Pep Guardiola may not exist as you think he does. If you thought he existed as the head coach of FC Barcelona, you got another think coming. For on August 29, Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaped from the club baths, draped a towel toga-style round his Greek-statuesque midsection, raised his Roman-aquiline nose to the heavens, smacked his head and cried, ‘Eureka!‘ before running out to the media multitudes and declaring: ‘Guardiola is not a coach, but a philosopher’ . But what sort of philosopher is Pep, a.k.a. Josephus Guardiolus (b. 1971 AD)?
The historical record leaves us few utterances, let alone eloquent statements. Guardiolus so guards his peace that his players — not only Ibrahimovic, but Seydou Keita also â€“- cannot identify their coachâ€™s voice when he leaves messages on their answering machines. This leads to bewilderment, as well as extra laps when they arrive late to rescheduled practices. Like Socrates, Guardiolus is an enigma, and we must don our thinking caps with little whirly-gigs on top in order to deduce his system of thought.
Guardiolusâ€™ predecessor is Cruiffedes (b. 1947 AD), who developed the theory of Total Football, as well as muttered a number of axioms. Some of these are Classical paradoxes: â€œEvery disadvantage has its advantageâ€; â€œItalians canâ€™t defeat you but you can lose to themâ€; or â€œFootball is simple, but the hardest thing in the world is to play simple footballâ€. Others are statements of the obvious: â€œYouâ€™ve got to shoot or you canâ€™t scoreâ€ or â€œIf we have the ball, they canâ€™t scoreâ€. But most are exteroceptivist: â€œYou wonâ€™t see it until youâ€™ve got itâ€; â€œWhen you see a player sprinting, he left too lateâ€; and â€œIf I start running a little earlier, Iâ€™ll seem fasterâ€ â€“ the last a possible contestation to Zenoâ€™s (b. 489 BC) â€˜Achilles and the Tortoiseâ€™.
At times, Guardiolus references Cruiffedes directly. For example, Cruiffedesâ€™ â€œIf I wanted you to understand, I would have explained it betterâ€ anticipates Guardiolusâ€™ â€œThere is always a reason for everything, but I keep it to myselfâ€. An Aristotelian strain of causality may be identified therein as well. According to the General Repository of Human Knowledge, Wikipedia: â€œCausality is the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is a consequence of the firstâ€. For example, when a club purchases a player for 46 million euros one season and then transfers him via a loan-with-option deal for 24 million the next, men exhaust themselves trying to identify a rational cause. Saith the Wiki: â€œRationalism typically starts from premises that cannot be denied [i.e., â€˜That is a lot of *&%$# moneyâ€™] then attempts by logical steps to deduce every possible object of knowledge [i.e.: â€˜whatâ€™s the big ideaâ€™; â€˜who came up with that brilliant ideaâ€™; â€˜does the club have any change left over for the lockerroom vending machinesâ€™, etc.] Thus Guardiolus implies that the cause for taking a 20 million euro hit on his 9 can be deducted rationally, but his reluctance to articulate it is purely Cruiffedean.
If Guardiolus is a rationalist rather than a causist, his philosophical master is Parmenides (b. 500 BC), who posited the â€˜Third Man Argumentâ€™. Philosophically, the Third Man Argument states that 1) thinking undeniably exists; 2) the object of thought also exists; and 3) the object exists independent of thought. The argument can be illustrated in practical terms as follows: If I have the Best All-Around Offensive Player in the World on my squad, and then I contract the Best Striker in Spain, I donâ€™t need a Third Man. Another illustration follows: If I want Messi to move about freely from wing to center to wing, and I have wingment aplenty to support him, then I donâ€™t need no Third Man taking up space in front of the net. (The Hunky Soccer Husband has always advocated the latter as Guardiolus’ true cause, and believes Cruiffedes to be the Master Mind behind it as well.)
Guardiolus has puzzled many a footballosopher before. Barcelonaâ€™s previous 9, Samuel Etoâ€™o, was dispatched likewise: â€œThe problem with Etoâ€™o has to do with a feelingâ€. The philosophical expression — again, cited from Its Wikiness — is Weiss and Cropanzanoâ€™s â€˜Affective Events Theoryâ€™. This theory states that events influence feelings which influence behaviors. Furthermore, feelings which emerge from similar themes may occur repeatedly. Guardiolusâ€™ â€œThe person always goes before the playerâ€, derived from his externoception of Etoâ€™o, suggests that his personal interactions with Eto’o — regardless of his pitch-perfect performances — (events) inspired a state of constant annoyance (feeling), which in turn influenced him to open the door wide and push Strikerus Maximus Africanus through it (behavior).
An earlier statement of Guardiolus provides another clue: â€œFor the good of the club, itâ€™s better that I donâ€™t comment.â€ For the good of the club leads us to ethics, the study of virtue. Ethicist Immanuel Kant posited the ‘categorical imperative’, which may be interpreted here as Guardiolusâ€™ obligation to be a good coach. The exact nature of Guardiolan goodness, however, may depend on the seasonâ€™s outcome. For example, if David Villa scores more than 21 goals and FC Barcelona wins beaucoup silver, we may call Guardiolus an ethical consequentialist (his actions are â€˜goodâ€™ because their effects are positive). If Guardiolus is a deontologist, he acted according to his ethical obligation to perform his contractual duties with the suits in the upper-level offices (e.g., Sandro Rosell) as well as the players on his bench (e.g., Ibra). And if the Camp Nou fills to its uppermost beams with gleeful â€˜Tot el Campâ€™ songsters, then Guardiolus will have succeeded Ã¡ lÃ utilitarianist John Stuart Mill, by bringing the greatest happiness to the greatest number.
Irrespective of the Great Guardiolus and his Grey Matter, an appropriate philosophical attitude for the general azulgrana faithful would be a Sartrean (or, in my case, a de Beauvoirean) existentialism, centered from â€œa sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.â€
Schoolâ€™s back in session. Hit those books!
–SoMa, Philosophiae Doctora
 El original es infiel a la traducciÃ³n. â€“ Jorge Luis Borges.