Inside Pep Guardiola’s First Season at Bayern Munich
Marti Perarnau, 2014, Arena Sport
There are no two opinions about Pep Guardiola. He is since years the best coach of the world. He developed with Barcelona the best team of the last 20 to 30 years and there are no weaknesses of his character known. If one doesn’t like him than usually because even perfection gets annoying over time.
A biography about such a coach is easy, because there are enough stories floating around, so that you are always able to piece together a book or an essay about his character. On the other hand it is incredible difficult because there is not a lot new to talk about. However, Marti Perarnau made it and wrote a unique book, which stands out of all Guardiola books.
The book describes the first season of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, pre-season, game by game, highlights like the Championship in March but also bad days like the 0:4 against Real Madrid. The whole time Perarnau was allowed to be on the training court, in the dressing room or in the office of the coach. Regularly he is able to talk with players, club officials, the coaching team and to Guardiola himself. He uses this access not to ask just the typical question of sports journalists like “How do you feel after the win/loss?” but he discusses tactical details, to better understand what the coach wants to achieve with the system he plays. These detailed descriptions of training, game planning and preparation are probably unrivaled in the history of coach biographies. There is probably no other book which better describes what a coach really does every day. Simply the comparison with the book of Neil Warnock shows, that either their approach to their work is so different that there are no similarities between their jobs or that the descriptions of Warnock simply doesn’t cover the most important parts of the work of a coach.
About Guardiola himself you learn in the book that he is a perfectionist, driven by a clear vision, but also constantly haunted by the fear of failure, which always pushes him to think about the next problem, as soon as one is overcome. Nevertheless these characteristics also make him popular with players who want to learn and improve themselves and who see that things become easier and success is at hand, when they follow his guidance. Other biographies might tell more anecdotes and cover the whole career of Guardiola, but with the atmosphere created in this book one gets very close to Guardiola and gets to know him like a good friend.
At the end one can just add that it is a shame that Perarnau’s other books are not published yet in english language. It is more than time that his excellent work is distributed more broadly.
Tactics & Game philosophy: 2/3
Next book: The Blizzard: Issue Six (Feb 27th)