Chelsea and Palmeiras should not feel special over Pep Guardiola’s best in the world claim – Dominic Farrell


When FIFA president Gianni Infantino cobbles together his next outlandish plan for Club World Cup expansion, he would do well to enlist Pep Guardiola’s help with a bit of PR.

After Manchester City’s latest clinical and dominant Premier League win over Brentford in midweek, Guardiola was not having any of it when it was put to him that opposite number Thomas Frank had declared the Blues the best team in the world.

“No, because we are not the best team in the world. The best team is Chelsea, who are the champions of Europe; the best team is River Plate, who won in South America… no, maybe not River… I don’t know.”

We’ll allow Pep that slip. He meant Brazilian club Palmeiras, who are the reigning South American champions. They will face Chelsea in Saturday’s Club World Cup final.

The reason River slipped into Guardiola’s provocative playground logic is probably his deep admiration for the club and their coach Marcelo Gallardo.

“Every year three coaches are named as the best in the world, and he’s never among them. I can’t understand it,” Guardiola said in 2019 of Gallardo, who has masterminded the early career of incoming City forward Julian Alvarez.

This is the funny thing. Guardiola likes to say loads of people are the best in the world at one thing or another – entirely in keeping with being such an obviously rabid football enthusiast.

Here are a load of other people he has declared to be the best. So, maybe take it in your stride when that sort of praise comes City’s way, Pep. Oh, and Chelsea and Palmeiras shouldn’t get too carried away with their lofty labels, as there are plenty of such plaudits to go around.

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Best coach in the world – Marcelo Bielsa

For all his welcome Pep plaudits, Gallardo has to get in line behind a man each man regards as an inspiration.

Ahead of Bielsa’s appointment at Leeds in 2018, Guardiola said: “It doesn’t matter how many titles he had in his career.

“We are judged by that – how much success we have, how many titles we have won, but that is much less influential than how he has influenced football and his football players.

“That is why, for me, he is the best coach in the world.”

Best in the world at high pressing – Gabriel Jesus

Not for the first time, Guardiola this week lavished praise on currently sidelined forward Gabriel Jesus.

The Brazil international might be a feast-or-famine operator when it comes to goalscoring, while his technical skills and versatility have been key to the Blues this season.

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates his goal against PSG

But it is in the Guardiola fundamental of relentless and intelligent high pressing where the 24-year-old truly shines.

“We need players that are runners, who can help a lot in our high intensity and high pressing. He’s the best in the world,” Pep said.

Best in the small spaces ever – David Silva

If Jesus is Guardiola’s man without the ball at City, when in possession club great David Silva stood above all others.

“In the small spaces, he is perhaps the best I have seen,” the City boss said towards the end of Silva’s 2019/20 farewell season.

“Moving between lines I have never seen anyone like him.”

Coming from the coach of that imperious 2008-2012 Barcelona team of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, that is quite the compliment.

Manchester City's Spanish midfielder David Silva leaves the field on his final appearance for the club during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on July 26, 2020.
David Silva leaves the field on his final appearance for City in 2020.

Most, most talented player ever – Phil Foden

When Guardiola gets into his enthusiastic groove, Messi’s status as a peerless great of the game really takes an unexpected kicking.

Silva is the best in the small spaces and Phil Foden, well…

“He has everything to become one of the best players,” Guardiola said.

“I have said many times in press conferences, but maybe not said it in front of him, Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager.”

Guardiola has since qualified these remarks from 2019 – when he was frequently batting away questions about why Foden was not playing more minutes for City’s first team – by explaining he is the best player he has worked with from such a young age.

Still, incredible high praise.

Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.

Writers and presenters who share your passion for the blue side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.

Follow our team on Twitter (@DomFarrell1986 and @alex_brotherton)!

The best manager in the world for spectators – Jurgen Klopp

If you thought this was in danger of becoming a bit of a City love-in, we’re finishing off with some props for the man who has been Guardiola’s biggest and most consistent rival in England.

Ahead of their first Premier League meeting in December 2016, Guardiola foresaw all those tiresome “boring City” think pieces by about five years as he labeled Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to be the most exciting tactician for neutrals.

“I like a lot the way they play. For the spectators, in three or four seconds they are attacking,” he said.

“Maybe he is the best manager in the world for creating the teams who attack the back four with this amount of players, with this intensity with and without the ball.”

Do you think City are the best team in the world (just don’t tell Pep!)? Follow City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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