Can you name a football manager who you’re more fascinated by than Pep Guardiola? Nope, thought as much.
The Catalan tactician is one of the few coaches in world football who’s arguably more famous than the majority of his squad, and as such we’re all desperate to find out more about him.
He wears his heart on his sleeve yet is simultaneously one of the most mysterious men in the game – seriously, how does he do it? We reckon you could spend three hours chatting to him in a pub, head home thinking you’ve learned everything you need to know about him, yet suddenly realise you’ve come away with more questions than answers.
*Cut to Guardiola staring out of the corner of his eye at you while wearing a wry smile.
We were recently afforded a rare glimpse into Guardiola’s private life courtesy of Simon Kuper’s book The Barcelona Complex: Lionel Messi and the Making – And Unmaking – Of the World’s Greatest Soccer Club.
One of the many Guardiola-based anecdotes described the time he was asked to referee a kids’ indoor football tournament while on sabbatical prior to his move to Bayern Munich. It’s often said that you know a referee is having a good game if you don’t notice them, but it’s fair to say Guardiola didn’t exactly blend into the background.
The former Barça boss insisted on stopping the game to advise both teams on their positioning, much to the anger of the watching parents – just imagine the scenes if Neil Warnock had been one of the said parents.
Anyway, that got us thinking. Following Guardiola’s recent admission that he could step down from his role at Manchester City in 2023 – if he does leave the club in two years’ time – how will he spend his stint away from professional football this time around?
We’ve provided a quick list of possible pastimes…
Watching highlight reels of the best geese formations
As if we couldn’t be any more intrigued by the man, he then goes and develops a fascination with geese formations.
“It was the first game of the season after winning the league, I was telling the players about these geese who were migrating in two Vs, and that the ones in the second row don’t fly and then the others take over – that’s teamwork,” he said when quizzed about his admiration for geese.
“I said to them, ‘these geese fly 4,000 miles for a bit of sun, all I’m asking you to do is play 38 games to win the league’. I don’t think I’m asking too much.”
See what we mean about actually beginning to think you understand what he’s saying, then all of a sudden you take a step back and say to yourself ‘hang on, was he talking about geese ?’.
If Guardiola’s fascinated by that then he wants to get himself to a Westlife concert. The way those boys stand up in unison during a key change and alternate between who’s stepping forward to take the limelight – now that my friends is teamwork.
Screaming “twiiiiiiice” at a picture of Mike Dean
Let’s be honest, this one definitely still hurts him.
It would be wrong of us to suggest that Guardiola constantly maintains his cool guy persona as we’ve seen him lose his temper on the touchline on more than one occasion, but one instance sticks in the memory more than most.
Back in November 2019, City travelled to Anfield to face a Liverpool side who seemed determined to wrestle City’s Premier League crown away from them.
The enormity of the clash couldn’t be underestimated, and so naturally, both managers were desperate for their side to pick up three points. The Reds ran out 3-1 winners, though the game didn’t pass without controversy, as Trent Alexander-Arnold twice escaped punishment after the ball had struck his arm in the penalty area.
You probably didn’t need us to remind you it happened twice because Guardiola provided us with a meme telling us exactly how many times it happened that we’ll probably see on social media every day for the rest of our lives.
Poor old Mike Dean – a man who never wants to hog the limelight and just wants a nice uneventful afternoon – took the brunt of the Spaniard’s anger. Bet you’d never see a goose react like that, shame on you Pep.
Trying to win the Carabao Cup
Even if he’s unemployed you can bet your bottom dollar Guardiola will be trying to win the Carabao Cup.
The domestic cup competition and the Spanish boss is one of the most unlikely love stories of the 21st century. Nobody gave them a chance, everyone said it wouldn’t work, ‘they’re too dissimilar, they have nothing in common, he’s so much better than that’ – well look who’s laughing now.
Four adorable little winner’s medals later and Pep’s relationship with the Carabao Cup is stronger than ever.
Get ready to engrave ‘Pep Guardiola FC 2024’ onto the bottom of that trophy.
Sat in the pub with Alan Brazil
Previously when enjoying a break from football, Guardiola has been spotted hanging out with the likes of Woody Allen and Garry Kasparov. As a man who no doubt enjoys the finer things in life, we can imagine Guardiola frequented more than his fair share of swanky wine bars and tapas restaurants during his past sabbaticals.
But he’s spent over five years in England now, have his tastes, erm, developed ?
Just imagine, Guardiola finds himself at a loose end one Wednesday afternoon and somehow ends up in the Dog and Duck with Alan Brazil and Ray Parlour. He emerges from the pub in the early hours, covered in pork scratchings telling a stranger just how good a player Phil Foden is.
Now that’s culture.
Perfecting his wardrobe before his return
If there’s one thing that’s almost as intriguing about Guardiola as the man himself, it’s his matchday attire.
Will he wear combat trousers? Will he wear the hoodie bearing the name of a charity set up to help refugees moving to Europe? Is it time for the return of the ‘coatigan’? Or is it impossibly long scarf season?! You just never know.
Fan Brands – Man City
You may notice this piece of writing has been produced by a name you’re not familiar with on our regular Manchester City content.
That is because we are expanding our horizons and starting to bring even more to you from a whole host of different voices. We have appointed a whole host of people who – like our journalists – care deeply about what’s happening at Etihad Stadium – but sit in the stands rather than the press box.
We want to give you raw, authentic fan voices about the big issues at Man City – which is why the story you have read today might sit on Manchester Evening News for now, and is part of the MEN family, but is not representative of those who work there full time.
Keep your eyes peeled for more info on where you can read more from this author in the future. But in the meantime, we hope you enjoy what they have written.
It says a lot about the man that when he dons City-branded clothing he looks like he could be about to go for a slap-up meal, yet when someone like Tony Pulis does it he looks like he’s just done a trolley dash through the club shop.
Anyway, enough of the Guardiola love-in. Who knows how he’ll spend his next footballing sabbatical – or indeed when it will be – but if you’re stuck for ideas Pep then we’re absolutely full of them. The Westlife concert tickets are waiting in the basket.
How do you think Guardiola will spend his next footballing sabbatical? Follow our new City Fan Brands Content Editor Ross Jackson on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.