Pep Guardiola's all-time XI
Pep Guardiola is the man at the forefront of the Manchester City side that is quite literally tearing up the record books and re-writing them.
The Catalan is seen by a large majority of football fans as the best coach in world football, having brought success to Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City.
You could be the best manager in the world, but you need good players to carry out your ideas on the pitch, like a craftsman needs good tools to succeed in a job.
Guardiola has never been short of that – he has always had the best players in the world to help his successes. But, who are the best?
At Barcelona, Guardiola built a team that is recognized as one of the best club sides of all time, and possibly the greatest of recent history. Building on a rich footballing philosophy passed down from Johan Cruyff and reconstructed by Guardiola and co, Barcelona had some of the best players in the world with a talented pool of homegrown players such as Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Valdes.
Following two Champions League titles, Pep decided he had taken Barcelona as far as he could, and got bored of the politics of the club. A year later, he joined Bayern Munich, where he monopolised the Bundesliga, winning seven trophies in three years.
In early 2016, Manchester City appointed Guardiola as their boss. Since then, he has won two trophies in two years, including a 100 point haul in the Premier League, breaking all sorts of records in the process.
If there were to be a hypothetical ‘Best XI’ of all the players Guardiola has managed, who would make it? Would any of Guardiola’s current crop at City make it?
Let’s find out…
Pep’s tried and trusted 4-1-4-1 formation is his most used setup, so that is what we have chose for our fantasy XI.
GOALKEEPER - MANUEL NEUER
This wasn’t the straightforward decision it may seem from the outset – Victor Valdes is very underrated in popular media for one reason or another. However, Neuer would surely get the nod in a Guardiola XI. When the Catalan coach arrived in England in 2016 one of the biggest headlines was that he wanted away with Joe Hart, instead to buy a ‘Guardiola goalkeeper’: a ‘keeper as adequate with his feet as he is with his hands.
The 2014 World Cup winner is just that. Whilst he is one of the best shot stoppers we have seen this century, arguably the best goalkeeper of the past decade or so, he is perfectly capable with the ball at his feet and has popularized the ‘sweeper keeper’ role that is so prominent on the continent now.
City’s current number one, Ederson, surely looks up to Neuer as an inspirational figure he can learn from.
Manuel Neuer represents a no brainer decision for the goalkeeper spot, being potentially the most complete ‘keeper of the past decade or so.