Saturday, May 5, 2018

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola arrived like Frank Sinatra, threw 600-guest Christmas parties and kept a close eye on the grass

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola arrived like Frank Sinatra, threw 600-guest Christmas parties and kept a close eye on the grass

PEP GUARDIOLA will lift the Premier League trophy tomorrow — his reward for Manchester City’s incredible season.

SunSport went behind the scenes to find out  the secrets of the Spanish boss.

Pep Guardiola and his staff pay attention to the most minute detailsGetty Images - Getty

And MARTIN BLACKBURN uncovered tales of Frank Sinatra, 600-guest Christmas parties and why Pep insisted on trimming the Etihad grass by 2mm!


Chief operating officer, been at City  since 2011 but met Guardiola three years earlier while working at Barcelona.

MY ROLE as Chief Operating Officer is to oversee the whole business operation but I also work with Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of ­football, on signings and contracts.

I first met Pep in 2008 when I was head of sponsorship at Barcelona and he became first-team coach. So I’ve known him ten years.

His dedication stands out to me. In mid-January we were due to play ­Mansfield or Cardiff in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Omar Berarda hailed Pep Guardiola for the way he treats City’s entire staff

We were sat in the first-team building and he was trying to work out how to get to a Mansfield game to do some scouting. He ended up going with his son. I was just thinking of all the performance analysts we have, he has more than enough ­information.

But he wanted to go and see for himself. That shows how seriously he takes it and how much time he gives it.

It shows me he’s committed to the cause. He’ll do anything to put himself in the best position to win. When we won the Carabao Cup and when we won the Premier League, on both occasions he came into the offices here.

He gave a speech to everyone who works here to say thank you.

That’s what he believes — we are all part of a team. Everyone is helping make this club successful.

He insisted on it. He recognises he’s not in this alone, that hundreds of people are working very hard on a daily basis to ensure we are successful.

It was Pep who called me and said they’d like to have the staff Christmas party all together. Football and non-football.

I pointed out there’s so many staff — some of them never see the players, they’ll all want their pictures taken with them. He said ‘Fine, we want to be together, not separate’. A lot of people have said it’s the best Christmas party they’ve been to.


The players stayed for a long part of the night and so did Pep. There was a sense of togetherness among the 600  people at the Menagerie.

On Sunday there’s another party to  celebrate the Premier League and again it will be everyone together.

A lot has been written in terms of his tactical genius, the way his teams play, his philosophy.

The way he communicates with his players. He wants them to believe in what he’s doing.

His approach has always been, ‘Here’s why I think we should do it this way — and I want to convince you’. I find it fascinating because people always react better to that.

He still has humility despite all the success he’s achieved. I remember the first day in the first-team building and I could feel the place buzzing, an energy about it.

He has such charisma that his presence is felt everywhere.

Ambassador Mike Summerbee was overwhelmed when the big-name boss arrivedPA:Press Association MIKE SUMMERBEE

City legend, club ambassador, a former winger who scored 66 goals in  452 appearances between 1965-75

THE day he first arrived at City, he stepped out of a black cab — it felt like we were meeting Frank Sinatra for the first time.

Everyone was in awe of him. And how could you not be after everything he has achieved in the game, the people he has worked with — Lionel Messi, Johan Cruyff?

What struck me first of all, though, was what a genuinely nice man he is and he has shown that ever since.

What I like is how he learned the name of everyone who works at our club — and I mean everyone.

He has given everyone confidence and belief throughout the building.

Pep Guardiola has even been compared to legendary crooner Frank SinatraGetty - Contributor

It’s a bit like when Malcolm Allison arrived at Maine Road. Pep has brought things that we have never seen before.

It’s a privilege for me to watch them train, the way he gets his players  controlling the ball, passing it.

I’d love to have played in one of his teams. Even up in the stands, I’m  kicking every ball.

I’ve really never seen anything quite like it.

I hope he stays at Manchester City for as long as I’m alive.


Defender, signed by  Pep Guardiola in a monster £50million deal last summer.

HE’S very passionate, you can see that on the pitch, he just wants to win. He just likes to win. It’s about learning the game.

I get on with him well, we had a golf competition and I outdrove him in the long drive.

He texted me saying, ‘I’ll get you back next time’. We have long deep conversations too because he thinks he can improve me as a player.

Kyle Walker has come on leaps and bounds under Pep GuardiolaGetty - Contributor

He’s a friend  — as well as being the manager.

I’m 28 this year, I like to think I’m grown up, it’s nice to have a simple conversation with your boss. We have texts just about golf.

The team-talks he gives, the aura he has, every one of us believes we are the best players in the world before we go out.

He makes us believe we are the best team out there. You could call it arrogant — but I call it clever.

It’s the little things, like when the passes come, taking it with the  correct foot.

We get lazy and use our favoured foot but that split second can make all the difference in creating a chance or scoring a goal.

People think that should be  normal but, as footballers, you don’t want to make a mistake, you trust one foot.

Manchester City dominated the league from start to finishAFP or licensors

But he has given me the confidence and I’ve got half a second more, to pick the pass out a little bit better.

There’s very little training with no ball. He likes to do shapes, get the ball in real-life situations. He likes his meetings but he likes to be on the field, expressing himself.

He’s very detailed. Sometimes the morning meetings are not long but they come across really well.

If you thought he was doing something wrong, you could knock on his door, have a coffee, get the computer out.

He’s quite quick to call you in — it’s daunting, just you and him, it’s like going to see the headteacher.

I can’t speak highly enough of him. It’s been a pleasure to play for him and I hope it can continue for many years.

Lee Jackson has been given precise measurements for his grass LEE JACKSON

Head groundsman at City, who has worked for the club for 27 years.

JUST before the start of his first season, he took the squad to train over at the Etihad, just to get a feel for it.

The grass was cut at about 23mm, as it normally would be, but we got the feedback from him that he wanted it at 21mm.

So that’s short. I think the longest I’ve heard of in the  Premier League was Stoke under Tony Pulis — that was about 32mm — almost over your shoes.

There had to be a bit of ­compromise on both sides, in the winter it’s slightly longer to ­protect the pitch, and he accepted that.

And he always wants it to be watered — the amount of water that goes on the training pitches is just phenomenal. It has to be right for his passing game.

I noticed, as the players were coming out for the second half against Swansea, he was down rubbing his hands on the grass, checking it was how he wanted it to be.

He wants it to be right over at the City Football Academy, where they train as well.

On the eve of a match we’ll try to replicate the conditions they’ll experience the next day. The training ground is like his workshop — and the stadium is his stage.

It’s that precision, he takes it to another level. He has such high standards.

On his first day I had a meeting with him in his office. I was in for about half an hour — I’ve been a City fan all my life and I was a little bit star-struck. But he was a gentleman.

A lot of people saw the speech he gave to the staff after we won the league — that shows what he’s like.

He recognises the contribution of everyone around the club.


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