I don’t handle change well. It’s easier when things stay the same.
Even though the rumors had been circling for days – even though the drama surrounding Guardiola’s renewal reoccurred each year – when I woke up to the official news Friday, I still couldn’t believe it.
After four years where almost every trophy possible for the team and as an individual was won, head coach Pep Guardiola announced he would leave his position at the end of the 2011-2012 season, less than a month away.
This news was devastating to culés and players alike. It was obvious that if the choice was up to the club and fans, El Mister would be a permanent fixture on the sidelines of the Camp Nou.
But, the decision wasn’t ours to make. In fact, Guardiola said himself that he was the only person with any influence.
His reasons were that he was tired. He had given everything he had and had nothing left to give. If he couldn’t exude the energy that Barcelona deserved, he would remove himself from the equation.
All of this is fair. I, probably more than most people, understand being tired. I understand wanting and needing a break. I have no doubt that Guardiola did give his all and that he is completely and utterly drained. If that were the only thing to consider here, I’d send him off with a beach towel and sunglasses to Hawaii and not think twice.
However, what it really looks like is that he is leaving when the going got tough. In all the years he coached this team, this was the hardest. This was the season where we played the worst, where the tika-taka style he had patented failed. This was the season when players and coaches had terrible injuries or life threatening illnesses. This was the season Barcelona lost those two most important titles.
Perhaps that’s not the case. Perhaps he wanted to leave last year and go out on top, but decided to stay just one more. Perhaps none of this really factored into his decision.
I can’t believe that it couldn’t. As a coach, it is his job to pull the team together when things start falling apart. When a season ends in disappointment, a coach stays and rebuilds instead of leaving for something easier.
Sir Alex Ferguson has coached Manchester United for more than 20 years. I can guarantee you that not all of those years were marked by trophies or fond memories. The difference between Guardiola and Ferguson is that one stayed and one is leaving. If anyone is really tired, I would probably choose the 70 year old over the 41 year old.
The real problem with Guardiola, if one can even call it a problem, is his obsession with perfection. The man has almost literally tore his hair out stressing over which lineup to field or which sweater vest to wear. His motivation to play the most perfect and beautiful football is what gained the admiration of the entire world. It is also what ruined him in the end.
If there is one thing I could tell Guardiola (besides “I miss you, please don’t leave!”), it would be that no one is perfect. Strive for perfection, but don’t expect it. Learn how to let things go.
This is easy advice to give, but hard advice to follow. When it comes down to it, I think this break will be what Guardiola needs. Finally he won’t have any pressure weighing him down, from the public and from himself.
I respect his decision. I won’t pretend that I like it, but I have enough appreciation for the coach that has given Barcelona the world to return him the favor. I wish him the world in wherever his life leads him next.
The only thing that makes this easier is that the change will not be sudden and drastic. Guardiola will finish the season, and who will replace him but the assistant coach he has had since he started, Tito Vilanova.
People have said it is the end of an era. But I say it is just the next cycle in the continuation of history. This is not the end.
Coaches will come and go, players will do the same, but this team will always be més que un club. The love for the blaugrana colors does not hinge on a single person.
FC Barcelona is an institution. It takes many people to make it what it is.
I don’t like change, but inevitably something good always comes from it. I have no doubt that Barcelona will not only survive this loss, but flourish after it.
Image Source: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti