All hail the “Pep”!
No one individual has influenced me more than Pep Guardiola. From his first season at Barca, I became a Pep junkie obsessed with the way they played. Since then I have seen him reconstruct every league he has managed in. Forever changing the style and philosophy of how football is played. This season my wife and I decided to reinstate our Optus subscription. We watched the docu-series “All or nothing”, together on Prime video and she was for the first time intrigued by the process of coaching. It was her first real foray into my world. After watching Mourinho at Tottenham she demanded to watch the Pep at City. She was blown away by the contrast in styles.
New season new game!
This season I have been closely monitoring the Pep effect in the EPL. It has become so evident to see the change in coaching styles across the board. Most teams, in fact, I would say that all teams in the EPL very rarely rely on the long ball game any longer! It has become a highly technical and tactical league and whilst you still have a gap in terms of quality mainly due to the individual wealth of owners, the quality in terms of visual value has skyrocketed! Now with the inception of “El Loco” I now have at my disposal two of my mentors in world football week in week out. Bielsa is widely recognised by his peers as being perhaps the best coach in the world today. I would have to agree after watching what he has achieved with Leeds these past few years. He has entered the EPL with virtually the same team he won the league with last year and watching their first few games they look right at home taking on both Liverpool and Man City as if they were their equals. What we need to acknowledge here is that Leeds has a combined player value of approximately $75 million. Mohamed Saleh just one player in the Liverpool squad is valued at $135 million that is almost double Leeds entire squad.
My father influenced me heavily in terms of how I perceive the game. He came from a place where the game is a way of life, it was the centre of his universe. He loved to watch teams that played creative attacking football and he nurtured me to defend that philosophy no matter what the cost. The way I was raised shaped my perception not just in football but in life in general. Perhaps the greatest gift my father passed onto to me was to be inquisitive. To question my own actions and how those decisions I make impact those around me. I have many flaws as do we all. I don’t always get it right, in fact, my life has been fraught with failure, however a big part of failing was that I was willing to take a risk, to do things that others wouldn’t. Because of that mindset, it has also brought me some victories. There are things I have become good at and there are other things I am still working on. I would go so far as to say that I am hopeless in some departments, at times I preach things that I myself don’t live by. As the saying goes, do as I say but not as I do. I preach these things I myself find hard to do because I am an old dog, I preach things I don’t do to young pups because they still have time to form new scripts, new habits and new mindsets. If one word, one statement, one-story effects change in a young pup then that child may improve the quality of his life and those around him and if that’s the case then my purpose has been fulfilled at least once in one life.
I have come to realise that nothing in life is as straight forward as it seems. As someone who is totally fascinated by scientific theory, I have come to learn that science does not prove anything. Science is the search for truth based on theories, these theories are based on scientific consensus. The only real truth in life is mathematics so this is why science is so entrenched in mathematical theories. These theories are tested by scientific peers and if enough people come to similar conclusions then that is the best theory we have until of course someone else can prove otherwise and back it up with whatever evidence we have at any given time. I prefer to take a scientific approach to how I coach. I have developed my theories based on the field. The field is our environment outside of ourselves, our bodies are full of field detection devices more commonly known as the senses. What you ultimately believe comes from the field. We all have different ways in which we decipher the field based on our environments prior to exposure to something new. The likes of Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa are perfect examples of individuals who exposed themselves to a broad range of environments that lead to knowledge, (people, books, styles, cultures) They’ve analysed the information and created a theory of how they would like their teams to play football. I don’t know how many times I heard pundits say that Pep could not affect the way the English game is played, yet here we are 3 years since he arrived and the English game looks nothing like it used to. Of course, Pep isn’t the only reason the game has evolved in the UK, for example, EPL teams today have more foreign players than local players, it’s hard to call a league by a countries name when the majority of players are from every corner of the globe. In fact, the majority of EPL club owners today are from abroad. The EPL from previous times was an environment where the likes of Mourinho thrived in his way of playing, today it is evident that Mourinho needs to change his playing philosophy in order to continue having the success he experienced in the past. The field has changed!
Perhaps the single greatest quote I’ve heard is “Opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one and they are mostly full of shit” Not sure who coined the term but every day I grow more fond of it. We have to remember that whilst everyone is entitled to an opinion there is a difference between a general opinion and expert opinion. There are opinions based on facts like there are opinions based on hearsay. You know they generally start with I heard from someone who told a friend who had an uncle who knew a guy! One has to be careful, I’ve been caught out many times in the past, influenced by someone or something online. It pays to question everything you hear and see. Football is no different in fact football is the land of general opinion. The problem is that in most cases those with a generalised opinion believe they truly have all the facts and are experts simply because they say so! The internet has given everyone a voice, myself included and unfortunately, you have these ignorant individuals who create pages behind anonymity and have no issues defaming people based on their generalised opinions whilst hiding behind an alias. My advice is if these groups don’t have a real person you can contact don’t get caught into the propaganda. You will start to believe the most stupid things like the world is flat! Social Media can be a place that helps you grow or it can lead you towards what is referred to as survival mode.
Survival mode is when you are in a constant stress induced environment. Stress releases hormones which triggers your sympathetic nervous system. It creates a chemical reaction called cortisol. This chemical triggers a response in several different ways. First it draws blood from your pre frontal cortex the area of the brain that uses reasoning, towards the rear of the brain the area which has no reasoning which means your IQ can drop by several points. The second objective is to draw blood from your growth centres, things like your gut and vital organs into your arms and legs hence you enter the flight, fight or freeze mode. This lowers your immune system and prolonged exposure to stress will inevitably cause you health problems both physical and mental. Stress is a protection mechanism it is mean’t to keep you safe from random events like being eaten by some large predator. Today the large predator is work, social media and many other environments and the worst part is that this predator doesn’t go away. If you do not learn how to practice mind fullness it will get you in many different ways. Cancer, heart disease to name a few.
The opposite of survival mode is creation mode, in creation mode, you control your feelings and emotions by how you respond to your environment. You control your inner being with compassion and empathy. You choose your environment or you control it. If you are in a negative environment you may want to consider removing yourself if there is nothing you can do to change it. Creation mode means having a purpose in your life, it revolves around good communication. Family and friends and striving to live a life with passion and creativity. The main objective is to be aware of your circumstances to know thyself and be sure that you don’t get caught into the thick of thin things. Knowing when to stay and when to move is being self-aware of your external environment or as I call it the field!