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on 19 October 2013
My interest in watching football has slowly increased in recent years
after a belated start. The success of Barcelona FC could not go unnoticed
even by a novice like myself. I wanted to know more and find out what separates
the big successful clubs. Also, to know how much the team manager really matters
amongst a large staff entourage.

I enjoyed this book immensely as the author clearly is well connected with
many luminaries in European Football and with Barcelona FC in particular.
The Writer's personal interviews and quotations are numerous. His
passion and knowledge are also acutely apparent.

The most enjoyable aspect of the book for me was the fact that many great
insights were highlighted as to how to manage a talented group of people
(in this instance footballers) into a unit following a vision in a competitive
environment. Pep is responsible for ensuring that instructions within the group
are understood and followed so that the game plans may be successful more often
than not. Putting team ideology before individual egos is no mean feat when so
many of the players are millionaires. This book successfully humanises sporting icons,
especially Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The background into Pep's family, his village and early training at Barcelona was
skilfully presented and one can see how the culture at the club (including the fans)
is passed on. The role of great coaches over long periods such as Johann Cruyff is clear.
Pep is depicted as an intense, passionate, honest, private, ambitious and imperfect
competitor. No where is this clearer in his public spats with Jose Mourinho.

I particularly found Pep's choice to manage the reserve side as opposed to the
prestigious Youth Academy interesting and an impressive way start out in management.
Throughout the book the tactics, the philosophy and culture of the team is clear.
Managing with Pep's style of staying focused on the 'big picture' while at the same time
changing his mind often and at the last minute is intriguing. Pep's belief in using
loyalty, culture, the appearance of good manners, humility and camaraderie are as
important as tactics on the field.

The book shows how Pep remained a student of football and learned from relentlessly
talking to peers, friends and family. The Barca style of playing football by keeping
possession of the ball, involving the keeper as a sweeper, using a ghost striker (thereby
making marking difficult for the opposition, having a few captains and finding Messi on
the field (who scored more goals than most) is fascinating. This and attacking from deep
produced great respect from opponents and astonishing results. The emulation and interest
of others worldwide, in the Barca way of managing and winning is already legendary.

If I have one minor criticism it is the inevitable repetition that arises from writing
the book in chapters of special interest. Such as handling difficult players, the influence
of Messi, leaving Barcelona or signing for Bayern Munich (to name a few) This way, facts
and topics in the book aren't always presented in chronological order. Overlapping of
information does occur between chapters when information is relevant to more than one chapter.
This isn't a deterrent, nor an irritant. For me though, the repetition was obvious and not
always necessary.

This is a good read for football fans and especially those interested in the managerial
aspects of the sport. Its a well researched book, written in an easy to read style.
The anecdotes are many and I was left wanting to know more about football tactics.
I recommend people interested in football management to buy this book.
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on 18 March 2017
Just finishing reading this book and I found it to be full of excellent insight into the background, mindset, tactical approach and career of Pep. A great player who then became a great manager, and had the privelage of operating at football's sharp end. Highly recommended!
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on 19 March 2017
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on 12 October 2014
Son loved reading this book. Star buy!
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on 10 September 2016
A great read. An intense man!
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on 20 November 2012
This is a very good book, Guillem's reputation as a journalist is well known and established, and it shines through here, with him using his contacts well to produce this book. It shows Pep in an interesting light with the insider things. From the 0-1 defeat at Numancia in his first league game to the 3-0 win over Bilboa in the last game, and everything in between. You'll learn a lot from this book.
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on 27 June 2014
Bought this book for my husband who loved it. Would highly recommend it to any serious football fan. Have always liked Guillem Balague as he is very well respected sports journalist/writer/commentator and you can be sure of a very good read!
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on 15 August 2013
If your big into football and/or a coach looking to gain an insight into the mindset of Pep (like me) then this book has lots of interesting points which are worth mulling over. Ive found the book very interesting as im reading it from a coaches point of view interested in the way he deals with people and his thought processes behind certain decisions.
If I was not looking at it from that point of view and just wanted a good read then im not so sure, 3 stars maybe.
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on 28 February 2014
the book shares the vision and passion of Guardiola the man and his passion for football. His creative team starts with one vision, an area that English football could learn from themselves.
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on 27 October 2013
Balague is a master in describing motivational and tactical stuff in the business. He could't been more truthful except Pep is now in Germany instead England. But for us Germans that`s fine.
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