Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has used rugby to shape his tactics in football, according to Brentford FC director of recruitment Lee Dykes.
Guardiola is one of the most decorated managers in the sport, having won numerous domestic titles in Spain, Germany and England, as well as the Champions League with Barcelona.
Dykes attended a coaching session with Guardiola at Man City and explained to The Athletic how rugby had shaped the Spanish football manager’s thinking when it comes to forcing opposition defenders to commit.
First day back in the office…
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 20, 2021
Pep Guardiola: ‘I teach my players rugby.’
“One of the most amazing things — as a former rugby league player — was when Pep saw a guy from rugby union on the course. He had a rugby top on,” Dykes explained.
“Guardiola picked him out and said, ‘Rugby?’ ‘Yeah’, said the fella. He was building a new rugby association in Holland. ‘Rugby is brilliant’, said Pep. ‘I teach my players rugby’. ‘What do you mean?’, the fella asked.
“‘Rugby, you get the ball, you run towards the man, you draw him in and you pass’. An image of Ilkay Gundogan comes to mind immediately. I watch Man City and it is player after player dragging an opponent in – then pass.
“Incredible. I bet in all the teaching programmes in England, no one has that in the syllabus. And you have Pep Guardiola saying, ‘I do this with my first-team players’. It just makes you think.”
Lee Dykes and Brentford’s upwards trajectory.
Dykes joined Brentford as their director of recruitment in the summer of 2019, after the Bees finished 11th in the Championship the previous season.
Brentford have improved since then and secured promotion to the Premier League after beating Swansea 2-0 in the Championship play-off last season.
The west London club last played in the top flight of English football in 1947 and announced their first Premier League signing today – Nigerian international Frank Onyeka – from Danish club FC Midtjylland.