Pep Guardiola decided to leave his post as Barcelona manager in what was a highly anticipated, expected decision. The Catalan Master had been signing one-year contracts since he landed the Blaugrana job back in 2008, always arguing his time at the Camp Nou was limited and dependent on the 'feeling' he got from the players - Which brings out the question: What really happened that made him leave?
Guardiola-Rosell: An Empty Relationship
Pep Guardiola was given the chance to manage Barcelona by Joan Laporta, for which the Catalan coach will be eternally grateful.
Long story cut short: The former president left Barcelona in disgraceful debt (reported to be around 442 million euros) after just 8 years in charge. After such a finantialy unsuccessful term as president, Joan Laporta was replaced by his former friend and now arch-enemy Sandro Rosell (more detail here), leaving Guardiola working under a guy who he respected but didn't necessarily trust.
The situation made Pep increasingly uncomfortable. A clear example: Rosell's eagerness to stay away from the media focus left Guardiola alone to defend our club's honor from accusations of drug-taking, accepting refereeing favors and other rubbish from the Madrid-based media.
To make matters worse, here is what Joan Laporta had to say about Guardiola's departure: "Rosell has not done enough to keep Guardiola as manager. Pep is right to leave because the new board have an obsession to destroy everything that we built together during our time at Barcelona"
My opinion on the matter is clear: Sandro Rosell is managing Barcelona's finances sensibly but should have a more visible presence to defend the club from external attacks. Joan Laporta ruined our club's economy and, if he loves Barcelona as much as he says he does, should remain quiet at this time of transition instead of damaging our club from the outside. As for Guardiola, I believe he has every right to leave if that is his wish.
The interest of Barcelona must prevail above external people who are no longer involved with the club. This is a time to stay together and support those are staying: Sandro Rosell, Zubizarreta and Tito Vilanova.
No time for another never-ending Battle Of Egos: Cules deserve better.
Guardiola-Players: The Stress Of Managing Stars
Pep Guardiola has always been able to keep his players under control, which was key to his legendary success. His 24-hour approach to the job is regarded as highly-effective but exhausting at the same time.
In modern football, players are young, famous, successful millionaires who are considered semi-gods by millions of adoring fans all across the world. At Barcelona, the situation has been accentuated by the tremendous success achieved under Guardiola - 13 out of 17 titles so far, hopefully 14 after the Copa Del Rey final.
As Cruyff explained yesterday: "Coaching Barcelona is a difficult job, the coach must control many egos. His energy has run out, which is normal. It's best to leave"
As I explained in this previous article, I sense some players have let Guardiola down this season. Whether we like it or not, the Pique-Shakira story has not helped the Catalan Giant's performances, Dani Alves' behaviour has been erratic at times (which may end up influencing others such as Thiago or Messi unless it changes), Pedro's tremendous drop in form is difficult to explain...
Let's hope Rosell, Zubizarreta and Vilanova are capable and brave enough to take necessary decisions to ensure Barcelona continue to be competitive at the highest European level next season.
Guardiola-Vilanova: A True Friendship
Barcelona's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, was always aware of the possibility that Guardiola would eventually leave Barcelona - It was hardly a secret, wasn't it? As a result, Zubi has spent most of the last year researching the market for new coaches who could continue our current, trademark style into the future.
After months of analyzing many possibilities (it is believed Marcelo Bielsa, Frank De Boer, Laurent Blanc or Villas-Boas were all considered), the choice was to ask Pep's assistant, Tito Vilanova, to take the job - which he did.
The Madrid-based media, as expected, has been quick to find all sorts of problems with this transition: Did Tito accept the job without Guardiola knowing? Should Tito have left too? Has Tito betrayed Pep? Are Zubizarreta and Pep on speaking terms? Did Guardiola leave so he could return with Laporta in the future?
I would be very surprised if Pep was anything but terribly happy for his life-long friend's promotion as it ensures the essence of his Barcelona idea will be carried on as a result. Those who doubt the purity of Guardiola's feelings clearly don't know him at all: An respectable Blaugrana man with true values.
As a born Catalan, I have witnessed how Real Madrid always use their immense power within the Spanish press to their advantage, always trying to downplay Barcelona's achievements and create doubt in Cules' minds - The current media storm after Guardiola's departure was fully expected, so there is definitely no need to worry.
To be honest, the best thing to do at this point is let them talk in the background and ignore them.
What We Learned
Whenever a sportsperson who has achieved legendary status leaves the team they built their careers in, a massive hole which is virtually impossible to fill is left behind. It happened at Ferrari after Schumacher's departure, the LA Lakers after Phil Jackson and, closer to home, at Barcelona after Johan Cruyff was sacked back in 1996 after years of violent disagreements with former president Núñez.
Talking about what could have been or may have happened if Guardiola had stayed is a pointless exercise, as it won't help Barcelona move forward. Tito Vilanova is bound to make many mistakes on the job but, if we love the Blaugrana as much as we say we do, we will give him time to rectify them instead of looking back at the time when his friend Pep made us the stronger team on Earth.
Times are about to change: Let's build the future together.
Tots units fem força!
Have Your Say
What did you think of this article?
Do you think Pep Guardiola's departure will damage Barcelona's future?
How do you feel about the Madrid-based media storm?
Is Tito Vilanova the right man to succeed Pep?
Did I miss out on any important points you would like to share with us?
I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.
Posted by: Francesc Tomàs
Founder and Columnist at www.barcablog.com and ESPN Correspondent
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