The Dutchman holds the Catalan coach in the highest esteem, claiming he is responsible for his improved form over the past 18 months
Arjen Robben says he has learned more from Pep Guardiola than any other previous coach, revealing that the Bayern Munich boss is so intent on helping his players that he would be willing to offer advice at three o’clock in the morning!
The Netherlands internatonal has played under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes and Guus Hiddink during a club career that has taken in spells at super-clubs such as Chelsea and Real Madrid.
However, Robben believes that his current coach is a class apart, admitting that he is in awe of Guardiola’s intelligence, tactical acumen and dedication to his profession.
“When I started working with Pep 18 months ago I noticed how he goes much deeper into football,” the 31-year-old told The Guardian. “His intelligence is obvious.
“Tactically, he’s one of the best in the world and under him I have made more steps in my development. I’ve come quite a long way these last 18 months.
“These days you have guys who are 19 or 20 and they’ve played their first game and they feel they’ve made it. It’s not true. There’s always so much to improve, no matter your age.
“That’s why I’m really enjoying working with Pep. I learn from him every day and that’s a special feeling.
“We have a very good relationship. I like the way he thinks about football and his tactical flexibility means we’ve played a few systems.
“It’s not like we are a 4-4-2 team. We use all kinds of formations with Pep and this means I can play inside or outside, just behind the strikers or even as a striker.
“That’s fantastic because the way he wants to play, with a very dominant style, suits me perfectly.
“And you can discuss anything with him. If it’s 3am, Pep would be happy to talk to you about football.”
Robben also hailed Guardiola’s will to win, revealing that the former Barcelona boss was devastated by Bayern’s recent 4-1 loss at Wolfsburg.
He added: “After the game you could see on his face how much it hurt him. He hates losing. But every great manager hates losing. If Mourinho loses 4-1, he doesn’t sleep well.
“[Pep and Mourinho] are winners. They’re so strong and that’s why they are so successful.”
Robben joined Madrid from Chelsea in 2007-08 for a reported €35 million and won La Liga in his first season in the Spanish capital but left for the Allianz Arena the following year.
He claimed at the time that he was upset at being “forced out” following the high-profile arrivals of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu, but says Madrid’s decision to offload him to Bayern was a blessing in disguise.
“The best and most important step of my career was when I moved here – and Louis van Gaal brought me from Madrid to Bayern,” he said. “It was the best move of my career and it’s thanks to him.
“In the first year we reached the Champions League final [in 2010], which was a big surprise, and won the double in Germany.
“Van Gaal made me an important member of the team and fortunately I delivered.”
However, Robben revealed that working with an osteopath during his final year at Madrid also played a key role in his remarkable form in Bavaria.
“I continued the relationship when I came here,” the Netherlands international added. “We have a great medical team and with the special training we do, the extra work I put in, it’s getting control over your body.
“You know when you are in the danger zone as you get a better understanding of your body. Now, touch wood, it’s going really well. I feel really good. I have lots of energy but that doesn’t happen like magic. I put in many extra hours in the gym and with the physios.
“You feel strong on the pitch. You have this feeling of power, that you can show the best of your football. This season has been the same and it’s surprising. A lot of players here went to the World Cup final – and I made it to the third-place game. Everyone expected us to have difficulties but it’s not turned out that way.”
Robben shares top spot in the Bundesliga goalscoring charts with Eintracht Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier, having netted 14 times in just 17 appearances.