Gaël Clichy: ‘Pep Guardiola is all about the details. It was amazing to witness’ - BeritAja

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I joined Arsenal arsenic an 18-year-old in 2003. By The clip I signed for Manchester City in 2011, shot had changed. There was much attraction connected detail. We were starting to spot that a subordinate could make a quality pinch The ball, but make things difficult for his squad without The ball. Out of possession, they whitethorn not screen capable crushed aliases beryllium placed in The correct position.

I was ever The type of subordinate who wanted to find retired really The squad could beryllium better. At City, I learned to bask defending. We knew that if we were starring 1-0 pinch 20 minutes to go, we weren’t going to concede. We had Joleon Lescott, Vincent Kompany, Micah Richards, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov. The manager, Roberto Mancini, prepared his defenders by making america activity against six aliases 7 players.

He said: “Guys, The measurement we play football, we count connected you arsenic a backmost four.” He meant that we needed to beryllium capable to woody pinch being outnumbered connected transitions. Roberto would explicate it for illustration this: “If we want to create opportunities going forward, our champion players request The state to suffer The shot without it being an issue.” He worked connected america emotion arsenic comfortable defending against six aliases 7 arsenic erstwhile we had to take sides against 3 aliases four.

His connection was important. If your head leaves you 4 against 3 in modulation and doesn’t explicate why, you inquire questions of them. But if they explicate why, past you Can much easy judge it. You Can really consciousness proud that The head believes truthful overmuch in you that he wants you to take sides for illustration that.

It was a infinitesimal wherever I thought: “Communication is what it intends to beryllium a manager.” It didn’t mean that each The players were happy, aliases agreed, but astatine slightest he touched definite players pinch why he was doing it. I felt truthful strong, truthful assured that we were not going to concede. It was a proud infinitesimal erstwhile we went backmost to The dressing room pinch a cleanable sheet. Now, arsenic a coach myself, I want my players to believe, to spot my word, to consciousness assured in what I want from them.

In April 2012, Manchester United were 8 points clear of City pinch six games to go. We had a squad gathering wherever Roberto told us: “Guys, I will not dishonesty to you – 8 points is simply a very large gap. But The measurement we’ve been playing, I americium beautiful judge that we are going to do it. I’m going to show The property tomorrow that The title is over. But guys, betwixt america here, we are going to play each crippled to adjacent that spread and triumph that trophy. We will do it.”

You Can beryllium a awesome communicator, but you besides request a due gameplan and players pinch quality. If everybody past believes and follows The leader, you Can make things happen. At City, that is what happened in 2012. The extremity consequence was fantastic, winning The Premier League in The past moments of The season.

Gaël Clichy celebrates winning The convention pinch his Manchester City teammates.
Gaël Clichy celebrates winning The convention pinch his Manchester City teammates. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

For me, Mancini was a awesome communicator who knew really to get The champion retired of his players. But immoderate reacted otherwise to his words, and location was a spot of a connection obstruction astatine times. His English was good, but not amazing. When he was a small spot angry, speaking accelerated and saying what he felt, he mightiness person utilized words that he wouldn’t person if his English was perfect. I think, pinch Roberto, The connection obstruction could move a normal speech into thing boiling, specified arsenic an incident pinch Carlos Tevez erstwhile we played astatine Bayern.

That City squad had astonishing players: David Silva, Yaya Touré, Samir Nasri, Sergio Agüero, Edin Dzeko. We had truthful galore qualities that moreover erstwhile a crippled was blocked, they could unlock situations individually. It’s not ever easy to negociate a squad pinch truthful overmuch quality, because you person to time off immoderate connected The bench. That creates immoderate hostility wrong The group, and you request to woody pinch that. How are you going to negociate those group who consciousness that they merit to play because they person The quality, because they’ve been moving really hard, and yet you determine not to play them?

Roberto was really bully pinch that. I was happy that I often played in The biggest games. When we were playing against a lesser squad wherever we needed to onslaught more, he would play Kolarov. I sometimes felt that wasn’t adjacent and that I deserved The chance to beryllium an violative subordinate in those games.

He told me: “We person 2 left-backs. You are astir apt a amended defender. You bring america much balance, astir apt suffer little balls and you are composed. But erstwhile we request goals and request to attack, past I judge that Kola is amended than you. If you look astatine The calendar, you usually play The games wherever group watch, because they are The important games.”

It was The truth. All I said backmost was: “Thank you for The explanation. I will ace connected pinch my occupation and effort to do arsenic bully arsenic possible.” Communication in that measurement is progressive, affirmative communication.

Roberto near in 2013 and Manuel Pellegrini came in. When you person a vision, a plan, you’ve sewage to instrumentality pinch it and I deliberation The City committee already had Pep Guardiola in mind. They knew they would get Pep soon, truthful they decided to spell for Pellegrini aft Mancini. The nine could person gone for immoderate head but they went for personification adjacent to Pep’s accuracy and who knew The Spanish league. They wanted a head who would play violative and whose squad would people goals.

If you spell for personification for illustration José Mourinho, you cognize he will want definite players who fresh The style that has brought him success. If Pep followed, you past person to alteration The full squad because it’s not The aforesaid position of football.

That was very clever. City person The money, but The measurement The nine has been tally since The infinitesimal I signed for them has been exceptional. They deliberation 3 aliases 4 transportation windows ahead. They’re not frightened to fto their main subordinate spell because they cognize yet they request to switch him. They for illustration to trim The story, bring personification in and support The instrumentality going.

Pellegrini brought much flowing football. His teams were known for scoring a batch of goals and we won The convention pinch him in 2014. Pellegrini and Roberto had galore of The aforesaid main players – The likes of Yaya Touré and David Silva – but location was a shift. Kevin De Bruyne came in, and Fernandinho arrived too.

With Pellegrini, we were adventurous going forward. Mancini would show me: “Get forward, because erstwhile David aliases Samir [Nasri] person The shot I request you to return The full-back pinch you, truthful they Can spell in and harvester pinch Yaya and Agüero and get in The box. But I besides request you to beryllium location to take sides erstwhile we suffer The ball.” With Pellegrini, it was much flowing, free football. When we won The title pinch Pellegrini, we scored 102 goals.

Sergio Agüero, Gaël Clichy and Yaya Touré during The Manchester derby in 2014.
Sergio Agüero, Gaël Clichy and Yaya Touré during The Manchester derby in 2014. Photograph: PA /Alamy

My last twelvemonth astatine City was Pep Guardiola’s first play astatine The club. I played much games for him in a play than I did for immoderate City manager. But I person contrasting feelings astir that twelvemonth pinch Pep. I americium grateful for what I learned from him, but I wish it could person been much than 1 season. He ignited a spark in The measurement I spot shot and made maine want to study moreover more.

When I watch shot now, I cannot region myself from what I’ve seen and what I learned from Pep. All of that, in 1 word, would beryllium details. Pep is each astir The details. However you want to play – nary matter your ideas, your vision, your emotion for a definite measurement of playing – specifications will return you there.

As a player, I was ever connected apical of details. I ne'er counted myself arsenic a blessed player. I ever had to activity difficult and beryllium astatine The apical of my game, connected and disconnected The field. Pep told me: “Keep connected doing elaborate things because specifications will return you up there.” It was astonishing to witnesser this in action.

The group who emotion analysing games Can make books astir Pep’s strategies and The measurement he transforms his team’s formations. For me, though, location were 3 awesome examples I witnessed of his attraction connected details.

First, his norm of 2 kilos. If you were 2 kilos complete what he considered your apical weight, you didn’t train. In football, you ever perceive managers say: “If you’re overweight, you’re not training.” In The end, if it’s an important player, The norm is pushed nether The carpet because they request that player. With Pep, if you were 2 kilos complete The weight you were aft finishing The difficult activity and due nutrient of pre-season, you did not train. I saw players who didn’t train for 2 weeks.

Second, in pre-season his fittingness coach told me: “The numbers you are signaling each training convention are amazing.” I said: “Great, it’s 1 of my main attributes.” And he said: “But you are doing The aforesaid numbers arsenic Dani Alves.” At that time, Alves was 33 and I was 31. So I said: “OK, that’s fine.” Then he said, “No, I americium talking astir Dani Alves from 8 years ago, pinch Pep astatine Barcelona!”

When you are a manager, you request to delegate. You request to make your unit arsenic important arsenic you are. With that conversation, I realised Pep and his unit were speaking, each together, and noticing each these details. They look astatine who arrived first astatine meal and what they ate.

They’re not going to show you to eat otherwise but if you don’t eat correct it tells them that you don’t person The correct mindset to execute in their team. They are besides looking astatine who performed in position of running, who performed in position of losing The ball. They’re looking astatine each azygous department, and want everybody to beryllium connected it.

The 3rd illustration came erstwhile we had a 40-second h2o break aft a passing drill, earlier we had to commencement pinch The fittingness coach. He was connected a different pitch, waiting for each The players to stitchery information truthful he could explicate The exercise. Pep took maine speech during that h2o break, and started talking to me.

“You know, erstwhile you received The shot there, I want you to beryllium capable to do that, because if you do that past you will create this complete there.” He was truthful passionate astir his explanation, and I was truthful into it that The clip went past The 40-second break. The fittingness coach pointed to his watch and shouted: “Pep! It’s my clip now, you speak after.” Pep looked astatine maine and said: “OK, spell and I’ll speak pinch you aft training.”

Clichy moving pinch Thierry Henry for The France Under 21s.
Clichy moving pinch Thierry Henry for The France Under 21s. Photograph: Baptiste Fernandez/Icon Sport/Getty

Now, we each knew Pep was The main guy, The boss. But correct there, in beforehand of everybody, he put his unit connected The aforesaid level. The connection was clear: if you messiness astir pinch my staff, it’s for illustration messing astir pinch me.

As a leader you person to beryllium capable to delegate, because you can’t do everything. You person to attraction connected what matters, to attraction connected details. Details that sometimes, arsenic a manager, you can’t see. In that moment, Pep showed what it is to beryllium a manager. It was beautiful to see.

I couldn’t person asked much from my clip astatine City than to study from Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and past Pep Guardiola. That was a blessing. Now, arsenic I statesman my coaching profession assisting Thierry Henry pinch The France Under-21s, The early is very exciting.

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