Uh, oh …. what a week this has been. First, we lose not once, but twice in our house, and now this, the thing that we don’t know.
Pep Guardiola, even when he signed on as our coach what seems like an eternity ago but in fact has only been four seasons, said that he wouldn’t sign long-term deals, so that he could follow his heart, his “feeling” in deciding when it would be time to step down as coach of FC Barcelona.
I thought, as we all did, that he would be around for a very long time, through a series of one-year deals. As time passed, that feeling for me began to change, to my most recent view, which is that this coming season would be his last.
Armageddon began brewing with a casually tossed off Tweet by writer Jimmy Burns, who said that if we don’t qualify for the Champions League final, Guardiola would most likely go. We didn’t qualify. A teary Guardiola hugged his players, one by one, after the Chelsea match.
Then today, came word of a series of meetings, dependent upon how trustworthy Barca-centric media sources are:
–Guardiola met with Tito Vilanova to discuss his future
–Guardiola met with RoSELL to discuss his future, or the meeting will come on Thursday, whichever
–RoSELL met with sporting director ZubiZa after his meeting with Guardiola, or before his meeting with Guardiola
And then, finally, word from the club that there will be no official announcement until Guardiola has an opportunity on Friday to speak with the players.
Recall the last time that he renewed. The club made an announcement, a smiling Guardiola received a standing ovation from his charges at practice, and that was that. This, however, all feels very, very different. My initial reaction was “Oh, crap, our coach is leaving us!”
Unfortunately, that is still the reaction of the journalist in me, even as that side battles with the cule, who doesn’t want the journalist to be right, who wants all this stuff to lead to an announcement that this will be his last season, and he wanted to let the players know. This move would also allow him to partially finish out his program, see through a bit of his commitment to the Masia grads and go out on top, with either/both a Liga or Big Ears cup.
At present, we still don’t know what is going to happen, but signs are ominous. But it’s all still speculation, but we’d be crazy if we didn’t acknowledge the possibility none of us want to believe would happen: Pep Guardiola might be coaching his last season as Mister at FC Barcelona.
Already, we have begun to hear names, such as Ernesto Valverde, Laurent Blanc, Andre Villas-Boas and Marco Bielsa being bandied about as possible successors. Don’t forget that Roberto DiMatteo doesn’t have a job, either. And it’s safe to say that this club, right now, would be a coach’s dream job, and nightmare. I mean, what a club, but what a record of success, right? Guardiola, whenever he leaves, will whomp down a set of big, giant shoes to fill. You also wonder if now isn’t the time, precisely because the big magic hasn’t happened, leaving the door open for a new coach to have his own successes.
For now, we sit and wait, but not for long. You can imagine that every journalist covering the club is beating the bushes and flogging sources in an attempt to get something, anything that might clarify the picture. And the question isn’t only who, but what, as in “will Guardiola do after he leaves?”
I don’t know that I have ever seen our coach looking so harried and helpless, sounding almost valedictory in his recent press conferences, sometimes almost wistful. I believe that a season off will come after he leaves us, whenever he leaves us. And now, we wait.