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AS.com | 19/11/2012
'As he made his way to the room, Pep repeatedly told himself: "Be yourself. Be yourself." He felt that he had been through a similar experience at least once before, with the [Barcelona] B team: the faces were different but the ideas that were going to be put across were practically the same. And he had the same nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach.'
This is how AS journalist Guillem Balagué describes the first time Pep Guardiola addressed the Barcelona team as their new coach, in his book 'Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning'. The Daily Telegraph has published an extract from the book, which came out in the United Kingdom last week and will be sold in Spain as of 2013.
"Gentlemen, good morning," began Guardiola. "You can imagine what a huge motivation it is for me to be here, to coach this team. It is the ultimate honour. Above all, I love the club. I would never make a decision that would harm or go against the club. Everything I am going to do is based on my love for FC Barcelona. We need and want order and discipline.
"The team has been through a time when not everybody was as professionalas they should have been. It is time for everybody to run and to give their all.
"I've been part of this club for many years and I am aware of the mistakes that have been made in the past, I will defend you to the death but I can also say that I will be very demanding of you all: just like I will be with myself.
"I only ask this of you. I won't tell you off if you misplace a pass, or miss a header that costs us a goal, as long as I know you are giving 100 per cent. I could forgive you any mistake, but I won't forgive you if you don't give your heart and soul to Barcelona.
"I'm not asking results of you, just performance. I won't accept people speculating about performance, if it's half-hearted or people aren't giving their all.
"This is Barça, gentlemen, this is what is asked of us and this is what I will ask of you. You have to give your all. A player on his own is no one, he needs his team-mates and colleagues around him: every one of us in this room, the people around you now.
"Many of you don't know me, so we will use the next few days to form the group, a family even. If anyone has any problems, I'm always available, not just in sporting matters but professional, family, environmental.
"We're here to help each other and make sure there is spiritual peace so that the players don't feel tension or division. We are one. We are not little groups because in all teams this is what ends up killing team spirit.
"The players in this room are very good, if we can't get them to win anything, it will be our fault. Let's stick together when times are hard. Make sure that nothing gets leaked to the press. I don't want anybody to fight a battle on his own.
"Let's be united, have faith in me. As a former player, I have been in your shoes, I know what you are going through, what you are feeling.
"The style comes dictated by the history of this club and we will be faithful to it. When we have the ball, we can't lose it. When that happens, run and get it back. That is it, basically."
According to Balagué, the talk had the desired effect. 'Xavi commented to a team-mate that everything that they had needed to know was there in that talk. There would be many more team talks, but the one at St Andrews laid the foundations for the new era at FC Barcelona.'
Team talks after St. Andrews
"I was a footballer and I know what I'm saying. In every talk, from that one in St Andrews to the last one, I have put my heart into them. When I don't feel it, I don't speak, it's the best way. There are days when you think that you have to say something, but you don't feel it, so at times like that it is better to keep quiet.
"Sometimes you show them images of the rivals, and sometimes you don't show them a single image of the opposition because on that day you realise, for whatever reason, that in life there are more important things than a football game, you tell them other things, unrelated to the game.
"Stories of overcoming difficulties, of human beings acting in extraordinary ways. This is the beautiful thing about this job, because each rival, each situation, is different to the previous one and you always have to find that special something, to say to them: 'Guys, today is important ...' for such and such a reason. It doesn't have to be tactical."
Balagué details the rules that Guardiola made the team follow on a day to day basis, such as insisting that only Catalan and Spanish be spoken among the team, and designed a seating plan in the team's dining room to make sure the players mixed together and to prevent small groups of players forming their own cliques.
He changed things so that the players felt like employees of a club and not Hollywood stars. He also did away with the 'concentración', a tradition many European clubs still have of gathering the players at a hotel the day before a game.
Pep explained this move at the time: "People don't spend the day before they go to work locked up in a hotel. If they don't rest, they're not looking after themselves and that means they'll play worse and lose their jobs.
"I judge my players on the work they do, not on their private lives. I'm not a policeman. I'm in bed at 10 o'clock and I've got no urge to go and check up on my players. That's why I'd rather have them at home and not cooped up in a hotel with nothing to do.