Pep Guardiola: 7 Players He Failed to Get the Best Out of After Kalvin Phillips’ Apology

Pep Guardiola: 7 Players He Failed to Get the Best Out of After Kalvin Phillips’ Apology

Elijah Odetokun
updated at December 9, 2023 at 6:47 AM
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  • Pep Guardiola apologised to Kalvin Phillips for how his Man City career turned
  • The Yorkshire Pirlo has failed to settle in the side more than a year after joining
  • He is not the first player that will struggle with life under the Spanish manager

Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers in football but has failed in one of the duties of a good manager. He wins everywhere he goes but has struggled to maximise some players.

The Manchester City boss publicly apologised to one of his signings at the Etihad, Kalvin Phillips, after failing to get the best out of him more than a year after a big-money move from Leeds United.

Pep Guardiola, Kalvin Phillips, Manchester City, Sheffield United, FA Cup semi final, Wembley Stadium.
Pep Guardiola passing instructions to Kalvin Phillips in the FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United last season. Photo by Robin Jones.
Source: Getty Images

This prompts the analysis of players he has struggled to get the best out of in his career, as first curated by Planet Football.

Players who struggled under Guardiola

1. Kalvin Phillips

Phillips was one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League before his £42 million switch to City. A year after he has not settled as Pep prefers Rodri, even when the Spaniard isn’t available, centre-backs John Stones and Manuel Akanji are preferred.

He is a teenager target for top European clubs, including Newcastle United, who are looking to replace the suspended Sandro Tonali, per ESPN.

2. Mario Gotze

Gotze was Pep’s first signing at Bayern Munich when he was snapped up from rivals Borussia Dortmund. The pair never got along, though he scored the 2014 World Cup-winning goal. He left the club at the end of Guardiola’s reign and returned to Dortmund.

3. Mehdi Benatia

Splashing £22mil on a defender in 2014 is not a small fee, but it never worked between Guardiola and Benatia in their two years together at Bayern. The Moroccan criticised the manager’s lack of attention to human relationships.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The biggest one. It was not his footballing abilities that dwindled, but Guardiola’s preference of building his team around Lionel Messi caused a rift between the two and ultimately led to his departure from the Blaugrana.

5. Alexander Hleb

Hleb joined Barcelona from Arsenal in 2008, but it only took a season before Guardiola decided he wasn’t fit for purpose, and he spent the rest of his time at the club on loans and joined Russian club Samara in 2012. The Belarusian hinged his failure on a lot of factors.

6. Danilo

The Brazilian left Real Madrid to join Manchester City in 2017, but after two years in which he never settled, he was shipped out to Juventus in an exchange deal for João Cancelo. Danilo criticised Guardiola’s human empathy after his departure.

7. Dmytro Chyhrynskyi

The Ukrainian was Pep’s choice, but he failed to get the best out of him, and the player returned to his former club, Shakhtar Donetsk, after just a year in the Catalan club.

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Pirlo rejects Phillips' comparison

Sports Brief reported that Italian legend Andrea Pirlo rejected comparisons to Phillips, who is famously dubbed after him in Leeds.

He is dubbed the Yorkshire Pirlo in his hometown even though the former Juventus manager is not in agreement as he found no similarities between them, even though he acknowledged him as a very good player.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.
Pep Guardiola