• Andres Iniesta exclusive: I pleaded with Pep Guardiola to stay true to beliefs at Barcelona

    Andres Iniesta has told FourFourTwo how he helped reassure Pep Guardiola he was on the right path at Barcelona after an early wobble.

    Pep Guardiola lost and drew his first two games as Barcelona boss in 2008 to Numancia and Racing Santander.

    He would go on to win the treble in his first season in charge at the Camp Nou, but was under pressure at the start of his managerial bow.

    Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo in our March 2020 issue, in shops on Friday, 7 February, legendary midfielder Iniesta confirmed rumours that he helped Guardiola stick to his principles after disappointing results on the pitch.

    ‘It’s true,’ he said. ‘He was under pressure because this is Barça and the pressure is high – I have known that as a player since I was 12, but if you’re the coach it’s even higher.

    ‘People were already doubting him and the fans weren’t happy. It wasn’t easy and he wasn’t an experienced coach who was used to it.

    ‘The least I could do was tell him not to change anything.’

    Barcelona won 19 of their next 20 games in LaLiga after the Racing draw as they embarked on one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.

    Iniesta scored a last-minute goal in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea to send Barça through to the final in Rome, where they defeated Manchester United.

    And Iniesta revealed the players never had any doubts about their young manager’s methods.

    ‘None of them [the critics] could see what we were doing in pre-season,’ he said. ‘The players could, and we liked the way he was working, with a more defined style than we had been used to.

    ‘It was very clear what he wanted and he communicated it well to us.’

    Iniesta, who left Barcelona in 2018, explained the precise tactical changes Guardiola made in detail.

    Tiki-taka dominated European and international football in the years following the Catalan’s appointment.

    ‘He changed everything,’ said Iniesta. ‘Pep made me think about space in a different way, he’s always searching to gain a new advantage.

    ‘He said, “If you trust me and do as we say, we will win.” We did, and we did. Teams began to copy what Pep did, as he evolved football.’

    Read the full interview with Andres Iniesta in the March 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally from Friday, 7 February – or available to pre-order now. Our new magazine features the full story of Jose Mourinho’s quest for a third Champions League title, an in-depth profile of African Player of the Year Sadio Mané plus more exclusive interviews with Benjamin Mendy, Mateo Kovacic, Rio Ferdinand, Peter Reid, Djibril Cisse and many more. We also find out the greatest-ever European Cup losers, visit the Indian Ocean club competing in the Coupe de France, and debunk football’s greatest myths. 

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