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Play With Style

Throughout his tenure as head coach of FC Barcelona, Pep Guardiola prioritised one message above all others, a message that built a dynasty, defined a generation and changed a game. PDP Lead Researcher James Vaughan discusses the value of a style of play and how Pep Guardiola has influenced a generation of coaches and players.

The message was simple: ‘The target is not to win titles; the target is to achieve a unique style of play.’

The simplicity and eloquence of this message are as profound as the motivational consequences. In one sentence Guardiola had redefined success; shifting the goal posts, he placed success in the hands of his players and the control of his staff.

Winning is never within anyone’s control of course, and this is the beauty of football. The referee, the weather, the opposition and injuries are just some of the many external factors that can frustrate, alienate and dramatise the beautiful game. No matter how hard players, coaches and staff prepare during the week, winning is never guaranteed.

Even worse, the focus on winning can have destructive consequences...

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