then along trots 'Mou'. Then 'Weng'. Then 'Klopp', whatever the hell that's short for. Soon all football talk will be reduced to a series of infantile grunts and chirps, batted back and forth between the lowing thick and the barking witless oh yeah Twitter exists already never mind then.
... the Attitude
We've given it a good go, but the most irritating, loathsome thing about Guardiola is that, despite all the winning, despite all the above, despite the fact that he nearly joined Paul Jewell's Wigan, despite everything, he seems like a fundamentally nice man. A man in whose company one could have a not-completely unpleasant time.
Frankly, that’s just thoughtless. If you’re going to win everything in style, at least have the grace to make it easy to loathe you for it, you bastard.
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @Twisted_Blood
And read more of his work on his blog: TwistedBlood.co.uk