The news had been rumored and speculated upon for weeks within informed circles of the Spanish press, but the reality of Josep "Pep" Guardiola confirming his decision to leave Barcelona is a blow that no amount of advanced warning will soften for the millions of fans who follow the Catalan club around the world.
It says something of the standards the 41-year-old set at the Camp Nou that being knocked out of the semifinals of the European Champions League - a result that relinquished Barca's grip on the continental title - and a defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid which all but ended a compelling fight for the Spanish crown, were deemed failure enough for his trophy-laden tenure to come to an end.
And of course, in typical fashion, it seems the judgment of failure resided almost solely in the mind of Guardiola himself. Among the directors of the club, the players and legions of fans, you would be hard-pressed to find any that would agree with Pep's personal analysis - but such is the burden of the perfectionist complex, one assumes.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has his critics, but the Frenchman's pursuit of flawless football surely pales into insignificance next to Guardiola's compulsive characteristic. For this was a coach who, in his first top-level job, won 13 trophies in four seasons - not bad for a man learning the ropes.
Three back-to-back La Liga titles, twice crowned champions of Europe (and semifinalists of the intervening year), one Copa Del Rey, two UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups and three Spanish Super Cups. In 46 months, Guardiola built his side a cupboard full of silverware that other clubs take decades to accumulate.
This success had major implications in logistics alone: such was the Blaugrana's progress in major competitions, Guardiola oversaw 242 matches since 2008. The intensity of this period would always test such an artistic approach.
But the tangible evidence of success was only half the story: it was the manner by which Pep's Barcelona slayed all that came before them, the aesthetic elegance of their play that took the game into a new realm and captured the heart and imagination.
The beauty of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta in their pomp - set free with an ethos of creativity by the manager - has led to passages of play whose audacity and technical prowess defy belief. Messi has scored, on average, over 50 goals per season playing under Guardiola - an eye-watering stat that may never be bettered.
But it wasn't just about three individuals, Guardiola was an innovative tactician too. No team in the world defends like Barca, goading opposition attackers to expend their energy chasing lost causes by diligently passing the ball in areas where the coaching manual clearly states a "boot upfield" is required.
He made the bold decisions of selling Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He turned Javier Mascherano into a centerback and turned defender Gerard Pique into a world beater. His team attacked like mind readers and defended with relentless, energy-sapping pressing. It was a high-risk masterclass that placed ultimate trust in the skill of his players.
This "ideal" touched football fans across the planet and will arguably be Guardiola's greatest legacy. Alex Ferguson, a disciple of the beautiful game if ever there was one, said simply that Pep's Barcelona were the "best team he had ever faced." A magnanimous and powerful assessment from the oracle-like Scot, whose Manchester United side were crushed 3-1 by Barca in last season's Champions League final and 2-0 in the 2009 title match.
Guardiola may not yet have won more trophies than greats such as Bob Paisley, Ottmar Hitzfeld or Marcello Lippi, and he hasn't tested his skills in different countries and been successful like Jose Mourinho, but he arguably got closer to soccer perfection than the "total football" of Ajax and the intuitive attacking of Pele's Brazil.
He promoted a brand of football that was pure and poetic, and that alone has made him an honorary member in the pantheon of great coaches.
Messi is the guy that carried Barcelona. But Pep is a great coach, no doubt about it!
What a beautiful way to capture how we feel about the team. As an expat living here in Barcelona, I have only been following football for two years and even I had to wipe a few tears during the press conference.
he certainly deserves a lot of credit. rijkaard had them playing excellent football, but guardiola has taken them to another level. he inherited them at a perfect time, as the key players are all at their peaks.
i think a lot of their success is down to an incredible youth academy (la masia), that has brought through so many top players. whoever inherits them next year, they'll be a danger in all competitions. of course, the job will come with untold pressure...to match guardiola.
On his way to United! Who else can replace Sir Alex but Pep
Why take such a swipe at Wenger? Don't forget Barca is not Pep's vision, it's Johann Cruyff's. Pep inherited the greatest crop of players from the greatest academy, La Masia. Pep had unlimited funds to buy players and he used them to buy all the firepower and defense he needed at premium prices. Pep is a great coach, but like wenger he never had a plan B. Let's see how he does without the serendipity of the Barca set-up he walked into, and needs to change tactical gears. Where is Frank Reichardt (sic) these days?
pep is not good @ all messi ,xabi n inesta dat lifted de image of bercelona
i believe so much in barca team, am happy to be one there fan. next season is gonna be a fantastic. i believe god of soccer is nt in our side
It takes a brave man to admit he's burned out, and that's what Guardiola is saying. He could have coasted along for a few more seasons going through the motions and being carried by his players in the hope that he emerges from his funk, but it shows great personal integrity and respect for his team and the institution that is Barcelona to confess that he's no longer got what it takes inside. Clearly, it's a surprise to many that he's lost his mojo so soon as this is the first time he's really tasted failure, but he's obviously a deep thinker who knows himself, and while, Wenger and the like have been able to steel themselves against external criticism and fight on, Guardiola's task may have been harder as it's tough to ignore the critic within. He's not the first to walk away from one of football's big jobs because he felt overwhelmed, Kevin Keegan springs to mind as another example, but walking away from the best club in the game (notwithstanding this season's blip) takes real courage, and while we can't begin to really understand his decision we should commend it for coming from the right place.
Pep will definitely go down in soccer history as one of the greatest coach ever.
I conquer with u Joe, ofkoz Pep was better, but he had to find plan B, we shouldnt play the same all 90 mints for consecutive three important matches! Its sad to see him going, but lets open new winning era at camp now
This is so sad, well im just gonna watch family guy aqll day to cheer up and im jobless
Pep taught me life. During his stint at Barca I was writing my PhD thesis. Watching him taught me to be perfect! Taught me to persevere, taught me to stick with my values and what I believe. I graduated and it felt like winning the Champions League. Thanks Pep, you are the greatest!
Pep will forever remain as one of the greatest coach of all time.
I am not a Barca fan...most times I hope the other team wins but this Barca team is the most amazing i've seen...players like messi, xavi and iniesta shouldn't be singled out from the team as defence and mid field played an equally important role in ensuring less goals conceded...Pep has really found the right formula and managed to inspire the team to give more than 100% everytime
Guardiola is a great coach.He has created one of the most successful teams in football history.
There is nothing good like watching clean and pure football,Guardiola provided us with that. I only hope he change his position of leaving berselona.
There is nothing good like watching clean and pure football,Guardiola provided us with that. I only hope he change his position of leaving barselona.
Very good coach but far from the greatest.... Yes he made barcelona play and win in a way that most people admire but soon or later other teams would learn how do deal with they way of playing and perhaps this time has arrived. I totally agree with Chezeni's comments "he had to find plan B". A great coach would not give up when the team mostly need him! Maybe he was just lucky to have players like Iniesta, Xavi em Messi around him!
Guardiola is definately the greatest true football coach. He grommed those bois to play football.......The trophies where just the add-ons. He taught and moulded football in a way a manner that made you love and crave each mach.... Win or Lose. he's the best
The right coach at the right time for the right players. Any half decent coach would have a won a few trophies with those players but Pep played for Barca and knew the dutch style but his greatest accomplishment was bringing out the best in his players and taking them to a supreme level. Barca of '09 – '11 was untouchable. Highly unlikely we will see a better, more complete side. Hats off to Pep. Please don't go to Chelsea though.
Pep is a true gentleman. He does not make sarcastic comments or crtisimn like Mourinho did if Real were to lose or draw a game. What more if his players get more yellow or red cars. It is always the opposition or the referee to be blamed. In the last game against Barca he claimed to have the formula or tactic of 6-3-1. Many may forgets that when he was the coach of Chelsea he blamed opposing clubs of parking a bus in front of goal. Mourinho did the same thing with Barca and only hope for a counter attack. But as for Pep, he believes in entertaining the fans that filled the stadium with fluid and attacking football. Of course he wants to win every game. But there are times he accept gracefully when his team lost. But not Mourinho..a cry baby when the decision go against him.
pep has been more than a coach , it will be remembered forever as one of that guys that sometimes appear in history who leads the way, pep... master and commander.
barca done good job. messi was really play nicely but unfortunately he miss the penalty. great barca.
You can't possibly say that Guardiola is a footballing great. As a manager he has only produced it at one club. However, he has won trophies he struck lucky with players like Messi, Iniesta & Xavi. He can't be compared to managers such as Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Brian Clough etc. However, he did great things. Let's see if he can prove me wrong.
the best coached had also the best players...he is the best..
pep has been more than a coach, one of those that pave the way for others to follow, he will be remembered.
A great article for a great artist. Indeed Pep's Barcelona has taken soccer to a different dimension. We are so used to it in Spain we have not yet realized how hard is to keep bringing on the magic weekend after weekend. And what's magic is the simplicity of the genius. Einstein won his Nobel on the photoelectric effect using what seems like a simple formula based on subtracting energies of photons. Pep has revolutionized the game on a simple formula also: if the other team runs after the ball while we pass it around, then they get a lot more tired and it will be easier to score goals on them....of course keeping the ball close to your feet is not as easy as it seems. Einstein was pretty bright by supposing photons could only exist as multilples of Planck's constant in his simple subtraction formula. It's the genius that makes things look simple!!!
One of the greatest coach ever. We as Barcelona fan feel sad today. However we thank him for his achievement with barca and for creating one of best team in the world. I am just thankful for that. We love you pep.... it really sad.
...i simply love the fact that Guardiola knew when to call it a day. Great Men make Difficult Decisions in Difficult Times. Thank you for given us such a Moment in Time. What a Man. What a Coach. What a Manager.
I strongly hope you try and stay in touch with your boys...And when do we expect to have a Best Seller from you please ?
The guy is really intelligent. Is going out when at the top of his carreer. Suppose will never form a team like that.
Jose Mourinho is far greater than Pep. Two different teams, two Champion's League titles. Just look at what Jose had done at Porto, Chelsea, Inter & now Real Madrid. We will see how Pep does at his next team before we can start calling him the greatest. Don't you think?
' promoted a brand of football that was pure and poetic' sums it all up about coach Pep. Will be sorely missed. Best of luck!!
it would be very nice if Barcelona was on the final game but now it is not.
i love my team my full of my heart so it is not important that this year is not in final game.
Messi is always the best.
Yes, Guardiola is one of the greatest coach up there, but the greatest? No, he is still not. The title of the "greatest" can only be bestowed onto coach/managers that could mould a team from nothing into champions, building and rebuilding teams up constantly and still winning. The reason why Guardiola could not be acknowledge as the "greatest" is simply he already inherited winning team but credit must be given for his managements and tactical mind.
His only shortcoming is the 4 year stint in Barca, which although he won many, would he be able to continue persisting if he managed them any longer? Until that is answered, the "greatest" is not his yet.
Tell them after my death that I did not see LEONARDO DA VINCHI creating MONALISA SMILE . Tell them I never saw an ANGEL on earth. But tell them I saw MESSI , XAVI , INIESTA playing football on this planet....GUARDIOLA was the leader of them.
CHELSEAS WILL WIN THE CUP
Cruijf's masterminded the style but Pep fine-tuned it into a a work of art.
True football fans thank you for that.
But what I will take away from him is his mild manners off the pitch and frantic but beautiful coaching during the matches. I always thought he would explode during a game but now he imploded. And when I look to a picture of him signing his contract in 2008 he has turned 10 years older...
Recharge mr Guardiola and then go play golf with Johan.
You have deserved it and you always said you were a Barca man...
Guardiola,the architect of Barcelona success,no question about that,
Another word to describe him will be incredible,
Losing 2 major games in a row(La Liga and Champion League) which could have been the title decider from both lost,I believe it will be a bit hard for me to swallow if I was in his place..I think he feels the same way and the best solution for him is to leave the club early so that the great work he have done in the past is not overshadow by any lost again.
In any circumstances,win or lose,I believe he have done his job at Barcelona...
a great coach Pep is, but lets see him trade his talent with a new team different league.
Great loss for football world! No more FB without PEPE! It's METAPHYSICS!
Job well done Mr.Pep, good luck on the road forward.
How could anyone pen 'greats such as Bob Paisley, Ottmar Hitzfeld or Marcello Lippi' and leave out SAF amongst others....
CNN do yourself a favour and get yourselves some proper 'soccer' wordsmiths...
I hope, Pep Guardiola did not step down from barcelona ......
GUARDIOLA DISPLAYED BRAVERY IN LEADING AND HUMILITY IN LEAVING,THAT SCORES A BIG POINT.
Guardiola has put the importance of a coach to the levels of US major sports like football and basketball. Leading by example, a good winner, a good looser,a gentlemen, well groomed, a tactician, humble yet fierce...he is the greatest soccer coach I have seen...and I say all this being a Real Madrid fan for the last 36 years, and from Madrid.
I do not want to take anything away from Pep. He is a good coach. but he had everything going his way. he had the right tools to work with. This happens to be his real first adversity and he chooses to leave. I believe the sign of a great coach hinges on one's ability to overcome adversity. In the moment , we get emotional and start putting out accolades... lets be slow to judge him as the greatest ever... just my 2 sense..
Guardiola certainly made some contribution with new brand of football. He did have great players in the team to mold in his style of play. Yet, it was him who gave the role and kind of duty to each player had to preform to perfection including Messi and Xavi..... These plays came out to its full potential only when he took over Barcelona .... He will be missed for his vision but I think with short lay off Guardiola will resurface in short time and surprise everyone what he has already planned with another great club !
Best of luck Guardiola
KTM – Nepal.
Pep is blessed with a healthy and a positive mind. Under his mentoring Barça added further beauty to the Beautiful Game.
With a bit of rest he will certainly return with fresh energy and newer ideas. He is young and has a long way to go.
I like his attitude. He respects his opponents. Wishing Pep all the very best in his sabbatical.
Pep has proven his capacity, but its the newsmen who make or break hero. Ben Wyatt deserves a applause for writing so well, I didn't realize I was reading or someone was narrating. Good work, keep those coming.
Guardiola , You are a great
so i wana say thnk you Guardiola for all great help,but what else should be done!??? is it the final of Barcelona
Only great minds, have the courage to know when it is time to quit , irrespective of the prevailing situation. Pep is a great coah, with a great mind. He has left his footprints on the sand of time.
Pep is the best coach I've ever seen! He wants to win but he does it with style, not by parking the bus. He likes to entertain, he doesn't like the "everything goes as long as we win" He wins in a mesmerizing way that leave no chance for arguments.
He made enjoyable to watch a football match, and believe me with these American commentator that is not easy!
He certainly defines what the beautiful game is all about. He is humble in victory and gracious and honest in defeat, he makes no excuses, he teach us how to win and how to lose with dignity. He respects the rival teams.
We will miss you, please recharge your batteries, have some well deserved rest, and come back to Barcelona, You are a true CULE!! Pep you are the best! El Barcelonismo te necesita!
As a Real Madrid fan i have mixed feelings about this decision. One part of me is happy he's gone because now Barca will be easier to play against. The other part of me doesnt like this because to be the best, you have to be the best. Guardiola should be considered one of the best. I hope the new Coach doesn't screw up the team and end up dismatling it by trying to impose his own playing style.
A lot of self-proclaimed pundits here are of the opinion that Pep never had a plan B. Really? Maybe you should ask Mourinho. Pep had several plan Bs, consisting of different formations. It is just that his Plan Bs did not coincide with what many would have envisioned. A plan B does not necessarily mean that one has to deploy 11 people behind the ball. Pep was a great coach. The fact that two teams beat his side by parking the bus does not mean that he did not know how to deal with such a situation. It simply means that those two teams were the ones that got away with it.
Several other teams have tried the same tactics- and failed miserably.
The man coached a great club for 4 years and delivered 13 trophies- a record by itself. Congrats to him. Now, let him enjoy his sabbatical in peace.
Truth be told, I'm no Catalan fan, but he's one of the finest coaches I've ever gotten to watch in my generation. I only hope he continues with that amount of display wherever destiny will take him.
Pep really is the greatest coach of all time. Many people are talking about comparing him with Sir Alex, Cruyff etc. But talking relativity, Sir Alex won 2 European cups in 25 years. But Pep did the same and more in just 4 years. When compared with his mentor (Cruff) Cruff won 11 cups for Barca in all of 8 years that he was with the team. Barca's soccer phylosophy trives on playing light weight players with low centre of gravity and fast on the ball. For a team like that speed is of the essence. To beat such a team only crude tactics such as employed by Mourinho at Inter and Chelsea under Di Mateocan succeed. A tactic which works by mauling and trampling the rather fragile but nimble Barca players, and steamrolling over them to get a goal then put all 11 players behind the ball. For games like that, the Americans will be better off watching American football and golf. Again, people talk of him inheriting an already made team forgetting that he handled that same team at the youth level. So it is not true to say that he inherited it. In fact, he helped to creat it. That is how come the understanding between coach and players is so telepathic.
Thank you Pep for making new soccer converts of millions. You will always be remembered for the right reasons. We cannot wait to have you back after a well deserved break.
he is a great coach with a great team but remember he inherited a very good side from Frank Rikaard
it's take me less time to understand team barca, currently my best soccer team due to remarkable skill and capabilities of different players like messi, xavi, phedro under the coach of pep. Even though pep leave he will be inherent to all as barcelona success.
a nice and odd comparison "The Greatest"Muhamud Ali .So is Pep Guardiola.Fantastic,charming football with the team.
Pep is humble and does'nt boost like other coaches who call themselves the special one. God is special and that is what pep believe in. Pep always did his talking in the field and that is what he always taught his players. I remember the first La Liga match with Mourinho, there was a lot of mind games from mourinho. Pep told his players not to listen to fun talk and must do their talking in the pitch, and on that match, it was an embarassing situation for madrid and mourinho ( Barca 5-Madrid-0). He is a very gentle and inteligent coach and has made himself a name in playing football for Spain and barca. I wish you good luck pep Guardiola.
To a neutral football fan, it was mesmerising to watch… it was perfect definition of the ‘beautiful food’: The skill, the passing and above all the humility from both the coach and the players.
Never mind winning, as a neutral fan, I don’t really have a stake and an interest in who is winning – I would like to wake up at 4:30am here in Australia to watch beautiful game of soccer. And it is indeed an honour to wake up early to watch this Barcelona game. Why would I waste my sleep to watch 10 men camped in front of the goal mouth to build a ‘Berlin’ wall and wait for their opportunity to run 50 meters to score on counter? I know the game is about winning, whichever way you can but I would rather watch other sports if that’s what I wanted to see. Elevating the like of the ‘special One’ as good coaches is really sad for the game.
Above all, what separates this team from the rest is the humility – you simply have to watch the likes of Drogba or C. Ronalso to understand what I mean.
As for Pep, yes he is a great coach but I would also like to agree that at the time he took over these guys were already playing good. Not enough credit is given to Rijkaard during the Ronaldinho spell there. I still remember being captivated by their brand of football then.
Also remember that Real Madrid used to play this brand of beautiful passing football in late 90/early 2000s and Ferguson knows it. I used to be a Real Madrid fan during the likes of Raul, Zidane, Redondo, Roberto Carlos and others. But then they fired their coach del bosque and everything fell apart. Also Brazil of ‘96/98 were equally good. Current Barca, the ‘best ever’? Yes I think so and I can just hope we will continue to watch them at their best.
He is really the best.gud luck wherever you pep you have been a great coach.
he is indeed a great coach. surely we shall miss him.
Yes, Pep Guardiola is a great coach. We have to admitt that. The fact is there: 13 trophies in 4 years. What can you say else ?
It's time for him to take his own decision.
The FC Barcelona losses against Chelsea and Madrid is exactly similar to the Los Angeles Lakers (then led by the great Phil Jackson) sweeped by Dallas Maverick 4-0. Who of us dare that Phil Jackson who masterminded the triangle offence did not have a plan B ? In fact, he coached Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant for a total of 11 NBA championship titles.
It's the rule and it happen in every sport: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose no matter how great you are.
Gracias Guardiola por esos 4 años magníficos, y se que algún día volverás al Barcelona y escribirás otro capitulo especial para los amantes del fútbol del todo mundo.
you guys can say wat eva you like, AM a true Barca FAn , this is my 8th year of been in the club. u say without messi , xavi nd inesta, Gad wouldn`t av made a big record , THATS A VERY BIG LIE its not funny to c Gad leaving.................. till death do us part i REMAIN LOYAL TO BARCA. don`t forget if u lack good management no matter the quality of what u av its fades off in a twinkle of an eye..............
GAD` U ARE THE BEsT!!!!!!!!!!! :( *(
He coached players to play in a way that focused on skill and fluid passing.
He established a philosophy of positive football, always going forward.
He established a mentality of winning , never giving up and always chasing the ball.
He did not play mind games, did not insult people, was always gracious in victory, and defeat.
Don't know any other coach that did that.
Ohh, by the way, he won a lot of football matches.
Morinho is happy that pep is leaving. In fact he never saw happiness when pep was around. See he renew his contract with madrid at the time pep announce his exit.
one must be reminded that pep met a unit built by raygard
Too soon in Guardiola's career to say he is the greatest. Time will tell. But he is certainly among the greats. I usually miss work, church and other important events just to see my precious Barca play. What a joy to watch this team! I am just so thankful to be born in this era to see total football at its best! Many thanks to Cruyff for introducing excellent football to Barca, to Rikaard for moulding the team and to Pep for perfecting the art. I wish him well and look forward to having him back in the future. Hopefully, Tito will not change the winning formula!
although pep had an invincible team it takes a good manager to cordinate that kind of team to so much success ...what i like most about pep is the way he dresses..
Collaborator and co-creator of CNN sport concepts such as The CNNFC, The Circuit and Aiming for Gold I have a passion for all things world football, F1 and athletic excellence.
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