“Game changers” is an expression I often use in my pre match discussions with players. I always try and sell a concept that “X, Y & Z are the keys to success” in a particular match, basically these factors are my game changers and will have the biggest influence on proceedings. Recent examples of game changers I’ve used could be: utilising the numerical advantage (3v2) in midfield (we do that well, we control the game and keep on the front foot) or overloading the weak fullback side 2v1 to create attacking overloads (we expose that player and we always have a threat to score goals). These are my game changers and I’ll be blogging about these soon.
In my mind game changers were things that happened on the pitch until recently..I experienced a game changer off the field when I read Guillem Balague’s book on Pep Guardiola “Another Way of Winning”. This book without exaggeration has changed my views on certain aspects of coaching, its a game changer for me and no doubt if you have already read the book, you felt the same or you’re are now going to make sure you read it with the expectation it will change your coaching game too.
In brief my journey is very different to Pep’s, I am still considered young as a coach (30) but I am very ambitious, committed, confident and driven to succeed. I never played professionally so I can’t call upon an extensive array of experience in the pro game like many current top coaches can. Coaches like Andre Villas Boas, Brendan Rodgers, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho to name a few are shining lights for coaches like myself, coaches at the top of their professional using their intellect, passion, commitment and understanding of football to forge successful coaches careers, not based on playing at the highest level. They are inspirations for me and so Pep with his amazing career as a top player doesn’t fall into that bracket but I had huge admiration for his style, manner, personna and obviously the football his Barca team played. I look at Mourinho and Villas Boas and they have an arrogance, a sense of utter self belief that enables them to walk into a room of stars without any playing experience and tell them how to do it better. So I believed that I had to develop that aura and sense of arrogance about myself to enable me to swagger into a room of top players and hold my own. Of course you need more than that, you need to know your stuff but to sell yourself and gain respect that swag was a key ingredient in their success.
Then I read Guillem Balague’s book on Pep Guardiola and it changed my mindset. I just felt so inspired that Pep could act like a well mannered, likeable and sensible human being, without manipulating people, without creating a media fanfare and still succeed. The fact that the nice guy wins is a great story in itself.
It made me change my mindset and gave me more confidence to be myself, to stay true to my own personality and style. I felt I didn’t have to be a mini Mourinho and create a fake personna anymore, I could just be me and be happy with that, knowing the pathway had been forged by Pep and his great example.
But it wasn’t just confidence about my own personality I gained from the book, the writing is superb, I used to watch Guillem Balague on Sky Sports in England do his Spanish Football shows and you can tell the man has fantastic insight and feeling for the game, this came across in his words, it was almost like another coach talking to me rather than a journalist. (Hope he doesn’t mind me saying that!). There were loads, in fact pages of golden nuggets of information, of details that I felt were fantastic to know, read about and imagine. Coaching is a lot about man management and Pep was a master in this area, the way he handles players and situations were perfect. I also loved the fact that despite Barcelona being hands down the best team on the planet and Pep being the best coach on the planet during his time there that he still worked himself so hard every day, that he never got complacent and worked harder than anyone to stay at the top of the game. That shows his character and mindset.
I’m convinced that Pep always felt like he had something to prove to someone all the time, whether that was the fans, the players, the board, the media etc. Having that sense of redemption when you win makes it sweeter and that nagging fear of not slipping up and letting the doubters have their day in the sun, those are huge factors in a coaches drive and ambition. It fuels motivation.
You have no doubt heard Brendan Rodgers talk about “If Leo Messi presses and runs hard for the team then it’s a easy sell for his players like Nathan Dyer”. It’s a funny anecdote but what this book does is the same thing. If Pep Guardiola (one of the best coaches in the world) works that hard then what excuses do the rest of us have?
The book is a fantastic insight into the life of Pep Guardiola, of what shapes his approach and how he managed at Barcelona. For any coaches out there who want to develop themselves then reading this book is as good as going on a course or attending a seminar. You can disappear into your own coaching world with Pep and get your mind racing on how you can adapt his philosophy to suit your team, how you can take the best of what he does and make it your own. Pep talks about Cruyff passing down his style of play to Barcelona coaches including himself, Pep just adapted it to suit him but it’s not Pep’s new idea. The same applies here, what Guillem Balague has done through Pep Guardiola is pass on a modern day super coaches philosophy and approach and shared it with the world, for all of us to create our own master pieces.
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team and their style of football changed the modern game, this book is about to change the game for coaches all over the planet.
Read it now!
If you are interested you can follow Guillem Balague on twitter @GuillemBalague, I’m sure he would love to know what you felt about his book too. If you have read it then i’d love to know your thoughts so leave a comment on the post.