Guardiola: Geniuses who inspired me to think differently

Guardiola got to know Adria during his time at Barcelona

Guardiola got to know Adria during his time at Barcelona

PEP GUARDIOLA has credited two ‘geniuses’ with inspiring him to do things differently.

The first will come as no surprise: the Spaniard’s ‘spiritual father’, Johan Cruyff, who brought him into the Barcelona first team as a teenager and remained a guide following his progression into management.

The second is perhaps less obvious. Ferran Adria, the head chef of el Bulli restaurant in Roses, who developed the concept of ‘molecular gastronomy’, fusing art and cooking, became a good friend of Guardiola’s during his time at Barcelona.

In fact, the Catalan used to go to el Bulli with Cruyff for long lunches at which they would discuss their footballing philosophies.

“You said two incredible examples - Johan Cruyff and Ferran Adria - both are real geniuses,” Guardiola said told Guillem Balague in an interview for the BBC.

“It doesn’t matter if you are in the desert, they will arrive and build something and millions of people will follow them. The best cooks in the world were in Ferran’s kitchen.

"If you don’t try to be creative, if you don’t ask, ‘why do we have to do it that way, why can’t we do it another way,’ then humanity doesn’t exist in the way we know now. These type of people are necessary to make football much better.”

Guardiola first encountered Cruyff when the Dutchman was Barcelona manager and he was a teenager on the fringes of the first team in the late 80s.

“He was like a spiritual father to me,” Guardiola said, “but he was so rough, so tough; it was not simple, not easy.

“There were times I though ‘I can’t stay any more with him.’ I remember Michael Laudrup once saying, ‘I’m going, I’m leaving, I can’t stay with him any more, forget it.’ Years later, Michael, when you spoke to him, he said, ‘He is the best.’ That is the mark of a genius.”

Guardiola also explained why he would rather try and perfect his philosophy than revert to a plan B he doesn’t believe in.

"Always I believe, when it doesn’t work well, it is because you have to perfect your idea,” he said.

“Our strikers, Sergio (Aguero) and Gabriel (Jesus), they are not big, so plan B would be put on the big guy for the long ball, but we don’t have it.

“I am not going to buy one player to have on the bench for 10 minutes during the 10 months. If the game is not going well in the final 10 minutes, I am going to try and make it better.

“The plan B is we are going to defend deep or go man to man. Of course in the last 10 minutes you have to defend in your box when in principle you don’t do that.”

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