Guardiola reveals his time of doubts over tactics
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's commitment to possession football is well established but ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Manchester United, the former Barcelona coach revealed he had once doubted his philosophy - but only for 48 hours.
The Spaniard's zeal for passing and possession with intelligent use of space is almost ideological but he said that early in his career he had questioned if it was the right way.
Guardiola began his coaching career in 2007 with Barcelona's B team, who played in the lower divisions of the Spanish league and it was there that his commitment to 'total football' was tested.
"Yes I had doubts a little bit in the beginning," he told reporters.
"I remember the first three games, I won, I draw and I lost, we played in the fourth division on artificial pitches, and they were so small. On the Monday I thought I have to change it because we cannot play (on those pitches)," he said.
"Arrived Tuesday and I said we have to change because the pitch is so small. But arrived Wednesday and I said ‘no, I am not going to change’ because the alternative to playing the way I believe didn’t convince me," said Guardiola.
The decision to stick by his principles paid off for the Spaniard.
"It was so good because at the end of the season, we were champions and promoted and at that moment I said - if we were able to win quite good and play quite good football, if you can do that on small pitch, artificial pitch, then I can do that at a higher level with better pitches, better players," he said with a grin.
Guardiola's almost dogmatic belief in the "right way" of playing was questioned last season as City struggled to adjust to the former Barca and Bayern Munich coach's demands.
But with City heading into the derby unbeaten in the Premier League and with an eight-point lead over United, Guardiola was comfortable looking back on his early coaching days.
"That was an important moment...I was 37 years old, never trained big players and I had to prove myself. That showed me. But at the end it depends on results.
"I said many times – the manager has to do what they believe, that is the most important thing. If someone comes to me for advice or comments, always I say, do what you believe. That is the only thing that works," he said.
The Catalan said sticking to his guns was not just a wise move in terms of tactics but is an honest and authentic approach.
"People who have success in many other aspects in life it is because they believe 100 percent what they do. When it doesn’t work – of course you have to change, but always with something from inside," he said, while conceding there are multiple tactical approaches that can work in football.
"Teams (have) success when the manager is convinced to do (things) 100 percent. In all the history, the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s 70’s, (teams won) titles in many, many different ways, there is not one (pattern). That is why football is magnificent because you face teams with long balls, more defensive, more attacking, different ways and that is why it is top."