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James: Guardiola the best manager of all time

SoccerNews in La Liga 30 Mar 2024

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Pep Guardiola is the best manager of all time, according to former Manchester City goalkeeper David James.

Guardiola claimed a historic treble with City last season, taking his tally to 11 league titles and three Champions League trophies across his time at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the Citizens over a glittering managerial career.

Guardiola has led City to the Premier League title in five of the last six campaigns, and his team is deeply entrenched in yet another battle at the top of the division this season, too, sitting third but just a point behind leaders Arsenal, who they face on Sunday in a huge clash.

Alex Ferguson leads the way with 13 Premier League titles over 21 editions of the competition, but James believes the rate at which Guardiola is catching up with the Scot means the former Barca boss must be considered the best manager of all time.

“Tactically, and with regards to what he’s won, I’m struggling to think of a manager who’s overall done better [than Guardiola],” James told Stats Perform. “Alex Ferguson you could think of, but Alex Ferguson had [a long time]. It’s just ridiculous how good this guy is.

“I just think when you look at Pep, in a short period of time, he has effectively dominated anything he wants to go for. The Premier League, it is the best league in the world. His team has dominated.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they win the Champions League again. When you think the EFL Cup was his first [trophy], I think it was three years in a row, now it’s the Premier League, and it’s kind of like, well next is naturally the Champions League, isn’t it?”

James believes it is Guardiola’s ability to develop talented players into becoming world class that truly sets him apart from other managers and allows him to have so much success wherever he goes.

“For what anyone says about money being spent, I think other than Jack Grealish at one point, he’s never bought the most expensive player,” James added. “He gets the players and makes them better.

“You’ve got Phil Foden. The player I’m looking forward to over the rest of this season and next season is Oscar Bobb.

“There are players in the City side who are coming through or already there, and it’s just a joy to watch.”

For the majority of Guardiola’s City career, Liverpool and their boss Jurgen Klopp have been his team’s closest challengers.

That competition is soon to be coming to an end, however, with Klopp set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season after almost nine years in charge at Anfield.

James believes this will prove to be a huge loss for the Premier League, particularly when it comes to Klopp’s personality, saying: “He has been so frank, so honest about anything that he’s been asked.

“I just think it’s so refreshing to have a manager who is managing one of the biggest clubs in the world in the most pressurised environments in sport, if you like, and he takes to it like it’s a chit-chat around a cup of coffee over a table.

“While we’ve got him I think we have to enjoy him, and hope that at some point he comes back to the Premier League in some shape or form and just illuminates football for anyone who’s following him.”

Yet, James feels the nature of football means that if Liverpool’s next manager succeeds on the pitch in a superior fashion to Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund boss will become just another one of the top managers Liverpool have had.

“Will there be a gap? Yeah,” James continued. “And the character will be difficult, if not near impossible to replace.

“However, the game will move on. And if the new manager of Liverpool hardly ever talks to anyone but gets results in Liverpool surpassing Jurgen’s success on the trophy trail, then in the end Jurgen will just be one of the great managers that Liverpool had and it will all be about the new guy. We know how this game works.”

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