Pep Guardiola had his first City press conference on Friday—and it was magical
The press room fell silent at half past one and everyone looked at each other with the same facial expression. The look was a mixture of emotions that can only be described by comparing it to how a 50-year-old woman must feel when Gary Barlow gets a new haircut. Anticipation, excitement and the feeling of not being worthy.
The cameras flashed more than an uncle at Christmas, as the new Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola made his way to his chair. Every time he looked up or made a slight change in facial expression, the cameras went wild with clicking. One camera self-destructed as it felt unworthy to take photographs of such a footballing genius.
The way he answered the questions threw up a problem for journalists in the room, as they had to decide whether to write an article or an erotic novel. Fifty Shades of Sky Blue. When he answered questions in Spanish, some English reporters opted for the translation live in their ears, while others sat and listened to his silky smooth tongue, understanding nothing—and yet everyone was nodding in agreement. He just gave off a certain essence that what he was saying was absolute brilliance.
As the press conference ended, there was a sudden bout of Post-Pep Syndrome. A few reporters went to vomit in the loos. One woman sat rocking in the corner asking for him to return. One man left the room to ring his wife and tell her he wanted a divorce: “I just feel nobody will be good enough for me anymore.”
I’ll now try and stop wafting myself with a fan, and move away from my romantic tone for a moment, in order to tell you what the Spaniard actually said.
His first words in his Barcelona press conference were “fasten your seatbelts,” and here in England Guardiola opened his conference with “fasten your seatbelts from the other side.” City fans will definitely be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of Guardiola repeating his Barcelona form here in Manchester, which he went on to say is his aim. When asked on whether his passing style of play would suit the Premier League, he said “this is why I’m here,” with a cool mix of arrogance and humility. If James Bond was Spanish this would be him.
“My dream for Vincent Kompany is to be fit,” he said after being quizzed about where he sees his captain next season. I feel this is the only time where me and Pep disagreed. My dream for Vincent Kompany is that he picks me up from work one day and takes me to his house for a beer and a curry. But with the club looking at centre backs John Stones and Leonardo Bonucci, the future of the captain will be something to keep an eye on this season as Guardiola has never shied away from getting rid of big players at clubs in the past.
A personal highlight for me was watching Champions League winner and astute genius Pep Guardiola refer to Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce as “the Big Sam.” I can just imagine Allardyce swooning in his living room right now.
Last weekend Manchester City put on a large weekend bonanza for the fans at their City Football Academy, where Pep was unveiled. Something he said at this event was that it was City’s academy that attracted him to the club, which he said again in this press conference. He said he wanted to create an English core, like he did with Germans for Bayern Munich, and Spaniards for Barcelona… although he did then add that the English are very expensive. This will be great news to the ears of Raheem Sterling, who received a call from Guardiola during the Euros this summer to boost his confidence. The winger has been on struggling form of late, but Guardiola said he is looking forward to working with and improving Sterling’s play.
Guardiola said that he was nervous before the press conference, as he was scared to come out in front of the press. He said “I know that when it is not going well then you won’t be here to help” to the press. I personally wouldn’t mind giving him a cuddle after a defeat, but he may have a point about the rest of the English press there. Although he seems apprehensive about the English press, he is not apprehensive about the English weather. He cited the “freezing” and the “windy” weather as a reason for why he wanted to come and manage in England—to see if he could do it. He was in touching distance of saying “I wanted to manage on a cold, rainy Tuesday night in Stoke” but managed to steer clear of the cliché.
Whether it’s for his suit, his beautiful style of play, or his wild emotions on the touchline; most of the country is looking forward to what he has to offer. All that’s left to do then is wait until the season starts and see if he can adapt to English football, and put his money where his mouth is.