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Weary Guardiola nears end of Barca cycle

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Jonathan Stevenson | 11:00 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

As Pep Guardiola faced the press on Saturday night at Wembley Stadium, he did not look like a man on top of the world. He looked spent, both physically and emotionally, and at one stage begged one of his interviewers for mercy.

"I'm sorry, I'm so tired," said the Barcelona manager, about an hour after the final whistle in their majestic Champions League final dismantling of Manchester United. "I cannot think right now. Please let me go away and have a rest and then I can think."

The contrast with his opposite number Sir Alex Ferguson could not have been more stark. Ferguson, who had just watched his team receive what he called a "hiding", was immediately on the front foot, talking about how his squad could improve and how he would go about building a team to beat brilliant Barca.

"You shouldn't be afraid of a challenge in life," said Ferguson. "We all have a challenge with this Barcelona team. Not just Manchester United, but everyone."


The challenge is present for Guardiola, the creator-in-chief of this era-defining football team, as well. Contracted to the Camp Nou until the end of next season, the 40-year-old, who has now won a staggering 10 trophies in his three seasons in charge - one fewer than the legendary Johan Cruyff in only half the time - has steadfastly refused to commit his long-term future to Barca.

He has spoken in the past about what a difficult job being Barcelona boss is, of how gruelling the sheer the size of the club and the extraordinary expectation level that goes with it can be. In his three seasons in charge Guardiola has won it all, but on Saturday, in the immediate aftermath of his greatest triumph, he gave an indication of the fear of failure that drives him.

"Sir Alex is amazing, it's unbelievable what he has done in 25 years at United," said Guardiola. "But in Spain, in Italy, to have 25 years in the same job... it is impossible. If you don't do so well in one year, in one-and-a-half years, you get fired.

"Do I still want the challenge? I have to look inside of me for the answer to that. I will continue for another year and then I will decide. My life is decided by passion and when that's gone I'll go home and rest a little bit and try to get that passion back."

When he talks about this Barcelona team he manages, Guardiola sounds like a proud father. He saw many of these youth team products coming through the ranks when he was a player at the club and now he sees it as his role to provide them with the perfect platform to exhibit their outrageous talents.

Once again at Wembley, the club's cantera - their youth acedemy - was responsible for doing most of the damage, with Pedro and Lionel Messi both scoring and the untouchables, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, ensuring United never came close to getting a foothold on the game in midfield.

Guardiola will not find it easy to walk away from a group of players who are now seriously asking pundits to consider them a candidate for the best team of all time and, equally important you feel to him, people he admires away from the football field as well.

Pep Guardiola is launched into the air by the celebrating Barcelona players at Wembley

The close bond between Guardiola and his players is undeniable. Pic: Getty Images

Part of the philosophy of the club is that they produce impressive young men who treat others with respect and go about their work with humility. On Saturday, these qualities could be seen both in the guard of honour the Barca players formed for United after the game and then when they asked Eric Abidal - who had surgery on a liver tumour only two months ago - to put on the armband and collect the trophy from Uefa president Michel Platini.

"It is a privilege to be a part of this club and a privilege to have these players and I am so happy to be the coach of them," said Guardiola, who also won the European Cup as a player with Barca in 1992 when they beat Sampdoria at Wembley.

"Players are human beings and you need to look at that too. Whether you win or lose there's a human quality and Carles [Puyol, the club captain] made a great gesture to Eric which is to his credit."

As he has always done as player and now coach, Guardiola leads by example. Asked many times on Saturday whether the crushing manner of Barcelona's victory meant they deserved to be talked about on a par with, or even on a higher level than, Cruyff's 'Dream Team' that captured the cup 19 years ago, he was quick to pay homage to the class of '92.

"We wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for them," said Guardiola. "It all started then with Cruyff and Carles Rexach. They were the teachers, they showed us the way we have to play. We follow what they taught us, and we try to play in the right way now. We want to show the world that it is possible with beautiful football.

"I cannot answer whether we are among the greats of all time because I did not see the Real Madrid team of Alfredo di Stefano, I did not see the Santos of Pele, I did not see the Ajax of Johan Cruyff.

"All I know is that we try to play as well as possible, and in 10-15 years we hope people will remember us as one of the best. We just want everyone to enjoy this, and for us it's marvellous too."

Guardiola has been linked with the vacant managerial position at Chelsea in the past couple of weeks, but it is hard to imagine the born-and-bred Catalan even considering working for any other football team. The bond he has with Barca, which began as a 13-year-old back in 1984, is so strong, and he engenders so much goodwill towards them with his humble nature, that his name has become synonymous with theirs.

Ferguson, the oracle of football management, wasted no time in passing on some advice to his young adversary when the Scot was asked why Guardiola would be considering leaving Barca, as well as expressing his admiration for the winners.

"In my time as manager here, they are the best team we've faced, I think everyone acknowledges that and I accept that," said Ferguson. "Great teams go in cycles and the cycle they're in at the moment is the best in Europe, no question about that. It's a great moment for them and they deserve it.

"If Pep leaves he'll never get this experience again, that's for sure."

If next season is to be his last season in charge, then that is something Guardiola will have to come to terms with. As he fought for the strength to finish his post-match press conference on Saturday, his eventual exit suddenly loomed large on the horizon.

"My future will be very tough," he admitted. "I'll be at another club, trying to find these type of players... But maybe that will be a great challenge for me, to take the players I will have at that club and try to get them to reach their top level, no?"

On Saturday at Wembley, Guardiola's current crop reached a level seldom seen in recent years. Whatever the future holds for this most likeable of personalities, he has already etched his name and that of his team into the history books and into many football lovers' hearts.

A few days before, Cruyff had suggested Guardiola might walk away even if Barca beat United because of the "certain pressures" of the job. "He has worked very hard and it wouldn't surprise me if he left," said the coach's former manager and mentor.

If and when he chooses to quit, Guardiola's legacy is already assured. But watching him bask in the after-match glow of his greatest personal triumph as the Barca legends he has helped create threw him jubilantly up into the London night sky, it almost seems impossible that he ever would.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Guardiola will only ever sign 12 month contracts...he's too clever to know that long term contracts mean little in football these days. Why suffer the indignity of being sacked after, like he states, one unsuccessful season.

    As an Arsenal fan I can only hope Wenger gets his act together and brings in some decent players this summer. Otherwise it'll be yet another year of failure domestically and in Europe next year!

    Great humility from SAF too..well done United.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not sure why no nobody has mentioned this yet - Guardiola for Arsenal! I can't think of a better replacement for Wenger (who is not likely to last too many more years). Barca and Arsenal have similar footballing philosophies especially in terms of style and youth systems - if Guardiola is looking for a job were he can spend 20+ years and impose himself with realistic expectations, Arsenal seems the best fit to me.

  • Comment number 3.

    now he is what i call a world class coach. hope he remains at Barcelona for a while, so that he can teach champions league pretenders a lesson or two.

  • Comment number 4.

    MrWengal, I was thinking the same thing!! Whenever Wenger does go, Pep would be a great replacement

  • Comment number 5.

    Wouldn't be surprised if he left, he looked so drained after the match.
    Maybe he will have a break for a few years, then move to another country.
    Maybe United? Maybe an Italian club, who knows.

  • Comment number 6.

    Isn't Pep too expensive for Arsenal's payroll?

  • Comment number 7.

    Guardiola is such a clever guy. Best manager in world football at the minute. It'll be really interesting to see where he goes after Barcelona and if he can replicate the success and style of play he uses currently.

  • Comment number 8.

    Passing tactics have long been a staple at Barcelona, all the key players were already there before Pep was manager.

    Anywhere else he would fail, what he has is that he knows Barcelona, when someone does something not Barcelona he can call him out, that and motivation (in a Barcelona way).

    Maybe his greatest fear is that he can't do what Ferguson has done and create teams again and again. (I'm no fan, but Ferguson's been beat, then came back)

    Greatest thanks maybe, should go to the coaches and scouts of Barcelona, for finding and crafting the team.

  • Comment number 9.

    The man is a good coach, there is no denying, however, what Jose Mourinho said in the aftermath of El Theatrico is not far from the truth. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many Chelsea, Arsenal, Madrid fans too... He is still yet to win a Champions League which is not "Blood Stained" as JM put it.

    There's a large list of reasons recently, this blog was not too long ago I read... http://markbritton7.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/fc-barcelona-mes-que-un-club-you-bet/ - But it's recent enought to cover the Busquets 'Mono' incident, which went (bizarrely) unpunished, and I couldn't help but see the joy on Platini's face when Barca climbed the stairs.... - As for me, I'm actually a Fulham fan, so all bias aside!

  • Comment number 10.

    Lol, why would he to Arsenal?! Pep is a born-winner of trophies, and as great a style of football a team can have, Arsenal don't have that ruthless strike. As a scouting network Arsenal are great, but tactically, they often miss a point.

    And going to Arsenal, would surely be taking a step down - Barca have everything that Arsenal have and more. In terms of English teams, the only team he would consider would be Manchester United or Chelsea - Even Man City would have a better chance due to the funds at their disposal.

  • Comment number 11.

    What really impressed me with Pep is the players hes brought in during his reign. Remember the first time we caught glimpses of Pedro, Busquets and Pique? And remember how poor we thought they were?

    Now look at them, hes turned them into world class players. The mark of the manager was to take a risk on these guys, seeing things in them that nobody else did. While everyone else was fawning over the brilliance of world class talents Marquez, Yaya Toure and Henry he was looking to different characteristics only he saw and had the bravery to take a chance on them and replace those guys. It was questioned at the time, but look who was exactly right.

  • Comment number 12.

    would be a shame if he leaves but none of us mere mortals can know what the pressure he faces is like. hope he stays though

  • Comment number 13.

    The left back was out of position for the first goal. Messi should not have been allowed to shoot for the second (Fletcher would have prevented it), and the third goal was a complete joke. Had certain players been signed in the summer MU would have been competitive.

  • Comment number 14.

    Gram_OHare, how old are you?

    Everyone is well aware of Arsenal's deficiencies (including me as a fan). Yes, Arsenal would be a step down but so would any other club. If Guardiola is looking for a challenge, I think Arsenal would make a good fit for him.

  • Comment number 15.

    The thing with Barcelona is there is some internal power-struggle going there.
    It appears that whoever gets clear ahead of some on their board is shown the door.
    Johan Cruyff has said he'd never visit Camp Nou again.

    I think Guardiola will leave Barcelona only when and if his status at the club becomes greater than some secret to us personalities in their board.

  • Comment number 16.

    Before Arsenal fans start rubbing it on me for #6, its purpose was to make them think that, in Arsenal, the manager is paid in accordance to the competition and that's fair. All the key players though appear to be on lesser salaries to the competition and that's unfair.

    Perhaps, they'll be able to acquire the players they need to up their game and prospects. I wouldn't like to see keeping salaries too low for a top side being an obstacle in bringing quality in their team.

  • Comment number 17.

    Im sorry but #13 J Bowman do you realise just how bitter you sound. Im a United fan myself and if i'm totally honest reading your comment embarrased me.

    We were beaten by a superb team. Nobody can stop them, yeah Evra was at fault for the first goal. But the whole team underperformed and we all got to witness a team that will go down in history as one of the greatest of all times.

    Well done Barca. Well Done Pep

  • Comment number 18.

    #8 Rorb, Pep has been a scout and junior team manager for Barca before he was promoted to 1st team coach. He coached the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Bousquets, Pedro, Pique, and yes Messi as manager of the junior team, so what is your point?
    Know some few facts b4 you wrongly criticise. This is the manger that sold off the likes of Henry, Eto'o, Deco and Ronaldinho, and replaced most of them with players from the youth team rather than spending loads of money in the transfer market. Give credit to whom it is due

  • Comment number 19.

    surely pep is the worlds greatest manager? I can't see that catalan ever going to live in England.

  • Comment number 20.

    Guardiola is a great guy, and a good manager in charge of an amazing football team.

    The people who are labelling him the best manager their is are many years too early though - it remains to be seen if he is capable of rebuilding the team when the young superstars get older. I say when they get older because I just can't see the likes of Messi, Inniesta, Xavi etc leaving Barcelona while still in their prime.

    When he manages to do that, or goes to another big, successful club and achieves results he can be spoken of as one of the greats.

    This Barcelona team is incredible, and very worthy winners. Congratulations to the entire team and to Guardiola on their outstanding achievements. They are a credit to the game in many ways, not only in the results that they achieve.

    I feel that the best chance ANY team has of beating this Barcelona team in the Champions League has to be in the knockout stages - when it is played home and away over two legs and Barcelona still have other distractions with the league and cup to contend with.

  • Comment number 21.

    Gram_OHare

    "Lol, why would he to Arsenal?! Pep is a born-winner of trophies, and as great a style of football a team can have, Arsenal don't have that ruthless strike. As a scouting network Arsenal are great, but tactically, they often miss a point."

    Um, if he was coach he would do the tactics

  • Comment number 22.

    It's unnerving how simlar - despite the radically different circumstances - Pep Guardiola looks to a burnt out Kenny Dalglish at the end of his first stint as Liverpool manager in 1991. Heysel and Hilsborough of course had taken their toll on Dalglish, but perhaps the greatest pressure of all was of recurring success - just as seems now to be the case with Guardiola.

  • Comment number 23.

    From what Pep has said I think he would consider Arsenal, I reckon he would relish the challenge, if and that's a huge if he ever came to England I reckon it'll be United or Arsenal.

    Not sure where else in Europe he'd go apart from England though, I know Italian football is slow and would suit his style of football well but I don't reckon there is any lure there for him (though maybe that's just my dislike of Italian football). He wouldn't demote himself in Spain either.

    Spanish national job maybe? Or is that a bit soon in his career?

  • Comment number 24.

    No. 18 - bdyke04 -

    Guardiola became manager of the Barcelona B team for the 2007-2008 season. A season in which xavi was 27/28, iniesta was 24/25, Pique was at Man utd, and Messi was in the barca first team, being one of the best players in the world.

    None of those 4 were in the youth team when Pep was manager

    So trying getting your facts right before you tell other people to.

  • Comment number 25.

    Queen Elizabeth I on the Champions League Final 2011:

    "I know it may look as if Messi has the body and haircut of a weak and feeble woman, but he has the heart and stomach of a king, and the ability to match the sport’s greatest ever players."

    http://www.inofftheghost.com

  • Comment number 26.

    Stevo, I know you are a big United fan and Saturday must have been a bitter, bitter lesson for you too..shouldn't you aspire for your team to reach the next level rather than hoping to see Guardiola step down? He said he's going to wait for a year and then decide..let's not get too dramatic here shall we?

  • Comment number 27.

    This is just another example of the intelligence of guardiloa, he said that he would sign six month contracts if he could and although it does seem to mean that there will not be alot of stability at the club, it means that pep is working on a yearly contract and so if things don't go to plan and he wants a way out then he can easily find it. Although i don't know why he would want to leave barca but i think that if they do reach the same heights next season then he will leave because he has basically achieved everything he can with this club and winning back to champions leagues is his goal i feel. But this deal of the short term contract seems to focus him more, as if he uses it as if it is his last 12 months and instead of looking at a contract and saying ok i have 3 years to achieve these goals and so the pressure is off he has focused on achieving everything in a year. Therefore there are no surprises or sackings, he just walks away when his contract i up. And to be honest that is what abramovich should do at chelsea, because he is only giving them a year anyway to in the league so he should just give them a year contract targets that he wants which i assume would be the league and the champions league and give him a certain amount of money to spend. I am not saying that it is the best policy, clearly it is for guardiola and for barca at this stage although they would probably love to tie him down to a 6 year deal, but certainly in chelsea's case they should only be offering one year contracts because that is basically what abramovich is doing anyway but he is dressing it up by saying they can have 3 years when in fact if they fail to win anything in the first year then they will be out the door.

  • Comment number 28.

    He is definitely the guy i would like at chelsea - young, great coach, speaks english well, plays the game the right way and most importantly - WINS!

    Roman, sign him up!

  • Comment number 29.

    @ #10
    "Lol, why would he to Arsenal?! Pep is a born-winner of trophies, and as great a style of football a team can have, Arsenal don't have that ruthless strike. As a scouting network Arsenal are great, but tactically, they often miss a point."

    This is not very well thought out - If he was manager it would be his job to give them the ruthless streak, and as for the tactics, surely they would change according to Guardiola's tactics? Surely you don't expect him to ask Wenger for all his training plans when he hands the job over to him?

    "And going to Arsenal, would surely be taking a step down - Barca have everything that Arsenal have and more."

    Any club would be a step down from the squad he is in charge of now at Barca; hence all the "best team ever" punditry that is flying around, see?
    "Have everything Arsenal have and more" - yes, agreed - hence the need for him to get them training and improve them...

    I am an Everton fan by the way, so not defending Arsenal, I just had to argue with your post!

  • Comment number 30.

    Can't see him moving to Arsenal. United, Chelsea, maybe, but that's it in England.

  • Comment number 31.

    'The left back was out of position for the first goal.'
    - rubbish, it was the sheer speed of the attack and the precision of the passes that put the players out of position...
    'Messi should not have been allowed to shoot for the second (Fletcher would have prevented it), '
    - except that no one was expecting a shot (Messi got it away too quickly) - they were all worried about the pass out wide, and he can't be two places at once...
    'and the third goal was a complete joke. '
    Pardon me!? Barca passed the defence off the pitch, created an opening for Villa, who did one of the most precise curving shots you'll ever see!
    'Had certain players been signed in the summer MU would have been competitive.'
    No, they would have lost regardless!
    People like you have got to stop listening to and copying pundits like Alan Hansen who never seem to see great attacking play, no matter how good.



  • Comment number 32.

    Anyone smell another addition to the evergrowing list of Chelsea targets.

  • Comment number 33.

    some fool just said he was wise to sign only 12 month contracts....


    i'm sorry, but thats insane... as a manager in football, being sacked with 5 years left on your contract, is probably one of the best things that could happen...

    5 YEARS SALARY, IN A DAY?!?!? YES!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Guardiola has a side that undoubtedly plays some incredible football and is the best in the world right now bar none. But best manager currently? I am skeptical about people claiming this. He hasn't actually built a side, the majority of those players on saturday were at the club when he took over. Yes he has brought in Villa, but after getting rid of Eto'o and failing embarassingly with bringing in Imbrahimovic (clearly a downgrade) so I would struggle to say he has actually improved the side there. He has brought through Pedro yes but this is arguably at the expense Bojan who was flying several years ago and has since faded completely. Whilst he has brought in Mascherano (did the midfield really need it?) the only area I would say with certainty he has actually improved the side or made any drastic change is with Dani Alves at right back and that wasn't exactly a genius purchase, half of world football wanted him.

    I would say that yes he has this side playing very well but 3 good years isn't enough for me personally to suggest he is the best manager in the world right now. The real challenge is can you build a side and guardiola hasn't done that so until he does, at least once successfully I wouldn't call him the best manager in the world!

  • Comment number 35.

    Guardiola's time as a player and coach at Barcelona saw them break the voodoo of the European Cup and progress to become the Number One club in the World.

    When he started they certainly weren't that.

    So if he's looking for a 'new project', probably his heritage is such that that is what he'll want to try to achieve.

    Where that is, who could say??

  • Comment number 36.

    Whats all this talk about Guardiola going to United? Everyone knows Mourinho's waiting for SAF to retire so he can inflate his ego to catastrophic levels at United ("I've managed the best clubs in the world etc, I am the most holy person in the world bla bla)

    Only an idiot or someone desperately needing money would consider Chelsea.

    Arsenal would be a challenge and a good fit, decent philosophies but not as much pressure as United or Barca would be. However Wenger has unfinished business at Arsenal and needs to take account/justify this barren spell soon....

  • Comment number 37.

    I think people are short changing Guardiola a bit here, sure he inherited a great team but were Xavi and Iniesta considered amongst the very best in the world before he was manager? Did Barca ever play like they do today under Rijkaard? Man for man the team Rijkaard had in his last season is not much different from the Barca team today. What is the difference between the Barca team that has steamrolled Utd in their last two CL final appearances and the team that couldn't score a single goal against Utd over two legs in the semi final in 2008 - I'd say it's mainly down to Guardiola. I don't remember all these pundits waxing lyrical about tiki-taka until he came along, they did play attractive football under Rijkaard but they are playing a different brand today.

  • Comment number 38.

    "Part of the philosophy of the club is that they produce impressive young men who treat others with respect and go about their work with humility." How on earth do you square that comment with the cynical diving, feigning injury and trying to get opposition players booked and sent off that is a regular part of Barcelona's game ?

  • Comment number 39.

    Mourinho is unlikely to go to United for two reasons... firstly he will not want to follow Ferguson... that would relegate him to second best whilst he is the special one. Secondly, United will want a Busby, Ferguson type manager who can carry on building their legacy. Like Barcelona this is a club who's ethos has been built by Busby (here put Cryff) and continued by Ferguson (here put Guardiola).

    Secondly, to criticise Guardiola is not quite accurate. It's a great squad of great players, but they are more than just that. Ferguson was ready for them... he had a plan that would contain Barca and beat them on the break... what did Barca do... they moved Messi to a deeper position pushed Villa central and let Pedro play where he wanted (more in the Messi role than Messi was playing). The result being that United were set up for the wrong formation. The result being that the three front men playing on new tactics scored appropriately... Villa in the middle, Messi from deep and, Pedro popping up in a Messi-esque way.

    That performance show just how much this was men against boys. Park, Nani, Valencia, Giggs are great players, but against this lot they couldnt produce the magic... you knew that if United were going to win it would require Rooney to do something special... something he did manage.

    Guardiola will look at the next club he manages and there would be two English preferences... United or Arsenal... for one reason... these two can compete financially... Chelsea and Liverpool can't. Man City are yet to prove they can build an enduring financial model. As a manageer to manage the best team you need to be able to financially bring in players like Rooney, Villa, Tevez on a regular basis, because big players win you big games.

  • Comment number 40.

    Pep enjoys challenges, and he obviously won't get a satisfaction from continuously staggering from triumph to triumph at Camp Nou, he'll be hunting different challenging prospects.
    However I see one exposed flaw in this: Pep operates by on tactical formula, one footballing philosophy and no other club are ro accomplished or well-established in that other than Arsenal, he's likely to go to Inter Milan in my personal opinion but there, they're used to defensive football.

  • Comment number 41.

    According to some people's logic, there is no way Guardiola could ever be considered the best manager in the world, because his team and his players are too good... That's pretty unfair. He can't really do anything more than what he has. These are probably the same people who think the sun shines out of Mourinho's backside, even though he's fallen well short of Guardiola's team, at a club that have spent many many millions on star signings.

    Do you have to overachieve with a sub-par team to be considered the best in the world? Maybe it's Tony Pulis then?

  • Comment number 42.

    Pep is a great manager, but he hasn't had to build teams like Fergie has. Fergie has built many teams and had success with all of them. Pep hasn't had to do that yet, but if he had to, he'd be able to build another great team. I can't even imagine the pressure he is under, more so now than a few years ago. Their arch rivals Real are starting to build a Galacticos team again and with a great manager Mourinho, Pep is under massive pressure to stop them winning lots of trophies, especially the CL. It's a bit like the United/City battle, but to a lesser extent.

  • Comment number 43.

    There is only one thing that would make Pep leave so early. Jose Mourinho. This year of recriminations from Mou has worn Pep down to an incredible extent. Just look at the press conference where he finally exploded. I have seen all of Barca's games this year and followed the season in the Spanish press. Mourinho can make things very ugly and I don't think he will change. He did the same thing at Chelsea, did he not?

    What a pleasure it was to watch the game in London against Man U. What civility and respect. And what good football! Thank you to England and Sir Alex and the players for letting the year end with good feelings all round.

  • Comment number 44.

    @42 I hope you're calling the United/City battle to a lesser extent than the Real/Barca one.

    Wasn't some people saying Pep is the best manager in the World right now? Not greatest ever. Pep is getting more out of his players and team than anyone else so you can argue he is the best, his tactics are today beating all others.

    The argument for Fergie building more teams surely comes under greatest of all-time (looking at full careers) where given Pep's short career, Fergie wins hands down.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well done to Barca, the game was played in the right way. I know United were at fault for a couple of the goals but good teams make others panic. The pressure Pep must feel is enormous, how would Barca react if Messi and say Xavi had bad injuries in a season. We must all respect the job Ferguson has done to get United this far with a so-called inferior team. He was very humble after the match.
    - Don't worry Pep, my mighty AS Roma has a new billionaire yankee owner, come to the eternal city and build a legacy! (very wishful thinking). I seriously hope that Roma can be talked about in a good light in the next few years, just to reach that final would be a proud moment for me.

  • Comment number 46.

    33. At 13:14 30th May 2011, Torres Is a Blue wrote:
    some fool just said he was wise to sign only 12 month contracts....


    i'm sorry, but thats insane... as a manager in football, being sacked with 5 years left on your contract, is probably one of the best things that could happen...

    5 YEARS SALARY, IN A DAY?!?!? YES!!!!!!!!!!

    ------------------

    You can't put a price on dignity and pride.

    I would be very interested to see if Guardiola could live up to anything even remotely like his success with Barcelona if he were at another club, even one like Chelsea or Man Utd. He's just so thoroughly Catalan.

  • Comment number 47.

    "Part of the philosophy of the club is that they produce impressive young men who treat others with respect and go about their work with humility."

    That was a joke, right? Barca have the most arrogant, self-centred players on the planet - they can make Cristiano Ronaldo look modest and self-effacing. Frankly, the fact that Guardiola hasn't come out and made a statement to quash these laughable claims of greatness is just more of the same. If he had an honest bone in his body, he'd tell people to stop comparing his rather excellent team with the truly great ones, and to stop comparing him to genuinely great managers - or even Cruyff. Similarly, Messi, if he respected Maradona, would have told the press to stop comparing him because he's not worthy.

    These guys are too good to be delusional about their own ability, so the only conclusion is that they're happy to take plaudits they know they don't deserve. The simple fact of the matter is that Barca haven't quite won as much as they should for a par score during Pep's management. Since they don't have a significant number of competitive league games to tire them out, Barca should win the CL _every_ season if they're a great team and not underachieving. It really is that simple. In fact, they're merely a very good team with a massive advantage over almost every other club in Europe.

  • Comment number 48.

    #42

    "Pep is a great manager, but he hasn't had to build teams like Fergie has. Fergie has built many teams and had success with all of them. "

    Sorry, but whilst I agree with what you say there, I have to point out that it's more impressive to build a club, even a whole league, than a team. There's no question in my mind that Wenger is the only great manager of the last thirty years or so. Fergie, yes, very good, but despite winning more trophies recently, he can't match Wenger's biggest achievements of revolutionising English football (in a good way) and building Arsenal up to a point where he's criticised for failing to beat Man U.

    It's probably churlish to point out that this season Fergie finally won his first trophy (with United) in which he wasn't that season's highest spender, and that was only thanks to Man City's spending.

  • Comment number 49.

    #13

    How humerous!

    It really doesn't matter whether Fletcher would have done this or someone else would have done that, Barca would have just scored three different goals in equally sublime ways.

    I think what escapes you is the difference between the two teams, not just the goals that were scored. Man United were not in any way competitive on Saturday night (even the manager admitted so!).

    I must admit, I had to laugh when you said 'Fletcher would have stopped it' - the very thought of putting Fletcher anywhere near Messi makes me chuckle :)

  • Comment number 50.

    @48 United have been the highest league spenders only 4 times 98-99, 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2007-2008.

    Won the league 3 out of 4 of those times, won the league 9 other times not as top spenders?

    Also United are 6th on the net spending per year tables since the Premiership began.

    Or are you comparing to just Arsenal?

  • Comment number 51.

    Barcelona's amazing footballing style and acheivements will forever be tainted by their play acting and attempts to have opponents sent off and the fact that they are favoured by UEFA and referees, even if that is subconcious.

  • Comment number 52.

    I also think Pep would be great at Arsenal, it'd work really well. Arsenal already play a style of football similar to Barca so that aspect of the job wouldn't need much pushing, the other thing is that Arsenal have large funds for bringing in players.

    Wenger is an older coach, one that I'd label as stubborn, he's completely unadaptable. He's so set on his methods that he can't see that they don't work. That's one thing I'll give Ferguson, if something doesn't work he'll change it if it'll help him win.

    Excluding anything involving Barca.

  • Comment number 53.

    Guardiola deserves all the praise he is getting, took barca to a new level within 3 years and made them enter into the best top 3-5 teams ever atm (with a few more CL wins the best) as a united fan i'd love for him to take over united once fergie retires. Not only is he a great manager but more importantly for me a great man, so humble and polite. However as a few have mentioned people should not underestimate the effect frank rijkaard had on barca. IMO he made the biggest change to barca slightly out of him and pep as before him barca we're loosely fighting fot the la liga titles and slightly flirting with the CL but were in the uefa cup mainly as sometimes they barely qualified for the CL i remember in one occasion. then he made them into the best team in the world in 2006 with ronaldinho leading the way

  • Comment number 54.

    I have to say I completely disagree with what @Dave posted. Wenger is a good coach but he has not revolutionised English football. He revolutionised Arsenal, but he is too ignorant to see that the back four he inherited was the bedrock for winning trophies. United have dragged that division kicking and screaming to the standard of the rest of Europe's top leagues. Many people hate them, but WITHIN football ferguson is one of the most respected coaches. Many teams have figured out Arsenal and Wenger the ideaologist has not adapted. In England coaches get more of a chance to improve after a bad season. In some ways I wish Italian teams would give coaches more time to build but the fact is Wenger has reached his potential at Arsenal and he needs a change.

  • Comment number 55.

    41.
    At 14:10 30th May 2011, TheSkins wrote:

    According to some people's logic, there is no way Guardiola could ever be considered the best manager in the world, because his team and his players are too good... That's pretty unfair. He can't really do anything more than what he has.

    ---------------------------------

    1. Work in different systems?
    2. Create a team himself?
    3. Tested through time?
    4. See him signing nobodies who end up being world class stars, unlike the Ibrahimovic singing where he was conned by Mourinho?
    (long list)

    He's only 40 for God's sake. Best in the world? Are you dreaming?

  • Comment number 56.

    38 Jod..Get a life - performances like Saturday's don't come from rolling about on the floor. How typically English to look for any crumbs of comfort rather than take on board a footballing lesson from 'foreigners' of the magnitude of the 1953 Hungarians and the Real Madrid side of Puskas and Di Stefano in the Hampden final and try to learn from their (modern) philosophy. It's that sort of attitude that has helped hold back the progress of English football for decades. Box to box midfielders, putting your foot in, stopping the other side playing, waiting for set-pieces or long throw-in opportunities etc may be good enough for the Premier League but it's from 1970's history books. If Saturday's performance didn't bring that home you should get out more...........

  • Comment number 57.

    He has won every thing a a club manager can win . I think after Barca, he should take a break from football for 1 year then manage Spain. Win a world cup or two. Then end his career in barca as a sporting director .

    No point in moving to England . It cant offer him anything new

  • Comment number 58.

    Critical analysis should always be based on critical success factors. When we consider great managers, do we factor important variables such as money vs success and level of readiness. Pep is great yes, but how much of his success is attributable to factors that cannot be credited to him - the youth team, Messi, money spent, etc. Alex Ferguson wins because he spends. He has spent Man U into debt. Is that regarded as success?

    Any team with perhaps the best player the world has ever seen will succeed. Take Messi out of Barcelona and you will have a team that can be beaten by any other top team. Messi is the reason why Arsenal has lost in two successive years to Barcelona.

    Manchester United are in debt and Barcelona are also in debt. When we hold up these two teams as examples of incredible success, we get our thinking wrong. Anyone can win when enough money is spent. Manchester City is a prime example. A manager that can win within budget and turn ordinary players into winners will be the great manager. Both Ferguson and Pep do not meet this condition.

    It is why, in spite of recent failures, Arsene Wenger beats both of them hands down. He grinds something out of nothing.

  • Comment number 59.

    He has a similarity with Wenger. Both of them cant work with big egos. Eto'o, Zlatan, Ronaldinho come to mind

  • Comment number 60.

    Guardiola will not come to england. Anyone who thinks so has been living in the land of the elves! Man U, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool(my team), Stoke City...none of them have anything to offer him. He will stay at Barca, then maybe take the Spain job, or the Argentina job (link up with Messi and Mascherano???). He`s a great coach, bit too early to say he`s the best ever, but no one can take away what he has achieved. Seems like a nice bloke too. And as for him looking tired...if he has been giving interviews in english then he would be tired! (not to say his english is bad...better than Fergies ;) )

  • Comment number 61.

    calling any job a step down is silly, they're the world champions, of course everywhere's a step down.
    The only job he'll take is the Spain job.

  • Comment number 62.

    @58
    fergie has spent man u into debt? have you lost the plot or don't you know much about football? it was the glazers who put man u into debt not the transfers they have made unlike others such as barca or madrid. maybe this might help you realise a few things http://www.transferleague.co.uk/league-tables/1992-to-2011.html

  • Comment number 63.

    Don't worry about Pep's future. He'll stay in FCB some more seasons: almost until his team fight for victory (both in spanish leage and Champions) If those guys work hard every year, there won't no problem for Pep to stay here in Barcelona. I'm sure it all depend on players determination. If that, London would be a great destination for Pep. I think Arsenal's philosophy is closer Pep's ideas than Chelsea. But who knows. What I hope is this incredible team could be next years in the last matches of Champions.

  • Comment number 64.

    i wonder why everyone has ignored managers wages !
    no one manages for pride '
    so if Roman Abramovich is targeting Guardiola he will land him
    chelsea has the power to be a good team .
    as we already know he can land any one if he wants to
    even if its 55m ponds of the trash :D

  • Comment number 65.

    @47

    Never heard so much nonsense before. LOL!

  • Comment number 66.

    Firstly, #64, you Sir are a numpty. 'No one manages for pride.' Of course not. WUM or Martian, which is it? How many examples would you like? I'll give you Ian Holloway for one.
    Also Terry I concur, Dave @47 when was the last time you saw any La Liga action? I'd suspect you'd seen no action with a thought process that mangled.
    Ronaldo IS worse than the whole Barca team, and he's not as bad as Di Maria. I'm not saying they're saintly but you almost sympathise when for 70% of the game they have the ball and are frequently chopped by the opposition.
    And your point about not having enough competitive games to excuse being tired is laughable. The PL and Liga both play 38 games per season and the top 4 or 5 of each has been pretty much predictable in recent years. United's home record was better than Barca's for this season. So kindly share your excuse as to why United didn't win the CL last year, this year and won't win next year?
    Thanks

  • Comment number 67.

    @36 Who's everyone. Did he tell you this personally? Did he tell the press? That from the Legend that is Real he wants to come down to OT?

    @39
    Wow! voodoo economics.......

  • Comment number 68.

    Arsenal players will hate pep. Lack of fight is the for barren yrs.Pep demands fight. Lazy bums dont even deserve to wear goonershirts

  • Comment number 69.

    @38, dont forget the "mono" bit by busquetes

  • Comment number 70.

    9. At 11:52 30th May 2011, SteveSmith99 wrote:

    The man is a good coach, there is no denying, however, what Jose Mourinho said in the aftermath of El Theatrico is not far from the truth. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many Chelsea, Arsenal, Madrid fans too... He is still yet to win a Champions League which is not "Blood Stained" as JM put it.

    There's a large list of reasons recently, this blog was not too long ago I read... http://markbritton7.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/fc-barcelona-mes-que-un-club-you-bet/ - But it's recent enought to cover the Busquets 'Mono' incident, which went (bizarrely) unpunished, and I couldn't help but see the joy on Platini's face when Barca climbed the stairs.... - As for me, I'm actually a Fulham fan, so all bias aside!

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Here we go with the obligatory anti-Barca straw-clutching.

    The only team that can feel reasonably aggrieved was Chelsea in 2009, and even then Ballack should have been sent-off in the first-leg and suspended for the second.

    Arsenal were the beneficiaries of poor officiating at the Emirates which led to Barcelona erroneously having a second goal ruled out.

    Real Madrid were slightly unlucky in Mascherano conning the referee into thinking that he'd been fouled which led to Higuain having a goal chalked-off, but even then the aggregate score would have still been 2-1 in Barcelona's favour.

    The semi-final against Inter last year saw Alves being brought down but a penalty turned down and Bojan having an injury-time winner ruled out for a debatable handball decision in the build-up. Add to that Paul Scholes having a goal disallowed in against Porto in 2004, and I don't think Mourinho is on any firm ground to suggest that any Champions League victory is ''tarnished''.

    There has never to my knowledge been any precedent for a player getting suspended in Europe for saying something unpleasant on the pitch, so I have no idea why anyone would seriously think that Busquets would have been suspended for the final.

    As for the ''joy'' on Platini's face, then firstly, you have no idea if he would've look as pleased if United had won, and secondly, perhaps he - like everyone else - was joyful at Barcelona's superb footballing display ?

    These factually inaccurate, cherry picked and tabloidish conspiracy theories from Barca haters are getting more and more contrived and desperate by the minute!

    Give it up, it's starting to become embarrassing.

  • Comment number 71.

    51. At 14:54 30th May 2011, onenessuk wrote:

    Barcelona's amazing footballing style and acheivements will forever be tainted by their play acting and attempts to have opponents sent off
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nonsense. Name me one team that doesn't try to get opponents sent off ?

    When you see a team being awarded a free-kick and having a word with the referee afterwards, what do you they are doing? Asking him where he's going on holiday in the summer?!


  • Comment number 72.

    Managers don't win games, let alone tournaments. But they can lose games and tournaments. We pay to much attention to them.

    I think a humble and intelligent guy like Pep would agree with me.

  • Comment number 73.

    @MrWengal, not really a great argument there.

    If he wanted a real challenge, he could go to Scunthorpe United or perhaps even get West Ham back into the Premier League. Arsenal are a great team, but they don't seem to be challenging too much anymore - i hope they prove me wrong next season, but 6 years without a trophy is shocking for a club of that stature.

  • Comment number 74.

    @36

    "Only an idiot or someone desperately needing money would consider Chelsea."

    'Big' Ron Atkinson seems to fit perfectly then! lol

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    51 - Showing a lot of bitterness.

  • Comment number 77.

    9 wrote

    He is still yet to win a Champions League which is not "Blood Stained" as JM put it.


    that is so funny i will write the actual words out - LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!

    why do these folk wake up in the morning?

  • Comment number 78.

    Guardiola for United 2-3 seasons time

  • Comment number 79.

    #60 - England would provide him with a new challenge as La Liga is not a physical league and to manage a team here and train them to play like Barca could well be something that would interest him and he could well be a better fit than Mourinho at Old Trafford in a few seasons

  • Comment number 80.

    36. At 13:21 30th May 2011, SirArseneInvincibleWenger wrote:
    Whats all this talk about Guardiola going to United? Everyone knows Mourinho's waiting for SAF to retire so he can inflate his ego to catastrophic levels at United ("I've managed the best clubs in the world etc, I am the most holy person in the world bla bla)

    Only an idiot or someone desperately needing money would consider Chelsea.

    Arsenal would be a challenge and a good fit, decent philosophies but not as much pressure as United or Barca would be. However Wenger has unfinished business at Arsenal and needs to take account/justify this barren spell soon....
    ----------------------

    I like your comment, specially about Jose Mourinho the Special Holy Grace... lol!

  • Comment number 81.

    Anyone who considers pep the best manager in the world is an idiot, its the same as mourinho. They are great managers but have yet to take on a team who isnt clearly the best or 2nd best in a league or rebuilding a team.

    I think both are quite poor in the transfer market aswell.

    Id like pep as the next united manager, preferably after afew years a club he doesnt know inside out.

  • Comment number 82.

    I’m sorry but the following statement is untrue:

    “Guardiola the creator-in-chief of this era-defining football team,”

    For sure Guardiola is an important part of Barca’s evolution, but the current Barca team had it’s roots and philosophy laid over a 25 year period from Cruyff in the late 80’s / 90’s via Rijkaard and now Guardiola.

    Mourinho usually spouts deliberately controversial sound bites to a media that lap them up willingly, but he got it spot on when after the famous 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Barca he stated that this Barca team are a finished product.

    NO DOUBT Guardiola has been instrumental in finishing the Barca product, but it’s overstatement to say he is the creator in chief of Barca’s current dominance.

    The current Barca team is what happens when an ideal and philosophy (from academy level) is honed and instilled into a club over a prolonged period of time.

  • Comment number 83.

    I wonder if the pressure is as huge as waking up every morning to a job you hate to feed the mouths of your family.

    Or the pressure of having to work every hour god sends in order to struggle by and get a roof over the heads of you and your family.

    I wonder if the pressure is as much as a surgeon performing open heart surgery with the life of another directly in their hands.

    I wonder if the pressure is even as tough as a train driver, or bus driver, ensuring millions get to their required destination safely each year.

    I think he is massively insulting the people above, all of which live their daily life under much greater pressure and purchase an over priced ticket at the end of the week to see their heroes.

  • Comment number 84.

    Great article.

    I agree to some extent about Pep's skills as a coach, but woulf also put forward the point that, he inherited a world class team. His skills lie in his ability to create such a loving relationship with his players and complete the team even further with singings such as 'villa' which is a match made in heaven.

    Its the traits he instills in hte players which is an achievement. Again i think if any attacking coach, wenger, ferguson, ancelotti etc.. would all go to barca and win the league and get to at least the final of the CL

  • Comment number 85.

    Seriously I dont get all the hype about how tired he is, poor him, seriously what is going on in this world, he has the easiest job in the world and is paid a ridiculous wage. How hard is it really on managing the greatest club team in the world at this moment, I am pretty sure his team talk could be the same each week ' ok boys same as usual'. Poor poor me, not another away trip to play football Again, why is life 'so unfair' grrr.

    He aint the greatest manager of all time either, or current, isnt someone like say Paul Lambert a contender for this with the resources he has to work with to get Norwich back in the Premier, that to me (as one example of many) is a much better achievement than managing the greatest players in the world and having success.

    He walked into that side, he aint brought them back from gloom, I like the person, and I think he could potentially be a great manager one day, age is on his side also, but he makes it all sound like he going through some sort of evil chore having to do all this, get a grip please Mr Guardiola.


  • Comment number 86.

    Guardiola would fit superbly into the Arsenal setup and i'm sure would know exactly how to develop it and take it to the next level. We really need an injection of desire and tactical awareness to take us forward.

  • Comment number 87.

    Great player, great manager. Well done Pep - see you at Chelsea soon!

  • Comment number 88.

    We thank pep for doing a great job and we will glad to see him for the next 10 more seasons what a great job 10 trophies in three seasons waoh pls stay for more seasons thanks guardiola we love u from nigeria

  • Comment number 89.

    I really hope Pep will take the reigns at Arsenal,once Wenger decides to take a boardroom role. He would be perfect for our club and Arsenal are the only other club right now trying to emulate the way Barca play. In many ways the move would suit all parties, and he would carry on the philosophy of passing at Arsenal, which Wenger has successfully introduced into our system of play. Pep and Wenger have mutual respect and would work well in their roles together; it would be a challenge for them both to take Arsenal to the next level. We're a long way off them right now, as are many teams,but we are the only team to record a memorable victory against them in this CL.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think Guardiola was tired because he made every pass, took every shot, made every tackle in his head for 90 minutes. He is incapable of sitting on the bench during a game because he wants to be playing too much.

    As people said on here he is an intelligent guy so he probably knows his limitations so I can't see him managing another team anywhere as it will show him that he isn't as good a manager as he wants to be seen and he is lucky enough to know he is managing the 3 best player in the world at the moment. With Barcelona every single player who was in the Cantera looks up to him, admire him and are prepared to run through brick walls for him. This wouldn't happen anywhere else.

    As for Spain I have feeling he has burnt his bridges there. He made the point that he is Catalan first and Spanish second too many times.

    He doesn't know failure yet. Let's wait until he does (and he will, everyone does) and see if he turns it around, quits or reacts negatively. I can see him quitting and taking a Johann Cruff role.


    I expect to get slaughtered for this comment because I haven't said Guardiola is the greatest manager of all time.

    Lastly anyone know that Sergio Busquets Dad Carles played with Guardiola? I didn't.

  • Comment number 91.

    Hi all,

    Everyone is talking here about how great Pep is. I ahve no doubt that he is really good, but might not be that gr8 as everyone thinks

    Just think about this season in Spanish League. There only opponent was Real Madrid. yes Real got destroyed in the first match of the season. But we need to understand that Maurinho got no time with the new players and could not find out a proper combination,
    Now look at the last 4 games. 2 draw, one real won and one Barca. Hot exactly a thumping. And if luck favoured Real could have win the C'league. Pepe red card ( no contact made - check you tube) and the disallowed goal. Things are not anymore easy for Barca with this Real team and Maurinho at helm. That guy is genious. You can call him rude, negative whateve. But he can grind out results,

    Next season look out for Real as they will have pre season time, more understanding in the team and they will farely match Barca.

    Next year Real for champions

  • Comment number 92.



    10 trophies in his three seasons in charge - that's a massive achievement for a manager and his team by all standards at the very start of this century. Pep is an outstanding coach for sure.

    Fine article by Jonathan Stevenson. Great talent. Well done.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 93.

    I also think Pep is approaching to the end of his Barca tenure. Life is about cycles and football is no exception. He has been great there but it's time for him to go somewhere else and leave the seat for another successful coach. They wisely nullified [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] so ManU would become one dimensional only. And Rooney had to play as a recovery player. The midfield was not present at times and that against Barca is like shooting yourself on the foot. The best team won and Barcelona deserves full credit for it. Hopefully next season ManU gets some young blood specially in the midfield so we can have some kind of revenge in the Champions League final. Go ManU!!!

 

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