El Centrocampista

GUNNING FOR GUARDIOLA – Pep comes under the spotlight

By Richard Thorburn

Widely lauded as ‘the greatest team ever constructed’ Barcelona are currently enjoying a dominance on both the domestic and European front that holds no bounds.

Sweeping up all that lies before them, their assault on anything that dares to offer any sort of resistance is both magical and ruthless in equal measure.

And in charge of this dazzling operation is Pep Guardiola, a man whom has already overseen the collection of a staggering twelve trophies in only a three year period.

The youngest ever Champions League winning manager and Barcelona’s most successful ever coach, it is fair to say Guardiola is hot property in the football world.

With everything he touches turning to gold – or silver to be exact – his stature in the game is growing with every kick of the ball.

Surely no-one can question his management. Can they?

Well actually yes.

While on the outside everything may look rosy – or more accurately claret and blue – on the inside trouble has been brewing with former players recently questioning Guardiola’s man management style.

Following in Bojan’s footsteps, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure is the latest player to raise concerns as to how he was treated by the management team during his time at the Nou Camp.

Toure claims that communication between the players and Guardiola was virtually none existent

“I wanted to stay at Barcelona and would have done so if Guardiola had asked me to, but the door to his office was always closed,” Toure told Ona FM.

“I did not speak to him in my last year there. There was no communication.

“In the end Guardiola spoke to me, but at the start he said nothing. He had no faith in me and did not want me.

“I wanted to stay but he did not want that. He left me confused. His explanations were puzzling and he did not pay me any attention until I had the offer from City.”

For a man whom Guardiola relied so heavily upon in the Champions League final in Rome, perhaps Toure expected better and since his move to Manchester City it is fair to say that he hasn’t looked back.

An instrumental part in manager Roberto Mancini’s plans, Toure has endeared himself to the City faithful with valuable goals in both the FA cup semi final and final last year. His winner against Stoke ended Manchester City’s 35 year trophy draught.

At the time of the move many questioned Pep Guardiola’s decision to let Toure go. While he may not have the technical flair and grace of Iniesta or Messi, Toure proved a vital clog in central midfield for the Catalans for many a season.

With Barcelona enduring an injury plagued season thus far – especially in key defensive areas – it is certain that Guardiola would have liked to have the services of Toure this season.

And while Toure may not be missed in the same way as Messi, Iniesta, Xavi or Villa may be, his comments do give a fascinating indication into the way that Guardiola manages all of Barcelona’s many superstars.

Toure’s argument appears to be that once you are out of Pep’s plans then all communication with the man at the helm appears to be over.

The Barcelona manager has refuted Toure’s accusation and claims the Ivorian international asked to leave the Catalan club

Despite Guardiols’a public response, Toure’s views seem to be supported by ex-Barcelona striker Bojan whom before joining Roma this summer, assertively said:”If Guardiola calls me now I would not go back to Barcelona.

“I spent a long time without speaking to Guardiola. I could not find the right words when I used to see him.”

And although former player’s views may be tinged with a bit of bitterness, it would be foolish to ignore them.

A big personality in his own right, the worry for Barcelona fans must surely centre on any potential falling out with the likes of Messi and Co.

It would certainly be interesting to see what would happen in the unlikey event that the Catalans were to endure a poor run of games. Man management is easy when you are winning every week, but it is in times of adversity that it must shine through brightly.

There is little doubting that Pep Guardiola is a sensational coach and one that has smashed all sorts of records in his tenor so far.

Like everything however, there is room for improvement and he will certainly be hoping that Toure’s outburst will be the last questioning his man management skills.


  1. Lee Roden

    26 October, 2011 at 10:28

  2. Lee Roden

    26 October, 2011 at 11:42

    To elaborate, I strongly feel that Bojan’s words have been quite heavily manipulated, first by Sport and then by people using Sport’s translation as their source, to the point that it has become almost gospel that Bojan is bitter towards Guardiola.

    In actual fact, when watching the program he’s being quoted from, it’s quite clear that when he says he “wouldn’t come back” if Guardiola calls, it’s in the context of wishing to gain regular game time prior to his return, and indeed, he then qualifies it by saying something along the lines of “you never know in football”. He also quite clearly pins the blame on himself and hence the “I couldn’t find the words”.

    Indeed, a pretty damn good example is the Crackovia skit on the whole issue. They portray Bojan as nervous and unwilling to speak, not Guardiola as some kind of lunatic. I quite strongly feel that a lot has been lost (or, more specifically, manipulated) in translation here to suit the needs of some. Quiet week for Sport with the international break? Hey, let’s stir up some trouble.

    I do agree there are questions about Guardiola’s man management, but not really sure Bojan is part of it, it has just been painted to seem that way…

  3. Lee Roden

    26 October, 2011 at 13:09

    And just to prove I’m not talking absolute rubbish, I just watched the program again, here’s what’s said :

    “no jugava, que no jugava, no tenia continuitat, quan no tens continuitat dins d’un equip, no et sents a gust, en tots ells llocs. I evididentment no era feliç, i llavors, el fet de…. del tracte, no?

    No es que em tractes malament, no molt menys, pero bueno, si que… una cosa es que no juguis, i l’altre es que no et sentis ni… ni que ets un jugador, que formes part d’un grup. I tenia una mica de aquesta sensacio, tenia la sensacio que no… no , per molt que fes, no… els seus ulls no se veien, el meu treball, la meva feina.

    A veure, no crec que una persona amb la categoria del Pep, una entrenador com ell, hagi provocat aquesta sensacio per motius personals, jo amb ell no…mai vam tindre cap enganxada, ni mai hem tingut cap problema, el contrari, mes que res, tambe ha sigut un dels meus problemes, que jo, pel fet aquest, les vegades que he parlat amb ell, pel fet de no voler crear polemica, perque tampoc em sentia amb tanta força, com per poder expressar-me be, el silencia m’ha anat portant a un lloc que no, que no em convenia,

    (Interviewer) Creus que has callat massa?

    Pero no cap enfora… sino cap a ell, ben dint, al final a la vida es pot dir tot, quan dius les coses ben dites, els meus pares, els meus amics, la Blanca, sempre tots mi deien : “Bojan, ves a parlar amb ell, parla-hi, explica amb ell, comenteu-ho”, i les vegades que parlavem, no em sortien les paraules, perque era tanta la cosa que tenia dintre, que no sabia com gestionar-ho, traient-ho d’una manera ordneda, d’una manera que, que ens puguem entendre, no?

    Igual que, jo mateix em posava inconscientment la barrera de dir: “Bojan, facis el que facis, poca cosa hi ha… ”

    Al final, si que l’ultima any hi va haver una epoca que no entrenava be, que no estava be psicilogicament, estava trist, no tenia ganes d’anar a entrenar, no tenia ganes de jugar… no em feia po, anar a jugar, pero, hi anava amb molt de respecte, perque no tenia gens de confiança. Zero. No em sentia estimat, per part dels meus companys si, per part d’un gran sector del public, pero bueno, va ser un any…. ha sigut un any que ja et dic, que no complicat en aquest sentit,

    no et dic que no tornare a coincidar mai mas amb ell, perque aixo mai se sap, el mon del futbol, la vida, fa molts tombs, pero ara mateix no.

    Si el Guardiola et trucara al final de temporada i et diu “bojan, torna”, tu li dius que no?

    “Depen de com hagues aquesta temporada, pero crec que no. Crec que no pel que et dic, pel que jo he viscut amb ell, repeteixo, el respecto molt, pero com a jugador no m’he passat be amb ell. Llavors, no crec que seria la millor opcia, tornar a estar a les seves ordres”

    Podria ser que m’hi estigues 10 anys, que tornes al Barça, que me n’anes a un altre club, podria ser moltes coses. Es el que te el futbol, que tens aquesta incognita de.. a part, amb un partit pot canviar, amb un partit les coses canvien, pero hi estam acustomats.

    Coses que no tenen res a veure, amb mi em saben greu… em preocupo de coses, que no m’hauria de preocupar, no se, penso en detalls que no hauria de pensar.”

    (The questions in question are about 30 minutes in, you can find it here: http://blogs.tv3.cat/elconvidat.php?itemid=42477)

    Translated (my own):

    I wasn’t playing, I had no continuity, when you don’t have continuity in a team, you don’t feel comfortable. Evidently I was not happy, and then there’s how I felt I was treated…

    I was never treated bad, never. But well, if you don’t play, you don’t feel like a player, or a player who forms part of a group. I had a bit of that feeling, like no one could see my hard work.

    Now, I do not think a person in Pep’s category, a coach like him, would have caused this feeling for personal reasons. With him, I never had a fight nor a problem, in fact the opposite. More than anything that has also been one of my problems. Because of this, there were many times when I spoke with him and didn’t want to create controversy, because I didn’t feel strong enough to express myself. I kept things inside.

    (Interviewer) Do you think you shut up too much?

    Not elsewhere, but with him. In the end it can be vital in life to express things well. My parents, my friends, were always saying “Bojan, go talk to him, speak with him, tell him, “, and so many times we talked, and I couldn’t get the words out, because the feeling was so heavy inside me, I didn’t know how to manage it and express it in a way we can understand

    It’s like I unconsciously put myself inside a fence and said “Bojan, whatever you do, there is little …”

    In the end, last year I didn’t train well, wasn’t well psychologically, was sad, didn’t want to train, didn’t want to play. I was poor, I didn’t have any confidence. Zero. I didn’t feel loved, by my colleagues yes, by a large sector of the public, but well, it was a complicated year in that respect…

    I’m not saying I’ll never work with him again (Pep), in football like in life there are many twists and turns, but not right now.

    (Interviewer): If Guardiola calls you at the end of the season and says, “Bojan, come back” you’d tell him no?

    It depends on how this season goes, but I think not. Like I said, I don’t think so, I lived with it before… I repeat, I respect him very much, but as a player I have not worked well with him. So I do not think it would be the best option, to return to his tutelage.

    I might stay here ten years, might return to Barcelona, ​might go to another club, I might do many things. This is football, you have these questions. One game, a single game can change everything, and we’re accustomed to this.

    (About his own personality) Things that are nothing, to me, are very serious. I know I worry about things I shouldn’t care about, and I think about details I shouldn’t think about.


    That was a lot of work… Anyway, I think we have to be careful about saying things like “Toure’s views seem to be supported by ex-Barcelona striker Bojan whom before joining Roma this summer, assertively said:”If Guardiola calls me now I would not go back to Barcelona. ‘I spent a long time without speaking to Guardiola. I could not find the right words when I used to see him.”

    In my opinion, watching that piece, he was hardly assertive (rather, he fluctuates quite a lot between saying yes he’d go back to Barcelona, no he probably wouldn’t, yes he got on with Guardiola, no he didn’t work well with him) and saying he spent a long time not speaking to him when he said he spoke to him a lot but couldn’t say the right things… details are important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Follow us and get La Liga news right in your feed!