Pep Guardiola is a man clearly worthy of our respect. He’s intelligent. He’s charismatic. And my God can he grow some good-looking facial hair. Last weekend he became the first non-Chelsea manager (and only the fourth in history) to win his first four Premier League games.
However, he, much like everything else in this world, is not perfect. He has his failings. He occasionally says the wrong thing. He probably over seasons his dinner every now and again.
After victory over Manchester United last weekend he perhaps demonstrated these weaknesses more publicly than normal. While most looked at the performance of Claudio Bravo and questioned not only why he was on the pitch, but why he was even signed in the first place, our Pep was instead heaping praise on the Chilean keeper, describing it as “one of the best performances” he has ever witnessed.
It was a bold statement from a manager that had seen his players practically hand their opponents a goal. Although Guardiola backed up his statement with his usual smooth talking, you would be hard pressed to find many others who rank Bravo’s performance quite so highly.
It is of course not the first – nor will it be the last – time that a Premier League manager says something with tenuous reasoning. Jose Mourinho has long been the master of this, often using the twinkle in his eye to make us all blush and forget that he has just sprouted out some grade-A tosh.
Who’s next though to be bitten by the bullshitting bug? Will it be Jurgen Klopp saying that he has always admired the dreary and unimaginative route-one approach employed by a number of English teams? Or will it be David Moyes fervently trying to convince supporters that he is much happier in a relegation dogfight than in a race for Champions League football because ‘this is where the boys become men?’
Of course, Arsene Wenger is another serial offender, regularly attributing his team’s performances on anything from the grass on the pitch to the astrological position of the Earth in relation to Saturn.
That is not to say that we want these managers to tone it down and produce standard sound-bites full of stock phrases. No. We want the eccentric, the delusional and the absurd. The moment a manager stops defending the indefensible is the moment you know that your team is doomed.
So bravo Pep, bravo.
Image courtesy of Thomas Rodenbucher.