Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cheer Up, Pep, You Can Walk Away with Your Head Held High; Coach Knows It's the Right Time to Quit Club after Making Them the Greatest in the World during His Four-Year Reign in Barcelona

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cheer Up, Pep, You Can Walk Away with Your Head Held High; Coach Knows It's the Right Time to Quit Club after Making Them the Greatest in the World during His Four-Year Reign in Barcelona

Article excerpt

Byline: Graham Hunter

[bar] FTER four trophy-laden years at the greatest club in the world, it would surprise many why Pep Guardiola has decided to turn his back on Barcelona. But finding an answer to this conundrum is far easier if you just listen to both the coach and his deeply trusted assistant, Tito Vilanova.

Some assorted phrases. Vilanova [in year one]: "This is a burn-out club, we expect the project to last two, perhaps three years, at the most".

Guardiola [on renewing his contract last year]: "People ask me why I only renew for a year at a time -- well that already seems a lot of my life already. If I could I'd renew for only six months but I can't".

And Guardiola again [during a promotional campaign]: "When you are a manager you need to be conscious of the fact that you could leave tomorrow. I work better when I feel that I have control over my own future.

"Being tied to a contract for a long time makes me very nervous and it's the very thing that can end up causing you to lose your passion".

If you are surprised that Guardiola spent last night considering leaving the club who have been the greatest and most successful in the world between 2008 and 2012, think of it like this.

Guardiola is a special guy, full of intelligence, vision, creativity and passion. He's not unique, not at all. But he's way above the norm.

In life, how many sportsmen, politicians, musicians, actors and directors tarnish their achievements by failing to anticipate when the final curtain should have been allowed to fall? How painful is it to say of a 'great' -- "they are living off past glories"? Guardiola inherited a team that had grown stodgy and selfindulgent and it would horrify him, absolutely horrify him, to allow the same to happen under his mandate.

When he left this club as a player, this month 11 years ago, it brought him some very bumpy times but it quenched his thirst for new knowledge, culture and language during spells in Italy, Qatar and Mexico.

One hunger, however, wasn't fed. When he quit the remains of the Barca Dream Team in 2001, he talked, glowingly, of his passion for England and its football. …

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