Mis-Communicator of the Week: Pep Guardiola

What’s the most under-pressure you’ve ever felt? I’m talking about the kind of pressure where it feels as if it is all down to you and yet, at the same time, there are too many variables in play for you to ever be able to control everything.

This is raised heart-beat, shallow breathing, territory where decision making becomes difficult and communication can become erratic.

I’ve worked on a few high-profile election campaigns where the pressure has been chest-crushing in its intensity. It passes, but at the time the walls really do feel as if they are closing in. A number of crisis situations have come close as directing nervous energy to the right task could be the difference between managing or failing.

Scientists continue to investigate whether it is possible to predict how people will react in these extreme situations. Results remain mixed. I’d recommend studying football managers who deal with pressure most of us would find debilitating every week.

I, like a huge number of football fans, have been an admirer of Pep Guardiola, now manager of Manchester City. Previously as manager of Barcelona and Bayern Munich his teams have swept all before them through playing some of the finest, most crowd-friendly football ever seen.

This week his team were playing Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. They were expected by many to triumph but instead fell to a 1-5 defeat over two legs.

While some suggest Guardiola got his team selection wrong in the first leg, it his behaviour while dealing with the high-pressure of this week’s game, which ultimately undermined his team.

Manchester City dominated the first half; scoring after two minutes they were unlucky not to have scored a further goal before half-time. A lack of composure in front of goal coupled with referee error in disallowing a second goal was too much for Guardiola.

As the half-time whistle blew so did Pep who stormed into the pitch to remonstrate with the referee. In doing this he found himself banished to the stands in the second half reducing the level of influence he would be able to exert onto the game. Furthermore, he lost crucial time he could have been using to guide his team in a half-time team-talk.

Finally, but perhaps most crucial of all, his team needed to keep cool. They needed to keep composed, deal with the situation at hand and find a way to work together to get out of their crisis moment.

I can imagine the chest-crushing pressure of being in the Manchester City dressing room. I can imagine those players were in need of guidance in how to take control of the situation. That was Pep Guardiola’s job but he went missing when needed most which is why he is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.