Has it been 3 years already? And does anyone remember when?
Forgetting for a moment about how much Pep Guardiola has aged in three seasons, let’s look back a ways, shall we?
After two trophyless seasons suffused with partying superstars, poorly timed red cards, collapses and rumors that he had lost the locker room, coach Frank Rijkaard was fired. At that time, debate raged, about not only the propriety of the firing and whether he deserved another chance, but who would be the best candidate to lead FCB into the future.
The club announced that it would be the then B-team coach, Pep Guardiola, and everyone wondered.
I post a an excerpt from a comment at The Offside, from a poster whose handle was Citizen:
Not to deflate everybody’s optimism about Guardiola as the new manager, but there’s a problem with it that hasn’t been mentioned here yet: as former captain under Cruyff, and seemingly getting the majority of his support from Laporta, who seems to worship Cruyff, just further extends Cruyff’s strange stranglehold over the club’s operations. In the past couple of years, I think that we’ve seen Cruyff offer his bucketloads of “opinions” whenever the team starts to struggle a bit. What’s Pep going to do when that happens, when his main backer turns into a critic? Cruyff is probably my favorite player and I also loved him as a manager, but I think his influence on the club is starting to have sour effects. If he wants to offer all those “opinions” on how things should be done, then he should just stand for the presidency (he’d probably win) or become the technical director (like he almost did at Ajax) or manager. He does the same thing for the Dutch national team, by the way, I think. The way things are now, Cruyff can be said to be de facto running things — do you really think they could have named someone manager without his approval? –, without being held accountable at all.
Now I’ll be ecstatic if Pep could prove me wrong and bring some discipline and drive to this team. For his own good, and the club’s, I just hope he knows what he’s getting into and has the balls to cut ties to Cardinal Cruyff and go about his job independently.
I’d say he did that, and then some. And just think what might have happened had Joan Laporta and the board not thought that Jose Mourinho’s demands were extravagant, eh? For those curious about what we had to say about things back in The Offside days, you can go here.
Guardiola, before signing on the dotted line three years ago, presented a resume that included his Way of Dealing With Things, that included bringing the medical setup into this century. We didn’t know what that meant at the time, but now we do: preventive training, improved fitness, specialized diets, etc, etc. The result has been, if not fewer injuries, fewer debilitating ones, players coming back more quickly from injuries and a mostly intact core that has led us to, during his three-year tenure: 3 Ligas, 2 Champions Leagues, etc, etc.
When we were debating Rijkaard and Guardiola, the latter was busy plotting world domination, and he seems to have succeeded. Everyone is saying that this will be his last season with the club. I remain unconvinced, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. But for now,