Pep Guardiola once asked his players to pick the team for a crucial match when he coached Barcelona B, one of his former proteges has revealed.
It was the Manchester City manager’s first job in the dugout and the former midfielder had guided the club’s second-string outfit to the brink of promotion to the third tier of Spanish football in 2008.
Gai Assulin, one of the members of that squad, told Goal: ‘We were in the promotion play-offs, and I remember the last game…
‘We drew the first leg away, so then, the second game at home, everyone was so nervous. Getting promoted or not depended on that game.
‘In the last training session, [Guardiola] said to the captain: ‘You choose the team, you guys pick the players.
”I don’t care which of you plays because I trust you 100 per cent and I know you will win. You choose the team, I will be sitting and enjoying myself.’
‘It’s something that stays with me, as I never heard that from any manager since. In the end, all of us wanted to play, so he had to choose in the end, but it’s an experience that stays with me. If there’s one thing coaches like, it’s choosing the team!’
The team were duly promoted to Segunda Division B, but Guardiola was destined for bigger and better things, taking over the reins of the first team from Frank Rijkaard and guiding Blaugrana to a memorable treble with a style of football that other teams could only stand and marvel at.
Assulin meanwhile saw his time at the Nou Camp hampered by injury after rising through the ranks at La Masia and was unable to force himself into Guardiola’s plans on a regular basis on his return.