Louis van Gaal has lauded Pep Guardiola’s development of Sergio Aguero as the epitome of “the art of coaching”.
Upon his arrival in the Etihad dugout, Guardiola gave no assurances to Aguero of guaranteed first-team action, famously dropping the Argentine star during his maiden campaign.
Pep and “the art of coaching”: Five things to know…
- Van Gaal’s footballing philosophy is largely based on the ethic of teamwork rather than individual brilliance.
- He has previously dropped – or even sold – key players after they refused to put the team ahead of their own needs.
- Van Gaal believes Guardiola transformed Lionel Messi into a team player during his early Barcelona years.
- Likewise, the Dutchman has suggested Aguero has undergone a similar development at Man City.
- Since Guardiola took charge of City, Aguero has netted 95 goals and registered 24 assists.
But since fighting his way back into Guardiola’s starting XI in 2016, Aguero has taken his game to new heights, receiving widespread adulation for his overall ability in the final third rather than just his goalscoring exploits.
Van Gaal believes Guardiola has instilled a more industrious mentality into his players, even going as far as to compare Aguero’s recent evolution to that of Messi at Barca.
“Guardiola won it with Barcelona because he had Messi and because he didn’t let Messi play in his own way. That’s the difference,” he said in an interview with El Pais.
“Messi adjusted to Guardiola’s plan, not the other way around.
“Guardiola achieved the most difficult thing – that the players moved in exactly the right direction at exactly the right time.
“To do something like that you have to create a language, a team spirit, a community.
“Look at Aguero. He played for himself until Guardiola changed him and now moves when he’s supposed to. That’s the art of coaching.”
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‘Messi is too individual’
The former Manchester United and Barca tactician went on to assess Messi’s progression in recent times, believing the Catalan club are not the force they once were under Guardiola because subsequent managers have gifted the five-time Ballon d’Or winner too much individual freedom.
He added: “Guardiola had him playing for the benefit of the team but recent coaches have adapted to Messi too much instead of protecting team spirit.”