Adeu, Pep Guardiola! Moltes gracies per tot! UPDATE

Remember this guy?
Now he's THIS guy. In four years.

BREAKING: New coach is Tito Vilanova!

Pep Guardiola’s coaching career with FC Barcelona began in 2007, when he was announced as coach of the B team. He grabbed that team by the scruff of the neck, led it to a championship and promotion. When Joan Laporta subsequently announced, a year later, that he was to be coach of the first team, there was a lot of reaction, most of it bewildered.

He was to helm a club that had gone silverless for two seasons under its beloved coach Frank Rijkaard, and what the hell could some guy who was just running the B team do?

Only win every trophy that the club contested that season, 6 of them, the vaunted Treble (Copa del Reig, La Liga and Champions League) and an award from doctors, as jaws had to be re-set from hitting the floor.

That man, that great coach who is Blaugrana and cule to his core, announced today that he is leaving the club at which he started as a ballboy, for very simple reasons of fatigue and loss of the enthusiasm necessary to give as much as he does for the team that he loves.

We all knew that this day would come, because Guardiola himself warned us that it would. In thinking of Guardiola’s tenure, I recall the first time I had gelato at this little place just off La Rambla, called Patagonia. It was a double-dip of chocolate and vanilla. It was so good, I began taking smaller bites, to delay the onset of the bottom of that cup coming up. So it was with Guardiola, who told us all, time and again that he wasn’t a coach for the long-term.

From the onset, his contracts were structured as one-year deals, so that he could follow his famous “feeling.” He always said that only he would know when it was time to leave, but that when he chose to leave, it would be for the good of the club.

Now is that time.

We can leave whether he is correct about his decision for another post, another time. For now, this is the time, and the place, to say “Thank you” to the coach who has made our beloved club the stuff of legend, who fashioned the team that we so adore into something that generations will speak about with reverence. Because unlike great clubs that did everything except win silver, Guardiola’s Barca won silver, but it did more than that.

He came in and jettisoned Deco and the great Ronaldinho, and people questioned the moves, but he knew. He also wanted to sell Samuel Eto’o, who convinced him that he could be part of the program, so Eto’o stayed. Then he took players who were jaded, a damaged locker room, and in the span of a pre-season, fashioned that mess into a Blaugrana fist, one that pressed, passed, ran, defended by attacking and brought concepts of total football into bright, shining life. In 2009, facing a Manchester United side with suspensions and injured players, a United side that boasted the great Wrongaldo, Guardiola’s Barca grabbed an early smash-and-grab goal against the run of play, then proceeded to play the style that the world now knows as tika-taka, until the littlest giant, Lionel Messi, headed home for an insurmountable lead.

“Sure, that was this year, but let’s see next year.” The next year, he did it again, winning the Liga, and being stopped in Champions League only by a freakin’ volcano, in a hotly contested Champions League semi-final tie against Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho, one that cules will say was unjustly ajudicated in both legs, but still, there is only the result.

He began to integrate B team talents into the first team, with the likes of Pedro Rodriguez and Sergi Busquets, who many now consider one of the best DMs in the world. He brought up Thiago Alcantara, Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello, and has more talent waiting in the wings, talent all reared in a system that values more than physical ability — intelligence, calmness with the ball, vision and further, foresight. In a favorite quote, Guardiola said that “The key is that these are the best players in the world. Without this, there are no coaches who can perform miracles, less so, me.”

But in the argument that many have offered, that anybody could with with Lionel Messi, that isn’t entirely true. Rijkaard had a ton of world-class talent, but lost that buy-in that you need from players to make them believe. But more than money, players want victories. And after two trophyless seasons, Guardiola took over a team that wanted to win. His timing was, then as now, perfect.

Later, when Jose Mourinho vaulted from Inter Milan to the Evil Empire, and people said “Heh, now there’s a REAL coach in La Liga. It’s go time.” And Guardiola did it again, laying a legendary, now-iconic manita on Barca’s most hated rival, and winning the La Liga and Champions League titles, losing the Copa del Reig in a memorable, and memorably violent final match.

And then came this season, his fourth, a season studded with injuries both minor and catastrophic, medical issues that threatened Eric Abidal and his faithful assistant Tito Vilanova, conspiracy theories and pretty much everything that you could shake a stick at. This season was, for me, his best coaching job because he took a tired, damaged side and fashioned it into something remarkable: a club that, in spite of everything that was going on, was only a few goals away from doing it all again. Ultimately, the fatigue, the injuries were too much to overcome, but it was the spirit and fire instilled in this club by this man, that enabled the group of players we enjoy watching so much, to come so close to beating the odds.

Now, the day that Guardiola warned us would come, is here. His “feeling” tells him that it is time to step down as head coach of FC Barcelona, for a much-needed sabbatical from the game. The real reasons that he stepped down are his own, so I will not speculate on them. But what I will say as a cule and a proud, proud socio, is thank you, Pep Guardiola. Thank you for the wins, the joy, the tears of joy and sadness, the amazing way that you took a group of coddled millionaires and made them into a family. It was only a family that would go to war for each other like that, in the way that they picked each other up, a new person working magic when someone else couldn’t. Thank you for reminding us again how beautiful football can be, played by players whose genius was fully unleashed by a system that wasn’t created by you, but that you utilized, tinkered with and adapted to their individual skill sets.

Thank you for the way that you brought beauty to the game, as an aesthete but also a radical who messed with established notions, who ran press conferences like a boss, who put up with so much until finally it was enough and you lashed out at the coach who became your nemesis, putting the verbal smack down in a glorious (and almost certainly calculated) way that energized your charges — they responded by putting the smack down on the pitch.

As with the way that this season ended, cules can’t be sad about your decision, because you always have to respect the decisions of people who are in full control of their personal lives. And from each and every ending is a new beginning. But also, it’s the joy that you brought to us all with your band of swashbuckling midgets. So for all that, for every last bit of that ….

Moltes gracies, Pep Guardiola!.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. thanks Pep for all these amazing years. I got to see some football. I got to see some team.

    great comments… it helps getting through this together with this community. each time when i realize what has happen today i feel like I lost a true love… heartbreaking. most of us were like Messi today… too weak for this.

    oh and some irony. it seems that maybe Barca will officially loose the championship at home at our next game. still, it may be that our stadium will sing louder than ever. 🙂 being a barca fan is the greatest thing there is……

    Pep! Pep! Pep!

  2. Now, I’m curious to see how Tito will use Cesc. I got the impression that Cesc’s transfer was heavily influenced by Tito’s input. At the beginning of the season, Pep made a comment about how Tito told him that when Cesc was a kid, he liked to run from midfield to score goals.

    And I read a comment somewhere about how Tito, who coached Messi briefly as a kid, was surprised to see him scored fewer goals during Rijkaard’s time. Thus Messi’s position has been gradually changed. I’m guessing his role will continue to evolve next season.

  3. I’m interested in seeing what direction Tito will look to take us.
    I mean, he would have to have a similar philosophy to Pep but has to have different ideas tactically.
    Will he continue the experiment with 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 or will he stick to what he was brought up with – the 4-3-3?
    Will he be strong enough to force rest on Messi?
    Will he trust the young players as much or more perhaps?
    What will he look for in the transfer market?

    I’m looking forward to seeing what he wants from the summer and I’m glad that he has a pre-season in Europe.

    A little part of me did want Bielsa for the basque connection, I love Llorente and Javi Martinez, but pumped for Tito.

  4. In the long-term I see Pep coming back to club. Maybe not as coach. I really think that in a couple of years they should offer him the position of Director of Youth Development. All the youth team coaches would report to him, and he would have final say over training styles, schedules, acquisitions & promotions. He would work closely with the first team coach over who the best prospects for promotion are.

    I think it would be a perfect fit for him. Eventually.

    1. It will be impossible to find a finer testimony to Pep than this of Graham Hunter’s.

      Thanks for the link, blitzen – it has me choked up too.

  5. Some comments are over the line, at least for me. It’s not like he is dead or something. He is just taking some time off, and he will be back, i’m more than sure on this.
    I remember his last days as a player in our shirt when things weren’t going good for him, and the crowd somehow started to lose patience. He was just losing the ball over and over again, and than came that game, i can’t remember against who it was, BUT, he lost the ball in the middle of the pitch, similar to Messi, which led to a goal from the opponent. Than the crowd started to whistle at him, and he was just standing there, helpless, knowing that his time has come to step down as our player. And he did.
    Than came Italy and all that bullshit around him which later was proved to be false accusation. It was clear to me that he was only trying to spend some more time of his life playing football, and that’s it, he was not enjoying it. Than came Qatar, and in the end he returned to his home, like he never left.
    It took some, but he did returned. And did what he did. That’s why i’m confident that he will come back, in a year, two, three at most, but he’ll return.
    I know he brought us something that we will never forget, but i will just try to notice the importance of the project started from Rijkaard and than followed by Pep. The core of this team was made by Rijkaard, don’t forget that. To me at least, the joy that Pep brought is equal to the joy that Ronnie brought, the revolution inside the club and finally, to get out of that misery that was following us for so many seasons, like a curse.
    I just wish that Ronnie of 2005-2006 was part of this team along with Eto’o and Messi in this form as our front three.
    It still remains a question for me what is the best thing that happened to Barca(this millennium) – Ronnie, Messi or Pep, or all of them.
    We all had our doubts when Pep took over in 2008, let’s see what Tito of 2012 will do.

  6. So… where does Pep go from here? Will he again be coaching at Barca in a few years? Will he have a different job with the club? Will he leave the world of football for good? Will he coach somewhere else?

  7. At RMFB, we get a bunch of Barca supporters who post (more than you would imagine). We also have a RM supporter that likes to post in poem form. To cut a short story even shorter, a Barca supporter asked for a poem and they wrote a small one. It was a fun to read, so i thought i would share:

    I won them all
    Step by step
    I showed the world
    Who was pep

    tiki taka
    My son and daughter
    tiki taka ..
    Its me and no other

    I will miss you all
    But look no further
    Messi will roll
    For I made them stronger

    Farewell for now
    Cant stay any longer
    In my mind you are
    In my heart forever

    We won them all
    Step by step
    We showed the world
    Who was pep
    I am pep

    Enter tito
    Exit pep

    [By nomz]

    Best of luck to Tito, Adios Pep!

    1. This is making it very hard for me to hate you guys now. This makes me very happy, and has me grinning from ear to ear. 😀

      This and Sergio Ramos’s miss.. :mrgreen:

    2. AWESOME! A massive thank you to the writer. As I always say, “Hate the club, but respect the fans, who are all in the same boat.”

    3. Hey Bassam, thanks for sharing. That is a great poem. Like Kxevin said, we may be supporting different clubs, but in the end we are all fans, and we are very similar.

    4. Yes Nomz frequently regales us with his wordsmithery. Good of him to write a poem for Pep. Just goes to show that we can, no we must, be able to respect individuals from our archrivals’ clubs.

  8. It’s funny, with this change all of a sudden I feel that Barcelona is once again the underdog. The rebel alliance, if you will, instead of the all conquering Empire.

    It’s been a tough week, but somehow it just feels… right.

  9. My Madridista friends are also really struggling with the idea that Raul decided a week ago to not renew at Schalke and move on outside of Europe at the end of the season. And Del Piero is leaving Juventus, and Scholes finally stepping down (again) at United.

    From Sid Lowe’s article on the Chelsea second leg:

    Something strange happened in the dying moments of the semi-final. Fernando Torres had just scored the goal that ended Barcelona’s hopes of reaching the European Cup final, his eighth in 11 matches against the Catalans. But no one left and no one whistled; no one stayed silent. Instead, the chant went up. Soon it was going round right the stadium: Ser del Barça és el millor que hi ha! Being Barça fans is the best thing there is!

    Not so very long ago, that would have been unthinkable. There was sadness here, but no depression: the pessimism and self-destructive streak that has damaged Barcelona over their history was absent. There was little anger from supporters; instead, gratitude for what this team has achieved and what it might still achieve. What it represents.

    And I’d seen that sentiment represented all over the internet even long before we lost the league and CL, some weeks ago. Ed Alvarez had mentioned, I think, that Messi would never get a standing ovation at the Bernabeu the way Ronaldinho did because of what he represented. A Madrid fan in the comments responded to the querulous Barca fans by saying that yes, Madrid fans never would- because Messi and this era represented Barcelona finally stepping out of a victim mentality and inferiority complex of sorts (paraphrasing his language) and becoming the Great Team of Spain in a way that they had never really become in identity even during the Dream Team era and the Ronaldinho era. Dominating so massively and so relentlessly for so long that it made a collective generation of Cules shed the most self-destructive parts of their stereotypical pessimism and victim mentality, almost forgot (the emotional weight of) the times of being second-best- and all with such joy and beauty, holding on to such principles and high ground, that the trademark flightiness (not opposite of loyalty- many fan bases are extremely loyal but also flighty) and insecurity was gone. People were reveling in the joy and thankful.

    Eras in club histories do throw on to the self-identity of fans. I think Ed or Phil once wrote about how the stereotypical Madrid fan in the 90s and their self-identity was completely different from that during and after the first Galactico era of money, Zidane and co. I think it was an article about Raul leaving Madrid and how for many of the older fans Raul from his days debuting was the last remaining symbol of the 90s Madrid senorio and identity. If for once we’ve grown comfortable with the mantle of winning and always been shown an example of grace, gratitude, appreciation and perspective when losing, for this many years- and four years is a long time, for someone like me who just started college that feels almost like a lifetime- then that’s as great a legacy as the many other legacies he’s leaving us. (And there are many, imo- the memories and love of course; the trophies and a team to be telling your grandchildren about; a way of doing things about the club; hopefully a culture of coaches that will include Tito, maybe a return of Pep, maybe Enrique, maybe in some years Xavi; the way of doing things at youth level and in first team like I mentioned in the previous comment).

    1. There are no words for what happened in the stadium that night. Enough said!!!

  10. Hi guys,

    I’ve been away from here for a while. Anyway, just wanted to say, I think this is a great move for all. Pep, to my knowledge, almost walked away after winning the CL in 2009. He’s right in saying that this position is probably the most scrutinised in world football (more than Madrid) – to me because you have to represent and play a certain way, as well as still win games.

    He owes us nothing. This club has been around for 112 years, and is bigger than any indivudual player or staff member. 4 years IS a long time – and I fully believe he’s 100% genuine, he’s worn out. I don’t believe it had anything to do with the losses (to me, so funny, english media, 2 losses in a week and suddently the club just becomes defunct.. lol) – he was going to go either way this seson – and who can blame him.

    Tito is the logical choice – he’s played at B level, coached all the kids, and has had significant input to this current playing group. It’s going to be a relatively seemless transition for the players AND the club. While I hoped Enrique would get the role, look for Tito’s new assistant to be a Koeman, Enrique, or similar. This club will promote within now for quite some time.

    Positives of this move:
    Bandwagon fans will drop off. Please, go, leave! cules stick together, real fans and people with common sense know that things come in cycles – did people think this would go on forever?!! lol – we may have some tough times ahead, but so did Madrid for the lsat 5 years! so do every big club, peaks and troughs people, peaks and troughs.
    – New start for the staff, a fresh face – and, in some ways, less pressure. Less pressure as people expect the club to drop away in this transition peroid…and even if they do, they will still have my support…always!

    I could keep going, I’ve supported this team for over 25 years – I’ve seen it all, from lowly periods to the glourious 1992 win, and then all the in between moments – Dinho, Deco, Kluivert, Pep playing, Hagi, etc etc – the figo pig throw, etc. Nothing makes me more prouder to announce I support this team and always will. Now, I do so, even more than ever.

    Thankyou Pep – thankyou Barca. And everyone here, thankyou – be so happy for what we’ve achieved…WORLD football domination for 4-5years, the envy of EVERY club, Madrid throwing 300+ million in trying to topple us! people hating us! oh, what a glorious run!

    And now, for the next chapter…I think opptimism and paitence is key. This is more than a club, it’s a way of life, and this should be celebrated and cherished.


  11. Hear, hear to all!!

    I have been very sad these past couple of days, but today I feel at peace with this, not just because of the decision to leave Tito in charge (I honestly don’t know a lot about him, but if Pep says he can do the job then that’s all I really need to know), but also because I can empathize with Pep. I, too, have felt burned out, even by doing something that I longed and for which I worked for a long time and know how the negative starts outweighing the positive in an accelerated way until you can’t stand it anymore and all you want is out. That’s why I know that he has chosen to leave at the right time, while there’s still some love and passion left. He shall be missed because no one will replace Pep, no matter how good a coach Tito or anyone else is. Pep’s legacy of “idealism and honor and humility and principle”, as outerspacedout so eloquently put it, will stand forever.

    Thank you, Pep. Your team, with you as the Director, have created one of the most beautiful symphonies with which the world of football has regaled the rest of us mortals, and for that we can be nothing but grateful. As this season draws to a close, we now anxiously wait for what will surely be a Grand Finale, and you can be sure that each of us will be more alert and awake than ever to be able to savor every second of it. Will there be an encore? I don’t think even you have the answer. I hope you find what you are looking for in your time off, and recharge and find again that child’s passion you once had, and with that I have no doubt that your Magnus Opus is yet to come. I have a feeling this ending might only the beginning….

    Gracies per tot!!

    Fins ara, Pep!!

    Benvingut Tito!! Never forget…After Mozart, the universe gave us Beethoven.

    Visca el Barça!!!

  12. This is how lucky we have been to have Guardiola coach our favourite team. What other coach in the world would generate such an amount of writing and tribute:

    Published 2 years ago but republished:

    It is amazing that a coach of any team could bring together a sporting entity by leaving so unanimously. I don’t think any coach has ever had such an impact on their sport in such a short time as Pep has.

  13. For the past few days, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that there was something so familiar to me about the emotions I was feeling during Pep’s recent dilemma of whether to stay or go. Somehow, I understood intrinsically why he had to go, but I didn’t know why.

    And then it hit me. Last fall, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life: to put my dog–my beloved companion of 14 years–to sleep. He was old, so I knew it was looming at some point in the near future, yet when the time came, I realized that no amount of realism and sanity could prepare me for what I would have to do.

    When you make the commitment to get a pet, you are committing to take on the care of another being for a finite amount of time. You are actively choosing to experience the joy and pain of loving a creature that will inevitably leave you too soon. And if you are lucky enough to have that creature in your life for a full lifespan, you must also accept that one day it may be up to you to decide when it is time to let them go.

    Anyone who has ever been through this knows that the hardest part is not coping with the sadness and loss, but rather the sheer weight of having to decide when is the right time to end the life of another.

    There’s no clear-cut answer, which is why it’s so difficult. Some people will wait until the animal is in so much pain that there is clearly no longer a quality of life. I chose to act before it got to that point. My boy, though old, was very spirited and energetic–even a week before he died, he was mistaken for a puppy. But he had a very fast-growing tumor that was ultimately going to suffocate him by causing fluid to build up in his chest. The vet had said that he had anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to live, depending on how fast the fluid built up.

    A day came when I decided to act on the first signs of slight difficulty breathing, even though he didn’t seem to be in pain just yet. When I took him to be put down, he was still happy, eating, wagging his tail, and looking in my eyes. But it was just a matter of time. It was incredibly difficult to say goodbye, because he didn’t *look* like he was dying. It was impossible to believe. But the fact is, he was. I knew that if I waited for him to suffer, it would only be for my own peace of mind. I decided I had no right to wait til it was painfully obvious (the pain being his) in order to make it easier on myself. So I decided to end his suffering shortly before it began.

    I couldn’t bear the thought that wanting to have him with me just a little while longer might lead to me waking up in the middle of the night to find my little boy terrified, gasping for air, not knowing what was happening to him. Trying to buy a few more minutes or hours, when I knew it was over, seemed pointless and selfish and cruel.

    So, as much as I wanted to stretch every last minute I could have with him, I realized the cost, for him, would be too high. I decided, instead, to let him go to a peaceful, beautiful sleep, with a wagging tail, a belly full of his favorite treats, and the dignity that he deserved.

    1. Wow absolutely beautiful post, dare I ask what your little guy’s name was?
      Pep has experimented, he has tinkered, he has philosophized and largely he has been successful until perhaps this season and mind you, I say that loosely. Through it all, he has ran himself ragged and as a perfectionist,he will not risk complacency and cannot accept stagnancy.

      At this level a sabbatical might be just what Pep needs to revitalize him, to kindle the excitement, that love for the moment which he alluded to in the video above where he accepts the Catalunian medal- the moment when he’s watching game-play of an upcoming team and then all of a sudden he understands their weaknesses, their strengths and his master-plan comes to together, he prepares his opening and the game begins. But after a while the politics, the pressure, the tension, you begin to lose grasp off why you began in the first place.

      I doubt he will ever return but if he does he will always be welcome and his legacy will always be remembered. What defined him best was that he challenged the status quo, he was a risk-taker, never afraid to do or say anything, he started his term by getting rid of big names, and gambling on Messi the false nine, in the transfer market he tried every tactic once, some were poor but Alves, masch, villa and many others were immensely successful. Yet his greatest contribution off the field, was his love for building from within, bringing the canteranos through, which ensured continuity as we have so much to look forward too, players who will stay with us because they know the coach will give them a chance. An incredibly brave man and yet the press and many others will question him, how his departure was coinciding with Mourinho’s EE rise to power, how he was a coward, leaving and protecting his legacy. However your experience showed me perhaps it was the bravest decision he’s made since coming to Barca

  14. Was clapping and cheering and crying with the rest as I followed the presser yesterday. Still choking back tears every time I read another Pep Guardiola headline. How can one prepare for a farewell such as this. So unspeakably sad.

    Thank you Pep for 4 unforgettable years, the best football the best team I’ll see in my lifetime. Thank you Pep for Tito! Best wishes whatever you choose to do next. I know you’ll come back to Barca one day.

    ps: just saw this comment from a nonBarca fan, made me laugh.
    “Don’t worry Barca fans, Pep will be back, he is just going out into space to find Ramos’s ball!”

  15. When Pep took over, I didn’t think he would have much success. Not because of him in particular (as I knew nothing about his coaching achievements or methods with Barca B), but because Madrid had just won two Ligas in a row and it looked like we were on the up. I thought Rijkaard’s departure signalled the end of the Barca era of domination, and that Pep wouldn’t win much. But what Pep has achieved since has been nothing short of incredible.

    Many people have said that Pep had the benefit of having Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and other players who had already developed fantastic chemistry playing under Rijkaard. This is true, but it doesn’t take anything away from Pep. A smart coach takes the team he’s been given and takes it to the next level. And that’s what Pep did. Yes of course he utilized the strengths that been put in place by Rijkaard. He would be stupid not to. But like I said, he really took this team to a whole new level.

    Pep has introduced and developed some fine players himself. If I’m correct he’s the one who brought Pique back from Man U and Pique went on to become the best defender in the world at one point. He’s not the best anymore in my view but he’s still an elite defender, and for that Pep must take credit. And what about Busquets. I cannot stand the sight of Busquets, indeed I have a very strong dislike for him, but wow he is a fantastic player, and he makes a very difficult role seem easy. Again Pep gets a lot of credit for this.

    Has he shown weakness as a coach? I believe so, particularly in the transfer market, as the Chygrinskiy and Ibra transfers showed. But he also made some fantastic signings. In my opinion Alexis is the best signing Pep made for Barca. He’s only getting started, but he is a gem of a player, a rare breed, and Pep spotted him as someone who would add something extra to an already brilliant Barca team.

    He deserves a sabbatical for sure. Coaching a team like Barca is extremely exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. The photos above show how Pep has changed since then. He looked boyish when he arrived just 4 years ago and now he looks like a decade older. That’s what this job will do to you. Even if you get unprecedented success.

    Fine decision to stay in-house and replace him with Villanova. How do you think Villanova will do? Is there anything you think he might change tactically? I guess it remains to be seen, but it will be interesting how Tito does.

  16. By the way, probably everybody knows the complete name of Pep (Josep Guardiola i Sala), but I have not read Tito’s whole name so far, so here it is:
    Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova i Bayó

  17. Barcelona have closed a deal with Valencia left back Jordi Alba for €13M. Transfer to be announced at end of season. (via gentevalencia)

    13 mill 😐

    1. 13m only? That’d be a great bargain!

      He’s only turned 23 two months ago. So he could play as a starter for 8 years –> 1.5m / year. And I believe in him, he has what it takes to be a long-term solution for our LB side.

    2. Yes, but we haven’t had as much defensive stability with 2 attacking, short fullbacks. The Abidal/Alves combo worked so well because they complemented, rather than mimicked each other’s strengths.

  18. My favourite Pep moment was his half run down the touchline at Stamford Bridge after Iniesta’s goal. (Luckily Sylvinho was there to chase after him and remind him that he’d better get back to his technical area and make some defensive substitutions pronto).

    You could see that for a moment he just forgot that he was a coach and wanted to go celebrate with the players. It reminds me of those pictures of a skinny ball boy, who couldn’t stop himself from celebrating with his heros after they had won a big game.

    One of the things I most admired about Pep is the absolute joy he took from football. This year there have been fewer smiles. It’s painful but in someways I’m glad he gets the chance to leave now, before he loses any more of that joy.

    Thank you Pep.

    1. I really hope that the players give him plenty of reason to smile again in his (for now) last game, the CdR final (I’m sure I will cry at the end of the match, whatever happens). I also like Bilbao and Bielsa, but they shall win the EL and be proud of that 😉

  19. off the topic a bit, but recently there has been a debate, due to Barca-Chelsea game – on whether the English team ‘deserved’ to qualify, to win etc.

    I guess this is a debate at the heart of our philosophy and more. I find this a very intricate debate and have been thinking a lot about it lately.

    i wonder what thought some of you may have on this matter..

    1. I personally believe that Chelsea didnt deserve to qualiy but that may be the cule in me speaking.

      Chelsea fans would say that if we couldnt beat ten men then we wouldnt deserve to go through which is a fair point, they would also say that for the amount of spirit they showed they deserved to go through.

      The cule in me would say that for a team that had 4 shots on target in the tie and took 3 of them wouldnt deserve to go through compared to our 40 odd shots.

      But it all depends on your point of view and also th team you support LOL

    2. yes, that is the whole debate.

      Mourinho made a point that it also takes courage and effort and so on. to defend for 90 min.; that all this is a great feature. This makes sense. Football is not only attack and possession as music is not only classical or rock but also pop or other genre.

      This may make one wonder what is the essence of this sport? If it is about these strengths than Chelsea deserves their win.

      We can restate this problem by thinking if deciding the winner of a game by the no of goals is fair. For instance Barca can say that this rule is not fair to the spirit of the game.

      So the q. is what is the essence of this game? IS it just to test some of these virtues? or is it about something else? maybe football is more than just winning (scoring more goals)? if so, what else is there? What is the RIGHT way to approach the game? or as Bielsa said, how should one be the best?

      if we ask this can we argue that possession and attack is the RIGHT way?

      we can use the Rawlsian method, and ask ‘if we did not know anything particular about our situation – what team one supports, what qualities one has – what kind of football would one prefer?
      or maybe an Aristotelian approach and ask what is the purpose of this game? is it only winning (scoring more goals)?
      or a pragmatic approach, where winning is everything and the strategies are simple valued as their results. if one can defend for 180 minutes and score because the opponent attacks than there are all its merits.

    3. I honestly didn’t think I’d read about the veil of ignorance in a farewell post to Pep! 😆

      Barca and Spain NT fans have to watch their teams live and die by their adherence to an attacking style, but it sure does help when it leads to winning games sometimes. But I don’t know about saying we deserved to advance this time… chances weren’t taken and we had three moments of sloppiness where we were punished. Considering how we’ve beaten EE in the past few encounters with clinical finishes rather than dozens of chances, I’d say Chelsea deserved to go through (although it does feel like a “smash and grab”).

  20. Thank you for everything Pep.
    Just to give us more hope for the upcoming years, Sacchi & Capello
    both achieved phenomenal success for Milan, so when Pep is gone its not over, Tito is very well placed to do big things.

    1. No, Marin hasn’t done anything over the last 2 seasons. He has developed backwards. It’s a good deal for Bremen imo.
      And with his lack of physical presence, I believe it will be a very hard spell for Marin at Chelsea in the EPL. I predict he won’t play more than 900 minutes a season. They’ve got Mata on his position who is WAY better. I know Marin was once called the German Messi, but that’s looong ago.

    2. Agreed. He was likened to Messi, but faded to Germany’s Bojan.

      Such a shame – I really used to enjoy watching him play.

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