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Building for Success – Lessons Learned from Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has achieved enormous success in such a short period of time. He rose to prominence with Barcelona where the trophy return rate was unprecedented. Following this, he took a break before returning to the game to build Bayern Munich into a different team, building a foundation there for sustained success. His next coaching role brought him to Manchester City, where he has access to almost unlimited funds and is now building a solid contender to compete with the European elite.

Let’s take a look at how he has gained so much success, and what we can learn from him.


Pep has to be credited with the creation and popularization of the false 9 role that he had Lionel Messi play. Yes, the advantage of having one of the greatest players ever to play the game on your team is a large contributor to his success, but Pep found a way to maximize his impact through the false 9 role.

Just because something has always been done a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it should always be done that way and that you shouldn’t find a better/more efficient/more success way to do something. It takes analysis and forward thinking!


Pep is meticulous in his preparation and will watch many games of his upcoming opponents in order to gain the knowledge needed to develop a plan to win the game.

Are you analyzing the competition/you opponents/barriers to market entry? Or are you trying to create something so good that it will be successful regardless of those outside factors? I urge you to be aware of anything that could affect your success and plan accordingly.


The team is bigger than any individual, and Pep is not afraid to highlight that in his actions. He has removed popular players from his teams, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o, and more recently at Manchester City he dropped fan favorite Joe Hart as he felt he didn’t have the build up play ability required to play on a ‘Pep Guardiola’ team.

You have to be true to the goal that you are working towards, and that may often involve some hard decisions for the betterment of what you are doing. This is a very difficult process and should not be taken lightly, but is certainly something to consider.


You only have to read the books about Pep Guardiola to discover how much analysis goes on after games. He is never satisfied and has many, many conversations to break down the game. The team could have won 3-0 but it was not won the right way and he sees many things that he wants improving. He is not willing to settle despite getting a winning result – it is very much about the process and continual improvement.

We have all been guilty of this, in whatever form is relevant – whether it is a test, a game you have coached, or a business transaction. You got the desired result but you did not performed to the best of you ability. Next time you do something successful, take a look at the process and result and evaluate how you could improve it.


Pep commits to the process and plays the long game. His role at Bayern and more recently at Manchester City has come with more frequent defeats than he was used to at Barcelona, but Pep believes in his style of play and the tactical plan he imposes on the team. Mistakes happen and they are part of the process, but he continues to build and work on that plan.

John Stones is a prime example – he has received a lot of praise for his skill and composure at playing out of the back but he also has fierce critics that he makes too many mistakes. Pep believes in him and understands that mistakes are part of his development – I do too and I think we have another Gerard Piqué on our hands.

If you have a game plan and you are trying to impose a style of play on a team, then you need to realize that it will take time. You also have to have the confidence that it will happen and share your vision with ALL who are involved and affected by it in order to get ‘buy-in’ and support.

For more of my thoughts visit www.thecoachingblueprint.com


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