Thursday, April 26, 2012
It's not exactly the best kept secret in football but tonight the Interweb is full of rumours, all emanating from Spain, that Pep Guardiola will tomorrow lunchtime announce his retirement from Barcelona and take time off to be with his family.
The strain on his face has been there for all to see for a while now and I think that regardless of the result of Tuesday night's Champions League Semi-Final the break was coming. Tito Vilanova will also probably take a break as well to allow him to completely recover from the operation he had before Christmas to remove a tumour from his partoid gland.
Guardiola's achievements as a player were beyond the dreams of most, he was part of the Cruyff dream team and I can remember him playing in a Champions League match, ironically against Chelsea, when the commentator described him as the footballing equivalent of an NFL quarterback.
In a Barcelona playing career that saw him play just over 480 games he won La Liga six times, the Copa Del Rey twice, the Spanish Super Cup four times and of course he was in the team that won the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley beating Sampdoria.
His first job on succeeding Frank Rijkard as manager in the summer of 2008 was to tell Samuel Etoo, Ronaldinho and Deco that they weren't part of his plans. The team was to be built around the midfield axis of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and the annoying but talented Sergio Busquets.
May 2 2009 is a date that will live long in the memories of all Barcelona fans. It's a night that I well remember because I was on a photography workshop in Southampton and phoned Nathalie at 10 p.m to ask what the score was, when she said, they've won 6-2 I thought she was joking. For Barcelona to win 6-2 in the Bernabeu was staggering and I remember sitting up long into the night watching the goals being re-run on Sky Sports and also thinking how sporting the home fans had been at the end of the match.
The retirement will bring to an end a brief but fruitful managerial career at Barcelona, one that has lasted just four seasons but produced three La Liga titles, two Champions League wins, two European Super Cups and two World Club Cups. More importantly it has given football fans all over the world, except perhaps for those in Madrid and a certain part of West London, four years of fantastic football and for that I am very grateful.
Posted by Paul at 9:32 PM