Pep Guardiola was praised today after yet again showing his commitment to the development of youth team footballers by naming a player who isn’t even born yet on the Manchester City bench.
The Catalan coach, who has long been considered one of the world’s best in terms of youth development, shocked admirers and critics alike on Saturday afternoon when – ahead of his side’s game with Burnley – he named six living players and one unnamed and unborn player on the bench.
Speaking today, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said that while many coaches wouldn’t have enough confidence in young players to leave a spot on the bench for an as-yet born child, he believes that players will only prosper when shown faith.
“This is the problem with football these days. Managers talk a lot about their desire to give young players a chance on the pitch, but when the opportunity arises, they avoid it out of fear. It is for this exact reason that I feel an obligation to give my young players – be they 17, 18 or years from birth – a chance in games,” said Guardiola to Manchester City’s in-house media team today, adding that while many critics may accuse him of wasting a valuable place on the bench by naming someone who isn’t yet alive, they are simply missing the point.
“People can say what they want. They can call it a waste or a stupid decision, but they do not understand football. They are simply people who just see an empty space on the bench. Will this young man take to the pitch today? No, but the experience that this pre-embryonic being will gain from being in the squad is simply invaluable. People can criticise me, but it won’t stop me from giving youth a chance.”
At press time, members of Manchester City’s youth team welcomed the manager’s rhetoric, but admitted that they would have preferred if one of the team’s living, breathing players had been given a chance instead.