Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola admits the hardest part of coaching is managing “a legend over 30”.
Guardiola, current Manchester City coach, talking to Catalunya Radio, recognises that the key to his successful Barcelona side was Leo Messi: “There are great coaches who have won nothing because they didn’t have Messi. I was lucky enough to have him, and Xavi and Iniesta and Dani Alves and Piqué. And what’s more at the perfect age”.
However Guardiola understands that Barcelona as a club are currently facing a vital debate. “One day Messi will retire and Barça will cope with that. What needs to be prepared is the space for the statue, the way to pay tribute to him like Kubala or Johan, and I’ve no doubt they’ll find it.”
The City coach says that any system needs to be built around the team’s stars, but recognises that you can’t demand the same of 30-year-old players as you can of 20-year-olds.
“Stars need to run like anyone else, if not the team can’t cope, you need to convince them to run. Sometimes, you say to them ‘I won’t make you run 40 metres like the 20-year-old athlete in the team, but give me a reason not to run’. If someone doesn’t run, but scores three goals every game I can buy that, but nobody scores three goals a game, only Messi comes close.
“Right now, you need to ask Messi to make short bursts of effort. He can’t run for the sake of running, no way. If Leo ran like he ran in his first season with me he’d be injured every three months. Managing legends of 30 and above is the hardest thing for a coach.”