In Barcelona, Pep Guardiola only signed one-year contracts, at FC Bayern he only signed the three-year contract offered in spring 2013. At Manchester City extended the probably most successful club coach in recent history for the second time – although the trend is going in the wrong direction.
Pep Guardiola lives football. From morning to evening, the 49-year-old Catalan designed the training program, the tactical analysis of the opponent, his own game alignment and finally the preparation. He is anxious to perfect the game and works on details that for very few coaches are decisive for success or defeat.
This meticulousness not only takes a lot of time, it also takes a lot of strength. And the more productive his work, the more difficult it is for him to motivate a team. That’s why he left FC Barcelona after four successful years in the summer of 2012 – although he could actually have left in December 2009 after his team celebrated the sextuple at the Club World Cup. To date, Barça is the only club that has managed to win all six titles in a calendar year.
Guardiola took over the newly crowned triple winner in Munich. The championship and trophy were expected by the press, the Champions League was much more important – but he was never to win it with Bayern, instead he failed every year in the semifinals against the Spanish supreme powers: Real Madrid prevailed in 2014, Barcelona in 2015 2016 Atlético Madrid.
At Manchester City, Guardiola is measured first and foremost by the premier class, because he has already won the rest: In 2018 and 2019 the Skyblues became English champions with 100 and 98 points respectively, in the past three years they won the Carabao Cup, in the past two Years the Supercup and in 2019 the FA Cup. In the Champions League, however, the quarter-finals ended at the latest; so also at the final tournament in August, when Olympique Lyon celebrated a 3-1 victory in Lisbon.
His contract extension until 2021 was a surprise. After all, Guardiola had called his fourth year at Barcelona a mistake, which is why it was assumed that he would not spend more than three years anywhere. In the summer of next year he has been in office in Manchester for five years, and when his new contract expires in 2023 it would be seven years.
Guardiola said he had extended his term because of club boss Khaldoon Al Mubarak. But that decision could turn out to be a mistake. Although City is still at a good level, the trend has been pointing in the wrong direction since last season. Liverpool FC were 18 points ahead of their worst opponents in the final score, 12 competitive games were lost across all competitions – more than ever in his coaching career.
Above all, the important games, in which Guardiola seems increasingly tense, are worrying. In knock-out matches, he dares to experiment more and more often instead of betting on his best team. He wants to take the opponent by surprise, but only makes the task more difficult for his well-rehearsed team.
He fails for fear of failure. And yet he continues. He has done his job, just like in Barcelona and Munich. With high investments coupled with his idea of the perfect football game, he won almost everything with Manchester City. The form of the team from 2017 to 2019 was the absolute highlight, he will hardly be able to match it again. No matter how many times he tries.
For many years, Pep Guardiola knew when to end. But now it seems as if he has lost touch. The extension is not doing himself a favor – because the pressure of expectation does not decrease, it remains constant. So he threatens to fail by his own yardstick.