Tag Archives: Football

INTERVIEW: Jack Harper – ‘I’m just concentrating on trying to make a name for myself.’

A young Scottish man, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale as he plays his football for one of the world’s biggest football clubs – welcome, everybody, to one of Real Madrid’s brightest youth prospects, Jack Harper.

Like his fellow Brit Gareth Bale has been doing in the first team, Harper has been lighting up the stat sheet for Real Madrid’s youth teams for some time now, notching goals and assists at will in domestic and European competitions.

Such impressive form from the youngster has inevitably resulted in comparisons to great forwards of years gone by, such as Robin van Persie and Alan Shearer, but Harper shows incredible maturity in the face of such comparisons:

“I’ve always tried to learn from watching players like Van Persie and its great to be compared to such great talents but I’m just concentrating on trying to make a name for myself.

“I’m always happy to hear my name getting compared to great players, and I’m putting in the work to hopefully become a top player in the future.”

National Pride

Born and raised in Spain, it would have been easy for Harper to join the Spanish youth ranks at a young age – there was surely plenty of interest in him – but the youngster opted to join the Scottish set-up.

It is a rare combination of course, a Spanish-born youngster playing for Scotland, but the youngster speaks in a Scottish accent and has been known to regularly travel to Scotland to visit relatives and so on, as well as travelling back for national duty while most of his teammates head to train with the Spain set-up.

It shows how much Scotland means to Harper when I asked him whether debuting for Scotland’s first team or Real Madrid’s first team would mean more to him, he gave a short, defiant answer, with a smile: “Scotland.”

Such national pride is encouraging, almost inspiring, to see from such a young man who could, with all due respect to Scotland, win a lot more with Spain in the long run.

Especially given the fact that Ricky Sbragia, Scotland’s Under-19s coach, caused outrage a few months back as he declined the opportunity to pick Harper for his squad as Sbragia deemed him a ‘luxury player’ who wasn’t big enough, despite Harper standing at over 6ft tall.

Even in response to such a setback from a country he clearly loves, Harper showed maturity:

‘I’m always determined to get better and better. Hopefully my time will come but I would rather pass on to another chapter now. I’m still young, I will work very hard and see how the future pans out.’

9? 10? 9 and a half?

If you look at the great forwards in the game these days, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, they’re all equally proficient at leading the attack as they are at putting the ball on a plate for others.

Former Scottish FA Performance Chief Marc Wotte mentioned in a Daily Mail article previously how it isn’t certain if the Scottish youth international is a number 9 or a number 10, prompting one of his Real Madrid coaches to label him a ‘9 and a half’.

It seems Harper would fit the mould then of these other top forwards as he himself has scored and assisted with equal frequency this year, but which does he prefer?:

“Playing as a number 9 you do tend to score more goals but I do prefer playing in a more creative role, linking up the midfield play with the centre forward. As a number 10 in Madrid this year I have scored plenty of goals and assisted from that position too.”

Learning Lessons

There are few better environments in football to learn in than Valdedebas, Real Madrid’s training ground – the perfect place for Harper to develop technique akin to his inspirations, Robin Van Persie, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo.

After another great season for Real’s youth team, the young Scot admits he has learnt some key lessons along the way this year:

“The big lessons are to work hard in training and try and learn from the great managers I’ve had all these years. That in any great team you always have to play 110% because the squads are big and you have fierce competition as everyone obviously wants to play in the starting XI.’

Harper famously offered to help the most expensive player on the planet, Gareth Bale, settle in to life in Madrid and feels he benefits greatly from being able to watch and interact with these top players regularly:

“The good thing is we see a lot of the first team walking about Valdedebas in the gym, the pools etc. When I see Gareth Bale we have a quick chat now and again, he’s a great guy, an inspiration to all British players. He’s one of the best players in the world playing for one of the best teams.”

It’s impressive to speak to a young man who has his feet firmly on the ground whilst still having his heart and mind focussed on the job at hand – becoming a top class footballer for one of the world’s top teams.

I firmly believe that Jack will do something special in the future if he keeps progressing through the football world in this manner – I can’t wait to see how it all pans out!

‘Gareth should stay where he is’, says Coleman

Chris Coleman has given his thoughts on the current criticism surrounding Wales talisman Gareth Bale saying he thinks the Real Madrid star should stay put, amidst speculation of a move back to England.

Bale has been labelled as lazy and a ball hog this season, but speaking after Wales’ squad announcement yesterday for their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against Israel in, Coleman said:

“He’s the most expensive player in the world, I think he’s been caught up in a bit of a storm but knowing Gareth I’d be really surprised if he turned around and said he’d had enough and wanted to leave.

“He’s good enough to win the big trophies and play on the biggest stage with one of the biggest clubs and Real Madrid fit that bill,” He added.

It is well known that winning isn’t enough at Real Madrid as fans, board members and the media always expect them to not only win, but to do it convincingly and entertain in the process.

Coleman acknowledges this: ‘They’re different to Chelsea because although the pressure is on to perform every game, it is almost like a show when watching Madrid, there has to be entertainment.

‘Although they lost to Schalke they still got through but that isn’t good enough at Madrid. You can’t just win one or two nil, you have to win by more than that and entertain at the same time.’

After a 22-match winning streak that saw Madrid trail-blaze their way to the top of La Liga, their momentum has taken a serious hit recently and they’ve been criticised a lot as a result.

The Wales manager said: ‘Because it is Real Madrid and they are who they are if you’re not top of the league and banging in the goals every game then the fans aren’t going to be happy.

‘If you look at what has been said it is quite a personal attack on Bale – you can’t say they’ve not done as well in two or three games because of Gareth Bale’s performance, that just isn’t correct.’

The ex-Fulham manager feels that the criticism being levied at Bale is a bit too personal, and unfair given the tempo of the league and the work-rate of some of his Madrid teammates:

‘It is getting personal but lazy is the one word I wouldn’t use for Gareth Bale. He’s always up there far up beyond anyone else in his sprinting. I hope his tenure at Madrid doesn’t become untenable.

‘La Liga is different to the Premier League, the tempo is different, England is much less forgiving but he’s in better shape for us now as a result of him being there, playing twice, three times a week.

‘He does a lot of work Gareth, a lot of running and that’s his game when he gets the ball he’s off. I watch every Madrid game and you don’t often see Ronaldo, Benzema or Isco running back.’

Despite the criticism being thrown his way, Bale isn’t having any issues according to Coleman: ‘I spoke to his agent a few days ago and there’s absolutely no issues with him, he’s fine’

Bale has been praised this season whilst donning the Wales shirt for developing leadership qualities that have benefitted the Wales squad; Coleman says Bale loves the group ethic that has developed:

‘When he comes with us, it’s us, it’s a group thing and that’s our strength – he likes it. When he goes to Haifa next week he could have a bad game, but he could score a goal that wins us the match.

‘What he does do is he works hard for us and he fits into the system, whether we play him down the middle, out wide, at 9 or at 10, he knows wherever he plays it is to get to where we need to go.’

In spite of all the criticism, Coleman is adamant that Bale will have his mind firmly focussed on the task at hand when he joins up with the Wales squad next week and that reaching Euro 2016 is his aim.

‘The goal is to get enough points to go to France and that’s where he wants to be, that’s where he belongs at a tournament as one of the best players in football so I’m not worried when he joins us.’

‘We’re almost half way and we’ve got a chance, a really good chance. The pressure is on and he loves that pressure, he can handle that, that environment where everything is on the line.’

 

Vokes returns to squad for Wales’ ‘biggest game in 12 years’

Following a terrific start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Chris Coleman this morning announced his Wales squad for what he is calling Wales’ biggest game since 2003.

Back then, Wales faced a two-legged Euro 2004 playoff against Russia to uplift for the final tournament but lost out, losing 1-0 on aggregate.

Coleman said: ‘This next game will be the biggest game in Welsh football for years, since Russia. It is an absolutely huge game for us.

‘Top against second! The next two games are going to dictate whether we finish in the top two or whether we’re fighting for third.’

No Chester

The squad contained all of the usual names, as well as the returning Sam Vokes and Simon Church but there was no place for James Chester who has missed a lot of time with a shoulder injury.

There had been speculation as to whether or not Chester would be included as he is expected to make a return this weekend against Chelsea but Coleman was very dismissive of the possibility.

‘I don’t think he’ll play this weekend. You never know but speaking to James last week I can’t see him playing, and even so he’s been out a long time.

‘Shoulder injuries take longer to recover than doctors usually say – it is a shame because he’s been magnificent for us and has struck a great partnership with Ashley (Williams).’

Big 50th

Ashley Williams is expected to win his 50th cap for Wales in the game against Israel and Coleman was full of praise for his skipper.

’50 caps – it was inevitable really for him – he’s a great captain and great leader and what better game to get his 50th in?

‘Ashley’s been in the real world; he didn’t start at a top Premier League academy or anything – he saw what life is really like.

‘He respects and cherishes every game he plays – that’s why he doesn’t miss games – he loves his job.’

The Wales manager also noted how he expects many more players to break the 50 and, hopefully, 100 cap barriers for Wales in the coming years.

‘We don’t have any players with over 100 caps. Of course we don’t get regular tournament football but still.

‘Ash could do it and get 100 but so could Chris Gunter – 57 caps is a very impressive return but we’re trying to push them to as many caps as we can.’

Vokes Return

Coleman thinks Sam Vokes, who has made a comeback from injury in recent weeks, adds something to the squad that they haven’t had before.

‘A few times we’ve created scenarios in the games where we’re getting balls into the box that would’ve been ideal for Sam so it is great to have him back.

‘Watching him come back into the fray, it is clear he isn’t 100% but he’s two or three weeks away and, most importantly, back playing football.’

The former Fulham manager also praised Burnley for the way they have handled Vokes in his return from the long injury layoff.

‘Dyche has managed it in the correct way. Some managers might’ve pushed Sam back into the team quicker if they were in the position Burnley were in earlier in the season but he’s handled Sam really well.’

Bale Criticism

Israel’s manager recently made comments  saying Bale was saving himself for Wales amidst criticism of his form for Real Madrid. Coleman jokingly responded: ‘If he is then it is great for me!’

He added ‘When you play for Real Madrid, winning is not enough – you have to entertain too! Gareth’s a big boy and he’ll come through this no problem.’

Reporters asked Coleman whether or not the comments were mind games designed to unsettle Bale further. Coleman simply responded saying it showed Bale is on their minds:

‘I think they’ll be thinking about him – I would be! Most teams would be looking at him – whether he’s on form or not he can turn a game on its head.

‘Gareth comes here, he wants to be involved, he’s incredibly motivated – he is the last person I am worried about honestly.

‘I’ve never been one for mind games. I’d rather get down to business when the whistle blows and see what we can do.’

The Wales squad fly out to Tel Aviv late next week ahead of their qualifier in Haifa on Saturday the 28th; the game kicks off at 5pm on Sky Sports 5.

Anglesey Assembly Member strongly opposes Team GB Proposal

Rhun ap Iorwerth today criticised the English FA’s attempts to form a Team GB football team for the 2016 Olympics as something that ‘threatens the independence of our FAs’.

The GB football team at the 2012 Olympics was pitched as a one off, but still caused outrage as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland saw the move as a threat to their independent status.

The emergence of a possible team for 2016 has seen the FA come under fire for organising the proposal with the British Olympic Association without the consent of the other three nations.

Rhun ap Iorweth expressed his disappointment with The FA’s actions: ‘I am disappointed the English FA would do this. We were told at the 2012 Olympics that a Team GB football team was a one off.

‘The FAW and SFA made it quite clear in 2012 that they were opposed to it but here the English FA are now going into 2016 and surprise, surprise they want a Team GB again.’

FAW President Trefor Lloyd Hughes added: ‘The BOA should be more open and transparent. It’s supposed to be the British Olympic Association not the English Olympic Association.

‘I am absolutely gutted with the English FA. If they want to work with us they have to be more open with us and they don’t seem to be keeping to agreements. I’m livid about it.’

Mr ap Iorwerth noted that although assurances have been given by FIFA that joining forces for the Olympics wouldn’t threaten each country’s status, the implications of a GB Team are huge.

‘This taps into a much bigger debate about national identity. We have a great, longstanding tradition of our teams playing independently of each other and against each other. ‘Frankly I think we should make sure we aren’t in a position where we undermine in anyway the integrity or the independence of our own football associations,’ He added.

The ex-journalist said that as well as the discussions that are known to be on-going between the home nations now on this matter, the public and politicians have a role to play in proceedings.

‘Politicians have a role because at the end of the day some of us are football fans and if we can use our platform to bring attention to the issue and help in any way then we have a responsibility to do so.’

The reaction to this issue in Wales particularly has been very anti-Team-GB, as many high-profile figures have criticised the proposal, but some have used the British and Irish Lions as an example of how this could work.

Mr ap Iorweth acknowledges that point but outlines the key differences: ‘I support the British and Irish Lions but the situation is totally different as there is a lot more respect to each country.

‘You only have to look at the badge to see that – each country is fairly represented. As well as that, it is a specialised tournament that is played every four years and selects players from each nation.’

The Plaid Cymru AM also referred to home nation cricket teams as an example of the disrespect that Wales could receive if it were to become part of a Team GB.

Having noted on his Twitter feed that he felt Wales could’ve qualified for the group stages of the Cricket World Cup, Mr ap Iorwerth said to me: ‘The situation regarding cricket is quite disrespectful to Wales I think.

‘What is officially abbreviated to ECB is actually the Wales and England Cricket board, and when the team plays they are only referred to as England which is totally disrespectful to Wales.’ He added.

This morning saw rumours emerge in the Daily Telegraph that the FA’s proposal was in tatters as Wales and Northern Ireland have again taken a strong stance on the issue.

It is unclear whether or not the rumours have any substance but, given Trefor Lloyd Hughes’ insistence that it would be difficult to block the FA, expect this debate to develop in the coming months.

 

Ozil’s the fall guy for Arsenal boss Wenger

The Offside Rule

Gunners’ £42.5million recording signing Mesut Ozil has been widely criticised for failing to make an impact in big games this season but here, Jamie Thomas, makes a case for the defence …

Mesut Ozil has gone from winning trophies with Real Madrid to taking the flak at Arsenal. The German failed to make an impact on the big stage as the Gunners were humbled by Monaco in the Champions League, but he was hardly to blame for their capitulation.

By Arsene Wenger’s own admission, their defending was “suicidal”. Yet, afterwards, the Ozil critics were out in force. While failing to track back, sulking when dispossessed, and being anonymous in important games, are legitimate concerns, we have to consider the reasons why Arsenal’s record signing is not living up to his price tag.

In Ozil’s case, the stats may surprise you. He has improved his all-round defensive performance by 9 per…

View original post 460 more words

Mentality key to Borussia Dortmund turnaround

The Offside Rule

By Jamie Thomas.

Borussia Dortmund team-mates Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller breached the ‘Yellow Wall’ to confront fans after their defeat by Augsburg and with it broke down the mental barrier contributing to their winless streak.

Since then, they’ve recorded impressive back-to-back victories in the Bundesliga to give the supporters renewed optimism about the remainder of the season. Commentators had initially questioned the players’ actions – why risk being abused? Even gaffer Jurgen Klopp looked bemused at the time.

But that simple act’s turned out to be something of a masterstroke in sparking Dortmund’s revival. It also helped placate the crowd; showing the players understood that no matter how bad they felt about the slump, the fans were feeling much worse.

It’s been a tumultuous season for Dortmund. Less than two years after the high of reaching the Champions League final, they have spent most of this term languishing at…

View original post 463 more words

EXCLUSIVE: Women’s Football the focus of Next Policy; Confidence in Team Ginola Growing

FIFA Presidential Candidate David Ginola this morning announced that his second of nine policies designed to change the way FIFA is run will be based on bringing equality to the women’s game.

Speaking exclusively to me before his TV appearances this morning, David Ginola said ‘We have some great policies – the first one being the tax equality and the next one is regarding equality with women’s football’.

Having committed to announcing a policy a day until the January 29th nomination deadline, Ginola yesterday announced a proposal to scrap benefits that FIFA use to avoid paying full tax in countries where World Cup tournaments are hosted.

Today the ex-Spurs winger is expected to announce a proposal that will bring the stature of the women’s game in line with that of the men’s by bringing the Olympic structure into football and combining men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments into one event.

Publicity Stunt:

Following criticism of his campaign from some circles who argue that being sponsored by Bookmakers, Paddy Power, is a gimmick, Ginola was keen to reiterate the integrity of his cause.

‘It is important to know where we are going and important to let people know where we stand on these key issues. We are absolutely for real – it is not a stunt at all’ He said.

Ginola faces a tough task to qualify for the election given the risks attached to supporting his cause and the support that other candidates are known to have for their campaigns; he is struggling at this early stage to meet any of the criteria that would make him an eligible candidate.

Reason for Optimism:

  • The Frenchman, however detailed that there have been some developments recently in gaining the crucial support from the five Football Associations he needs for his campaign to be eligible to progress to the final election in May.
  • ‘We have spoken to a few Associations actually. A few have contacted us and we’ve contacted a few ourselves. We need their support and we will have some definite answers on that in the coming days’ He said.
  • ‘The confidence is coming along as our policies come out. We need to carry on unveiling our great ideas and assure people that if I become president of FIFA those ideas will be implemented’ He added.

Welsh Backing?

Ginola was campaigning in Cardiff yesterday evening in a FA Wales tracksuit – a move that sources say has angered the FAW who insist that, beyond allowing him to take his coaching courses in the country, they have no plans to support him.

‘Just to have their support would be nice but to have that support you need to believe in something and I hope they’re going to believe in me, in what we’re saying, what we want to change but I am very realistic’ Ginola said of the Welsh FA.

With the Welsh FA’s support or without it, the Frenchman has just over a week to win over the financial and political support he needs but is confident that it will come.

‘Once the first one joins the cause then the others might feel more confident in joining us too. We only need five to carry on the campaign and that is what is important because this campaign needs to go forward’.

‘This is the people’s campaign and if we’re going to be successful at the end it is going to be because the people decided that David Ginola is going to be their candidate and I hope I can make the people proud’ Ginola added.

You can follow David Ginola’s campaign on Twitter via @TeamGinola or pledge support, donate or keep up to date via teamginola.com

Conwy Academy is great news for Welsh Football

Osian Roberts tonight threw his support behind the new Conwy Borough FC academy set-up led by Chris Whitley and looked forward to the opportunities it would give local youngsters in football.

Presenting a ‘Technical Football Seminar’ at Y Morfa Venue on the 15th of December, Mr Roberts was keen to discuss the importance of the youth football structure developing in the region.

“We have academies at Bangor, Caernarfon and all of the Welsh Premier League clubs and it is important for us that the standard of those academies are the highest possible.

It gives the kids the best experience and the best opportunities so it is great that Conwy, a former Welsh Premier League Club, have got one there now so that the kids in the area have got somewhere to go!”

The Academy is run by Conwy Borough Football Club Head of Youth Development Chris Whitley; Mr Roberts was keen to emphasise the importance of Mr Whitley’s vast experience to the project.

“Chris has got a wealth of experience and has helped in a number of different clubs over the years at that level and can lend that experience to the coaches, club, the players and the kids in general.”

Mr Whitley was buoyant at the prospect of Osian Roberts coming up to give the seminar: “We’re delighted to have Osian come to the club to give a seminar on academy and coaching work and its importance.”

“There’s a lot of people coming too – we’re thrilled to have him – it’s a great experience for the kids and the parents who put so much into the club so it’s a nice way to give something back to them!”

It has been nine months now since Mr Whitley took on the Head of Youth Development role at Conwy Borough Football Club; a role which he says he has been delighted with doing.

“I’ve worked across the leagues, Premier League, Championship and so on as well as a few positions in the Welsh League and I’m really enjoying where I am now.”

“I’ve tried to help foster a successful culture and the players are taking it on board and they’re loving it – I’ve been delighted by their response. I expected it to be a lot harder than this though to be honest!”

The First team are currently on a run of six games undefeated in all competitions, having won five and drawn one of their last six, and welcome Mold Alexandra to Conwy on the weekend.

 

“So Much More To Come” – Chris Coleman on Wales’ Progress.

Chris Coleman last night fired a warning shot to Wales’ Euro 2016 qualification rivals by insisting that there is so much more to come from his young, high-flying national side.

Following an event at Conwy Borough Football Club which saw the Welsh Men’s National Side manager open a new clubhouse, Coleman was happy to speak to me briefly about Wales’ progress.

Following on from Wales’ relatively straightforward fixture against Belgium, the ex-Fulham manager is keen to outline how much the side had learnt and benefitted from the adversity they’d faced in previous fixtures.

“In every game so far we’ve had a bit of adversity and we’ve handled it really well, no matter what the conditions have been whether it be the pitch in Andorra or the amount of injuries against Bosnia and Cyprus. We’ve got over every bump in the road really well and that speaks to the character of these players.

It is fine having the ability in football but you have to have the mentality as well and the last few months have proved that these players have both.” He said.

The Welsh National side is a very young one; the starting XI against Belgium had an average age of just over 25-years-old and with youngsters such as George Williams (19), Jonathan Williams (21) and Harry Wilson (17) coming through, the manager believes the future is bright for Wales.

“They’re so young so we have a lot of years left to work with this squad and that’s great because we’re going to have a lot of players who have experienced a lot of adversity together and know how to deal with it and that can only be good for Welsh Football.” He said.

Adversity and character are two words that pop up frequently in our brief conversation as Coleman argues that one leads to another and can only serve to bring the best out of his side.

“There’s a lot more to come from this side. All of the experience they’re getting now coming through the adversity that they’ve come through is great because it shapes them and their character.”

Although he initially struggled to get things right after taking the Wales job in incredibly unfortunate and difficult circumstances, the former Wales defender believes he has found the secret to success.

“The secret to success here is getting players who don’t regularly play together, some who don’t even play at all, outside of the national side to play like a strong cohesive unit for 90 minutes.

Wayne Hennessey has been absolutely wonderful – Chris Gunter, Robson-Kanu, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen, George Williams, Dave Cotterill and so on – it is definitely a collective effort.” He said.

Sensing that, after going four games undefeated in qualification and losing only one of the last nine at home, momentum is with his side, Coleman is chomping at the bit for Wales to get going again.

“If I had my way we’d have gone to Israel five days after the Belgium game to keep the momentum going but the fixtures are the way they are and we have to wait until March.

We’re taking everything on a game-by-game basis. My target now is obviously to win against Israel then it’ll be to win the next one and the next one to put ourselves in the best position to get to France in 2016.” The ex-Sociedad manager added.

Whilst coming to the conclusion of the interview, news filters through of Wales’ triumph in the Victory Shield Competition – the first time the Welsh have secured an outright win of the competition since 1948/49 – Coleman is elated that Wales’ focus on their youth is paying off.

“The win is a strong indicator that all of the FAW’s hard work down in the lower levels of Welsh Football is paying off – developing the youth is the name of the game.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re coaching them right, treating them right and making sure they develop correctly.”

One thing is for sure – if the youth follow the example that the senior national side is setting right now then future is very, very bright for Welsh football!

A Talk with Marti Perarnau & BackPage Press on hotly anticipated Pep Guardiola book!

Hey guys,

Been a few weeks since I’ve published anything – back in university now and it is kinda hectic so apologies for that!

What I have for you today though is a piece I am really excited about. I’m a huge fan of BackPage Press and love the books they manage to publish – if you haven’t read any of them and you’re a sports fan then I seriously suggest you change that! You will not regret it. Anyway, their latest release is an insider’s account on Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge of Bayern Munich – written by the excellent Marti Perarnau.

Naturally, I had to try and get in on this so I got in touch with the excellent guys at BackPage Press and they put me in touch with Mr Perarnau who very kindly agreed to talk to me about his latest project. Read on to find out what he, and the guys at BackPage Press, had to say!

As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated – I hope you enjoy it! 🙂


Marti Perarnau, BackPage Press ‘Very Excited’ to Release Highly Anticipated Guardiola Book

Pep Guardiola is a champion of the modern game – releasing a book about one of the most highly respected and successful men in world football can understandably be a daunting task.

For Marti Perarnau though, a relative veteran of Guardiola-oriented literature, having written a book on the Tika-Taka tinkerer before, is ‘very excited’ about his latest Guardiola book’s impending UK release.

Pep Confidential is the inside story of the former Barcelona superstar’s first season at the helm of FC Bayern Munich and marks the first time in the modern football era that a writer has been given such candid access to one of the powerhouses of world football.

As the book’s October 16th release date neared, Mr Perarnau told me of his unwavering excitement: “I had the same feeling of excitement when the book was published in Germany and in Spain. With each country it is published in, it seems as if it is a new book”.

Publishers, BackPage Press – who are co-publishing Pep Confidential with Arena Sport, an imprint of Edinburgh-based Birlinn – were equally buoyant regarding the latest addition to their catalogue: “We’re very excited. It is an incredible achievement for a writer to be granted such a level of access but also to pull it off with such skill”.

They went on to add “This is arguably the greatest football coach in the world laying out his coaching manual in great detail. If there is any justice, Pep Confidential will be a huge book not only for readers but people within football”.

Mr Perarnau had only met Guardiola once, four years ago, prior to writing this book and detailed how the help of a good friend as well as a little bit of luck enabled him to embark on this project.

“I am very good friends with Manel Estiarte, his assistant, and I informed him that I was going to write a book about Pep’s first year at Bayern. By then, they had already decided that, for once, they would make an exception to their privacy”.

“It was at that moment, I appeared. It was a coincidence – luckily for me. Even then, I had to earn the confidence of Pep day by day.” He added.

Perarnau pointed out that one of his main inspirations for writing the book was “wanting to know, in depth, the true Pep, who is very different from what is said about him”.

It didn’t take the Spanish writer long to decide that Guardiola was who he wanted to be the topic of his latest literary piece, describing how he decided instantly on the day Munich announced him as their new manager.

He said “I was thinking of some ideas for a new book when I heard the news and I thought that this could be a good idea: A great coach like Pep at a great club like Bayern”.

Despite relocating to Munich for a year to fully focus on the challenge that lay in front of him, Mr Perarnau spoke of how he enjoyed the task that lay ahead of him and how much he appreciated the opportunity Guardiola had given him.

“It’s been a fun year but also very stressful. Particularly stressful because I had to pick out all the details and remember the conversations to write. I always tried to be honest and show the trust and generosity Pep had shown me”.

Understandably, with Guardiola being one of the game’s great tacticians, getting to grips with his instructions on the training pitch is difficult – Mr Perarnau characterised this as one of his biggest challenges.

“The challenges were to understand Pep’s technical explanations, stay focused, not to miss the details of what happened and try to remember all the details in order to write them down. There was no chance to relax”.

As grateful as he evidently is for the opportunity, Mr Perarnau seemed slightly melancholic when discussing his next project: “Now begins a big problem. Pep Guardiola’s character is fascinating because it is rich in nuances – he is not just a great coach. Now what? It is the question that I ask every day”.

However he ended by pointing out that he had “several ideas” but was still yet to make a decision on which one to pursue.

Publishers BackPage Press, however, were clear on where their next book was coming from: “We have a book on the Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas out next year, which we’ll be releasing more details of soon”.

You can find more information about Marti Perarnau’s new book (out on the 16th of October) and the other award-winning titles they have in their catalogue via the BackPage Press website or through hitting the guys up on Twitter via @BackPagePress and/or @ArenaSportBooks