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The many ‘enemies’ of Pep Guardiola

The many ‘enemies’ of Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola may be a genius as a coach as well as an accomplished footballer in his day but not all his former players are enamoured of the Spaniard considering the growing list of those who have come out to publicly criticize him.

While you may know of Guardiola’s spat with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his no love-lost relationship with Samuel Eto’o, and public face-off with Yaya Toure, you probably didn’t know the fresh recruits into the anti-Pep school of critics.

Sergio Aguero, recently of Manchester City under Guardiola, is the latest to criticise Pep although he did that through his dad, Leonel Aguero.

Leonel El Castillo, Sergio Aguero’s father slammed Guardiola for shedding crocodile tears following his son’s departure from the club.

Pep had said Aguero was “Irreplaceable” as he was seen shedding tears on the final day of the season after Manchester City won their fifth Premier League title but the senior Aguero insists Guardiola never wanted his son to stay at the club and accused the Spaniard as being self-centered.

Leonel El Castillo and Sergio Aguero

He said: “I don’t believe his tears. For me, he never wanted Kun. He always wants to be the main man and not the players. I don’t believe [in] Guardiola. He never wanted it [the CL trophy], he wants to be the protagonist of all the teams. He says that he [Aguero] is irreplaceable and he does not have him in the squad. There are things about Guardiola, he is a great coach. But from one day to the next the players change you, the environment changes. You never know if you are a starter or not.”

The Argentine has since joined Lionel Messi at Barcelona and while he may not have publicly talked about his ex-boss, others have not been that diplomatic. Here’s a list comprising former mentee Cesc Fabregas and others who have not been so subtle:

Dante, former Bayern Munich defender now on the books of Nice, recently spoke of his tough experiences working with Pep in their time in Germany.


“He doesn’t speak to you so as a player you don’t know where you stand. There are coaches who are world-class from a tactical point of view, but who aren’t good on a human level and this is the case with Guardiola,” Dante told a German newspaper.

For Cesc Fabregas, an alumni of Barcelona’s La Masia who also hero-worshipped Pep, things weren’t as cosy when he worked up close and personal with his hero.

The ex-Arsenal captain spent one season working with Guardiola at Barcelona but their relationship went South soon after.

Cesc Fabregas

“With Guardiola I ended up not understanding the system,” he admitted after the promotion of Tito Vilanova in the summer of 2012. “I came from another type of football and to take in everything Tha he wanted so quickly was difficult because the others already understood it.”

One of Guardiola’s biggest critics has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who arrived at the Camp Nou in 2009, but who was dropped by the Catalan despite an impressive start to the campaign and who confronted him after their Champions League semi-final loss to Inter.

“I yelled ‘You have no balls!’ at him and probably worse things than that,” the Swede later recalled. “You are crapping yourself because of Jose Mourinho. You can go to hell!”

“I didn’t have a problem with anyone,” he added. “Nobody can say I did anything wrong. The first months were going so well and then something happened and I still don’t know what as I’m still waiting for the answer. After few months after [the start of the new year] the philosophy didn’t speak to me anymore.”

A similar fate befell Samuel Eto’o who, despite having one of his best ever seasons in Guardiola’s first year, scoring 30 goals in 36 league matches, was sold the following summer by the Catalan because of ‘a question of feeling’.

“He didn’t have the courage to tell me things to my face. I had to remember that he wasn’t a great footballer. I told him ‘I’m Samuel Eto’o and I’m the one who makes you win’,” he added in an interview with beIN Sports. “[Guardiola] was lecturing me on how to attack when he played as a midfielder.”

At Bayern Munich, Franck Ribery was almost ‘untouchable’ until Guardiola came and upset the apple cart for the Frenchman who heaved a sigh of relief when he finally left.

It didn’t take long for Ribery to reveal his preference for his new coach Carlo Ancelotti, saying that the Italian “knows how to treat his player” in an unsubtle dig at the Pep.

“Ancelotti is a gift for Bayern and with him I feel confident again,” he explained. “I need coaches like him, Jupp Heynckes and Ottmar Hitzfeld.”

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Ribery’s sentiments were shared by clubmate Mueller who wasn’t fully convinced by the ex-Barcelona coach’s methods despite winning three consecutive Bundesliga titles under him.

Mueller, revealed that Ancelotti was closer to his players than Guardiola ever was.

“Guardiola lives in his own world,” the German striker told Bild. “He’d spend his day wondering how he could move players two or three metres during a match to find a perfect solution.”

Former Arsenal star Alexander Hleb, despite being a key figure for the Gunners did not get much playing time at the Camp Nou and left to join Stuttgart on loan after just one season with the intense coach.

Alexander Hleb and Pep Guardiola

“I don’t think Guardiola was the best coach in the world; he trained the best team with the best players,” the Belarusian said. “The best coaches are Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, from whom I learned more than from Guardiola.”

While others may be subtle about their criticism, one who got into a shouting match with Guardiola was Yaya Toure who claimed he left Barcelona because of the manager.

“The manager didn’t care about me until the offer from City came in,” Toure, who explained Guardiola had hardly spoken to him in a year, said.

Finally, for now, another La Masia graduate Bojan Krkic believed Guardiola was unfair to him after he was moved to leave the Camp Nou for playing time.

“Guardiola didn’t give me enough opportunities to show what I could do and that hurt,” he explained. “Many times he was unfair with me and that is one of the reasons why I decided to leave. As a fan I’d say he’s the best coach, but as a player I could not say the same.”

Who’s next on the increasingly growing list of the Guardiola boo-club to speak up? 

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