Cruyff, the master

Pep Guardiola believes it is a mistake to measure a manager’s success by their title tally, believing Johan Cruyff’s influence dwarfs the achievements of everyone else.

The former Ajax and Barcelona forward, one of the most influential players and coaches in the history of football, died in March aged 68.

Manchester City boss Guardiola insisted he would not be the manager he is today without playing under Johan Cruyff at Barcelona. And nor would many others, such as Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard.

“All the people thinking about the best manager by talking about how many prizes or titles you’ve got, that is a huge mistake,” said Guardiola, speaking at the London launch of Johan Cruyff: My Turn.

“It matters how they influence a new generation and their players.

“The influence of Johan is outstanding, amazing, huge. We tried to follow what he taught us.

“It’s not comparable for another one, because he’s special.

“The best managers win lots of titles by being in a big club with big players. When you’re training Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus, you’re going to win the titles, that’s for sure.

“Not all the trainers, managers, make this influence he had with all of us.”

The comments by Guardiola, a pupil of Johan Cruyff and former manager of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, might have left Jose Mourinho, known for counting his successes, with his ears burning.

And Manchester United boss Mourinho had further reason to be intrigued when Jordi Cruyff suggested his father would now be fond of the blue half of Manchester, having previously been a fan of the Red Devils.

Jordi Cruyff, once of United and now sporting director at Maccabi Tel Aviv, said: “My father was a big fan of Barcelona and also of Bayern Munich the last few years.

“If he can still watch football he’s probably a big Manchester City fan.

“He always had a big admiration for English football. He loved that, so he really liked the opportunity when I was at United for four years.

“He came when he could. He also didn’t like to come too much so it didn’t look like pressure; he’s not a normal father.

“Sir Alex Ferguson was not afraid to let the kids play. I think he felt some kind of bond in that aspect.”

Jaap de Groot, the ghost writer of the autobiography, said Johan Cruyff admired teams with a homegrown core and a balance between local and imported talent.

Manchester City fielded two English players in their last starting XI – John Stones and Raheem Sterling began City’s first loss of the Premier League season, at Tottenham – but Guardiola did not comment on the homegrown core.

The 45-year-old Spaniard did say Johan Cruyff educated his players daily.

Guardiola said: “It was a masterclass every single training session, every single game. And the analysis after the game. It was like going to the university every single day.

“Johan was the most influential person in football history.

“He changed not one club, he changed two clubs, as a football player and after as a coach. It’s impossible to find a guy like this.”

Guardiola lauded Johan Cruyff for creating a footballing philosophy through age-group sides to the first team at Ajax and Barcelona.

Guardiola added: “He created something from nothing. He said now you’re going to play in that way and said ‘follow me’. You have to have a lot of charisma, not just knowledge.”

He also insisted winning was the most important thing, but Johan Cruyff always wanted to win by entertaining, Jordi Cruyff said, and asking ‘how?’

Guardiola added: “Everybody wants to win. ‘How are we going to win?'”

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