Soccer

Juanma Lillo says Pep Guardiola’s drive improves ‘everyone that is around him’

Pep Guardiola has a constant desire to improve, his assistant Juanma Lillo has said (Adam Davy/PA)
Pep Guardiola has a constant desire to improve, his assistant Juanma Lillo has said (Adam Davy/PA) Pep Guardiola has a constant desire to improve, his assistant Juanma Lillo has said (Adam Davy/PA)

Juanma Lillo has offered insight into Pep Guardiola’s insatiable appetite to keep improving himself and those around him.

Lillo rejoined his fellow Spaniard’s backroom staff at treble winners Manchester City this summer after a year away.

This weekend he will be filling in for the inspirational City manager as the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss takes time out to recuperate from back surgery.

Juanma Lillo
Juanma Lillo Lillo will take charge of the City side at Sheffield United on Sunday (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola is due to return to Manchester after the September international break and Lillo expects him to be as hungry as ever.

“Pep is always very open, moment to moment, and he decides he always wants to improve and implement new things,” said Lillo, who will oversee the team at Sheffield United on Sunday and at home to Fulham next week.

“That sense is very sharp. He’s very intelligent. He grasps not only what he’s going to do, but with whom he’s going to do it.

“That helps to improve everyone that is around him. We all improve.

“We all try and to pitch in for Pep to always be there, but he doesn’t need a lot of input because he’s constantly building and debating and generating ideas.”

Lillo, 57, has had a long and varied coaching career with jobs in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Japan and China as well as at home in Spain.

Pep Guardiola and Juanma Lillo
Pep Guardiola and Juanma Lillo Lillo (centre) has known Guardiola (left) since the City manager’s playing days (Nick Potts/PA)

He was actually Guardiola’s manager at Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa almost two decades ago and knew even then his former charge would make a good coach.

“We’ve been working hand in hand for many years,” said Lillo, who first joined Guardiola at City in 2020 before leaving for a job in Qatar two years later.

“He was my player back in the day. We have a relationship that goes all the way back and we understand things in the same direction.

“When he was a player it was the same. He already had a true vision. It’s very difficult to find someone such as him with such capacity and such willingness.

“He was already a bit of a coach when he was a player.”