Pep Guardiola’s decision to leave his prestigious post at FC Barcelona for a supposed sabbatical has surprised many. The success the manager has had in such a short amount of time in such a pressurised job begs the question whether the Catalan club can continue with their success in recent years without Guardiola at the helm?
The relationship that Guardiola holds with the club's players, directors and fans alike makes the decision a regrettable one for many. As is the philosophy at Barcelona to promote from within, assitant un Guardiola, Tito Vilanova will step up and take charge after the end of the current season.
Who is new boss Tito Vilanova?
- Francesc 'Tito' Vilanova was a friend of Pep Guardiola at Barcelona's La Masia academy.
- The Spaniard joined lower league Barcelona-based side Terrassa FC as technical director after his retirement as a player in 2002.
- The 42-year-old was brought back to coach Barca B when Guardiola took control of the side in 2007.
- He moved up to the role of Guardiola's assistant coach at Barcelona when Pep moved up to the top job in 2008.
The pressure of the job appears to have exhausted Guardiola, who admitted in his press conference where he announced his departure that he ‘needs a rest’. Vilanova was not seen as amongst the front runners to succeed Guardiola after news broke over the past few days of the likelihood that he would leave his post. Yet Vilanova’s appointment is not that surprising when you consider the philosophy at the club, with the style of play not being the belief of one man alone. Vilanova can continue the image and the philosophy at Barcelona with the implementation of similar views to his predecessor in terms of the way football should be played. Whether the Spaniard holds the capabilities to handle the severe pressure that he will encounter from the media, with the job being one of the highest profile‘s of its type in world football as well as having the man management skills that Guardiola so clearly thrived at over his four year tenure, remains to be seen.
Is the departure of arguably the greatest Barcelona manager of all time the end of an era for the club? Of course the success of a team is not solely down to a manager and the Barcelona squad possesses immense talent. Yet players such as Carlos Puyol and Xavi Hernandez are undoubtedly in the twilight of their careers and will surely not appear in such prominent roles in the first team over the next couple of seasons and replacing them will not only be key to future success, but also very difficult. This season Barcelona have failed to retain both their domestic and European crowns and seem to lack a ‘Plan B’ when struggling to break a side down, as was the case in their recent Champions league encounters with Chelsea. Many have knocked Chelsea’s defensive and cautious display yet the disciplined performance frustrated and beat Barcelona, ultimately giving the English club a place in European football’s most esteemed European game, the Champions league final.
On a domestic front Barcelona have still largely dominated and appear to have been pipped to the title by a supreme Real Madrid side. The area of concern for Barcelona is that on a goal scoring front they rely so heavily on the form of Lionel Messi that an injury to him could curtail their form significantly. With Spanish striker David Villa out injured for an indefinite period, the club seemingly needs to purchase a forward to help share the burden with Messi and simply freshen things up. This article does not believe that Barcelona will suddenly drop significantly, yet the argument that perhaps recent dominance across Europe will not be sustained is one which must be considered in light of recent events.