Guardiola appointment will not be a quick fix
Published: 20.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
Whoever eventually employs Pep Guardiola as their manager will be a lucky side.
His talents and managerial skill made Barcelona the dominant team of the last few years, elevating them to a plane above the rest of the world’s leading sides.
But it was not him alone. Guardiola arrived and found around him Andres Iniesta, Xavi, a kid called Leo Messi, youngsters like Pedro. His signings, like Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique, were as likely to be former Barcelona youth team products as they were established names. Just as Jordi Alba was this summer.
They were players who had played together for years, brought up through the same youth system. They knew each other inside out, their games suited each other perfectly and they moulded together from the age of around 10 for the most part into the world’s greatest team. They understood the philosophy of Barcelona thoroughly, were steeped in the club’s traditions and were home grown, world class stars.
Guardiola will have none of that at Chelsea, if he joined them. They may have spent millions, but have not got a youth system which produces young talent. Their best talent so far, Josh McEachran, has barely had a sniff of first team football. Their best prospects are players like Kevin de Bruyne and Lucas Piazon, bought from overseas, rather than nurtured at Chelsea from a young age. And unlike Arsenal or Manchester United, who regularly buy young from overseas to develop stars, Chelsea do not have an identity, a way of playing, a history to identify with. This is a team who aspire to play like Barcelona. Yet to play like Barcelona, you can’t just buy a bunch of technically gifted playmakers. Or even appoint the old Barcelona coach to manage them. Sure, it helps. But it is not what Barcelona did.
What Barcelona did was rooted in over a decade of hard work at youth level. It involved changing the mentality of a club from the bottom up, not the top down, as Roman Abramovich seems intent on doing. You cannot just copy Barcelona. That takes years, and is beyond the ability of money to replicate.
The same is true for Manchester City, who also aspire to produce youngsters who can come through together and be self sufficient. Time will tell if they are more successful than Chelsea in creating that youth system, but where oil rich owners are in town, it is unlikely. The impatience that comes will billions of dollars, the intolerance of a run of poor form, a bad season, make life increasingly short term. Transfers are made for the good of today, not tomorrow.
That is not the kind of culture in which a Pep Guardiola is going to be able to work his magic and bring the best out of a team. Chelsea and Manchester City beware. Appointing Guardiola is easy. Copying Barcelona is a lot harder – and cannot be achieved through money.