Ahead of Manchester City's UEFA Champions League final against Inter, we look at three reasons why Pep Guardiola is already the GOAT football manager and could confirm this with a win on Saturday
With Manchester City set to take on Inter in the final of the UEFA Champions League, a lot is riding on the final for the Cityzens’ boss Pep Guardiola who many believe could make a claim as the greatest manager in football history with a European medal to add to his domestic dominance of the Premier League.
But with an extensive record of success already lining the Spaniard’s path to Istanbul, it is worth considering that he has already achieved that status and we have three reasons why we feel that Guardiola is already the GOAT of football management.
1. Has never been sacked
A famous football quote says, “There are two types of football managers, those who are sacked and those waiting to be sacked.”
This points to the precarious nature of a gaffer’s job in football, with a sack constantly looming at the slightest misstep.
Yet, in 15 years as a senior team manager, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola has never faced the prospect of being sacked at any of his three jobs in high-pressure clubs.
Not even Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson, currently heralded as one of the greatest managers of all time has been spared the indignity of having to leave a club, after being dismissed from St Mirren in his early days as manager and being forced to step down from the Scottish national team after an unsuccessful 1986 World Cup campaign.
Despite the successes garnered by some of the best coaches to ever grace the game, they have been at one point or the other had their careers blemished by impatient overseers or unfavourable results resulting in a sack, but so far Guardiola has managed to avoid this for so long, a pointer to the Spaniard’s greatness as a gaffer.
2. Unrivalled League success
For most managers, winning even one top-division league title is a lifetime achievement worthy of being celebrated.
Most football managers will never get to taste trophy success, much less in some of the toughest leagues in the world, but Guardiola has made a habit of winning league titles in copious amounts wherever he goes.
Three consecutive titles in Spain, Germany and now England, becoming only the second manager to achieve the feat in the latter league, has pushed the bald genius towards a mindblowing total tally of 11 league titles in 15 years as a coach, including a year where he was on sabbatical.
To put this in perspective, Ferguson won a total of 17 league titles in 39 years of management, while legendary Romanian manager Mircea Lucescu has won 12 in 44 years across seven top-flight clubs.
Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, heralded for his European successes has won five league titles in a career spanning 28 years at some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
The degree of difficulty involved in winning a league title, staying consistent over 38 games, over and over in changing environments is something many managers have attested to, yet, at the pace he is currently going, the former Barcelona manager could become the most decorated league manager of all time by the time he turns 60 in a few years, while never finishing outside the top three in any league campaign since he started his career.
3. UEFA Champions League record
The greatest blemish on Guardiola’s time as a manager has been his inability to win the UEFA Champions League outside Barcelona, yet looking objectively at his record in the competition, it is easy to see that the Spaniard has still been one of the greatest managers in the competition’s history.
Currently, only three managers have won more than Guardiola’s two UCL titles, and a win over Inter in Saturday’s final will leave only legendary Cup manager Ancelotti above him in the all-time standings.
Suffering from his own success after winning the UCL in two of his first three seasons as a football manager, Guardiola was expected to keep raking in the European titles, and although he has not lived up to that billing, he has done reasonably well in the competition since his last success in 2011.
The Manchester City manager holds the record for the fastest manager to reach 100 wins in the competition, the best winning percentage of any manager in its history, and the most appearances in the semifinal stage of the competition.
Although he claims that his legacy would be incomplete without another UCL win, it would be hard to deny him a place as one of the most successful managers in the history of the competition.