Medhi Benatia, who is now 32 years old and plays in Qatar for Al Duhail, recently had an interview with Radio Monte Carlo (via Sport Bild) where he talked about his time in Munich and the coach back then — Pep Guardiola. The Moroccan defender played for Bayern Munich under Pep for two seasons, from 2014 to 2016.
He is perhaps the best tactician in the world. I was 28 years old when I came. I though I came with a lot of football knowledge. And yet, every day, you get the impression you’re discovering a new aspect of football.
The Moroccan was also fascinated by Guardiola’s approach to possession-based football.
He would show you how to position your body, how to control the ball so that your shoulders are wide open towards the game. Tactically he will always strive for superiority in midfield. I didn’t do any sprints under him in two years. One day I said to him: “But coach, won’t we ever do strength training?” He replied: “What for? My team has the ball, so we run with the ball.”
But not everything was perfect for Medhi. One thing that Benatia criticized was Guardiola’s handling of interpersonal relationships.
It’s my opinion that many share. Guardiola is someone who doesn’t attach much importance to human relationships. He says it is because he was disappointed in the past. He said to me: “I bought you, I wanted you. You have this quality and the other quality. I need this, I will teach you this and that, you are here to do what I say, but we are not here to be friends.”
This kind of relationship, naturally, led to some conflicts between the player and the coach. Medhi continues,
He is the boss, he makes the decisions, he is the one who tells you how to play. I said to him spontaneously: “You bought me for 30 million, so I have quality. If you took me so you could change me, you have to look for someone else.”
Lots of players have come out and said similar things about Guardiola. Probably the most famous was the feud happened between him and Zlatan Ibrahimović at Barcelona. Maybe that lack of a human factor is behind Manchester City’s poor form of late.