River Currents

A Sports Coach and His Trusted Advisor

Posted by Gavin Fenn-Smith on Mar 17, 2016 12:04:56 PM
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Pep_G_image.jpgPep Guardiola talks about his own trusted advisor, Manel Estiarte.

Extracted from "Pep Confidential," by Marti Perarnau, published in 2014 by Arena Sport. The book recounts Guardiola’s first season as head coach at Bayern Munich, after a wildly successful few years as coach of Barcelona.

Pep told me how important Estiarte is to him: Coaching a football team is a lonely job and that’s why I value loyalty above all else. When you hit the inevitable rough patch, you need to know who you can trust. 

Manel helps me enormously in a host of practical ways and is always happy to take on some of the more irksome parts of my job. All of that is vital to me, but more than anything it is his loyalty and emotional support I prize. 

When I’m going through a difficult period, maybe even struggling with self-doubt, he is there for me. And he’s there to enjoy the good times as well, of course. It’s wonderful to have someone I can chat everything over with. 

He was an elite athlete himself, the best in his field (water polo), and although we come from different backgrounds, as sportsmen we have a lot in common. Manel has an unerring instinct. He knows immediately if things are going well or not. He is quick to sense the slightest change in atmosphere and can tell me with absolute certainty whether or not the players are behind us. If there’s a leak, he’ll know about it. 

After five years working together he has learned to filter what he shares with me and I leave it to him to decide. I regularly say to him, “Manel, what’s your take on this?” and can always rely on getting an honest, intelligent response. He interprets body language brilliantly, too, and knows exactly what a particular look or gesture means. 

The true greats all share this quality, this intuition. Other sportsmen do things mechanically, but to be truly great you need this extra ability. And Manel has it in spades. That’s why I need him here working with me—all of that and the fact that we’re good friends as well.


The role of CEO has many similarities to the role of an elite sports coach. To read more about CEO coaching, click here.  

 

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