totalBarça received this opinion piece from shubhi1culegirl after head coach Pep Guardiola’s announcement that he will leave the team after this season. Her story encompasses what many culés are feeling at this moment. In an effort to better bring the FC Barcelona community together in this bittersweet time, we decided to share it with the rest of our readers.
When Pep Guardiola leaves Barça, it will be a sad day for any culé, myself included. We culés have more to be thankful for from Pep than we even realize. Pep made Barça what it is today. He perfected the style of play his predecessors had only imagined. He took to the team, like any true culé, when it wasn’t in that good of shape and he turned around the fortunes of FC Barcelona.
At first, it was called good luck, then a good phase, a good season, good seasons, and then it finally became an era – the era of FC Barcelona and the era of Pep Guardiola.
Pep gained the club worldwide recognition. He earned the team the “Best Club Team in the World” badge. He enthralled fans with manitas and made us giddy with joy through the throng of titles we won in these years with him. Admit it, Barça’s playing style had always been beautiful, but Pep made it beautiful and efficient. Without Pep, people wouldn’t be saying words like, “The Champions League trophy is in a long-term relationship with Barcelona,” or that “They’re the best team I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Wearing a Barça kit had always been a matter of pride, but I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say that wearing that blaugrana jersey now, no matter what the number on the back, makes you want to walk with your head held high and a skip in your step.
The uncertainty of winning or losing slowly transformed into this confidence that the team had it in the bag. Losses became less frequent, so much so that people started assuming that Barça versus any other team would be meaningless because the Catalans would win. I wouldn’t call this overconfidence, rather these are natural assumptions based on the team’s recent record. Pep took fans from a “Woah, we won it!” to “Of course we won it!” attitude.
What has Pep done for me, personally? He introduced me to FC Barcelona. I am a recent culé – very recent. If people want to call me a bandwagon-er, then so be it. But I have truly come to love this club and everyone associated with it deeply. I respect the players’ playing style; I am ecstatic when they win and feel determined to support them when they don’t. I wasn’t even into football before I started watching Barça. Something about Pep’s approach to football and the players’ determination to materialize it on the pitch got me hooked. Before I knew it, I was in it for life.
If culés all over the world are grateful to Pep, then I am even more so. He changed my life from thousands of miles away, and not unintentionally. I like to think that Pep and the players took it as a mission to get more and more people to recognize this strangely advanced style of football, one that took years to develop and even more to master. I believe that he wanted to introduce football fans and even people oblivious to it all (read: me) to a brand of football that would be different than what other teams played. He wanted the world to see and recognize the power of beautiful football that relied not on rigorous defending, but on keeping the ball. Not on counterattacking, but on free-flowing football. And he did it successfully. He made us see that this was the way football was meant to be played.
So, thank you Pep, for your words of wisdom and your true culé heart, for your attachment to everything Barça to your never say die attitude. Thank you for everything. You are truly, truly an inspiration for me, for all cules, for all football fans, and even those who aren’t football fans. You leave a great legacy for this club and enormous shoes for Tito to fill.
As for Tito, since he has been with Pep every step of the way I’m sure he understands our team just as much as Pep does. I believe that he too will give it his all, will go all the way to carry forward the legacy of this great football club, this great family. It might be hard for many of us to imagine a Barça without Pep, it is for me, but we must not let that hinder our support for Tito. We must get behind him like we got behind Pep and trust him to make Barça even greater than it is. It will be hard. We will fumble, but then, who doesn’t? All we need to do is hold on tight to our passion and support this team more than we ever did before.
So Pep, if you’re out there, I want to express my gratitude to you from the bottom of my heart. It’s been a hell of a ride with you and to say that I have enjoyed every minute of it would be an understatement. I wish you all the best for your future. I know whatever you decide to do, you will find success everywhere.
Tito, I wish the very best of luck to you. May you lead this club, our club, to even more glory. Just know that all culés, support you wholeheartedly. Feel the support of millions of hearts pumping blue and red.
And to all my fellow culés: Hold on tight, the ride has just begun.
Image Source: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti