The 1986 World Cup winner says the impact of the Spanish boss on the modern game cannot be overlooked
The 64-year-old, who has turned to journalism and more recently commentary upon his retirement from football, believes that no-one has had a bigger impact on the game than the Spanish coach.
Valdano has been impressed with Jurgen Klopp’s transformation of Liverpool in recent seasons, but says that his opposite number at Manchester City is still the more gifted tactician.
“Klopp has a strategist, which is Firmino, and two bullets, Mane and Salah. The novelty is that the three play very close, they spread the field from one end of the area to the other.
“That said; nobody has influenced world football more than Guardiola.
“Any third division team opens to the centre, pulls the sides forward, asks for the ball at the back and goes towards the middle to create numerical superiority.
“It’s very interesting that we are not in the dynamics of the old days, when a very good team ended up beaten by a team from a very speculative school of thought. You don’t see many teams waiting and throwing balls forward.
“The result is God-like. There is a demand for the show that Guardiola set up, which, in some way, has modified the demand of people towards the football they see.”
Valdano also noted the prevalence of data analysis in the modern game, as opposed to the scouting system he was accustomed to during his time in management.
The former Real Madrid and Valencia boss says that while such analysis can be hugely successful, it’s easy for coaches to lose themselves among the data.
“There was a time when scouts of clubs were going to watch games to discover talents,” he said. “Then they walked away from the field and started watching videos to analyze the talents.
“And now there are analysis departments in clubs that go directly to big data. There is no team that does not have a video analysis department and does not try to thoroughly analyze the players, not always putting the data in context.
“So, on many occasions, I see coaches lose themselves in the details and make the essentials secondary.”
But Valdano believes his former club have the right man in charge to avoid such a fate.
“I take Zinedine Zidane as a good example in Madrid.
“Zidane is a simplifier; he believes in talent, knows that there are better and worse players, and is related to football in a natural way.
“This is a guy who knows everything, who keeps the essentials of football, and doesn’t get confused even when you lose. You have to value that kind of thing.”