Michael Vaughan: Pep Guardiola is the Best Sporting Leader of the Past 15 Years

Michael Vaughan: Pep Guardiola is the Best Sporting Leader of the Past 15 Years

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, has hailed Pep Guardiola as the most exceptional sporting leader of the past 15 years. Vaughan believes that England’s Ben Stokes should adopt Guardiola’s approach of never allowing players to become complacent about their place in the side.

Vaughan’s comments come in the context of England’s Bazball approach, under coach Brendon McCullum, which has backfired during the ongoing tour of India. England have already conceded the series 3-1 after initially winning the first Test in Hyderabad.

Vaughan questioned the approach of England batters and demanded greater accountability from them. He cited Guardiola’s approach at Manchester City as an example of how to keep players on their toes.

“In my eyes he’s the best sporting leader of this generation, say the last 15 years. He never allows his players to get comfortable. He always keeps them guessing, and they all know they are guaranteed nothing,” Vaughan wrote in a column for Daily Telegraph.

Vaughan questioned England’s selection policy and said despite losing the series the visitors have a lot at stake to play for in the final Test in Dharamsla beginning March 7.

“Consistency of selection is such a fine balance in team sports. Making people comfortable is right, and England have generally batted well over the last two years,” he wrote.

“There comes a point, though, where when it’s your batting that is costing you the biggest series you can’t keep sending the same guys out there every week.”

Vaughan said a loss in Dharamsala would be a demoralising result for England. He once again criticised England’s batters approach.

“India haven’t lost two matches in a series at home since 2012, on their run of 17 series wins in a row. 4-1 would be a very disappointing end to a disappointing winter, with the World Cup debacle, both white-ball series lost in the Caribbean and even a poor World Cup for the Under 19s,” he wrote.

“It’s a huge week for a number of England’s batsmen. When we think of this England team, we think of their wonderfully dynamic batting. But when you look at why they haven’t won any of their last three series, it’s down to the batting.”

Vaughan feels when it comes to team selection there should be consistency in the batting order.

“Complacency can be damaging. As a management team, how you approach selection of batsmen and bowlers is obviously different. Fast bowlers, especially, sit out games and are rightly rotated to preserve their bodies,” he wrote.

“With batsmen you want consistency. When you play like England do, backing is important. Aggressive, expansive cricket means mistakes will be made. Players need to have the confidence to take on risky shots without fear that they will be dropped immediately. That is good, and as captain I always preferred to give a player one game too many than one too few.”

In hindsight he also took a took a dig at McCullum and Stokes for their approach.

“I do wonder, though, if this England setup takes backing a bit too far. Since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took over, only one batsman has been dropped, and even that was the tamest dropping you will ever see. “England inherited Alex Lees from the previous regime and gave him a crack, but always had their eye on Ben Duckett to open with Zak Crawley so simply moved Lees on at the end of their first summer,” he wrote.

“Ultimately, on any sporting team’s road to greatness, you need a moment, a rod, where every player realises ‘wow, maybe I’m not part of the furniture’. As soon as people think they are part of the furniture it creates a bit of comfortable complacency, which can be damaging.”