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Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football

With the current vacancies at Chelsea and England, FC Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola is being heavily linked with a move away from Camp Nou this summer. As we all know, Guardiola only signs one year contracts with the Catalans, and as yet he has not signed up for next season, prompting speculation that he will walk away at the end of this term.

He is currently third favourite for the Stamford Bridge vacancy, after the West London club sacked Andre Villas-Boas. Obviously, Jose Mourinho is the favourite, with former Valencia manager Rafael Benitez also in the running. Although, considering Benitez is available now, and Chelsea have instead appointed Villas-Boas’ assistant Roberto Di Matteo until the end of the season, it is looking unlikely that Benitez will wind up there.

For me, it is between Mourinho and Guardiola. Guardiola would be the easiest choice, as there would be no compensation for Abramovich to pay. In these times of Financial Fairplay, the fact that Chelsea have had to pay off Carlo Ancelotti, then pay nearly £14million to release Villas-Boas from his contract at FC Porto, not to mention the sizeable payoff to get rid of him, an unattached manager might be the best option for the club.

As a Barca fan, I would obviously be devastated to lose the man who has brought unrivalled success to the club. Thirteen trophies in four seasons, and potentially two more this season, make Guardiola the most successful Barca manager ever. He is also the fourth longest serving manager in the club’s history, behind Frank Rijkaard, Jack Greenwell and Johann Cruyff. Having said all that, I think he is perfect for the job that needs doing at Chelsea.

There is a lot of talk in England that a massive rebuild needs to be undertaken at Stamford Bridge, with the likes of Lampard, Terry and Drogba needing to be moved on. Don’t forget, Guardiola’s first action as manager of Barca was to get rid of Ronaldinho, Deco, and a year later, Samuel Eto’o, because they had too much influence in the dressing room, and were leading Lionel Messi slightly astray. He would not be scared of taking on, and probably beating, Chelsea’s senior players. Also, if he were to carry on his tradition of signing one year contracts, then that would also be extremely attractive to a man that has paid out millions in compensation in the past.

The thing that surprises me most is this: why is Guardiola so highly regarded in England when he never played there? He is also being heavily linked with the England National Team manager’s position should Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp turn the FA down. I don’t see that one panning out, though, as Guardiola is far more suited to club management at the moment. He has also long been the favourite to manage Arsenal should Monsieur Wenger step down.

There is no doubt that Pep is a brilliant manager, who has the complete respect of the dressing room. There are never stories coming out of Spain that there is unrest, or that he has “lost the dressing room” and that is sure to have been noted by any potential future employer. He also brings through the youth players, as we have seen so often at Barca, and Chelsea, as we so often hear, have several good young players at the club that just need the chance to play, along with the faith of the manager. Guardiola would give them that chance, and that trust. He is also very shrewd, and there is no way he will take the job at Chelsea unless he is given complete control, and more importantly, time to do the job and see it through.

As I said, there is no doubt that Pep is a superb manager. At Barcelona. Whether he can translate that work ethic and success onto a new club remains to be seen. If this is to be his last season at Camp Nou, then I would like to go on record and say gracias Senor Guardiola. Thank you for all you have done for the club, and for the four best seasons I have ever had as a football fan, and the best football team I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

James On March - 6 - 2012
  • Marc

    James: Whole premise of Pep possibly/most likely leaving was well put by you. Pretty much nailed it. I think he could easily handle Chelsea. As much of a Barca supporter that I am & would also hate to see him leave, I have so much respect for him that I’d wish him well whatever he decides to do. Although I think he could manage it, I think the England job would be a very bad move career-wise for him because he would probably ultimately be very unhappy with it — poisened chalice that it is. What I think would be really interesting would be if Mou leaves Madrid, goes back to the EPL & they end up facing each other yet again over a couple of English sides!

    • James Bartaby

      Thanks for your feedback Marc.

      Most pundits seem very confident that he would not entertain the idea of moving to such a dysfunctional dressing room, but they seem to forget that Barca’s wasn’t harmonious when he stepped up. I really hope he signs his yearly deal, but I am worried as he has normally signed it by now.

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