The current coach has eclipsed his former boss following the 2-0 win over Porto on Friday, which brought a 12th piece of silverware in just over three years in charge at Camp Nou
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Editor
Without Johan Cruyff, Barcelona are unlikely to have become the best club side in the world today. The Dutchman changed the entire philosophy at the Catalan club, recommending an Ajax-style youth academy be installed as he departed as a player in 1978.
And without his influence, we may never have seen Pep Guardiola.
When Cruyff returned to Camp Nou as coach in 1988, the fabled farmhouse of La Masia was beginning to bear fruits and one of the best young players to emerge was Guardiola. The Dutchman handed the midfielder his first-team debut on December 16 1990, one month short of Pep's 20th birthday. It marked the beginning of an incredible story for player and coach as Barca went on to win the next four La Liga titles, claim a first-ever European Cup and pick up 11 trophies in all.
|CRUYFF'S 11 TITLES (1988 - 1996)
4 La Liga titles
1 European Cup
1 European Cup Winners' Cup
1 Copa del Rey
1 Uefa Super Cup
3 Spanish Supercopas
Barca famously followed the Ajax model with an eye-catching 4-3-3 formation, a system utilised from top to bottom at the Catalan club, and one still used today by Guardiola's all-conquering Barca side. And on Friday night, some 20 years after making his debut at Cruyff's behest, Pep surpassed his mentor by claiming his 12th trophy and becoming the most successful coach in the club's history.
And while Cruyff's Dream Team took eight years to amass those 11 titles, Guardiola has racked up 12 trophies in just over three seasons, claiming six out of six in his debut campaign alone. In fact, the current coach has registered 12 out of a possible 15 prizes in that time, winning all three La Liga titles, two out of the three Champions Leagues he has disputed, one of three Copas del Rey, as well as the three Spanish Supercups, two Uefa Super Cups and the one World Club Cup his side have been involved in. It's a hugely impressive record.
|GUARDIOLA'S 12 TITLES (2008 - )
3 La Liga titles
2 Champions Leagues
1 World Club Cup
1 Copa del Rey
2 Uefa Super Cup
3 Spanish Supercopas
In that time, Pep has lost just one final - last season's Copa del Rey show-piece against Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid at Mestalla.
Guardiola then got the better of Mourinho in the sides' Champions League semi-final tie the following week, having lost out to the Portuguese - who was then coaching Inter - in the previous edition of Europe's premier club competition, and repeated the feat with victory over his side's fiercest rivals in the recent Spanish Supercopa.
Following that triumph and the win over Porto in the Uefa Super Cup on Friday, Guardiola is now Barca's most decorated coach with a team described by many as the greatest in history. But while his superb side has now eclipsed the exploits of the Dutchman's legendary Dream Team - in a much shorter span of time as well - the 40-year-old knows he owes much of that success to the innovation and determination of his former boss.
And Pep, modest as ever, always seeks to deflect the praise on to his players. "These players are impeccable," he said after the 2-0 victory over Porto.
"You ask yourself if they want to keep winning and they always respond."
Before his arrival, however, those players weren't winning. And he never mentions that. Such class mixed with competitiveness is rare in modern football and that is a big reason why he is now the club's most successful coach ever. It isn't just the players, it certainly isn't chance and, most importantly of all, it isn't over yet.