Pep Guardiola is, without a doubt, one of the most successful coaches of all time. His extremely prosperous exploits across three divisions have seen him cement his status among the ‘GOAT’ coaches in football history.
Regardless of all his wonderful achievements with Bayern Munich and Manchester City, it is his four-year-long spell at Barcelona that is widely considered as the best coaching stint in history. His tactical genius, Cruyffian-derived positional-play, and incredible connection with players made him a massive success at Barça.
Recently, he has talked with Sport about his time managing some of the great legends of the game in the Catalan capital.
The former Barça coach spoke about his time managing Messi, and the mentality which distinguishes him from the rest of the footballers in the world.
He said, “Messi is very strong, the strongest. Beyond his quality, it is his mentality. In four years at Barcelona, we played many games in training and he did not lose one.”
“He (Messi) has that competitive mentality, there are four or five players in history who have something different.”
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s elite mentality has been one of the key reasons that he has been the best player in the world for the past seventeen years, with unmatched consistency.
On Barcelona players’ mentality
Guardiola mentioned that it was, above anything, the will to win that separated all his Barça players from the rest. The combination of their sheer talent, domination of positional and technical fundamentals, and the raw spirit and relentlessness was the key to Barça’s golden era.
Players like Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi, and Puyol were willing to stop at no hurdle, consistently marching forward (with unmatched elegance too).
“My players in Barcelona were competitive animals, I learned a lot from them. Every three days they wanted to win, they wanted to be better than their teammates.
“I was lucky to have the best of all time (Messi), and seven or eight players from La Masia at the right age; 24, 25, 26 years.”
Perhaps a personal project, Guardiola’s integration of Busquets into the starting eleven was a stroke of genius. Strongly resembling his own playing style, the Spanish veteran was honed into the team by Guardiola himself, who had a keen eye for his incredible talent and knowhow of the ‘Barça way’.
Speaking on Busquets, he said, “Busi is very intelligent, he understands everything. He does not have much physical strength, but it is his intelligence. If you survive ten years at Barcelona you must be strong.”