Jan Age Fjortoft gives thoughts on Man City’s Guardiola

  • Jan Age Fjortoft followed Bayern Munich’s training camp under Pep Guardiola
  • He admitted the intensity and speed of the training stunned him and his coach
  • He believes it’s a case of by how far Guardiola’s City will win the league in May
  • Although he is not sure if they will go all the way in the Champions League 

In 2014 I was the general manager of the Norway team and I wanted to take our coach to study one of the best clubs, so Bayern Munich let me follow them during their winter training camp in Doha, Qatar.

I’d played professionally in four countries and had studied many big clubs. But I have never experienced anything like I did in those five days with Pep Guardiola. The intensity and the speed of the training sessions stunned us. And in the middle of everything Guardiola instructing his players on details, using his football language, his body language, his whole knowledge of the game to deliver his message.

And how the players responded. Every exercise seemed a matter of life and death. And for Guardiola it is. A member of the Bayern coaching staff told me he once called at 3.30am to discuss an idea he had in terms of a tactical move.

Jan Age Fjortoft followed Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich to winter training in Doha, Qatar

Fjortoft said he had never experienced anything like he did in those five days with Guardiola

Fjortoft said he had never experienced anything like he did in those five days with Guardiola

Maybe not everyone quite got Guardiola in England. It was easy to look at the players he coached such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, Philipp Lahm or Thomas Muller and think he was just in the right place. Or perhaps they thought the Bundesliga was weak. After all, in his first season Bayern won by 19 points. It all seemed too easy and his first year in the Premier League suggested as much.

Some English fans even seemed happy that their league had destroyed the myth. Not so now. And Man City will win the Premier League. The only question is will they be more than 20 points clear by the end of the season?

During that trip to Doha we had the biggest talent in Norwegian football, Martin Odegaard, who had to make a choice where to play next season. The 16-year-old was a target for a lot of great clubs, including Bayern. Guardiola wanted to talk about him. In his enthusiasm he poked me in the chest and said: ‘I will make him the best player in the world.’ I was amazed one of the most successful coaches would say that about a Norwegian kid. But I reckon he would have been as good as his word.

When judging a manager you ask yourself: How many players does he make better? How many players tale the next step? That is Pep Guardiola’s biggest quality. And right now the Man City players are a part of the Guardiola football academy.

Fjortoft played for Middlesbrough from 1995-1996 before moving to Sheffield United

Fjortoft played for Middlesbrough from 1995-1996 before moving to Sheffield United

Can they win the Champions League? Guardiola did it twice with Barcelona but there is no way we should compare this Man City team with Guardiola’s Barca.

By Bayern’s standards they failed in the Champions League. They seemed to lose power at the end of the season: maybe it was because Guardiola is such an intense coach.

When you’re coached 24-7, there comes a time when you stop making your own decisions. But on the field you’re on your own. And when the going gets tough, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Messi flourish. Others hide.

I want to see Man City’s state of mind at the beginning of March. Only then we will know if they are prepared to go all the way for the biggest trophy.

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