Goal.com's Debjit Lahiri looks into Pep Guardiola's reign at Barcelona and how will he be remembered by the world...
The 41 year old stands as the club's most successful manager today, having fetched a staggering 13 trophies, and with a cup final still to play before he calls it a day. Yet four years ago, in the summer of 2008, when the former player had taken over the reigns from the more illustrious Frank Rijkaard, many doubted his credibility.
The team had just finished the season completely empty handed and to make matters worse, they ended the campaign a disappointing 18 points behind their bitter arch-rivals Real Madrid. Guardiola was brought in to bring in an effective change and freshness to the weary outfit. He not only accomplished that with utmost ease but led Barcelona to the epitome of all 'greatness' possible in football.
Yes, he inherited an exceptionally talented team. But he, in his most modest of ways, guided them to their highest potentials and gave birth to a brand of football that was nothing less than an art.
The 'tiki-taka' as they say, was perhaps best personified by the Guardiola led Barcelona team; and with it he not only made them a mere winning team but a team that was a treat to the eye. Perhaps, the very reason why this team would be fondly remembered for the many ages to come.
His contributions were not limited to the walls of Nou Camp. The core of the Spanish National Team, comprised of his players; players who went on to emulate a similar style of football at the international level, guiding the country to their first ever World Cup triumph in 2010. Perhaps in the most indirect of ways, Guardiola played his own part in enhancing the reputation of the national team.
Barcelona formed the core of the national team that won the FIFA World Cup 2010
Adored by the fans and admired by his compatriots; Guardiola had single handedly master-minded a revolution; a revolution that went on to ruthlessly dominate the world of football for the last four years. He was the architect of the so called 'invincibles.'
Guardiola had a controlled aura about him. He was humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Perhaps the only time he had the most slightest of hiccups was when Jose Mourinho successfully managed to get under his skin, with his most notorious of 'mind games', last season. Yet, in the end, it was probably Guardiola who emerged the more sober out of the epic dwells between the two.
Barcelona's unceremonious defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League earlier this week, was surely not the most ideal of ways to bid a farewell. In his post-match press conference, Guardiola appeared emotionally drained but didn't let his emotions get the better of him nor did he express any bitter animosity; rather went by his business in the most polite of ways and congratulated Chelsea for their gutsy efforts.
"I don't know what to tell the players about why they are not in the final. Yes, we are sad but it's not our saddest night. To be honest, I just think that this year was not our turn."
“I congratulate Chelsea for their bravery and mental fortitude; they put in a great defensive performance. We wish them all the luck in the final." - he said.
It couldn't have actually summed up the man's personality any better.
Many great managers had come and gone, but Guardiola will not only be remembered for the utter perfectionist that he was, one who effortlessly thrived for success at every sphere of his managerial career, but also for being a true gentleman. Not many in the modern world could actually boast of both these personalities; but Guardiola is definitely one!
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