How Pep Guardiola’s 2008 Barcelona appointment changed football forever

It is no exaggeration to describe Guardiola’s appointment at Barcelona as one of the most influential moments in football, which has conditioned the modern game right down to the grassroots, writes Miguel Delaney

Friday 09 November 2018 08:06
Pep Guardiola's pressing style has changed the way modern football is coached
Pep Guardiola's pressing style has changed the way modern football is coached

Pep Guardiola knew that, before he could even change results, he would have to change minds. Because, as remarkable as it is to think now, his initial appointment as Barcelona manager in summer 2008 wasn’t just doubted as a massive risk due to his extreme inexperience. It was also viewed as a cynical political use of the symbolism a club youth graduate represented, in order to insulate the Joan Laporta presidential regime from increasing criticism at a difficult time for the club. Guardiola knew he had to set the right message immediately.

“I’m ready to overcome this challenge and believe me, if I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be here,” the then 37-year-old proclaimed at one of his introductory press conferences, after being promoted from the Barcelona B team. “I know that we have to start work quickly and intensively, whoever wants to be with us from the start will be welcomed. And the others, we will win them over in the future.”

The rest, well, is so much more than history. Guardiola didn’t just win the others over but won everything at Barcelona, and thereby did so much more than change minds. He changed the entire game.

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