Ben Burgess column: Listen to Pep’s style counsel

Pep Guardiola is challenging the way people think football can be played in England
Pep Guardiola is challenging the way people think football can be played in England
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Despite the constant turmoil and merry go round in the boardroom at Bloomfield Road, Gary Bowyer still managed to somehow, inspire his men to a fantastic away victory against Wigan Athletic.

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This season, Wigan have been outstanding and have swept all before them in the league – and the FA Cup – so this victory was all the more impressive and important in terms of widening the gap between Blackpool and the relegation spots.

Another manager widening the gap is Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola.

When he arrived in England, he was met with countless doubters: “His style of football won’t work in England.” “We are different in this country.” “It isn’t like Spain or Germany here. Every game is tough and he won’t get to mess around with the ball at the back.”

As a nation, we are extremely sceptical of new ideas in the game we ‘created’.

We pride ourselves on the tough tackling style and the 100 mph games, often in difficult conditions.

Many people wanted Pep to fail because his ideas were different.

We didn’t want someone from another country to come here and change the whole philosophy of how football is played.

Suddenly defenders receive the ball from the goalkeeper, who rarely hoofs it long.

Everyone shows patience and composure on the ball.

Defenders are comfortable to move into midfield, midfielders nonchalantly slide back into the centre of defence.

Attackers interchange positions constantly and high balls pumped into the box are a scarcity.

Pep has also been chastised for denouncing the horror tackles that litter the game in this country.

Nobody wants football to lose all its physicality, and the art of defending should be embraced, but the best defenders anticipate and intercept, they read the game and are always one-step ahead, they rarely need to make leg-breaking high tackles.

Think Rio Ferdinand in his prime; elegant, quick and an excellent reader of the game.

So why should we listen and take note of what Pep says and does?

He just spend millions of pounds doesn’t he?

After all, we have been so successful as a nation in the last 50 years that we don’t need to change – or do we?

The Premier League only became the best and most exciting league in the world when the likes of Arsene Wenger, Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola and Eric Cantona began to have their influence over the players around them.

Nobody can deny that the drinking culture that riddled the Arsenal side pre-Wenger, was replicated all over the country.

Eventually, the players and clubs began adopting a more professional approach to sports science and diet.

Now we have stronger, faster and fitter players.

Yet, still we celebrate a crunching tackle louder than an audacious piece of skill.

I still hear fans groaning when their team keeps possession instead of lumping it forward.

I still hear parents telling their kids to get rid of the ball before they lose it, which has to be the worst piece of advice ever; if you’re hoofing it away then by default you will lose possession.

I still see kids showing little composure on the ball because they have the mentality of getting it up the field as quick as they can.

I’m not saying the Pep way is the right way; after all Leicester have shown there are different ways to achieve success but Pep’s country – Spain – have had great success at international level,

Wenger’s France had great success, while the likes of Germany always perform.

England certainly doesn’t, so something clearly needs to change.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the greatest England player of his generation, Wayne Rooney: “He’s (Guardiola) almost getting them to the level Barcelona were at four or five years ago.

“If you can’t enjoy that style of football in that way then you won’t enjoy football.”