When a Field Marshal leads his troop to battle, his desire to be victorious is always paramount on his mind. He, more often than not has frontline generals with whom he strategizes and on whom he puts his absolute trust that they will apply the necessary tactics to actualize victory in the heat of the battle.
Such has been cardinal in the success story of Pep Guardiola, he has been fortunate to meet a general in all the clubs he has managed throughout his decade long managerial career.We profile his generals and their impact on the success story of one of the greatest football managers in the world.
THE CATALONA GENERAL – PUYOL
When Pep Guardiola arrived as coach of the BARCELONA TEAM A, he had lofty ideas and believed that he could achieve great things at his boyhood club. As good as his dreams were, he needed someone that could drive his ideas on the field of play; a leader who could make the transmission of his vision practicable on the field of play. He met a GENERAL in the dressing room, his name was Carles Puyol
Puyol was named the Barcelona captain after the former captain, who later became their coach – Luis Enrique retired, this was exactly at the end of the 2003–04 season.
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Carles Puyol has been described by fellow players as one that was rugged, committed and one that is absolutely loyal to a cause. His prowess with aerial balls is well documented, his composure on the ball and his intense commitment his second to none. He comes across as the “well-mannered Gatusso” According to one of the team doctors, physically he was “the strongest, who has the quickest reactions, and who has the most explosive strength. All these attributes and more made the fans to revere him and called him “The Wall”
He was pivotal to the success of Pep Guardiola especially in that first season when the Catalans first won the treble under Guardiola. He was a staunch crusader and led the team-army to war with a conviction on the field of play. He was one of the few players that had the “one man club” tag. He made the work of the “greenhorn gaffer” very easy, all the superstars were able to follow his leadership thereby making sure that the strategy was effectively put to good use on the field of play. He remains one of the greatest generals in the coaching history of PEP. He went on to appear in 593 official games for the club and won 20 major titles, notably six La Liga trophies and three Champions League titles (2 of which he won with PEP).
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THE GERMAN GENERAL – LAHM
After his sabbatical, Pep was employed by Bayern Munich to come and continue the success story that their former coach Jupp Heynckes started. Heynckes won the treble with Bayern Munich before he threw in the towel and went into retirement. Guardiola came with a lot of expectation having conquered Spain and Europe during his spell at Barcelona. The avalanche of great talents, proven internationals and winners at Bayern was supposed to make the work easier. Conquering the Bundesliga was a given, it was the task of winning the UEFA champions league title again for the Bavarians that was daunting. For the club, they had hired a coach who has done that twice in style and could easily transmit the tradition of continuous dominance in Europe to the players. Waiting in the wings on the battle field to get the coach’s instruction to the players was the diminutive, talented and skillful Philip Lahm’
Lahm was made captain of the team in 2010-11 season after the departure of the Dutch legend Van Bommel and till date he is highly revered and considered as one of the best full backs of his generation. His unassuming style made Pep’s work way easy because he was able to relate easily in his new terrain and get the attention of his players. Lahm was a versatile player though right footed could play on both sides of the pitch and his tactical intelligence was worthy of praise from all the managers he had worked with.
He is renowned for his pace, trickery, technique, his stamina- which was enhanced by his low centre of gravity and his precision when it comes to tackling to get the ball and preventing an opponent’s onslaught. Though he worked hand in hand with Pep Guardiola in their conquest of Germany but they were unable to conquer Europe. Pep and his able general Lahm tried without success, the club lost three consecutive semi-final matches to 3 different Spanish opposition; Real Madrid (2014), Barcelona (2015) and Atletico Madrid (2016).
THE BELGIAN GENERAL – KOMPANY
The Bavarians didn’t consider PEP’s reign as successful since all he achieved was the local dominance and couldn’t lead them to their much desired European glory, he left for Manchester city after the expiration of his contract. City was a club on the rise, a club that had left the shadows of their more illustrious neighbor United and one who prior to Pep’s arrival got to the semi-finals of the Uefa champions league- their highest achievement ever.
There was a Belgian in the dressing room named Vincent Kompany , a Trojan who established himself as an integral part of the revolutionised City era, he is tough, rugged and intelligent as a defender. Pep met an erudite warrior as a leader in the dressing room though he was prone to injury, Kompany appeared just 15 times during the first season campaign, although his continued importance to the team was evidenced by the fact he would always return to the starting line-up as soon as he was fit. Nevertheless he controlled the dressing room and boosted the communication between the new coach and the City Players. During the second season he was fully fit and Pep could confidently say after the season that his general led the men to battle in glorious fashion. It could be said that Pep had his best season since his departure from Barcelona, Manchester city broke and set many records, highest points – 100 points, highest number of matches won – 32matches enroute to winning the Premierleague title after a barren first season.
Many have described Kompany as one of the best defenders in world football, he is a physically strong centre back with excellent aerial ability and he endeared himself to many with his style. He has great mobility, as well as good football techniques, distribution and his positional sense and accurate anticipation of opponents sets him apart from his peers.