mirror: Ajax coach Erik ten Hag believes Pep Guardiola’s Premier League experience has made him football’s ultimate boss.
Ten Hag, the Dutchman who got a close-up view of Guardiola’s methods when he was in charge of Bayern Munich’s reserve team and the Catalan was winning three successive Bundesliga titles, reckons a season of failure at Manchester City prompted Pep to perfect his philosophy.
He had enjoyed non-stop success in Barcelona and Bavaria but Guardiola’s first year at the Etihad ended without a trophy for the first time in his managerial career.
Since then, City have won eight of the nine domestic trophies up for grabs.
And Ten Hag believes Guardiola must now be considered the greatest boss of all time.
He said: “Only once in his career has Pep made a mistake – in his first year at Manchester City when he completely underestimated the power and speed of the Premier League.
“He realised that you can’t play the kind of football he loves without having a couple of physically strong athletes – and so he brought them in. So he’s not a stubborn coach.
“Yes, he is stubborn in his philosophy, but not in the execution. And that makes him the best.
“Nobody will ever forget Guardiola. He has won so many trophies for a start – but it is mainly about how his teams play.
“Guardiola only wants to win games with beautiful football, just like his teacher Johan Cruyff.
“And what makes him stand out is that he is proving his quality as a top coach in Spain, Germany and now England.
“He has adapted to the culture in every country.”
Ten Hag (below) became a Guardiola disciple in Munich. The notes the 50-year-old took when studying Guardiola’s training sessions held him in good stead when he became Ajax coach.
He guided the Amsterdam giants to their first Eredivsie title in five years last season – and came within a whisker of reaching the Champions League final.
When the Dutch league was called off due to
the coronavirus pandemic, Ajax were once again top of the table.
Ten Hag believes that one key factor in Guardiola’s success is how he persuades elite players to get even better. He said: “Guardiola had great players at Barcelona, like Andreas Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Xavi and others.
“But it takes a lot of quality from a coach to make top players play in a great way as a team.
“You have to convince them that they each have a role in that team. Guardiola is a master of that. Some top players cannot play in his teams – like Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“Everyone has to contribute. The team comes first and not the individual. Even Messi was more of a team player under Guardiola. He has never been as brilliant again as he was under Pep.
“Now, Messi is above the team – and everyone has to work for him. And we see that Barca have not won as much in recent years as they did under Guardiola.”
Ten Hag added: “Guardiola rams his philosophy into his players. He drills them for as long as it takes to get every pattern automatic and fluent.
“Possession of the ball is almost holy – but only for creating chances and scoring goals. And we all know that if his team lose the ball, it must be recaptured within five seconds.
“Guardiola is not a coach who compromises and that can create clashes with players. But he has gained authority because of all the trophies he has won.
“Pep has become a unique coach because tactically he has found the answer to every international development and change in football. He’s a super innovator.”
Source: Published by mirror