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Pep Guardiola: Johan Cruyff taught me how to understand football

The Catalan coach said that he often asks himself "What would Johan do?" while coaching at Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola was an ever-present member of Johan Cruyff's squad at Barcelona.

Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has paid his respects to Johan Cruyff, saying that the Dutch football icon taught him how to understand football and played a large part in the 45-year-old becoming the coach that he is today.

Speaking to Catalan radio station "Rac 1," Guardiola spoke about his time under the stewardship of the former Barcelona manager and how his different methods were so effective in getting the best out of players.

"He protected me in my early days as a footballer. He gave me a footballing lesson in how to conduct myself, to keep my distance from the media," said the Bayern coach.

"At half-time when you had played badly, you expected to get an earful and be told to push yourself and fight more."

He added: "He told you that you were playing badly because you were running too much. You had to send the ball where you wanted it to go and not to run after it. He told you completely the opposite to what you had always learned."

Under Cruyff, Barcelona won their first European Cup in 1992 as well as four league championships and implemented changes to the structure of the club's style of play and the manner in which it developed young players. Changes that are still prevalent in the Spanish club's dominance of European football to this day.

Guardiola was present throughout Cruyff's eight years as manager of the club and believes his legacy lives on in the players he coached at the time.

He said: "He left us many things. We have all followed him in one way or another. Some as coaches, others as sporting directors, others commentators and that's only possible if someone gives you something.

"He helped us to understand football and he encouraged you to trust your instinct, your nose. To make decisions," Guardiola said. "It's not by chance that (Andoni) Zubizarreta and Txiki (Begiristain) are great sporting directors."

Supposedly, this influence had affected Guardiola as recently as Bayern's Champions League comeback in Turin.

"Sometimes I ask myself what would Johan do? That's what happened to me against Juventus, I already had the rope around my neck but we finished by winning."

sb/msh (AFP)

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