Pep, Bayern, Jose and the inconvenient truth… (Guest Article – Hugh Hogan)

“So finally it has come to an end” some say? Or has it only just begun? Even though Barcelona’s most beloved son “Josep Guardiola i Sala” (or just Pep” has recently signed a new three year contract with the Bavarian giants “FC Bayern München reportedly denying offers from China to replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Tradford, has the so called “Pep Saga” actually come to an end?

Pep Guardiola is seen to many as a quite simple man born in the town of Santpedor a small, rustic municipality located roughly 75km north of Barcelona. Overlooking a hilly Spanish countryside, it boasts just over 7000 inhabitants. He met his wife Cristina while working part time in his parents clothes shop when he was eighteen and according to all his family and friends he has been obsessed with nothing other than “fútbol” and “Tiki-taka” (his footballing philosophy) since an early age and turned down numerous big money offers from China, the middle east and America to come and coach Bayern according to Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Ruminegee who stated that Guardiolas decision to come to Germany was based almost solely on “footballing reasons, rather than monetary reasons and Bayern wouldn’t have had the money to compete for Pep in that situation”. However to say just because Pep is not necessarily obsessed with material values doesn’t mean he isn’t incredibly competitive, energetic and doesn’t hate losing, remind you of anyone?

Four years fourteen trophies (easy to see why so many clubs wanted him so badly) don’t sound like too appalling a record overall does it? However for Pep like all the other great mangers Shankly, Ferguson, Clough, Hitzield, Busby to name just a few for Pep it’s never been about what he’s done, but what he has failed to do. Last season “2011-12” is a prime example of this, two trophies (the club world cup and the Copa del Rey) considered a success for most clubs and managers however what really matters to Pep, their shots at winning the La Liga and the Champions league were both lost in embarrassing circumstances. The Champions league was lost to  the eventual winners a far inferior Chelsea side who were huge under dogs coming into the tie and scraped through 3-2 on aggregate (despite Barca having 72% possession in both matches) and possibly the bigger and more shameful embarrassment that of losing the La Liga to Barca’s arch nemesis Real Madrid and Guardiola’s managerial nemesis Jose Mourinho by nine points(despite Lionel Messi scoring a staggering fifty league goals, a Spanish record), also Real beat Barca two one at the Nou Camp in what was seen as the title decider and after that and the humiliating champions league exit to Chelsea, Pep had resigned before Barcelona had even beaten Athletico Bilbao three nil to win the Copa del Rey for the 26th time.

At this current moment time Pep is a hard man to predict, most would say he has been severely wounded by the pains of last season and feel he needs in some way (staggering as it is to say it) to prove himself again, similar to a way a certain Mr. Mourinho may have felt after losing the Premiership to Manchester United in 2007 and after a poor start to the 2007-2008 season and many arguments with Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich which led to his sudden shock departure. So Mourinho headed to Inter Milan in the summer of 2008 for where he stayed for two seasons before ultimately departing for Madrid after winning the Champions League in 2010 in the Bernabeu. Mourinho’s move to Inter Milan in retrospect has been to be viewed as a very cute move, Mourinho knew that Milan was the perfect “big little club” to rebuild his reputation at after a “blip” and one “Coppa Italia”, two Seire A’s and a second Champions league title for Mourinho himself and his reputation had certainly been rebuilt(if it ever needed to be) as the world class manager he is and so he made his dream move to Madrid. Many in the German press have called many comparisons to Mourinho’s move to Inter and Pep’s to Bayern and perhaps incredible as it sounds Bayern is just a building club for Pep so one day in the future he shall be ready to take the helm again at Chelsea or even replace Sir Alex Ferguson at united when his time calls and most find it difficult or almost to think that Pep would never have any connection again with Barcelona a club that defines who he is, his boyhood club and a place has given so much love, joy and devotion to. But alas this is mere speculation, the only think we know for certain is that Bayern will have one of the greatest managers in the world at their disposal for the next three years at least and no doubt both parties will make the best of it and as for the future…? As is the answer to so many questions in football only Pep knows how.



The Weirdest Free-Kick Ever?

In this video, Muangthong United attempt to take a free-kick in a rather unorthodox manner.

But one has to wonder, how did they invent such an audacious set-piece routine?

Just watch, and try not to be amazed at the skill and inventiveness of the K-League side’s players.

The Neymar Show




In a class of his own

In a class of his own

Football fans from all over Europe are desperate for the Brazilian wonder-kid to join their ranks, as the 20-year old is just heads and shoulders above all other players in the Brazilian League.

But last night, the Santos forward was in dazzling form, and a video of his performance is on the verge of going viral.

He may not score as many goals as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but he does bring something else to the game. An unrivaled imagination and knack for pulling off the most audacious of skill moves.

It is rare that a week will go by without the frontman making headlines in Brazil due to his latest trick, and it is getting rather out of hand at this point. He is just embarrassing defenders left, right and centre each game. With skills a plenty, and his ability to single-handedly win games for Santos, many believe it is time to make the transition to Europe for the youngster, although Pele believes otherwise.

Watch Neymar’s stellar performance against Botafogo right here!