Former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol believes Manchester City could be the biggest challenge of Pep Guardiola’s managerial career so far.
Guardiola enjoyed a successful four-year spell at Barcelona, with Puyol at the heart of his defence. Together, the pair won the Champions League in 2009 and 2011, while also securing three La Liga titles.
The Spanish manager decided to leave Barcelona at the end of the 2011-12 season, and proceeded to take a year long sabbatical. He then joined Bayern Munich in 2013, and won the Bundesliga in each of his seasons there, along with the FIFA Club World Cup.
After 3 years of glory in Bavaria, Guardiola decided to leave the club, and signed for Manchester City this summer.
Doubts were raised as to whether he could do it at City as well, and whether his style of play would suit the fast-paced, direct football of the Premier League. However, Guardiola and his new team went on a ten-game winning streak, which quashed all questions surrounding him.
City may have slightly gone off track recently, with their incredible run of victories coming to an end in a 3-3 draw with Celtic, followed by a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Amidst such unfavourable results, Puyol has revealed that he believes that the Sky Blues may prove to be Guardiola’s toughest job in management, as he will be looking to change the style of football being played in the country.
“It’s the biggest challenge for Guardiola, but I think he will change football in England,” said Puyol.
“A lot of people say football is different in England to other countries, but the way Guardiola works and puts pressure on his players will change football here a bit.
“His biggest challenge is to change the direct style of football. Now in England the football is more direct, with big centre-backs. I couldn’t play there because I’m too small.
“Guardiola wants to start playing from the back with intelligent play from the goalkeeper. It doesn’t mean he won’t play long like against Manchester United when they scored a goal with three touches, but it’s the whole style. He is based on ball possession and playing from the back.
“I have seen his influence on the team very quickly. He is doing very well, he has very clear ideas which he tries to transmit to the players. He is the best coach I ever worked with and I’m pleased to see him in England.
“There are a lot of coaches worse than him. He puts a lot of pressure on the players but the players feel free under Guardiola. It’s tough but I understand football like that, I enjoy it.