Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are taking the beautiful game to dizzying new heights season upon season, right now.
The two managers are at the very top of their game on the touchline, but somehow keep finding new levels in an incredible, pure footballing rivalry at the top of the Premier League between Manchester City and Liverpool.
It is simply undisputed at this point that Guardiola will go down as one of the game’s greatest minds and managers ever, considering how influential his footballing philosophies have been in the modern era.
His managerial career began off the back of an equally as impressive playing career. Guardiola made 384 appearances for Barcelona in an 11-year spell after coming up through their academy, before rounding off his career in Italy, Qatar and Mexico.
After retirement, Guardiola returned to where it all started, taking over as head coach of Barcelona B in 2007.
One title winning season was all it took for Joan Laporta to decided that Guardiola was ready for a top job, and in 2008, he took over managerial duties of the first team.
Since then, Guardiola has introduced a modernised ‘total football’ style of possession play that has taken the game by storm. His sides swallow opponents with fluid passing and build up, and he’s been able to successfully implement his philosophies in Barcelona, Munich and currently Manchester, taking City from a good side to an all-time great side.
But, of course, that isn’t enough in football. Nor is his sickening trophy haul. Guardiola will likely never be able to escape the ‘Fraudiola’ memes for as long as he is actively in management.
For those who do have reservations over Guardiola for one reason or another – budgets this, signing full backs that – a table has surfaced that completely shuts down any of those reasons to doubt his place among football’s greatest ever.
The following chart courtesy of BBC Football has done the rounds on Reddit, which details Guardiola’s league finishes with each of his team’s since taking over Barcelona in 2008.
It’s rather straightforward and nothing profound, but at the same time makes for striking reading.
Guardiola, in 13 seasons of professional management, has only finished lower than second place in a league once. Once. And that was a third place finish in his debut season with City.
And how did he bounce back from finishing third? He went on to win back-to-back Premier League crowns in the following two seasons.
He also won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons in charge of Bayern Munich, following a year’s sabbatical after his 2012 Barcelona departure.
Critics will always argue that Guardiola has never operated without a war chest of a budget and resources available to him, but when you consistently deliver the results on the pitch and in the trophy cabinet like he does, your demands are absolutely justified.
And in a modern game that essentially requires teams to spend big if they want a chance of winning big, Guardiola is no different to any of his rivals.
The graphic speaks for itself. While there will always be the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson, Bobby Robson, Johan Cruyff and others, and the constant rivalries with Klopp, Jose Mourinho and whoever else is next to step up, Guardiola’s claim to being perhaps the greatest club manager ever cannot be dismissed. A true football genius.