Pep Guardiola and England: How Close Were They to Getting Together?

Guillem BalagueFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2013

David Ramos/Getty Images
David Ramos/Getty Images

‘Recent revelations that the FA spurned the chance to get Pep Guardiola as the England manager before Roy Hodgson was appointed (see Daily Mail) are not only wide of the mark, they are also old news.

Anybody who has read my biography on Pep (Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning, the paperback of which came out in mid August) will know that in it I say that as soon as Pep’s departure from Barcelona was confirmed, all manner of rumours began, among them a possible contract with the English FA for the role of national coach.

The FA did not contact Guardiola directly. An intermediary did try to broker a deal. He told the FA that Pep was interested and then told Pep that the FA was thinking about it. At some point it was decided that the intermediary should be tested and he was asked to organise a meeting. Nothing happened and that was that.

Less known perhaps is that at the same time it was also being mooted that he might become the new Brazil boss, and there was even a media campaign started in Brazil to try to bring this about. The Brazilian FA brought it to a summary close with the declaration that there would never be anyone other than a Brazilian in charge of the national side.

The idea was attractive but Pep debated with friends and in himself what was besthe reckons every country should have a local coach, but if he ever was going to be a national coach those were the two most attractive propositions. But knowing that the FA would not even consider a meeting means that is a dead option forever. In any case, having announced he was leaving Barcelona in the Spring of 2012, by the summer he started extensive negotiations with his new love, Bayern Munich.

I have just returned from Munich where I spoke to a refreshed, recharged, energised Pep for my soon to be published book on Argentinian superstar, Leo Messi. And as usual I found him as fascinating as ever.

He will be pleased to have won the European Super Cup not least because there are a small number of critics who have already started to ask why he is changing so many things.

I also have the impression that there are a small section of players that aren't too enthused by some of the adjustments being made or why there are so many instructions to follow and why so much attention is paid to detail. 

The truth is, he’s going through the same rites of passage that he went through when he first took over at Barcelona with the likes of Dani Alves and Eric Abidal doubting what he was bringing to the club.

But if we have learnt anything about Pep, it’s that he is not a man for turning. He knows exactly what he wants to create at Bayern Munich, a club he was drawn to because of its history, tradition and standing.  His critics say he wants to re-create a Barcelona at Bayern Munich. They are wrong. What he wants to build is Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich which is a completely different thing.