Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Joleon Lescott are among the pundits who believe Pep Guardiola has had a “huge influence” on English football.
A formulaic style of play had been used by most English managers during the game's growth period in the late 20th century, and it’s only recently that has started to change, due to the progression of the sport pioneered by such figures as Guardiola.
There has been a push for teams to play attractive football whilst winning, with Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp leading the way forward and setting a precedent for future managers.
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“We have now embraced that European way of playing and our ideas about football,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“Being in and around the academies, the coaching is so different compared to when we grew up when it was all shouting and dragging people left and right.
“Whereas now, it’s very much that culture of Guardiola, who has had a huge influence on that style of football.”
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Graham Potter is one of the few English managers to play something considered akin to a Guardiola style of football, which saw him earn plaudits at Brighton before he moved to Chelsea.
Cole says younger coaches are “dedicated” to tactics and the nuances in the sport.
“It’s definitely changing,” said Cole. “I remember my first session at Lille, I gave the ball away and the lads would chuckle ‘Ha, English pass, English pass’ because they saw us as backwards football.
“I believe through the 1990s and early noughties, we fell so far behind tactically and we are only just catching up. We are only just catching up in the last 5-6 years.”
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One of the managers in the 1990s who was largely seen as being ahead of their time was Glenn Hoddle.
Hoddle admits the stereotype about English coaches in the past was true.
“We were stuck in our ways of playing 4-4-2 back in the 1970s and 80s,” said the former England manager.
“I went to France and it was all 'English, direct football' and that’s unfortunately something that’s stayed with us.
“Now, it’s technical. Look at the [Phil] Fodens and [Mason] Mounts. When they were nine years of age, we started changing our academies – we were copying the continentals but it was the right way.
“They are getting thousands of touches of the ball rather than 50. Now look at the fruits with all these players coming through now because they were coached differently.”
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Guardiola for life
Guardiola has pushed Manchester City to new heights since joining the club in 2016.
His only failure has been missing out on the Champions League after several narrow defeats, including the 2021 final against Chelsea.
Joleon Lescott feels even if the Spaniard doesn’t bring City’s wait to win Europe’s biggest trophy to an end, it won’t change his legacy.
“His legacy at Manchester City would not be determined on whether they win the Champions League,” said Lescott.
“His longevity for himself would probably determine how long he stays, if he wins it, that will probably have an impact. But for the club, I’m sure they would sign him up for life.
“His legacy in the Premier League and English football, we have seen a transition in the game itself, there are so many people that have taken so much from Pep. He can’t be questioned even if he doesn’t win it [the Champions League].”
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