Will he or won’t he, aka “Say it ain’t so, G!”

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.

Yikes!

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.

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.

231 comments

  1. I know this is the heights of optimism, but maybe he needed all this time to be convinced enough to sign a 2 year deal.

  2. Guillem Balague says that Pep has told the club he wants to leave and that Rosell has told him to sleep on it. So there you go.

  3. I have gone from anxiety last night and utter sadness this morning, to complete amusement now after reading my TL for a while (‘Pep won’t stay because he wants Piqué out and Rosell doesn’t. Also because he knows it’s time for Xavi to go and doesn’t have the heart to do it himself’ Come on, now! Really?) Every one has gone mad over this!
    I will stay with Marti Perarnau’s take, for no reason other than I just respect his opinion: “1.Very few people know the truth: Him, his wife and Tito. Anybody else? I understand no one else. No one means no one. 2. Sensation: after the climate that has been created based on him leaving, my feeling (based on nothing tangible) is that he stays. Probably for the last year”
    I will be devastated if he leaves, but he needs to do what’s right for him and his family first, even though in my heart I was leaning to believe that if he was going to do what was best for the institution that could have meant nothing other than staying. Only he knows what it is to wear the Mister hat for 4 years, what he has given and what it has taken from him and his family, and I wish nothing but the best for them, whether in Barça or not.
    So, hopefully I will have learnt something from him and keep my composure, class and common sense from here on until tomorrow (‘says she, while she curls up in a ball and starts crying…’).

    Fingers crossed everyone!

    🙂

  4. Athletic put pressure on the ball right away upon losing it but seem to do it 2 at a time with a third waiting for the spilled ball.

    1. This is exactly right. Their system of pressure defending is different than Barca’s. It depends much more on pace and frenetic closing down than “hunting in packs.”

      A major reason why that’s so is that it allows them to transition & attack in a much more direct, vertical fashion. That’s the thinking.

    2. Thanks Euler. Another thing I noticed is that they have something I think we lacked this year and which killed us against Madrid the long pass from left or right to center to some running in a mirror image. Think Ozil to CR7. I seen that tried a few times in this game. We haven’t done that in a while.

    3. Their game in attack is much, much more vertical and direct. It’s very different than Barca’s. Very different.

    1. If you want to know why the board leaked that they gave Pep a “blank check” – read this story. Pretty much why they let that news go public.

  5. This is the wiki-bio of Montpellier’s coach, Rene Girard:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Girard_(footballer)

    I tried to look for a presser from him, but they are all in french. I keep getting videos from a french historian. Maybe someone can enlighten us about this guy (psst Kxevin).

    Another guy up to the job according to some press is Ernesto Valverde.
    He played for Barça between 1988 and 1990. Then he coached Athletic (2003-2005), Espanyol (2006-2008), Olympiakos (2008-2009), Villarreal (2009-2010) and again Olympiakos (2010-2012). According to David Salinas, in Olympiakos 3 leagues and a Cup with an offensive minded football.

    Top candidate to me is Bielsa. He is OBSSESSIVE for the sport. The only thing I would have to worry about him, is a Van Gaal treatment from the press and the entorno. He doesn’t like to give 1 on 1 interviews (a la Pep) and can give pressers filled with technical arguments. He’s also well read. I like him a lot, he seems brilliant. He likes a 3-3-1-3 formation, attack mode, and killer counterattacks. He loves to motivate his team to run like animals and press high, way high.

    But please God, make Pep have a pleasant dream to change his decision (if a negative decision has been made).

    (Athletic qualifying to the final, 3-1, 4 minutes to go. Great Llorente goal).

    1. Llorente crying on the field, well deserved qualification. It’s a joy to see when a home-grown player really loves his club, and fights for it til’ the end. Athletic Club de Bilbao, I hope they win the Europa League.

  6. Who ever our coach is it has to be someone the Boys will respect, football intellect wise.

    1. This is exactly why I wouldn’t want Villas-Boas. While tactically and philosophically he seems to be in the Barca mold, the fact that he was chewed up and spat out by the Chelsea “seniors” doesn’t bode well for his dressing room skills.

    2. To be fair, I don’t think even Guardiola could have succeeded at Chelsea this season.

  7. As much as I hope Guardiola will stay, I can’t imagine anybody who could use a break more than Pep. The work rate the guy has to put in to be prepared for all the matches that Barca play … I can’t even imagine putting that many hours in at my job — and I love my job. And you just know if he were confirmed for next year, that work — seven days a week, hours upon hours every day — would start immediately and carry through the summer.

    Honestly, given the preparation, the variables and the high standards Pep sets for himself and his team … it’s just staggering. I don’t want him to go, but if he does, I’ll hope he is able to relax, recharge and go on with a long, happy and healthy life. The man, through his coaching, has brought me so much joy that I can wish nothing less for him.

    1. He definitely deserves a break but it is about what is best for the club and what is best for the club for him to stay and be 100%.
      But is he so tired that he NEEDS the break? now that is the question.

  8. If Pep takes a sabbatical next season, I respect his decision. He deserves a rest and even more than deserving it, he needs it!

    He’s without a doubt the best possible coach for this generation of Barca players, but I think I could also like Marcelo Bielsa a lot if he comes as Pep’s successor. Once again a fascinating match by Bilbao.
    Also, the CdR final will be fun. And some may not value it at all, but given the opponent and the show that you can expect from the two teams, it should be a high end to the season!

  9. Any chance we may get a glimpse of Jean Marie Dongou as the season winds down now..?

  10. I disagree with the reference that we owe him everything, he owe us nothing.
    Of course he owe us, from a ball picker, to a player and finally as a coach, the club made him the man he is today.
    He would never achieved at some other club the things that he achieved here. So of course, he owe the club.
    They just came together at one pint of their life, the wright coach for us, the wright generation of players and the wright circumstances in the club. I don’t think that we will ever witness this sort of symbiosis again. He’s already a Legend, but not yet Johnny Legend.

  11. BREAKING NEWS: Pep Guardiola and Eusebio Sacristan to switch jobs for the 2012-2013 season.

    FCB has announced today that first team coach Pep Guardiola will relinquish the reins for the coming season to the current coach of Barcelona B, Eusebio Sacristan. Guardiola will return to the position he previously held in charge of the youth side.

    “It was a tough decision,” says Pep. ” I didn’t want to let the club down, but I just can no longer handle the stress of such a high-profile position. I need to take some time away from the spotlight to reconnect with my family, grow my hair back, and rediscover the love of football that led me to become a coach in the first place. Coaching the B team is the perfect solution. I know Eusebio will bring something new and exciting to the first team.”

    For his part, Eusebio feels he is up to the challenge before him. “I am ready,” says Eusebio. “I will bring the same creativity and tactical nous to the first team that I employed last season. I plan on bringing some fresh new players into this side. Maybe some of the older players like Xavi or Iniesta won’t get as many minutes as they are used to, but when they see what my boy Carmona brings to the midfield, they will be happy to give up their places to this bright young talent.”

    1. Is this a a satire? Please tell me it is. I’m too sleepy to differentiate… zzz just woke up

  12. i started watching barca in the rijkaard years. when it was announced he was leaving the club i thought it was the end of the world. Some fan at his last home game had a big banner that read “frank youll never smoke alone” and i thought that was the nicest thing i ever seen for a coach.

    now pep might be leaving, and once again i think its the end of the world. but im not worried. lots of people here are freaking out, but who knows what a new coach might bring.

    its like at the end of charlie wilsons war, when the guy is talking about the zen master…whether this is a good move or a bad move, well see.

    1. For me, it’s not about “the end of the world”
      This club will win trophies again, sooner or later. I don’t know when, but that’s for sure. I’m ready to support this club for better for worse.
      Looking at our squad, we are more than capable to keep winning.

      It’s the fact that I’m gonna miss him so so much that makes me deeply sad. I adore him as a player and coach, as a person, and as a figure. Such a bless to have him as our coach.
      If we sad, I can’t imagine our players feeling.

      But yeah, life goes on, we move on. We have to.

    2. exactly.

      he is such a “mensch” – brilliant, warm, funny, intense, positive, honorable – the list can be much longer, but you get it. i feel selfish to say it, but if i don’t get to see and hear him, i will miss the joy and inspiration he gives me all the time.

      how must the players feel? do they already know?

      yeesh. what a week.

    3. The word ‘man’ just sounds so much more cooler and more macho in German 😀
      Spreche ein bisschen Deutsch!

    4. If he leaves, a new coach will be brought in, silver might again be won, the players will adapt and life will go on, but Pep will NEVER be replaced. There is a big, unsurmountable difference between the two.

  13. @nzm
    what time would you say is the best time to visit New Zealand?
    I am thinking of going there come january if i save enough money.

    1. January weather is always a bit weird. Leave it until Feb/Mar if you can. But if you’re in varsity, you may not have the choice, in which case January is good.

      Same seasons as Oz and, like Melbourne, you can get 4 seasons in one day. 🙂

  14. There’s something I read, that the last 3 years we had more than 88 goals divided between 3 strikers;
    Henry (26), Eto’o (36), Messi(38)
    Pedro(23), Ibra(21), Messi (47)
    Villa(23), Messi(53), Pedro(22)

    This year the second striker behind Messi in goals, David Villa, has 9 goals as Pedro.
    Messi(63), Alexis(14), Pedro(9), Villa(9), Tello (7), Cuenca(4)
    Midfielders: Fabregas (15), Xavi(14), Iniesta(8)

    We need more pólvora (powder). Our success depends maybe in having 3 menaces making diagonal movements, freeing space for Messi or other. One of the things I missed about Villa the most, was his diagonal runs. I hope he returns to his usual self.

    Here there is some scouting according to TransferMarkt: Strikers and defenders. I consider Javi Martinez a good option if he can adapt, he can play as a central defender and as a holding midfielder. That is assuming Abi comes back. If he doesn’t I believe that we need an Abidal clone, a left back with height, pace, that can play as a central defender. For a striker, my guess is that we need a left side winger, that can make 15-20+ goals per season, a la Villa. Buying VanPersie I believe will give us a the Henry edge. Let’s remember his contract ends on 2013.

    Édinson Cavani
    Date of birth: 14.02.1987
    Place of birth: Salto
    Age: 25
    Height: 1,84
    Position: Striker – Centre Forward
    Foot: right
    Market value: 28.000.000 €

    Robin van Persie
    Date of birth: 06.08.1983
    Place of birth: Rotterdam
    Age: 28
    Height: 1,86
    Nationality: Netherlands
    Position: Striker – Centre Forward
    Foot: left
    Market value: 45.000.000 €

    Fernando Llorente Torres
    Date of birth: 26.02.1985
    Age: 27
    Position: Striker – Centre Forward
    Height: 1,95 Market value:25.000.000 €

    Thiago Silva
    Date of birth: 22.09.1984
    Age: 27
    Position: Defence – Centre Back
    Height: 1,83
    Market value: 32.000.000 €

    Javi Martínez
    Date of birth: 02.09.1988
    Age: 23
    Height: 1,90
    Nationality: Spain
    Position: Midfield – Central Midfield
    Foot: right
    Market value: 22.000.000 €

    Mamadou Sakho
    Date of birth: 13.02.1990
    Age: 22
    Height: 1,87
    Position: Defence – Centre Back
    Foot: left
    Market value: 17.000.000 €

    1. I don’t like Van Persie even one bit even we are from the same area.
      His attitude is questionable. Even the Feyenoord fans say the same thing.
      And he is already 28 yo and the is not a powerful player.

      – Attitude problem
      – This is the first season where he is almost injury-free since forever
      – Already 28 years old

      I love Iker Muniain but he isn’t a goal scorer either. I heard rumors about Adrian but he isn’t a proven goal scorer either so in that case I prefer Muniain if we really want someone up front.

    2. hehe, well these are all quality but very costly option. it seems to me that we have to eat the humble pie this year and develope our own defence backline.
      on the good side bartra and muniesa already regained some experience at segunda still pep needs to adjust the team a more conservative play..

      forwards are rare these days if only sammu hadn’t a agreed a contract with machachtskala..

      @barca96
      agree on van pervert!

  15. Can anyone who has a twitter account ask barcastuff if he will be following the press conference at 11am(barca time)?

    Or will we able to follow it on youtube?
    I gotta make sure that I will be back by 11am then!
    Although I won’t understand what they will be saying but if

    1) Pep leaves – people become hysterical and start crying
    2) Pep renews – people cheering and clapping

    Best thing is for Pep to stay one more year but take AVB or Bielsa (dont think he wants to be a no.2 though) or whoever it is as no.2 so that it will be a smooth succession plan next season.

    I had this in mind after thinking about Pep as no.2 for SAF rumors a few years back and also how Lakers handled Phil Jackson’s health problems in the past.

  16. im sad and down, why should pep leave now,i stucked with tears, at least he givesus someone we can trust in.they should do their best to block his departure

  17. If Pep decides to leave it will be saddening. But I guess we can take some positives out of it:

    -A new coach brings added Motivation and competitiveness to the squad.

    -A new coach with unique ideas and styles can make Barcelona very hard for opponents to read our play and many of our opponents might struggle to adjust to our new playing style.

    -If our new coach does happen to do well and Barcelona continue to be their dominant selves then it will reinforce our stability.

    -A new coach can re-ignite some players form who have struggled recently. for example Pedro might flourish in a different position or with a different role.

    -Anybody but Mourinho as our coach would be a positive

  18. oh God, i cant stand the pain for the rumors,he is a catalan, he is the one who can bring out the best out of the messi, iniesta, xavi, sanchez,fabregas etc..u. he is the one who can make us feel secured when it comes to elclasico and big games, he is the one who mourinho and EE is afraid off.. at least he must wait on his decision to leave it too early to call it, why pep? where do u want to go to that u are pressing to leave… oh pleaseee stay,barca fans need u, catalans need u,football needs u,la liga needs u , barcelonafootblog needs u,providence needs u cos we love u pep!!!

  19. For next season, I’d like to see

    – Alba or Alaba for LB
    – Javi Martinez or Sakho or Rami for CB
    – Hazard for LF or Llorente for CF.

    But I highly doubt Bilbao would let two of their biggest assets leave for the same team.

  20. that meeting doesn’t worry me to be honest.
    can’t imagine him leaving the club before he didn’t resolve the (last) incesecuryties at the backline..
    sandro already fullfilled some of his wishes regarding the upcoming preseasons, and the squad still show their hunger and commitment.

    so i guess it is mental exhaustiation which is understandable reason.
    beeing a barçacoach was always a hell of a job but for pep who has a deeper connection to the club.

    but something tells me the administration still has to pay a high price-not a material one but a loss of influential power- in order to convince him to remain…

  21. i dont understand anymore – he went through all the soap opera with Cesc gave him his no 4… foe only one last season…?

  22. I heard on, espn news g.balague saying that pep will take a sabbatical and return. If this is true it wouldnt be fair to the incoming coach. Knowing that he will be gone after a year. But I highly doubt that this is what pep wants.

  23. Guardiola already informed the players about his decision. medias are next in line.

  24. Why is the waiting game more nerve-wracking than a clasico or ucl semifinal match? uuuugggghhhh…. too much rollercoaster emotions in 1 week…. 🙁

  25. Guardiola is leading the training session, that has now started at the sports centre

    If he is quitting, he will be the one at the press conference.
    He wouldn’t let Rosell announce the dreaded decision.
    So I think he is continuing!!!!

    90/10..

    1. Rushed home just to be in time for the 11am press conference but till now no official word. I though Pep would hold it.

      Anyways, no matter what it looks like he is staying and leaving Rosell to share the good news while he is taking charge of the training session.

    2. After???

      Man…. I was rushing home. Was at a buffet but couldn’t even eat properly.

      I was expecting it to be a big time affair, live blog here, stream links and stuffs. Maybe Im making it like its such a big deal.

      It’s like 5-6am at your place. Why are you up?

    3. 30 mins before i get off from work.. i hope they don’t announce anything while i’m driving on the way home…

      extreme emotion/shock + driving through rush hour manila traffic = recipe for disaster!

      i feel so tense!!!

    4. Be careful! Can’t blame you for being a bundle of nerves. I’ve got the twitches myself

    5. Yeah apparently it is. I read somewhere that it was at 11am.
      Damn it!

      2 more hours of agony.

      It’s like waiting for a birth pill test.

    1. payed for their arrogance… taking the game to the penalties against the Germans… what were they thinking?

  26. Official: At 13:30, president Rosell, sports director Zubizarreta and Guardiola will give a press conference at the Camp Nou

    2 more hours of waiting. Sigh.
    What am I gonna do?

    1. might as well accept the idea that the man is leaving. or you can read some stoics. in the end Pep will leave behind not only expectations but also a great team with lots of knowledge. barca will be stronger after him. no chance the team will implode.

  27. now tweeted : guardiola had once announce as a player his departure on april 27th…

    1. everthing seems planned looking at his careers.

      28.06.84 pep arrives @barca
      27.04.01 leaving barca
      28.05.07 barca b
      and now his departure?

  28. Kxevin, I said earlier that I wish Pep would take AvB or whoever it is, Bielsa, Lucho or Sergio will become the no. 2 so that it will be a smooth transition next summer.

    There were reports of SAF wanting Pep as his no.2 for similar reasons in the past. And La Lakers did something similar didn’t they because Phil Jackson couldn’t travel to away games. Was Mike Brown his no. 2?

  29. All local media say Guardiola will not renew his contract and leave the club. He will explain his reasons at the press conference

    I still think Pep will stay.

    I don’t think that the the players would want to train after hearing the bad news because Pep was supposed to tell them his decision the first thing in the morning.

    1. A much as I would love your reasoning to be true, unfortunately I dont think his decision would have any bearing on the training session. As big as Pep is he is not bigger than Barca and no matter what happens the club will continue to function normally. These players are consumate professionals getting paid millions per year and they will train and work for whatever manager the club chooses. Also Pep is the kind of man who would try and make sure that his leaving has as little a negative effect as possible on the players. He would never let them skip out on a training sessions because of this decision.

      I think we all need to come to terms with the fact that he is leaving. It is a sad day but I dont think its the end of an era, in fact I think we will come back stronger and hungrier next season. There are a lot of coaches out there who have the ability to continue to deliver the type of football and success we have come to expect from Barca. Whether or not they can do it with the class and style of Pep has yet to be seen. He will be sorely missed…

    2. That was the optimistic in me talking 🙂

      I know they are highly paid professionals but they have feelings too. The players would definitely prefer to have a moment to think about it instead of going through drills.
      I know they should behave like professionals but they have been together for 4-5 years now and the bond is strong.

      At least that is how I would prefer if I was in Pep’s and the player’s shoes.

    1. just wait until the presse between zubi y rosell is finished. listening to all those wannabe insider journos is pretty annoying.

  30. Now, the buildup buzz before the press conference sounds pessimistic about Pep renewal.

    1. But why would they who are not directly related to this matter confirm before the official announcement from the club and Pep himself?

      It doesn’t make sense.

    2. Thanks for the link btw.

      It says that it will start at 13.00 in Barcelona but I thought that it was 13.30?

  31. its been confirmed on other websites that he is leaving.im begining to hate him,dun know why, he didnt take our interest at heart, at this crucial moment where our major rivals(EE) are trying to overtake us,it will all go down in praise of mourinho who the will say its bcos of his presence in spain that is forcing pep out,think they will soon dominate us

    1. I understand where your fears about Madrid come from, but cannot agree with you that Guardiola does not have the club’s best interests at heart and is being selfish in making this decision. If he leaves, then it’s because he doesn’t think he can do the job justice any more, that he can’t do it in the same manner that he did in previous years. That he would, in short, be doing this group of players a disservice, wasting their time. It is the need to be certain that he can still meet his own standards which is why he has only ever signed very short term contracts. Unless you believe he’s lying, then we’ll have to task his word that he sincerely feels he cannot do the job this time, just as we trusted him on the other occasions when he renewed.

    2. But how would they know when Pep and the club have not said anything at all? They are just trying to get clicks on their websites.

      It doesn’t make sense.

    3. Most won’t have a clue and are just hit mongering, you’re right. It’s more the difference in this year’s build up, the amount of noise that has me suspicious. Very different to memory of previous years when he renewed. We’ll soon know for sure, but I think it’s now got to the point where it is very unlikely that Pep is going to be staying. Been my feeling since the press conference was announced.

    4. wow! beginngin to hate him – are you serious?

      First of all, he deserves a sabbatical. And secondly, Pep Guardiola does not leave because of Mou or EE, but because he is exhausted. I bet he will tell something like he doesn’t feel to have enough energy left for doing the job another year.

    1. Dafuq? the countdown timer went down to zero and then restarted at 30 min..I just got trolled by the Barça youtube page!

  32. i am not hopeless at all actually. there are some amazing coaches there and I believe they can keep the same level of play. my hope is that he will also have the politics too…

  33. does he know that quitting won’t get his hair back? 🙂

    anyway, Bielsa does not seem the man to care if he’ll loose his …

  34. or may be Rosell is playing politics with this one too thats why he didnt dig so deep for pep to sign again,afterall its la porta who signed him

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