After hearing Pep Guardiola's analysis of his team in the wake of their 2-0 loss to Hercules earlier this week, something I had long suspected was confirmed for me. Guardiola isn't "special". He is not even close to "special". Guardiola talked about his belief in his team and how "it is impossible to doubt these players". He said how "the other day I didn't make their job easy for them."
Let me get this straight. He declares confidence in his players and suggests he made mistakes as a coach, possibly team selection or maybe tactics i am guessing. Those do not sound like comments from a "special" coach. I remember when FC Barcelona beat Chelsea FC in the first leg of their 2005 Champions League knockout round match-up. The "special" coach was on the losing end that day and afterwards said "when I saw Rijkaard entering the referee's dressing room I couldn't believe it. When Didier Drogba was sent off I wasn't surprised." Hmm, suggesting the opposing coach and match official conspired against you. Now that sounds like the "special" one!
Guardiola discussed his team in further detail this week, saying that "after winning six titles in a row, they were able to get 99 points in such a demanding competition as La Liga. Having seen that, it’s impossible to have any doubts, they get all the credit." Did Guardiola say "they" get all the credit? That's the least "special" thing I have ever heard.
"Special" was 2004 when newly appointed Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho uttered his classic line, "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one". Interesting. Not "we" are European Champions, not "they" are European Champions, ohh no, "I" am. That was the day being "special" was redefined in world football. Guardiola ended his review of the loss by saying that there is always a reason for losing a match and that ultimately, "the opposition played better."
These are of course just a few selected quotes from Barcelona's Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho. I realize that selecting just a few quotes can be misleading but if you dig a little deeper I think you'll find these to be very accurate representations of their respective philosophies. It's interesting that the coaches of the two largest clubs in Spain could be so different. One deflects praise and is self critical while the other self-appraises and criticizes others. I want to be clear, Mourinho is a fantastic coach, no doubt about it. I rate him as one of the top three managers in the world.
I think his "self-appraise/criticize others" is reflective of the fact that he is always moving from one team to the next. I don't know if he has ever truly understood the DNA of the clubs he has coached at. Guardiola has Barca DNA. He truly knows this club and knows the players that make up the current team. He does not praise himself with credit when they win, he understands that their success is the result of something bigger than himself. When they lose he does not have the insecurity that causes "special" coaches to grasp for excuses. Guardiola understands that FC Barcelona is more than a club.