Maestro Pep Guardiola gets a sweet tune from his smooth operators

first_imgSade Sadio Mané’s stoppage-time winner lifts Liverpool over Manchester City Topics Manchester City will not break any more records, says Pep Guardiola Facebook Sade is a big favourite at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock Pinterest Sportblog Pep Guardiola Share on Facebook It is a world away from the rock ’n’ roll football that is attempted by his more prosaic peers. While at Besiktas, Slaven Bilic was asked whose music his team most resembled. “Let’s think … not the Doors, not the Beatles. Pink Floyd? The team is as talented as Pink Floyd but no, we are not Pink Floyd,” the Croat replied. “I think we are Iron Maiden. Like Iron Maiden, we play with very high energy and everyone does their jobs very well.” Sadly, also like the British rockers, their output was wildly unpredictable, and after two seasons Bilic was on his way.City fans have seen before how the music managers listen to can have an effect on the way their teams play. Between 2005 and 2007 they had a manager in Stuart Pearce who banned R’n’B from the dressing room and replaced it with the Sex Pistols, whose aggressive anthems he played at full volume in the hope that his players would take to the field pumped with adrenaline and ready to fight their way to victory. Under his watch Ben Thatcher, a full-back who played as if flaying about in a perpetual solo moshpit, was banned for eight matches after knocking Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes unconscious with a viciously wielded elbow. Pearce then conjured perhaps history’s most inappropriate supportive turn of phrase when amid the ensuing furore he declared that Thatcher was feeling extremely contrite. “I can assure everybody,” he said, “this has hit the player very hard.” Towards the end of his playing career Pearce was at Newcastle when their then manager Ruud Gullit had to make it a club rule that the left-back never be allowed near the stereo. “You cannot think properly about the game ahead with so much noise going on around you,” Gullit said of the player’s terrible tunes. “Before a game you should want to talk to one another about what each of you will be doing. You cannot have a big ghetto‑blaster like that playing when you should be talking about the job ahead. The music distracts you. So, for me, there was nothing to discuss. I have taken the machine away.”He might have turned the high-tempo thrashings of Pearce’s pet punks into Newcastle’s sweatiest taboo, but Gullit wouldn’t dream of taking the machine away from Guardiola. The Dutchman likes music that can suitably soundtrack the “sexy football” he so famously aspired to, and once spent an entire holiday driving around Portugal while listening to a particular artist. “I’ll never forget the endless Sade tapes,” he recalled. “It is now among my favourite music.” Share on Messenger The greatest test of the similarity between Guardiola’s work and that of the musician who soundtracks it cannot yet be completed. It remains to be seen if the Spaniard will still be admired and influential three decades from now, but you can be damn sure that’s what football’s smoothest operator is anticipating. Read more Iron Maidencenter_img Share on Twitter Few people know the secrets behind Pep Guardiola’s managerial success as well as Domènec Torrent, who worked as the Spaniard’s assistant at Barcelona B, with the Catalan club’s first team, at Bayern Munich and finally at Manchester City before, after 11 years, leaving his mentor’s side this summer to take over at New York City. This week Torrent offered a glimpse inside Guardiola’s tactical bunker.“Pep loves music in general and I am the same,” he said. “When we worked in the office we always had music on. Not rock music. Just something relaxing, maybe Sade.”This could be the least surprising musical revelation in the history of football. For a start, since taking over at the Etihad Stadium Guardiola has led the team on two pre‑season tours of America, the latest of which sees them play Bayern Munich in Miami on Sunday. Over successive summers Guardiola has literally taken his team coast to coast, LA (where they played Real Madrid last year) to Chicago (where they lost 1-0 against Borussia Dortmund last Saturday), and across the north and south to Key Largo. This is a manager who hasn’t just listened to Smooth Operator, Sade’s 1984 hit, he has dedicated himself to turning its lyrics into reality.Guardiola is not the first manager to schedule pre‑season trips to America around his favourite music, John Gregory having memorably organised Aston Villa’s visit to New York in 1999 to coincide with a concert by his favourite singer, Bruce Springsteen. Sign up for the Fiver. Manchester City Twitter Share on LinkedIn Stuart Pearce Share on Pinterest Share via Email But there was little of the Boss’s music to be found in Gregory’s team, little of his workaholic, anthemic brilliance in the Villans’ creditable march to a sixth-place finish the following season. For all his ability late-career Paul Merson was not exactly born to run. City’s debt to Sade runs deeper, being somehow evident even on the pitch, in the life of their midfield diamond and the way Guardiola has cajoled his players to move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.In his famous “symphonic fairy tale” Peter and the Wolf, Sergey Prokofiev used different orchestral instruments to represent each character. “The role of each animal or bird will be played by a single instrument,” Natalia Satz, the director of Moscow Children’s Theatre who commissioned the piece in 1936, remembered the composer saying. “The characters’ individuality will be expressed in the timbres of different instruments, and each of them will have a leitmotiv.” If a similar trick were to be attempted with current football teams, Guardiola’s City side could be perfectly represented by Smooth Operator’s opening saxophone solo: classy, seductive, technically flawless, wildly popular, ludicrously successful. Read more Share on WhatsApp comment Reuse this contentlast_img read more