In life, there is change, a.k.a. “What’s up, Pep?”


So. You have this slice of chocolate cake that you’ve been craving for what seems like the best part of your life. And you have it. And it’s good. So good that you start looking for places to put a ring, or you wonder if you should build a shrine to this piece of cake.

It’s that good.

Then you have a second piece, because if the first piece was that good ….

But it isn’t. And you’ve gone and messed it up. But what the hell does any of this cake bollocks have to do with Barca, and Guardiola?

As we look at our coach, Pep Guardiola, the man who, at 38 years of age, has led our beloved club to the best stretch in its storied history, you have to wonder about that second piece of cake.

Six trophies.
Best Liga start ever in the club’s history.
The unalloyed adulation of players and fans.
The hottest coaching property on the planet.

Yet like that second piece of cake, there’s nowhere to go but down, as in “Maybe I shouldn’t have had this.”

We are in an extraordinary place in this club’s history. Because even as the players march on to more and more glory, machinations are brewing in the back room, events that could make Guardiola decide to pack his bags for less vexing climes.

Joan Laporta, a.k.a. King of Catalunya, put his neck on the block with the choice of Guardiola. He’d just danced around a motion to censure, a vote that sent a shot across his bow. So, in the swan song of his presidency, he put his money on a guy from the farm, a guy who had danced with the greats, pulled the B team up by its bootstraps with a combination of hard work and incessant demands of hard work from his charges.

Many wondered whether those techniques would carry over into the big time. Laporta took the risk that he would, and we are all basking in the results of that very calculated risk. Guardiola has also made improvements in the club’s match preparation, and medical approaches. When players are injured, it is rarely severe, and they almost always come back ahead of schedule. The man is dipped in gold, and he has a contract offer on the table, one that he could pretty much fill in a dollar amount for.

Why hasn’t he?

My rather dim-witted speculation focuses on three reasons: intensity, need and politics.

Guardiola is a very intense coach, who really isn’t that far removed from being able to play the game. He feels everything very deeply, and puts it all on the line, every match. You need look no farther than his emotional outburst at the end of the Club World Championship to understand the depths of this man’s love for his club, his players and winning. They were tears of joy, of relief, of vindication. Six major trophies in less than 12 months is pretty difficult to argue with.

But that kind of intensity takes its toll on a coach. Here in the United States, a head coach at a major college program decided to step down for health reasons. He has the same kind of intense coaching approach as Guardiola. It’s hard to work that hard, week in and week out, with so much at stake. Every loss is “I told you so,” every less than dominating performance forces people to ask “It is falling apart? Is this it?” The pressure is unimaginable. Guardiola has spoken of the demands attendant to his coaching style. He isn’t a Sir Alex Ferguson type, who will stay with the same club for decades.

And yet, Guardiola has a need to keep winning. He’s almost always been a winner, as a linchpin of some dynamic, magical Barca sides and now, as its coach. He loves winning, and you can almost see a little part of him die when we don’t win. Intense coaches are shredded inside by losses or draws. They have an almost physical need to keep on winning. There is also a psychological need to keep on winning, to satisfy not only their own needs, but the insatiable fans and press.

We all saw it, and we questioned his methods ourselves, after a couple of draws! Is the standard that high? Yes. Absolutely.

Now, we have elections. Sandro Rosell is the leading candidate, a man who has positioned himself as anti-Laporta. What of Guardiola, should he win the election? As long as Guardiola keeps on winning matches and trophies, it would be difficult for even the most beloved president to can him. But what if we don’t win the Liga? Or Champions League? At the first hint of imperfection, what will the likes of Rosell say, and does Guardiola really want to be a pawn in that political game?

Laporta says that Guardiola is taking his time deciding his future, because it is an important decision. Premiership sides are said to be salivating at the prospect of landing the world’s hottest coach. And Pep sits, and thinks, and coaches.

So here’s the question: Will Guardiola sign a new contract?

I think, that with all that I have mentioned, particularly the politics, no. A coach needs to have comfort, and confidence that the long knives aren’t waiting in the grass for him to screw up the first time. No coach wants to have “embattled” attached to his name. Ask Rijkaard whether he’d rather have gone out after we won the double, or as he did, shoved out by a management that couldn’t tolerate mere excellence. The machine runs on silver, and the more the better. It’s pretty hard to coach while looking over your shoulder. “He has the responsibility to keep on winning,” said Laporta in comments on BarcaTV, about the possibility of Guardiola’s renewal. And truer words have never been spoken.

Also, I don’t want Guardiola to leave not on top, even as it means potentially harming our club’s chances at future success. I want my mind’s eye to always have him smiling, being tossed in the air by his players, with yet another trophy in the background. Sometimes, if you love someone you have to let them go, right?

As much as it pains me to say it, Guardiola will be leaving us, for where, I can’t possibly say. I will mourn that day when it comes. Whether your view is that the time to soon, or exactly right (my view) is up for debate.

Which is where we all come in. What say ye?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

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. Boat Forever
    December 27, 2009

    When his kids(Busi, Pedro & the infinite number of incoming ‘youth’sters) are ready to bleed for him would he really want to leave!? I don’t know

  2. Eduard
    December 27, 2009

    Whether Pep stays of goes is a good question. I’d say its best to ask what would Cruyff do? That most certainly will be the same thing Pep would do. I watch FCB play when I was a baby. I’m not old enough to have remembered the Cruyff days, although I watched all the games.
    I think, who ever runs will make sure Pep doesn’t sign with anyone else.

  3. Spencer
    December 27, 2009

    I think Pep may take a road higher than we can even imagine with this one. He’ll stay until he is dragged out of Camp Nou, kicking and screaming. Until then, he is our coach. He’ll always be blaugrana, whether we win or lose, until someone else has something to say about it.

  4. Jim
    December 27, 2009

    You might be right Kxevin but he’s not a fool and you don’t get this kind of team to work with very often.

    Bottom line – would you turn down the chance to work with Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Ibra in favour of possibly getting another chance at some point in the future? This is genuinely a golden team that won’t come around again.

    Wenger has earned himself the right to several trophyless years because of the style of football Arsenal play, Rafa likewise because of the CL win. How much respect and time should Pep have earned?

    At the moment I think it’s the fear of defeat that’s plaguing him. The longer we go without losing a trophy the worse it gets. Once it happens, as it has to, the determination to avoid it happening again springs into action and everything is fine. However, if we make it to the end of the season again undefeated ( is that possible?) that may be too much to put up with.

  5. December 27, 2009

    Kevin. Crap. Excellent. I didn’t want to think about this. Dammit. Right after Urban Meyer . . . probably the best commentary I’ve heard all season on Pep’s contract.

    On some level, I know that the smartest thing Pep can do right now IS leave. Isn’t that messed up? Go all Dave Chappelle on us.

    He has to realize his power. Six words in Enlish. Four in spanish. Damn I wish I knew Catalan. Anyways, all it would take. I want “X” to be president. Will he do it?

    Would I listen? Would other Socios? Probably.

    Would it mess up Barca? Almost certainly.
    Would we care if we kept winning? Hell no.

    I think the thing is, he has to know who his boss will be. I think really the one thing left that could push him over the edge is not knowing. I remember getting a new coach as a youth. You never knew what to expect, and it scared the shit out of you. With my old coach, I could have a shitty game. As a keeper, people tend to notice your shitty games. And like a coach, regardless of degree of fault nobody seems to remember it takes a village to concede when things go bad. Gotta blame someone, right? With the old coach I knew, I’d still be playing. But that new guy in the fall, that killed me.

    And thats in a no pressure situation. I didn’t need soccer to get me anywhere, I just played for fun. Even with all the fun, probably wouldn’t trade my life for Pep’s right now.

    I think the best thing possible is to play out the year, and hope he doesn’t think about it.

    Here’s the irony. We win the treble, I’d bet quite a bit of money Pep leaves. And if that happened, not quite sure how I’d feel.

    Sorry for the stream of consciousness there, but that’s all I got right now.

  6. adal
    December 27, 2009

    Well, I think we won’ find out his decision until the end of the season. If he announces now, whatever his decision is will have some effect on the club and I don’t think he want to do that. His next great challenge will be winning the CL in Bernabeu next year and he won’t do anything to jeopardize it.

    I say if we don’t win CL next year, he might stay. But if he wins CL next year, he’ll certainly leave. There is nothing left to do after that.

  7. Cesc Blanc
    December 27, 2009

    I think you got your assumptions a bit wrong for many reasons. Although winning those 6 trophies is historic and everything, Guardiola’s idea is to build a winning club, to turn the fate of the club around just like Ferguson did with ManU. For that, it requires more than “just” one CL title but a couple more. So, his work is not really over. However, he knows that he can’t possibly continue this way for another 2 years. But, he has family and kids, his parents are old, Catalonia and Barcelona are his home, he can’t just possibly move on to another destination, he certainly won’t move to a club with 666 Million Pounds of debt(ManU) or one where the president wants to sell it as quick as possible because he got other problems(Milan). So, he couldn’t go anywhere better than Barca. and now, here comes the “solution”:
    The only way Pep can stay on is to move more in the back and become Sporting Director/Manager. There has to be a position created for him at Barcelona, where he has the say on everything in sports but isn’t the man in the spotlight first. He calls the shots for how training works, how and which players come and go, how the team plays etc. while others do the daily work. Tito Vilanova stays on as assistant and, tadarada, the guy coming in as head coach will be Luis Enrique, just as intense as Guardiola, less tactical but more scarey. Specially if Barca Atletic manages to move into Segunda Division, which doesn’t look that bad right now, he will be even more the guy carrying it on. So there you have it. However, Pep is a bit careful with regards to the elections. Sandro is a guy who is a bad decision maker, but he can’t touch Guardiola, he rather needs him on his side. Guardiola however doesn’t want to be in any way a deciding factor in the elections/play a role and if he signs a contract before the elections, ultimately the candidate who will be assigned by Laporta, will get a boost in this.

    But anyway, there you have the proposal and how it should work out. It makes almost no sense for Pep to move to any other club than Barca, because no club, right now, is economically in a better situation than we are. We have no debts with banks, no interest rate to pay, our income and turnover is highest or second highest in football, etc. He just needs a position designed for himself, but I’m sure he could handle that. But why should he move somewhere else?

    • Cesc Blanc
      December 27, 2009

      btw. the only other coaching position I could see him take now is become head coach of Argentina. That’s about it though. No really, it just doesn’t make sense for him to coach anyone else. He also has the historic chance to turn the history of Barca forever and turn them into the leading club of the next 10 years, something he probably always dreamed of when he was a ballboy. It’s a unique chance that won’t come back ever again.

    • Kxevin
      December 27, 2009

      I hope you’re right, CP, but don’t forget that our club has a tumultuous history, in which players and coaches, no matter how popular, have been subject to the whims of politics.

      I would like nothing more than for Guardiola to stay on with the club, as a selfish cule. But I would hate even more to see him grinding himself to dust, with that 1,000-yard stare that Rijkaard, had, looking at the headlights of the train that he knew was coming for him.

      I think that we, and the club and all of its supporters, owe him that much, if he wants to go out in a blaze of glory. Rosell won’t be able to touch Guardiola (if he wins) after he assumes the reins, but the instant that Guardiola isn’t having the same success, you know that nonsense will start happening.

      I just don’t want to see that, I don’t think that our coach deserves it.

      I have no idea where he would go, and it might well be a front office gig somewhere. With us? That’s another question altogether. Politics is a vicious thing.

    • Boat Forever
      December 27, 2009

      Well thought out & nicely put 🙂

      But he might like a new challenge instead of this huge pressure… where he could be just a manager and have just this professional love for the club he’s managing, instead of this ‘feeling’ he has for Barca which definitely adds pressure to make sure we win!? Say like Juventus or Arsenal who are financially not in such a desperate situation as is ManUtd or Liverpool or Milan!!

      • Cesc Blanc
        December 27, 2009

        Juventus is hugely dependent on money from FIAT and they don’t have that much income(low attendance from ticket sales, overall messy state of Italian football), Arsenal is Wenger’s club and he won’t move on that soon, ManU would be an interesting case, but again, over 600 Million Pounds in debt. Milan is still the most attractive candidate and also Inter. But let’s just put yourself in Guardiola’s shoes and say you play CL final with your new club against Barca.
        Also, I hope the players like Inieste, Messi and others can give him enough reasons to stay on.

  8. Kxevin
    December 27, 2009

    Oh, and HA! I know that it’s basquet, but we whipped the EE there as well, 79-57. 😀

    • Cesc Blanc
      December 27, 2009

      what Ricky Rubio did in that game was just UGLY! It should be forbidden. That game was just huge.

  9. Cesc Blanc
    December 27, 2009

    Well, what you say is right, but just remember that Rijkaard got in the line of fire, but less so Txiki. That’s my point about him having to move one step back. The historical example I had in mind is the Liverpool Boot Room.
    Again, everything you say is right, historically always being on the wrong side of decisions(Big Phil for Rijkaard, Costinha and Maniche, no Eto’o, Guardiola to inexperienced, Dani Alves a fullback and not worth the sum) I’m kind of scared of what Rossell might do once things go wrong but he will never be able to touch Guardiola, the club has changed a bit and what is most important, Guardiola can’t go anywhere better, specially to realize his dreams. I really don’t know, maybe he actually wants to coach in England, but I’m just saying that he has a unique historical opportunity that won’t ever come back again.

    • Cesc Blanc
      December 27, 2009

      and on another note…the only reason he left the club as a player, was because he felt that he doesn’t have anything left to give, is an obstacle in the progress of other players(Xavi e.g.) and that’s why he has to move on. Whenever he feels that way as a coach, I guess it will happen. He never left as a player despite offers. I just don’t know why he should do now as a coach. He also loves Catalonia and Barcelona, because although he doesn’t show it often, he is a strong Catalan nationalist, not as much as Oleguer as an example, but still. All this stuff makes me believe that if we make him an offer he can’t refuse, we won’t even need the head of a horse.

  10. December 27, 2009

    Put this in the “damn, do we really have to talk about this?” box. Thanks a lot Kevin. Ugh.

    My two cents is that everything you say is correct, but you miss a couple of competing thought processes. So you’re not incorrect but incomplete.

    For one thing, as some have mentioned, he’s not going to get a team like this anywhere else. End of.

    Second, his time as junior coach has meant that he can mold the team in very specific ways with youngsters that HE helped bring up. A guy like Pedro would never have had this success with anyone else. And as much we bitch him out, there’s plenty to like about Busquets, and the same goes for him. So he has, in effect, creative control over the ENTIRE project.

    Third, I don’t want to be a dick because Rijkaard did A LOT for the club, but he’s not nearly as good a coach as Pep. Obvious, right? But then what you say about the knives being drawn out for Rijkaard can’t apply to Pep. Rijkaard lost the team in the dressing room, and he lost control on the pitch. That’s why he was sacked, not the results per se (put differently, the results and the sacking were both the RESULT of the same cause: his inability to keep the team disciplined and together in those last two years). Pep won’t have that problem.

    My own view is that Pep might sign on for another two years and then become sporting director. He’s certainly not the type to hang around for decades.

    • Flippy
      December 27, 2009

      Don’t forget Cruijff got the boot from being unsuccessful for two years or so. But I do agree that Pep will stay.
      When he was signed, Pep said something like: Barça’s style is the only kind of football that I know.
      Not only that, but he also once said that he didn’t renew his contract in order he could work hard to get it renewed and not just have his contract renewed based on past successes.
      It is clear he loves the club and is always ambitious. If he wins all the titles, so what, win ’em all again. Do it all 3 years in a row. Win more CL’s than Madrid. Win 10 consecutive Liga’s. Whatever. You can’t say there will never nothing to go for.
      I think that if Pep didn’t renew his contract he would break too many hearts (and bring joy to those cruel Merengue heart, but that doesn’t need mentioning). Too leave the club so soon is a crime.

  11. Soto
    December 27, 2009

    A lot of these points, mentioned above, are clearly important and must be factors in Guardiola’s decision making. But I believe what is likely holding back any decision is one simple thing: he does not want to commit until he knows who is running Barcelona next year.

    As has been pointed out, Guardiola is a demanding coach with a singular vision for how to develop and coach this team. If I were him, I would not want to commit to a contract until I knew that the management over me was clearly in line with my vision and my plans. This about more than just wins, losses, and draws. Guardiola needs the support of the President and the club in developing youth players and signing new talent from outside of the club. Budget priorities need to be aligned with coaching goals. With the options available to him, would he accept a situation where he is constantly fighting upper management? Or we he rather move on to a new challenge?

    So, I think he is wisely waiting to see who wins the elections. He is in a strong bargaining position. If Guardiola’s Barca continue winning, no future president will try to overtly push him out, giving Guardiola time to make his decision. And not being locked into a contract gives him freedom to make his decision.

    “He isn’t a Sir Alex Ferguson type, who will stay with the same club for decades.”

    That’s just because Guardiola doesn’t chew enough gum on the sideline. You can’t maintain indifference with out chomping away on a wad of gum.

  12. Boat Forever
    December 27, 2009

    TOTALLY OFF-TOPIC but since 2009 is coming to an end how about coming up with a post mentioning some of the most memorable moments of this incredible year!? Some thing like a brief recap?

    • Kari
      December 27, 2009

      There’s already a Messi compilation,


      and a whole bunch of Barcelona compilations, but this one is THE most stunning. I can’t BELIEVE that this only has ~300 views.


      Part 1: /
      Part 2: /

      But I agree! And when is the banner going to change? Not that that was random or anything 😀 .

      • Kari
        December 27, 2009

        BTW, can anyone say what the biggest burn is, in the first part of the video 😛 ?

      • Boat Forever
        December 27, 2009

        Not a video… Some post with beautiful poetry by Kevin or Isaiah 🙂

  13. Kxevin
    December 27, 2009

    Actually, I think that Guardiola won’t do a Ferguson, because physically and mentally, he can’t. The game takes too much out of him, and nobody has that much to give. He might be willing, but our bodies have limits.

    I grant you that we have an extraordinary club right now. But what happens with a few ill-timed injuries, or players not working out up to expectation? Out come the long knives. They fired Cruijff! After two seasons! Dayum, dude. And that guy is a bona-fide club legend.

    I repeat, silver drives the machine. Rijkaard would still have his job, even having lost the locker room, if the club were winning silver. It wasn’t, so out he went. As painful as it is to admit, Guardiola won’t be any different.

    **Boat forever, there are lots of fun things coming up, including a discussion of January, whether we should do anything in the transfer market and yes, highlights of this season which, though it isn’t that old yet, has been action-packed.

    • Cesc Blanc
      December 28, 2009

      The situations can’t really be compared. Cruijff from day one had beef with Nunez so it was only a matter of time to get the boot following the first years without a trophy. Rijkaard had lost the plot on his way of coaching, that players should ask themsevels every day in the mirror and see what’s up. Plus he lost the bad cop Ten Cate. So we can’t compare the situations.

  14. jnelson
    December 28, 2009

    I hope Pep does not leave now or this summer, or next year, or ever. Him leaving would have the same effect as Messi leaving us, or McGrady when he left the Magic, Ken Griffey Jr. leaving the Mariners, and LaDainian Tomlinson when he leaves (which he should cause Norv Turner is ruining his career) the Chargers. For a man who has spent just one year as manager of a club, Pep has left the greatest of impressions upon me. I would rather switch ANY of our starters than lose him. Why not AT LEAST keep coaching until one trophy slips your grasp. I mean, going somewhere else will mean DEFINITELY less trophies. You’ve built the BEST (EVER) team, so why not lead them to glory until the terms change. Packing Pep’s contract with clauses allowing him to leave at any time and giving him total control over team management would make it impossible to refuse. I have no problem with removing the technical secretary position and giving those responsibilities to Pep. Since all the pressure will be on him anyway, it is only fair to give him total control of his destiny.

  15. Mher
    December 28, 2009

    i would leave if i was him, just saying.

  16. Jim
    December 28, 2009

    Care to give us a reason, Mher?

    Kxevin, why do you think Pep is incapable of doing a ferguson – not that I think we’ll ever see his like again? I wouldn’t assume that Ferguson isn’t absolutely consumed by his work and I’m not sure why Pep would be different. You can certainly see how badly Fergie still takes a defeat as we wait in vain for him to speak to TV afterwards 🙂 Pep’s young, healthy, has the best job in the world and is obviously capable of doing it very well.

    I have to say he’d go down ( a little) in my estimation if he were to step down so soon. Like in any sphere the major difficulty comes in keeping success going as it gets harder which has been Ferguson’s strongest point. Of course, as has been said politics could get in the way.

  17. Lumi
    December 28, 2009

    No sporting season should make Pep leave except personal issue. If he leaves he would be shying away from defeat. If pep leaves honestly it would take miracles to make me stay as a fan

  18. Kxevin
    December 28, 2009

    Jim, from all apperances, Ferguson puts a lot into his coaching, but he has learned how to control the flames, so to speak. That is, by all appearances, a skill that Guardiola has yet to learn. It comes with time. I don’t doubt that he loves the club. How could he not? But for his coaching style to work, he has to be fully committed. Intense fires rarely burn for very long.

    I could see him taking a sabbatical. But as I said, he’d be crazy to renew with Laporta, uf only from the pragmatic sense of not knowing whether a meddling idiot is going to win. If Rosell wins, Guardiola will not stay. A baleful eye would always be upon him. A winning coach can do what he wants, right?

    Lumi, your statement is why I don’t let myself become big fans of players or coaches. I love the club, whoever is playing for or coaching it, win or lose. But that’s my thing. I can understand why you feel as you do, however. Guardiola is that kind of a dude. Just don’t let anyone belittle you, or make you feel like less of a fan. Everybody is Barca family, for as long as they’re here.

  19. Random Juve Fan
    December 28, 2009

    I think if Pep were to leave Barca he would go to Italy seeing as he spent time there as a player. I’m not sure whether he would succeed but I could see him coaching Roma (I think he played there briefly), though im pretty confident Roma don’t have the finances. Btw its an interesting comparison to see fans who like their manager compared to Juve fans who believe any manager since Lippi is a moron or a traitor.

  20. Tyler
    December 28, 2009

    In my opinion whether Pep stays or goes is dependent on this election. Time and time again I have read that “he won’t think about it now because they are playing games, and he wants to have 100% control of the team regardless of the president”

    So I think if whoever rolls in as president and doesn’t give pep the reins to the entire show, Pep will roll out. Why? Because there are a million Top Tier clubs that are ready to do exactly that for them. I feel if any president were to come in and not give Pep control, I think the Socis would be really upset with that. I mean until he starts slipping people are going to want the Golden Boy to keep bringing in silver.

    And I think there is a reason for Pep to stay more than just this year. I think the challenge to continue and further cement the club as a DYNASTY is just as much a challenge as going to a new club and re-building. It’s just a different facet of being ‘great’. I think the challenges make themselves very apparent, winning back to back Champions League trophies, possibly repeating trebles, building new players like Pedro and Busi, there are plenty to go around. But the question is does Pep want that? Or does he want to be known as a manager that could win anywhere?

    This might be a stretch but we could look to similar moves made by very notable players in our club, the cornerstones of this team. Iniesta has practically signed for the rest of his career, Xavi the same, Messi also has signed on for what should be through his prime. The groundwork has been laid out to retain homegrown-masia talent, and to stay in the system that made them who they are. I think Pep would feel obligated in some sense to stay with players that have made their minds up to stick with this. I think also we can’t underestimate the fact that he is Catalan, it means A LOT for him to coach THE Catalan team. But ultimately, and unfortunately, it all lies in this election. And I would expect a long drawn out negotiation not even starting till after the World Cup.

    Ugh, the honeymoon doesn’t last forever……

  21. Blow-Granite
    December 28, 2009

    This term he should be elected to the board of directors in FCB. Next term I would say Pep for President.

  22. Bill
    December 28, 2009

    Pep stays. You can’t walk away from a team like Barcelona. Especially not when you have all those players that you have had more than ten year ties with. Besides, he has earned himself some serious leverage to the point where it doesn’t matter who wins the elections, Pep will do whatever the hell he wants to do with the team.

    On a completely unreleted topic, I had a dream last night. In that dream, I was back in school taking a class, guess who was the instructor that walked in? Johan Cruyff! And Xavi walked in behing him. Xavi sat across from the isle from me. And Kxevin was in that class! Don’t ask me how I know what you look like, I just know it was Kxevin from the blog because we talked about how you and Isaiah were mad at me, saying I had been posting some nasty stuff. I told you it wasn’t me so we went over to your office later so you could show me the stuff. By the way, all I can remember was Xavi was pretty friendly, very organized and very confident….

    I’m having barcelona dreams? I really need to go get a life now…

  23. Hector
    December 28, 2009

    Argh. Like some other commentators have said, I had this under the “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” or “I am so effing nervous about this that I want to enjoy what we have now instead of fretting over this” categories. Leave it to a real journalist to drag the in denial public back screaming and kicking into the cruel reality. Damn it, Kevin 😀 .

    Some points:

    – I think that by now we have a pretty good idea of Guardiola’s style as a manager. He is hands on and competitive to the point of obsession. However, from what I have read over the last year and a half, contrary to what we may think, Pep is not a screamer or a micro-manager but has a talent for performing a lot of work behind the scenes and transmitting instructions and lessons to his players in a short amount of time without making them feel over whelmed. A strict disciplinarian but also a player’s coach. In short, a rare breed.

    Don’t underestimate his ability to delegate some things. By all accounts, Tito Vilanova is his BFF (along with Estiarte) and acts as the Ying to Pep’s Yang, rearing him back and telling him when he is wrong. The two come and go together and Pep’s stances in regards to raises and contracts regarding Vilanova and co. as well as how their families always seem to vacation together reflect how much Pep values and appreciates him.

    – The Fergie/Wenger model would not and will not work in Real Madrid or Barcelona. The clubs are publicly owned. Democracy = politicization. In a privately (or in Arsenal’s case semi-publicly) owned English club, the manager can rest easy if he knows that the bosses have his back in large part because the bosses don’t have to answer to anybody. On the other hand, in Barcelona, the bosses have to answer to the socis and the socis are a public mass and therefore not always rational. The boss will betray a coach if it means he can keep his job or a new boss would axe a coach if it would consolidate his power. Its a “wonderfully” politicized backstabbing world which in our case due to the club’s cultural and social significance in Catalunya is in turn framed by the wonderfully politicized in its own right Catalan political scene. The only way Pep will become a Fergie like permanent fixture is if he becomes President and then stays on board as a director after his term expires with a “Pep” faction controlling the board. This isn’t so far out. Many see Pep as being an eventual viable presidential candidate. His sophistication far surpasses the football pitch. He has the political, social, and sporting pedigree. Not now but sometime in the future, it would not surprise me.

    -Fergie is more of a sporting director than a coach. Read the interviews of any ex Man U player. Sir Alex’s genius is in delegating and communicating a common vision while maintaining full control of his empire. Don’t let his rants and his on the field intensity fool you. He makes the big decisions but the film study, field exercises, and briefings are rarely done by him. He has trusted subordinated compress all that, he absorbs it, and makes the decisions. He also has had what essentially are player coaches in Giggs and Scholes (and formerly Keane) who help out immensely and keep discipline in the locker room. Its humanly the only way to take on all the responsibilities that he has and do it well. Pep is much more hands on. If he takes a Sporting Director or Sir Alex/Emperor role then he will have to change his ways.

    – Pep is a complicated guy. Obsessively competitive but also sensitive and romantic. His ideals and philosophies on football, how he mixes competitiveness with aesthetics and sometimes even puts aesthetics above winning (a sort of fatalism) reflect a romantic vision of football. Right now he is the most powerful man in FC Barcelona. He can name the President right here and now if he wished and the socis would follow him. He is Maximus and we the socis are the Roman mass. Yet, he has not abused that power which speaks highly of his ethics and his romanticism. The dude is old school. The pretenders to the throne do not dare piss him off right now. He is untouchable…for now. As history has shown with our club, it only takes a few setback before the knives are drawn and headed towards your back. I can’t blame him for waiting until the elections to decide (and I will try not to think about this until then).

    PS If Rosell brings so much uncertainty and controversy, why the hell should he win? I hope Godall and Ferran Soriano sort out there messes and get their rears in gear.

    • Bill
      December 28, 2009

      Good analysis. To add on to that, Manchester United used to be a fan owned team untill the early 2000’s when some investors started buying shares in bulk, then sold them to the current owners, who paid for it with debt. But by the time that had happened, Ferguson had long won the fans support to the point he had become too powerful for any of those owners to try and do anything.

      And I think Ferguson’s role is actually manager, and not coach. He usually brings in a coach(Carlos Queiroz) to make the day to day decision while he handles the bigger issues.

      As long as Pep has the players and the fans respect, he doesnt need to worry about who wins. But he may want to bring in a coach to help him out as mentioned previously.

    • Diane
      December 28, 2009

      Hector, I agree completely. When the team flagged a bit last season and he was asked if he would change their approach, Pep said that if they kept playing their way, keeping possession and attacking, to the best of their ability he would consider the team successful whether they won or not.

      Pep doesn’t just want Barcelona to win, he wants the vision of football he learned there to be successful. Everything about him speaks of integrity, in his beliefs, in his relationships with the players he has asked to commit long-term the Barca style, and of course in his commitment to the team itself. To me, in sports, integrity means that win or loose this is your team.

      Finally, success to a manager doesn’t just (“just” as in miraculously) mean taking the best players in the world and winning everything, it means being able to pick up your losing team, dust them off and make them winners. Pep hasn’t had to go through that, obviously, but he knows that it is part of a successful manager’s life and I don’t think he shrinks from the prospect. I just think he wants to know what kind of support he’ll have, through both thick and thin, from whoever is elected.

      I am not a fan of Ferguson’s but whatever he does and doesn’t do with his players — and trust me, he micromanages — he develops a relationship with enough of them as kids that makes them trust him when he says they can do something. Pep seems to have that power with players and I think he enjoys the prospect of developing youngsters as much as he does coaching the first team. People ask why Bojan seems to accept his role on the bench, its clear to me that its because Pep has said, “trust me.”

      Pep strikes me as the kind of person who commits for the long term. Obsession, pressure and all, he’s been pretty poised for the past year and maturity will only strengthen that — and maybe a little yoga or something! He’ll figure it out or not, but I don’t see him leaving Barca unless the terms of his role are changed unsatisfactorily. This man likes to play.

      • Kxevin
        December 28, 2009

        Rosell is the far and away front runner because of the anti-Laporta sentiment that is very strong in most factions of the club.

        As many folks know, Laporta has made a great many pro-Catalunya statements, that have stirred up a few firestorms. Many people in many circles are pragmatic, and understand that Barcelona/Catalunya will NEVER, EVAH be granted independence, so let’s stop beating that dead horse and move on to getting stuff done.

        The great majority of those same people believe that the club shouldn’t be politicized. Yes, we are all aware of the giant, festering pile of bullshit that is attendant to that worldview, but nonetheless, it’s there.

        Because Rosell has so effectively set himself up as the Laporta alternative, and because he is the candidate with the longest tenure, he’s perceived at the front-runner. He’d have a hard time winning, however, if we did the treble again this season, and either of the two board members running (Godall or Ferrer) said “We wouldn’t change a thing.”

        Then I suspect that the next images we’d see would be of a smiling Guardiola, after inking probably a two-year deal to stay on.

        So much of this depends on the election. You notice that we are trying to lock up all the players that we can, before the election. Not only is it common sense, because you want to reward players for excellent work, but it prevents a meddler from coming in and messing about too much with the starting XI. Yes, someone still could, but having everyone locked up with contracts makes it that much more difficult.

  24. Kari
    December 28, 2009

    In all this doom and gloom brought to you by Kxevin, here’s something to laugh about.


    And two AMAZING videos of our treble winning season, it really captures the emotion.

    Part 1: /
    Part 2: /

    PS Hleb was Hlebbed in the first part of the video 😛

  25. Jim
    December 28, 2009

    Some good points all around. I think there’s only so far we can go with the Fergie Man Utd parallels though as a fairer comparison given the stage of Pep’s career would be Fergie at Aberdeen where he was very hands on, very aggressively competitive and built a pretty good team. Given his age its not surprising that he doesn’t do as much as the days when he used to phone round to find out if his players were breaking curfews 🙂

    I do think both men are winners and would have the same desire to keep on doing so, although having said that the example of Borg giving up pretty much immediately after McEnroe beat him at Wimbledon in ’81 has just popped into my head. Damn !

    • Kxevin
      December 28, 2009

      Egg-SACTLY, Jim. The Borg analogy is a pretty good one, though I would argue that Borg kinda punked out, rather than making a conscious decision to go out on top.

      With Borg, that crazy-ass Western grip precluded his doing what he would have needed to do to stay viable, which would have been to develop a net game. Recall that his serve, as well, was mostly to get the ball in play and not hurt himself too much. McEnroe changed the game, and Borg didn’t want to play along.

      Guardiola, however, has all the tools, and rather than the game changing to leave him behind, the game is changing to try and catch up with him. So he’s in the catbird seat there.

  26. Brett
    December 28, 2009

    Yo Kxevin or Isaiah: you should make a post to have everyone vote on their All-Decade XI and Worst XI of the Decade, could be pretty fun and interesting. Here’s mine

    – – – – – – – – – Valdes – – – – – – – – – – –
    Belletti – Puyol – Marquez – van Bronckhorst
    – – – – – Xavi – Cocu – Iniesta – – – – – – – –
    – – – – Messi – Eto’o – Ronaldinho – – – – – –
    Bench: Deco, Reiziger, Larsson, Kluivert, Alves, Pinto
    Manager: The obvious answer is Guardiola but Rijkaard also deserves an honorable mention for helping the club out of darker days.

    – – – – – – – – – – Rustu – – – – – – –
    – – – Sorin – Andersson – Caceres –
    Quaresma -Rochemback – Gabri – Geovanni
    – – Dani Garcia – Maxi Lopez – Ezquerro – –
    Bench: Oleguer, Zambrotta, Gerard, Dos Santos, Saviola, Jorquera
    Manager: van Gaal


    • Brett
      December 28, 2009

      You could do it as a series of polls actually, as they’re currently doing on the Arsenal Offside: One post could just be for both the best and worst of that given position.

      • Kxevin
        December 28, 2009

        SIGGGHHHH!!! Brett, stay out of my e-mail/brain files! 😀

      • Tyler
        December 28, 2009

        I am offended you didn’t even put Hleb on the BENCH much less the starting lineup for worst team.

        • Brett
          December 28, 2009

          To be honest, I think he was just so terrible for us that I forgot about him. I do like him from his time at Arsenal and I wish things had worked out differently, but yeah he can have a spot on the bench.

        • jordi
          December 28, 2009

          hleb won worst buy of the bundesliga…


          I wonder if we’ll find a home for him.Where ever it is, we’ll incur a loss/

    • Eklavya
      December 28, 2009

      My best line up would be:

      That team could win 6 titles in a year! Oh wait…

    • Alexinho
      December 30, 2009

      I was thinking the same thing–Arsenal Offside has been doing a series of posts along this line and it’s been great looking back (or learning more) about the club’s past.

  27. Kxevin
    December 28, 2009

    And there is some news, but I’m going to stick it in this post, rather than derail the excellent discussion that is going on here:

    –New deal for Pique looms, to the tune of 5m per annum. Makes sense. He’s only going to get better and more expensive. Might as well lock him up now. Length of term is all over the place, but I saw somewhere as long as 2014.

    –Citeh is still nosing around Henry. I know what many say: If the price is right, pack his ass up with a crate of Barca Xips and ship him off. Still not sure how I feel about that one.

    –Iniesta is training again by himself, and should be joining the group shortly. He’s right on schedule.

    –We are going to try to stop Keita from playing for Mali for the ACN, arguing that he’s all injured and stuff, but if he wants to play for his club …. well …. you know …. And since Mali doesn’t really have much of a shot at winning the whole deal, why not give it a try?

    –The lads are back in training tomorrow (Tuesday), with an eye toward a suddenly not-so-daunting January. Sevilla will be without Kanoute and Fabiano, which makes that task all the more easy, though they might want to pull out all the stops for Copa silver, since the Liga is looking increasingly unlikely for them. Then the rest of the folks are Villarreal, Tenerife, Valladolid and Gijon.

    –Messi and Alves are on vacation until the day after the Villarreal match. But we have Villarreal at home, which will help a lot.

    As you were ….

    • Kxevin
      December 28, 2009

      Oh, crap! And Jeffren could be back two weeks early. They’re saying maybe 3 weeks in the dock now, instead of 5 weeks.

      • Tyler
        December 28, 2009

        I’ve noticed a lot of times with injuries they always project a lot longer than they end up being. but maybe i’m just making that up.

  28. Hector
    December 28, 2009

    Bill made a great point that eluded me. A “manager” is not the same thing as a “coach”. So true. However, in Spain there is no such distinction, a coach is called a “tecnico” which technically (pun intended) can also be translated to mean “technician”. This gives an idea as to the different perceptions of the role. Who knows if Pep will the one to revolutionize that perception in Spain?

    I am worried because we have seen what the political tradition at this club will do. We always cite Johan as being our philosophical father. Lest we forget, between the Herrera/Suarez teams (1960) and 1990 (the Dream Team), Barcelona only won 2 Ligas (one with Cruyff as a player) and no European Cups. Since Cruyff came in and won his first Liga in 1990, Barca has won 9 Ligas and 3 European Cups in 20 years. Coincidence? No. Make no mistake, Cruyff is the grandfather of this football culture of which we are currently reaping fruits from. The cantera, the Total Football insipiration, the tiki-taka, the possession, high pressure, etc… it started there. You would think Cruyff would have been our Ferguson.

    Nope. Barca lost the Euro Final against AC Milan 4-0, he had two more title-less years in which he tried to gradually integrate canteranos who were not yet ready for prime time and indulged in an ill advised piece of nepotism (the infamous Jordi Cruyff experiment) after which he was fired by the same president whose job he had saved. Pep lived those moments, he knows how this club’s politics will love you and then back stab you in a minute. That’s what worries me. Pep in a certain way reminds me of Cruyff. I once saw a quote (I can’t remember where) that said “There is a magical barrier which only Pele and Maradona have crossed. Cruyff reached that barrier, he could have crossed it but said: Fuck it, I don’t have anything to prove. He then walked away.” Don’t get me wrong, Pep is his own man. However, I see a similar sort of rebelliousness albeit for much different reasons.

    ARRRRGHHH! Let’s just enjoy the season and worry about this in May. 😀

    • Kxevin
      December 28, 2009

      True dat, Hector. Something to look forward to tonight (late): The Best of the Season (to date), or 10 things that brought us joy.

      Feel free to caterwaul about what any of them should be, not that it will matter, because my brain already has them sussed out. 😀

  29. Xu
    December 28, 2009


    Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has made inquiries about trying to buy Real Madrid, according to an unconfirmed report.

    AS said the Abu Dhabi-based billionaire would be prepared to pay R12-billion for the Spanish giants, home to world-class players like Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The Spanish sports daily did not name its source, but claimed: “Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has commissioned representatives to offer the sum to buy out the club.”

    AS added, however, that such a deal would be almost impossible. Real would need the permission of their shareholding fans to change its legal statutes, which would then pave the way for any deal to go through. Fans of Real vote on the election of most of the board and the club’s president.

    AS added that a meeting between the Sheikh and Real president Florentino Perez could be held early in 2010. Real are reported to have debts of €327-million.

    • December 28, 2009

      But isn’t it against FIFA/UEFA rules to own multiple tier-one teams? Abramovich wasn’t allowed to purchase two teams, I believe, or had to relinquish his ownership of CKSA, right? Was it CSKA?

      • Brett
        December 28, 2009

        This has been confirmed as a joke. December 28th is Childermas in Spain, celebrated like our April Fools’ Day

  30. Xu
    December 28, 2009

    Abramovich is still involved with CSKA and other russian teams

    for the other thing

    I think that he would sell ManCity or transfer ownership of it to one of his sons then buy RM

  31. barca aficionado
    December 28, 2009

    can anyone say more about Sandro Rosell? he said that he would give Pep txiki’s powers and he’s fully backin Pep, but from the comments i’ve read, it seems he is not held in very high regard. I know he is going to use Pep as leverage but I admit my ignorance to his history, and would like to know why everyone dislikes him so much.

  32. December 28, 2009

    I could swear I read somewhere Pep saying “don’t expect me to coach more than a handfull of years” something to that effect. I bet he goes another year or two tops. Retires to management, or just retires period…maybe to comeback to lead someone in the Worldcup 2014.

  33. November 11, 2010

    Cuando inviertes tu dinero tienes que estas seguro de que no lo estas tirando a la basura.

Leave a Reply