Pep Guardiola as the Manager of Barcelona: A Look Back

Pep Guardiola
Image Courtesy: Sky Sports

The time Pep Guardiola spent in Camp Nou as the manager of the club, it can be considered as one of the most if not THE MOST successful period in the history of Barcelona.

Pep took over as Barcelona’s manager in 2008 and during his 4 years stint at the club, he won a record 13 major trophies. Everything that was ever there, from La Liga and UEFA Champions League to all the European major leagues, he conquered it all. Let’s have a look at Barcelona’s trophy cabinet during Pep Guardiola’s tenor.

Barcelona under Pep Guardiola as Manager

  • 3 x La Liga – 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11
  • 2 x Champions League – 2008-09, 2010-11
  • 1 x Copa del Rey – 2008-09
  • 3 x Spanish Supercup – 2009, 2010, 2011
  • 2 x UEFA Super Cup – 2009, 2011
  • 2 x FIFA Club World Cup – 2009, 2011

In the year 2009, Barcelona went on to win 6 official titles including La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercup, European Supercup and Club World Cup. This crowned Pep as the first-ever manager to win 6 major trophies in one calendar year.

So, what made Guardiola as well as Barcelona the undisputed champions of Europe? Well, in the centre of it all, it was his legendary trio and the Tiki-Taka tactic.

The Legendary Trio of Pep Guardiola

After the mass exodus at Camp Nou, Guardiola had to build everything from scratch and design his own process by self-imposing constraints. Pep centred his gameplay revolving around 3 main players: Xavi, Iniesta and Lionel Messi, who are now considered as one of the G.O.A.T.s (greatest of all time).

Yes, each name of the 3 were stars before Guardiola’s arrival but it was the manager himself who gave their respective roles a new significance. The change was prominent as Messi went from scoring 16 goals in a season to score 38 goals in the very next. The transition of Messi from playing under the previous manager, Frank Rijkaard and then playing under Guardiola made him a household name for Barcelona.

Although, it can’t come as too much of a surprise since all 3 of them were extremely skilled. However, what was more surprising that Guardiola faced one major problem. Guardiola’s core trio had the average height of 5’7” which was FULL 4-inches below the league average.

Guardiola didn’t let physicality come in the way of Barcelona’s victory run which could’ve easily been Barça’s reason for demise. Many even perceived it as the teams greatest weakness at that time. Guardiola forced himself to design something much similar to Jepsen’s team of 2005, OLPC.

Pep Guardiola’s Tiki-Taka

The Barça manager found a clever way around his constraints. He decided to adopt a style that was based on his trio’s most impactful talents: skilful dribbling, quick passing and intelligent movement of the ball. Thus, the Tiki-Taka tactic emerged as Barcelona’s greatest weapon against all teams.

The tactic had a dreadful effect on the opponent players where they found themselves chasing the ball for 90-minutes to no avail. The team kept on passing the ball, keep it moving until it reached the opponent’s half. His plan was to wait for the perfect opportunity and it proved to be working in a highly effective manner as Barcelona climbed their way to the top.

Surprisingly, the Tiki-Taka tactic worked against almost everyone, regardless of the opponent’s size. The lack of physicality was non-existent for Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona! The manager later pointed out that Tiki-Taka, a term which he himself didn’t like at all was not just about passing the ball just for the sake of passing. It had intentions and those intentions were clear as daylight in front of the whole world.

Pep Guardiola at Barcelona: Managerial Overview

Pep’s legacy at Barcelona goes way beyond just mere numbers. However, there are some interesting and unique records of the club under Pep Guardiola’s 4-year tenor which are worth mentioning.

Season 2008-09

Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win all 3 major leagues including, La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. The team scored a total of 158 goals in 62 games and crowned Pep the youngest manager to win the Champions League trophy.

The final match of the competition against the English giant, Manchester United is still recalled as one of the most iconic matches of all time. Barcelona snatched the victory in Rome with a 2-0 win over the Red Devils.

Season 2009-10

It was a record-breaking season for the Spanish side. Barcelona won the La Liga title with a then-record points total of freaking 99! A record that was later broken by both themselves and their eternal rival, Real Madrid who put on a mammoth 100 points on the table.

In the calendar year 2009, Pep was successful to bring a record 6 trophies (Spanish League, Copa del Rey, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup)  in the Barcelona cabinet. After coaching his 100th game for Barcelona in February 2010, his stats showed 71 wins, 19 draws and only 10 losses while securing 242 goals and conceding 76.

Barcelona went on to win 31 league games thus registering themselves for the record of most wins in a league season which is also shared by Real Madrid in the same season. The only defeat of the season came against Atletico Madrid while remaining unbeaten at their home ground of Camp Nou (18 wins, 1 draw).

Once again, Barca reached the semi-finals of the 2009–10 Champions League but faced a disappointing loss against José Mourinho’s Inter Milan with 3-2 on aggregate. Although this season, Pep Guardiola became the first Barcelona manager to win 4 consecutive El Clásico face-offs. Overall, Guardiola registered 9 wins against Real Madrid in 15 El Clásico matches.

Season 2010-11

Pep led Barcelona to their third successive league title in a row. The club set the record for most away wins in a La Liga season – 14. Barcelona became the first team to score in all away matches in a league season with 49 goals in 19 games which is also a club record. This season, Pep was able to remain unbeaten in 23 consecutive games from February 14, 2010, to April 30, 2011. The stats showed, 18 winds and 5 draws.

This year was something special for Pep as on 29 November 2010, Barcelona beat Real Madrid in a humiliating defeat as the scoreboard read, 5–0. This registered Guardiola’s five straight wins in El Clásico and he was offered a one-year extension in his contract as Barca’s manager until June 2012.

Barcelona went on their winning run in La Liga with 16 games and won their second consecutive league title. Pep’s team was also able to reach the Champions League semi-final for 4 consecutive years as they thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 6–1 on aggregate. In the semi-final, Barca beat Real 2-0 at Bernabéu in the semi-final first leg and hold a 1-1 draw on the second leg, thus advancing into Pep’s 2nd Champion League final in a row. Barcelona was once again successful to beat Manchester United 3–1 at Wembley Stadium to win the Champions League for the second time! A truly remarkable year which marked Pep as one of the greatest club managers of all time!

However, this year Guardiola faced his first-ever final defeat in Copa del Rey against Real Madrid. It was none other than Cristiano Ronaldo who was just doing what he does best, scored the only goal of the match in the 103rd minute. It also gave Jose Mourinho his first title with Real Madrid as he was newly assigned as the club in charge.

Season 2011-12

This season, after the departure of two long-serving members, Gabriel Milito and Jeffrén, Pep made his move for Alexis Sánchez and Cesc Fàbregas. He was again successful to beat Real Madrid in Supercopa de España with 5-4 aggregate. As he also grabbed the UEFA Super Cup from Porto with 2–0 win, it made Pep Guardiola the manager with most trophies in his name in Barcelona’s history, taking over Johan Cruyff (won 11 trophies).

A fine year, where Barca was able to reach the semi-finals of Champions League for 5 times in a row! However, things soon took a left turn as Pep was faced against Chelsea. A team that he had the worst record. Of all the clubs he faced in all competitions as a Barca manager, he was frustratingly unable to register even a single win against the English club in all 4 attempts. Barca’s Champions League dream came to an end as Chelsea knocked them out of the game with 3-2 aggregate. That year, Pep lost the La Liga title to Real Madrid but was able to collect the Copa del Rey trophy by defeating Athletic Bilbao.

On 9 January 2012, Pep Guardiola was named FIFA World Coach of the Year and on 27 April 2012, he announced his departure as Barcelona’s coach at the end of the 2011–12 season. His record 14 trophies with Barcelona have kept the name ‘Pep Guardiola’ forever engraved in the club’s history. Pep was succeeded by Tito Vilanova for the 2012–13 season.

Conclusion

Pep Guardiola and his Tiki-Taka style didn’t only define success but made it more than visible, tangible you can say! He was a designer himself. He knew how to solve a problem, knew why it was important to keep people first and repurposed existing tool while making the most out of everything in his arsenal.

Pep is currently managing Manchester City and he guided the team to 2 Premier League titles, 3 League Cups and FA Cup since his arrival in 2016. His team currently seats on top of the table with 41 points and winning 5 of the 5 last league games. He just keeps on making football fans amazed, doesn’t he?

Even though Guardiola has moved on from Camp Nou long ago, the fans especially the Barca fans, can’t help but reminisce the good ‘old days and talk about the legendary trio under Pep. The Barca team of ‘09 under Pep Guardiola will always be the dream of millions of football fans out there and the legacy Guardiola left will forever live on in the hearts of Cules!

Read More: Scudetto is still possible: Cristiano Ronaldo after becoming the ‘Greatest Goalscorer’ in football History

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here