The End of an Era - Guardiola
Posted by Guest Writer on Mon, 30 Apr 2012.
It was only yesterday that Pep Guardiola's long awaited decision was announced. And unfortunately, it's the end of the road for him. Though it must be one of the rare times in history, when a manager leaves- when the fans want him to stay.
The culé in me is distraught and yes, I will admit, I sat down with a cup of tea and cried into it. Unanimously, no culé wanted his departure and many of us seemed convinced that similar to many times before, Pep would make us curse and smile with his last gasp renewal. With back to back defeats on the pitch, fans worldwide were waiting for the news of a renewal to cheer them up. Sadly, it wasn't to be. Our thoughts were etched on the players' faces- the sight of Xavi crying had me feeling weepy and with him not beside me I hugged Jess instead. The week seemed to worsen by the second, leaving many of us hoping that this was Pep's idea of a very late April fools' joke. There were even hints of regret, as the man himself looked thoroughly downcast. The press conference seemed to continue for an age with an underlying tone of misery. Although you could argue that we should have expected this, I'll be honest- we didn't want to.
Josep Guardiola has come on an incredible journey with FC Barcelona. From ball boy to academy player to the first team. Then his rise from the B Team manager to an astounding four years where he utilised the first team trophy cabinet well. His transition and development has lead to global recognition with all eyes focused on the club he loves so much.
That's why we have to respect his decision. Not only out of respect for him- but the reasons surrounding his decision. Everything Pep does is out of love for Barcelona. He felt it was over for him, that it was time for a fresh face. Understandably, I can understand him. Managing a club as huge Barça is not an easy task whatsoever. The pressure that comes with the dream job of leading a dream team is immense (if you need visual evidence, then just look at Pep's hair loss over his managerial career). It was perhaps intensified for Pep as a result of his consistency. His immediate impact took Barcelona right to the top, as he developed the style with which the team has become synonymous with. His endless supply of trophies (and fabulous style) increased his popularity with the fans- especially as his pitchside antics revealed the fan in him! His faith and trust in the players earned him respect. He gave the B players a chance; the two most recents being Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello who have been in explosive form. Though perhaps one of the most notable would be none other than Argentine super striker Lionel Messi. No, Pep cannot take full credit, but under his management, Messi has been almost unstoppable. But the entire team as a unit, have played with confidence, elegance and determination. They have the mentality of champions. And that, dear readers, is the impact of Pep Guardiola.
We could praise Pep all day long, but we have to say goodbye. Though he may be stepping down, he will never truly leave Barça. Blaugrana blood runs in his veins and as long as his legacy is remembered, he will never truly be gone. His name is there in the history books- rightly so too. So whilst we wave goodbye and flood Camp Nou with our tears, let's end this season on a high note. The cup final is very much a game to be won and after everything Pep has given, it's the least he deserves. So please ladies and gentlemen, join me in a standing ovation for one of the most incredible managers to have graced the modern game.
But with the end of the road for Pep comes a new path for Tito Vilanova. As with every end comes a new beginning and now it is time to look to the future. It seems to be a teaching and learning experience from Master to Apprentice. Just as legendary Johan Cruyff had faith and taught young Guardiola, it is time for the latter's assistant to step up to the plate. Tito knows the team incredibly well by now, having worked alongside Pep. His history with the club speaks for itself and I have no doubt about him. He has big boots to fill, but with his own creativity and style, Tito will fill the position well.
Though I'm sure there's one person who will be most definitely be intrigued by this conundrum... yes Jose Mourinho I am looking at you.
By Fazelah Dadabhoy