Gundogan: Guardiola is modern football’s greatest coach

eshrag News:

MANCHESTER: In debates about football’s greatest manager in the modern era, many names come into contention for their achievements on the domestic and European front.

Whether it is Sir Alex Ferguson, who led Manchester United to 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies during his 26 years at Old Trafford, ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, the “Special One” Jose Mourinho or current Real Madrid coach and four-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti.

But, for Ilkay Gundogan, there can be only one — his Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Since taking charge of the Abu Dhabi-owned side in 2016, the 51-year-old has led them to nine major trophies, including four Premier Leagues in the past five years.

Add that to his success at Barcelona, where he won six trophies alone in 2009, and at Bayern Munich, Guardiola is both revered and deemed revolutionary.

“For me, he’s the greatest coach in the modern game,” City captain Gundogan told Arab News exclusively.

“He has won everything with his clubs and, in terms of playing style, approaching a game, I have no doubt he will be remembered as the best so far. 

“He is probably the most innovative manager in modern football. It feels like he is the one who has changed the game in the last decade, and this belongs to him.

“Is he missing that big title with us like the Champions League? Maybe. We as players too, but sometimes it’s not always in our control.

“So many things have to come together to decide a game. But in the Premier League, 38 games, the way we play and what we have achieved, I think he’s on top, yes.

“Knowing him, he still has a lot of ideas in his head, a lot of hunger and a lot of ways he can improve his team and himself as well.

“We need to prepare for many more years with him in football because we need managers and coaches like him.”

With a desire to help City become Europe’s leading side and claim their elusive first Champions League, Guardiola has extended his contract until 2025.

And Germany international Gundogan, who also worked under Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, believes the Spaniard is motivated to achieve even more.

“It’s amazing news for Manchester City that Pep is staying and shows also how happy he is here with the club and the group of players that he has,” added the midfielder.

“I think he’s excited about this group, and was last year too, about the possibilities he has as a manager.

“He has already done so much for the club and over the next two and a half years, he will do the same — and maybe even top it.

“In the years Pep has been at City, he has been the main man, the one coming up with the ideas and the way we play. 

“All the praise we get, the way we play, the goals we score, the praise should go to him as well — he’s in charge of all of that. Without him, all these things would not be possible.

“I’m quite sure he will be remembered forever in football.”

Gundogan is paying close attention to Guardiola’s managerial methods as he hopes to follow the same path in the future — just like another former City skipper, Vincent Kompany.

The Belgian, 36, took over at Championship leaders Burnley in the summer and is driving them toward an immediate top-flight return after relegation last season on the final day.

“I try to follow their results,” said Gundogan, 32. “Vincent was at a City game before the World Cup and I told him ‘You’re getting lucky with all these late winners, 90-plus minutes, in games.’

“But I’m very happy for him. I could see already when he was here, toward the end of his time at City, that this was one of his goals and to see how far he could go.

“He’s very persistent in details, very hard working and deserves the credit. It wasn’t an easy appointment at Burnley with all the players going out and he had to bring in new ones and it was a big change. 

“But the way he has handled it so far, he’s done very well. The Championship is a tough league and I wish him well to get a promotion.”

Gundogan added: “It would be maybe irresponsible not to try to discover what’s out there, to be coaching one day myself. 

“I’m privileged to have played under some of the best managers in the world, like Pep, Jurgen and Tuchel, so I can take out something from every one of them. I can use it for my own future in terms of coaching.

“I’ve done one step, from the B License and still two more to go, A License and Pro License, which I don’t want to rush. I love to focus on an active career, but can I imagine coaching one day? Definitely.

“It would be great to conquer that opportunity and go for it.”

Gundogan returned from World Cup duty with Germany to help City beat Liverpool 3-2 to reach the EFL Cup quarterfinals on Thursday.

It was a happy return after the bitter disappointment of his national team’s exit at the group stage for the second successive World Cup.

Gundogan is hoping that further success with City — who are still in contention for all four trophies this season — will make up for it.

“We went with different expectations for the World Cup, but it wasn’t meant to be,” he said.

“It was frustrating, but sometimes the good thing in football is the next challenges; they don’t wait long. They are just around the corner, and we are back with a good result against Liverpool and now it’s game after game. The busiest part of the year is now, so it’s good.

“We have done really well in recent years in the second part of the season. The target is the same and hopefully, we can go on a run. The competition, especially in the Premier League, seems to be bigger than ever.”

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