BT Sport experts Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Glenn Hoddle and Joleon Lescott praised Pep Guardiola, who everyone believes has pioneered a transformation in English football. The game has become – to most observers – more enticing since Guardiola’s success with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, before joining Manchester City in 2016 to work his Premier League magic.
Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Joleon Lescott are among the experts who believe that Pep Guardiola had a “huge influence” on English football.
A stereotypical style of play was used by most English coaches during the game’s boom period in the late 20th century, and has only recently begun to change, owing to the progression of the sport initiated by figures such as Guardiola.
There has been pressure for teams to play attractive football as they win, with Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp leading the way and setting a precedent for future coaches.
“We have now adopted this European way of playing and our ideas about football,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“Being in and around gyms, training is so different compared to when we grew up, when everything screamed and dragged people left and right.
“While now, it’s very much Guardiola’s culture, which has had a huge influence on this style of football.”
Graham Potter is one of the few English managers to play something considered similar to Guardiola’s style of football, which saw him earn plaudits in Brighton before moving to Chelsea.
Cole says younger coaches are “dedicated” to the tactics and nuances of the sport.
“It’s definitely changing,” Cole said. “I remember my first session in Lille, I gave the ball and the guys would laugh ‘Ha, English pass, English pass’ because they saw us as backward football.
“I think during the 1990s and early 1990s we were so far behind tactically and we are just catching up. We’re just catching up in the last 5-6 years.”
One of the 1990s managers who was widely seen as being ahead of his time was Glenn Hoddle.
Hoddle admits that the stereotype about English coaches in the past was true.
“We were stuck in our 4-4-2 way of playing in the 1970s and 1980s,” said the former England manager.
“I went to France and it was all ‘English, straight football’ and that is unfortunately something that has stuck with us.
“Now it’s technical. Look out for the [Phil] Fodens and [Mason] Mounts. When they were nine, we started changing our gyms – we were copying the continental ones, but it was the right way.
“They are getting thousands of hits instead of 50. Now look at the fruits with all these players coming in now because they were trained differently.”
GUARDIOLA FOR LIFE
Guardiola has taken Manchester City to new heights since he joined the club in 2016.
His only failure was losing the Champions League after several narrow defeats, including the 2021 final against Chelsea.
Joleon Lescott feels that even if the Spaniard doesn’t end City’s wait to win Europe’s biggest trophy, it won’t change his legacy.
“Their legacy at Manchester City would not be determined whether they would win the Champions League,” said Lescott.
“His longevity would likely determine how long he stays, if he wins, that will likely have an impact. But for the club, I’m sure they would sign him for life.
“His legacy in the Premier League and in English football, we saw a transition in the game itself, there are so many people who have taken so much from Pep. He cannot be questioned, even if he doesn’t win [the Champions League].”
“I’m sure they’d probably sign him up for life!”
Owen Hargreaves and @JoleonLescott talk Pep Guardiola and his struggles in Europe since leaving Barcelona.
Could this be the year he wins the #UCL with Erling Haaland at the helm…? 🤔
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 2, 2022