Pep Guardiola straddles the line between genius and maniac like few others in the entirety of human existence.
This is the guy who swept into Barcelona back in 2008, sporting a veritable afro by comparison to his later bonce, and instantly got rid of Ronaldinho and Deco. Guardiola didn’t need them; he had Lionel Messi.
Glory has followed the Catalan native wherever he’s deigned to manage, cultivating a unique style of play that has shaped football for the last 15 years.
Even non-league teams in the deepest West Country now play out from the back, a homage to the great Guardiola teams that have dominated domestic football.
But, just like Jekyll and Hyde, there’s another side to Guardiola. It’s one that transforms an intense over-achiever into a figure of ridicule, which probably helps the rest of the country cope with his continued success; his pure weirdness.
Consider Pep, for this side of the greatest manager of his generation can be christened as such, puffing on a fat cigar while belting out Oasis as Manchester City celebrate yet another trophy.
Consider Pep sinking to the turf in disbelief as VAR snatched a place in the Champions League semis away from City back in 2019.
And consider Pep, in a moment where other managers would let out a sigh of relief, choosing to celebrate a late winner against Fulham in November by gripping his water bottle and gurning into the nearest camera.
Yes, Guardiola has always had an eccentric side and Amazon Prime viewers of City’s 3-1 win at Leeds were treated to another moment that could be bottled and sold as the essence of ‘purest Pep’.
After a tricky opening, City had eased past their combative opponents with the remaining 10 minutes of action representing a mere formality. For everyone except the winning manager, that is.
A missed chance from some poor red-and-black striped underling saw Guardiola boot a stray water bottle with the heat of a thousand suns. So far, so conventional.
But, to his horror, the missile had flown into the Leeds dugout and the four-time Premier League champion immediately donned his cloak of peculiarity.
Putting his hands to his head, like Wallace discovering Gromit hadn’t bought any Wensleydale during his last Tesco shop, Guardiola sprinted across to the opposition coaches to ensure his actions weren’t interpreted as deliberate.
Even his run, an exaggerated Charlie Chaplin-esque masterpiece with limbs flying everywhere, was a moment of pure comedy genius. Basil Fawlty himself couldn’t have written anything more slapstick.
Prior to kicking the plastic bottle, he’d thrown another one onto the ground, wildly reacting despite his side’s dominance. Rumours that some Twitter accounts were demanding justice for water-containing objects remain unconfirmed.
But moments like these are all part of Guardiola’s aura; without these slapstick cameos of intense strangeness, we wouldn’t be blessed with the keen mind that’s created some of the best football teams ever seen.
Without Pep, we wouldn’t have Guardiola. And life would be a lot duller without his manic genius stalking the touchline.
By Michael Lee
TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player Pep Guardiola has signed for £10m+?
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