Hungry to know all about Pep, here are 10 things I found in the book Pep Confidential. Author Marti Perarnau was given exclusive behind the scenes access to Pep’s first year at Bayern and Pep Confidential was the result. A fascinating read delving deep into Pep’s techniques and methods.
I’ve captured some brief points from the 400+ page book which I highly recommend any City fan to read.
1) Optimum Squad size
Pep likes to have a squad of no more than 20 players, of which 15 to 16 players see themselves as starters. He uses these 16 players in rotation depending on the opposition. With the exception of goalkeepers Guardiola likes players who are able to play in three different positions.
2) Pep looks everywhere for inspiration
Guardiola loves to bring concepts in from other sports and is particularly fascinated by the tactics of basketball. He talks with the Barcelona Basketball team managers about certain aspects of the game with their quick movement of play from one side to the other, trying to bring aspects of the play into football.
It’s not just basketball though, Pep’s long term assistant Manel Estiarte never played football. He was world class at water polo – so good he was called the Maradona of water polo. In a dramatic penalty shoot out Pep used Estiarte’s waterpolo penalty methods to tell the Bayern players how to take penalties. It worked and they all scored!
Whilst on his year long break from football, after leaving Barca, Pep spent time in New York and became friendly with former chess champion Garry Kasparov. They talked at lengths about all sorts of world events especially tactics.
3) Pep’s tactics
Pep is known for using lots of tactics and is always changing his tactics and formations throughout the game. However he does have some principles he rarely changes
Four second press – players must press the ball for four seconds. If they haven’t got the ball in that time they must retreat into their defensive position.
Four second run – Pep doesn’t want his players bursting up and down the field all game. Instead a high press is used keeping the opposition in their half allowing dribblers, such as Raheem Sterling chance to do short 4 second bursts multiple times throughout the game.
15 pass – Pep hates ticky tacky football where the ball is passed without purpose. However he believes that getting from one end of the field to the other requires 15 passes in order to maintain the overall team shape.
Having said that at Bayern he did adopt a more direct approach using ex-Blue Jerome Boateng’s excellent long range passing.
Zonal marking at corners – a lot of City fans hate zonal marking, however you’ll have to get used to it. The stats do suggest that zonal marking is a better form of marking and fewer goals are conceded by teams who zonal mark.
The only problem is when it goes wrong it looks horrendous, perhaps why fans don’t like it.
4) Three team talks
Guardiola likes to do three team talks prior to a game.
The day before: this team talk is all about how the opposition will attack and details what to look out for
Morning of a match: how the offensive and defensive systems of his team will work against the opposition
Prior to the game (this is done in the hotel before they leave for the game: tactical plan for attacks
5) The dressing room is the players
Pep only ever goes in the dressing room at half time (and only then for a short period).
He believes that the dressing room is the players sanctuary and gives his pre-game team talks away from the dressing room.
At half time he gives a brief analysis of the game and explains the plan for the rest of the match. However he is constantly reacting on the side lines throughout the game so little is needed at half time.
6) Pep’s a smart guy
The secret to his smart dapper looks – Mrs Guardiola! Cristina is heiress to the family owned clothing boutique Serra Claret and she’s is responsible for his smart dress sense.
7) Pep doesn’t eat before a game
In the 24 hours prior to a game Pep is so tensed and focused on the game, that he is robbed of his appetite. He drinks bottle after bottle of water though!
He is so focused that he also struggles to sleep after games.
8) Train the way you play
If you’re expecting City’s injury crisis of some seasons to be eased – don’t!
Pep trains players hard and during his first season at Bayern it was March 10th before he could pick from a fully fit squad.
He believes that a team plays at the rhythm you train at. If you train badly you play badly, if you train like beasts you play like beasts!
Throughout the book Pep is quoted using the word “Beasts” frequently – it will be interesting if he brings it to the press conferences.
One of the things I was most excited about reading the book (sad I know) is that Pep trains attacking throw ins! Can you believe it under Pellegrini it felt like we didn’t even practice attacking corners. Pep trains for corners both defensively and offensively, even spotting weaknesses in opposition defending.
9) How to spot a good player
A Guardiola player is not necessarily the most famous player. In fact he has shown that he is not afraid to play lower profile player, for instance he put an untried Sergio Busquets in ahead of the more experienced Yaya Toure at Barca.
Pep has a simple view on who the best players are.
They are the ones that never lose the ball and are able to pass it but never lose it.
10) Pep isn’t planning a long career
Pep has promised his family that he will have a limited but intense career.
He has already had one sabbatical after being exhausted by four years at Barcelona (although looking into that he had a much more political position and had more responsibility than at Bayern).
Those close to him think he’ll coach for three more years before having a curtain call with a national side. Although they also think it is difficult to envisage Pep doing anything other than coaching. We’ll have to make sure the Manchester City bug really gets hold of him.