Guardiola steps down as Barcelona coach

Guardiola (Reuters Pictures)

The most successful manager in the storied history of FC Barcelona is walking away. 

Pep Guardiola announced that he will be stepping down as Barcelona coach after the end of this season instead of renewing his rolling one-year contract with the club, one which he led to 13 trophies in four years at the helm.

Guardiola, a former Barcelona player and reserve team coach prior to his rise to prominence, cited the stresses and pressure of the position for his reasons after a week in which he saw his team bow out of the Spanish league title race with a home loss to Real Madrid and the UEFA Champions League semifinals with an aggregate loss to an undermanned Chelsea side.

"Four years is an eternity for a coach," Guardiola said at a Friday press conference. "That passion so necessary to continue, so the players listen to you disappears after four years. You can only recover that by resting. It would have been a bad idea to continue. Perhaps we wouldn't have gone wrong, but I had the perception it would. I could not run the risk that it would go wrong. It is my time to go."

Instead of going after a big-name manager to fill Guardiola's void, club president Sandro Rosell tabbed Tito Vilanova, Guardiola's right-hand man during his tenure as coach, as his successor, and he will take over after the end of this season.

Guardiola's four-year run was marked by unprecedented success. He won La Liga titles in every season at the helm except this year (Barcelona is still mathematically alive behind Real Madrid, which is unlikely to blow a seven-point edge with four matches remaining), and he captured two UEFA Champions League titles as well. 

His final game provides the chance to go out in a fitting way — atop the winner's podium, when Barcelona takes on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 24.

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What do you think of Guardiola's decision to step away? Do you think this is the end of the Barcelona dynasty, or will they continue to flourish under Vilanova?

Share your thoughts below.

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50 Responses to Guardiola steps down as Barcelona coach

  1. Yellow Submarine says:

    He’s been a classy manager and I completely understand his reasoning for an exit. The man is exhausted mind body and soul from the machine that is Barcelona.

    I can see a year or two off recharging his battery.

    The likely landing spot? I don’t see Italy, personally. I think he eventually ends up in England. Manchester United, perhaps (when Sir Alex takes his leave)?

    Pet peeve from the previous thread regarding his exit, can we stop calling it, “Pep’s system”?

    It’s Rinus Michels “system” from the days of Ajax and Cruyff brought it over to Barca.

  2. jason says:

    “That passion so necessary to continue, so the players listen to you disappears after four years.”

    Really? How does Sir Alex do it?

    Pep takes the England job.

  3. Seriously says:

    Yeah, ok…

    Sore loser sounds like to me.

  4. OmarVizquel says:

    Will miss seeing him in his tiny suits, with one hand shoved inside his pocket and the other frantically pointing at the field.

  5. UKSubs says:

    he was gone no matter what. He was always renewing year by year.

    he’ll be gone for a year (two even) and go coach somewhere else in europe. or get the spain job – del bosque isnt going to be around forever either.

  6. Shane says:

    Spain job makes some sense but it’s a lot of the same players. Wish he would come to MLS – compared to Europe there is zero pressure.

  7. K Bone says:

    Obviously MLS would like every world class coach, but come on. Sure there’s zero pressure, but I’m assuming they can’t pay him a fraction of what European clubs can. And at this time winning in Europe is a much bigger challenge than MLS. I don’t blame him for leaving, if I were at a club for four years and won the league three times and the CL twice, I would get out before the insane media drove me mad…

  8. al17 says:

    Well, they should win their 14th title under him in a few weeks at the Copa del Rey Final. The next job he takes will be as national coach for Espana. Stop with the England & EPL Crap. There is a world of Football outside of England and it’s actually better. He’s taking over for del Bosque when he retires from being Espana’s national team coach.

  9. NE Matt says:

    He’ll be the Qatar coach for 2 months and then will be fired for getting a lack of positive results

  10. Vic says:

    Some people can’t handle too much pressure or don’t like to work that hard. Nothing wrong with that, the man is a multi millionaire and being happy in life is important. However, he had a chance to be one of the greatest coaches of all time.

  11. BrianK says:

    Euro(excludingEngland)snob?

  12. Doctor Detroit says:

    Obviously he was trying to avoid pressure and hard work. Because clearly there was NONE of that in his time at Barcelona. He still has plenty of time to be one of the greatest coaches ever. He’s only 41 years old.

    Two Champions League titles, three La Liga titles …

    He’s already had a better career than most coaches.

  13. OmarVizquel says:

    He’ll be the Qatar coach in 2013-2014. I’d bet my house on it (if I owned a house). He was basically an employee of the Qatari FA in the run-up to the WC vote. He got paid LOADS of cash for touting Qatar as a good place to host the tournament.

  14. Hincha Tim says:

    1) Barca will be back next year better than this year. Not because of Pep’s exit but because the relentless pressure they have been increasingly under to continue their success will be diminished. However, they do need to address some pressing concerns: Their back line. With Abidal unlikely to return they need a speedy, tall, athletic back who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. People don’t realize how important Abidal was to the success of Barca and the negative effect of his absence. If they could also somehow get Llorente from Athletic Bilboa (doubtful) it would take care of their weakness up front. Llorente is probably the most underrated striker in the world right now and is maybe the most complete striker as far as skill sets.

    2) While I respect Vilanova and think he will do a good job, I wish Barca had gone out and gotten a coach who, while respecting the culture of Barca (style of play, the importance of supporting the youth system) would bring a little different take. Bielsa (from Athletic Bilboa comes to mind as a perfect fit). I think Barca has to be careful with being TOO inward looking instead of getting a different perspective on their existing system (which they should keep with some tweeks).

  15. K Bone says:

    Well, I agree he’d be foolish to be the coach of England, but there really isn’t that much better than the EPL. It’s still one of the best leagues in the world. Also, it sure as hell isn’t a given they will beat Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey. I’m pretty sure it was a given they’d beat Chelsea too. While they haven’t been playing well in the league, they are pretty money in the cup competitions…

  16. K Bone says:

    I can’t help but feel that there will be even more pressure now, not less. It’s not like the Spanish media are going to be like, “well, it’s clearly Real’s time now, why don’t you take it easy and we’ll what happens.” I would imagine there will be even more pressure to perform and get back to winning everything like their fans demand, especially on Messi…

  17. Marcus says:

    I always thought Pep looked more emotionally invested in the games than Ferguson. I’m not saying he cares more than Ferguson, just that his emotional state depends more on the results on the field. Almost as if he doesn’t have the ability to take it easy and just sit and watch like Sir Alex does.

    I’m not surprised in the least that he’s emotionally drained. A great manager (obviously), but it seems he doesn’t have the temperament to detach himself a bit from the experience.

    I say good luck to whatever he does next. Even though i wasn’t a Barca fan, he sure did help create a style of play that will live on way past his time at the club.

  18. Marcus says:

    I would say that it’s a bit different than Michel’s system…with his system, there was even MORE inter-changing of positions. Now if Abidal and Puyol found themselves playing in the forward position now and then, i’d agree with you.

    But yes, people definitely do forget that Barcelona DID NOT create this style of play…it was an evolution of a style brought over by Michels and Cruyff.

  19. al17 says:

    England is at the beginning of the league’s down cycle and wait til the TV money decreases in the next year or so. Germany is the place to be right now if you’re looking for a new manager’s gig. The money’s good, competition’s great and no league in the world puts more asses in seats than Bundesliga – 450K ticket request for the Dortmund-Bayern Match? Those are World Cup ticket request numbers.

  20. Gnarls says:

    We’re witnessing the end of an era. Bravo, Pep!

  21. Gnarls says:

    Try consummate professional.

  22. fischy says:

    I thought he should have stayed, but I guess I get his logic.

    He could take a lot of time of and/or return as a national team coach…as suggested above, Qatar and Spain both seem like natural destinations and it wouldn’t be surprising if he already has an offer from Qatar.

    On the other hand, by bowing out now, he leaves open the very likely prospect that he will be called back into the Barcelona fold when the next manager, or the one after that, struggles and/or leaves the team in the lurch. While he may do a stint or two as a national team coach, I do predict his days as the Barcelona manager are not really over.

  23. uksubs says:

    the pro-madrid media will be happy to proclaim it’s real’s turn now.

    the catalan media will support the team no matter what.

  24. predicto says:

    Being realistic, it’s only downhill from here for Pep. At Barca, he was at the absolute top of the sport, integral to the absolute/practical/mythical top team, players, technique, money, fans, et al. It appears that he want’s to step away from that, but he has to know that he’ll never have it again. His next stop will be a different challenge.

  25. JJ's shin says:

    He obviously heard Winter wasn’t working out in Toronto and wanted to be first in line for the open position.

  26. Eurosnob says:

    I think that Sir Alex and Pep have very different personalities. Pep is a great perfectionist and workaholic, who is more similar to Bielsa. Sir Alex works hard, but he has more of life/work balance. The pressure and passion to excel comes from Pep himself rather than merely from the outside. Pep won the champions league twice in his four years with Barca and took his team to semifinal in the other two. No disrespect to Sir Alex, who did great with ManUtd for many years, but Sir. Alex’s won the same number of the champions league titles in his entire career as Pep did in four years. They are two very different coaches and both are excellent.

  27. nam says:

    Pep to Toronto, you heard it here second folks.

  28. Eurosnob says:

    You make some very observations. They absolutely need to find replacement for Abidal. He is their fastest, most athletic defender, which is critical when you play such a high line as Barca does. If he was healthy, Barca would have been in the CL finals. However, I also think that they need to find a tall, fast, athletic centerback who is technically sound to play the ball out of the back in Barca’s style. Barca’s weakness is set pieces, because they have only two players over 6 feet tall – Busquets and Pique and the letter was a shadow of himself toward the end of the season. Getting a defender who is good in the air would help tremendously, both on defense and offense. Llorente is a great player, who is a traditional #9 with a great technical skills set. However, if they get him, it begs the question as to what happens with Messi’s role at false #9 position. Do you want to move your best player from his best position to incorporate a traditional #9? Llorente is very good, but he is not better than Messi. I completely agree that Bielsa would have been an awesome fit and I would love to see what he can do with Barcelona’s current players, but he is under contract now so his availability is questionable.

  29. Chan says:

    I agree that replacing Pep with Tito leaves the door open to a return to Barca. If Bielsa took the job, it would not be as easy for Pep to return after his sabbatical and rest.

    I also agree with above comments about the difference between Pep and Sir Alex, in that Pep is a Barca man from practically birth, and his emotional attachment could have drained him faster than the job would have for someone else. Good luck Pep!

  30. clickclackmoo says:

    The appointment of Villanova certainly makes it seem like Pep told the club that he may possibly return to Barca within the next year or two. If Pep were really walking away from Barca for good, I see no reason why the club would not take the time to explore other options like Villas-Boas, Bielsa, etc. I think Barca does not want to tie up alot of money in a “big name” coach because they believe Pep will be back sooner rather than later.

  31. Big Ben says:

    Tiny suits, you must be old or fat.

  32. Big Ben says:

    Tiny suits? You must be old or fat.

  33. Hincha Tim says:

    I think Llorente could fit in Barca’s current system. He is a very smart player and doesn’t seem to have a gigantic ego (unlike Ibanabich) so he would be open to adjusting to Barca’s system. He is such a good technical player, great in the air and understands space. He could play a classic number 9 but slide wide to allow Messi into the middle and he has the technical skills to play quick passes with Messi or the other forwards. His prowess in the air would add much needed flexibility when teams packed the middle and refused to cover the wings because they weren’t afraid of crosses into the middle. And you’re right about Barca’s need for a centerback.

  34. Vic says:

    He may have liked it before but now he wants to rest. Nothing wrong with that. However, players like Xavi and Messi don’t come along everyday and his chances of future titles probably won’t be as great wherever he goes in the future.

  35. Polo says:

    Cannot imagine how emotionally drained he is. This year has been absolutely brutal in terms of losing integral players to your system to various debilitating injuries. The Abidal scare really shook the team. Even the players are exhausted. Think about it… they’ve played every possible game that could be played, save like three, over a three year span. They’ve played more games than any team in top flight football by a lot.

    Missing Villa’s skill sitting wide on the left and Abidal’s recovery speed behind him was just a death blow this season. Couple that with Alves’ decreasing defensive abilities and you have a recipe for disaster in the back.

    Puyol is incredible, but he’s only one man.

  36. marco says:

    It will be extremely difficult for anyone to duplicate the success Pep has achieved in the same manner.
    For some time Pep and Barcelona were winning it all without a striker or an aerial threat. Who could have predicted that could be achieved in today’s football. It was only when they lost their wing threat that the Barcelona engine ran out of gas, and into a wall of central defenders. Tito will have Villa back, but can they win trophies at the same pace without high and wide threats? It will be a herculean task to fill Pep’s shoes.

  37. Andy says:

    Well since I don’t like Barcelona, this makes me happy, but I guess we’ll see where he goes. Chelsea or Man City perhaps?

  38. Vic says:

    We heard it here first and we also heard it here last.

  39. MiamiAl says:

    Why is he not being considered for Argentina? The whole nation desperately wants Messi to be used in the same way he was at Barca. Pep would be the guy that can make it happen!

  40. Austin says:

    I just think it isn’t a good time to announce it. Barcelona ARE still mathematically alive behind Real. And we just watched both team get beat…so I just think it’s a bad thing for moral to come out with this before it is all over.

  41. SilverRey says:

    Poor guy, he’s just a little stressed out right now. He kinda had a bad week. I could see him reversing his statement after he’s cooled down a little…

  42. Seriously says:

    By leaving when he can’t win a few? Hardly.

  43. Ycontrol500 says:

    He is absolutely going to regret this. He needs to sleep on it for a month instead of making such a rash decision. The man could be our generation’s Sir Alex Ferguson. He needs to cool down, relax, and think about this more clearly. I completely understand why he would feel this way after Champions League.

  44. tom says:

    It’s not a rash decision.

    He’s refused to sign longer than a one year contract since the beginning. This has been a possibility every year, increasingly possible each year.

    The way he puts himself into it is just not sustainable over a long period, and he has always said that.

  45. Eurosnob says:

    I am a big Llorente’s fan myself and if they can get him and effectively incorporate him into their system, Barca will be even harder to stop.

  46. ThaDeuce says:

    4 years is an eternity for a coach…….. kinda puts sir alex in a new light.

  47. mlser says:

    Unfortunately the downside with that is a lot of managers don’t speak German…One of the stated reasons Jose Mourinho said he would not move to the Bundesliga.

  48. hush says:

    It was a good run for Pepelino and Barca, but nothing last forever. I truly respect the Futbol that the Catalan team provided for the last 5 years or so, but Iniesta & Xavi were the most responsible for those glory days. Injuries and playing too many games has gotten Iniesta & Xavi to wear out. If those two guys can’t find a way to re-energize, Barca won’t smell overall triumph for a long time.

    I hate Catalan fans, so I’m a little happy. Ala Madrid!

  49. MF says:

    I just believe that he is the type of coach that can’t build a team. He only managed a team that was left behind for him to tinker with. The base that he used was there by Rijkaard. At this point is when he needs to start looking for pieces if he was any other coach. He leaves Barca now when it needs him the most, during a period of transition. Seems to me like he mentally wasn’t ready for the whole job. Maybe he comes back and is able to rebuild the team, maybe not.

  50. UKSubs says:

    Worst response ever.

    Under Pep, 22 Masia kids played their first game for the first team. Including Pedro, Busquets, Thiago, Oriol Romeo, Nolito, Rafinha, Tello, Cuenca, Deulofeu…

    First full offseason he got rid of Dinho, Deco, Zambrotta, Edmilson, Oleguer, Thuram, and brought Alves, Pique, Busquets, Pedro, Keita.

    Rijkaard’s team? Hilarious.