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Pep Guardiola in Chase for Excellence – Television Review

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You need not be a Manchester City enthusiast (although it might enhance the experience) to acknowledge that when Pep Guardiola’s trophy-winning teams are performing at their peak, the world indeed appears to be a better place. It’s football from another realm: extraordinarily fast, inventive, remarkably skillful, and captivatingly intricate.

With the latest film, “Pep Guardiola: Chasing Perfection,” the BBC attempts to uncover the reasons behind Pep being the most successful, admired, and intriguing figure in global football. However, the lingering question is why this wasn’t presented as a multi-part series but rather a standalone feature, which feels somewhat inadequate.

Comparisons are inevitable, especially considering recent sports documentaries on streaming platforms. The film lacks the fresh access to Pep or the engaging storytelling seen in other documentaries. Despite Pep’s pursuit of perfection, the program doesn’t quite mirror that ambition.

The film relies on a slew of insightful commentators guiding us through Guardiola’s career. Txiki Begiristain, Pep’s right-hand man, anchors the narrative, discussing his friend’s core principles: loyalty, teamwork, on-field strategies emphasizing possession, high-speed passing, and immediate pressing to regain possession.

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Pep’s decision to deploy Lionel Messi in midfield as a false No. 9, transforming Barcelona into a joyous footballing spectacle, is highlighted. The film acknowledges Pep’s relationship with Johan Cruyff, the Dutch master who preceded him at Barca but leaves the audience wanting more.

A surprising revelation from Pep’s early days as B-team coach at Barca is his inspiration drawn from the handball team—speed, possession, and precise passing. Carles Puyol, Pep’s formidable defender at Barcelona, shares insights into Guardiola’s intense rivalry with Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager rejected by Barca.

Noel Gallagher, the devoted fan, expresses admiration for Pep’s transformative impact on football. Players like Manuel Neuer and Ilkay Gundogan provide firsthand accounts of challenges faced under Pep’s management.

While the film has its shortcomings, the players inject energy into the narrative. Their ease with the modern world, talent, intelligence, and decisiveness make them seem fit to run a country—if only they’d take a pay cut.

Despite any flaws, the beauty of the game shines through, even in brief moments. The inclusion of David Bowie’s music in the soundtrack adds a touch of excellence to the overall experience.

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