One of the fascinating things that Guillem Balague wrote about in his fascinating biography of Pep Guardiola called “Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning”
was the politics at Barcelona. In the background, the club was split between those who supported current Barca president Sandro Rosell and those that supported former president Joan Laporta.
Guardiola, and Cruyff were both in the Laporta camp and it was Laporta that had first hired Pep as Barcelona manager. So Pep was not a Rosell hire, but the Barca president could not do anything about the most successful coach in the club’s history. That is, until he left. Then the whispering campaign began and in the words of Laporta:
“Rosell, in his desire to undo everything the former President had done, has destroyed the best thing Barcelona had ever created.”
Guardiola finally got fed up of the whispers and veiled innuendos coming from the Camp Nou and he unloaded on them in an very uncharacteristic way and this is what Pep said earlier this week:
“I travelled 6,000 kilometres and asked the Barça board to leave me alone, but I haven’t achieved this. They haven’t kept their word”, the new Bayern boss said. “There have been too many things this year that have crossed the line. Using Tito Vilanova’s illness to hurt me is something I will never forget”, he added.
“I’ve seen Tito Vilanova in New York and if I haven’t met him it’s because it hasn’t been possible due to my commitments”, Guardiola continued. The former Barcelona manager denied that his relationship with Vilanova had turned sour and that he had spoken badly of him in order to sign Neymar: “Last year he won the most successful league title in Barça’s history, which proves his ability to do the job. Good players always have the ability to play together and the same applies to those two (Neymar and Messi)”.
Guardiola continued his extensive response:
“I was the one who decided to leave. I served my time and left. I told them to do their jobs and be happy with the players that are there. I wish them all the luck in the world because it’s a very special club for me, which goes without saying”.
The Bayern boss complained the he felt attacked by the Barça board:
“I wish they would leave me alone and stop using my friendships to hurt me. If I want to have dinner with Johan Cruyff, I will have dinner with Johan Cruyff. I don’t owe anyone anything. They should stick to what they do best. We’ll embrace if we meet in the AudiCup and I hope Barça does well. But there are some things that I will never forget”.
Guardiola concluded by saying:
“I wish they would let me enjoy my work. If anything is not true from all the things I’ve said, they must come out and deny them. But they should be the ones to come out, not middlemen. They should come out and deny what I’ve just said. Then we’ll keep talking. Until then I just want to be left to enjoy preparing my team”.
From the outside, it appeared that the departure of Guardiola and the appointment of his assistant Tito Vilanova had the appearance of an orderly succession. But it seems that is not the case as Sandro Rosell attempts to build his legacy at the Camp Nou. And that means tearing down what Guardiola and Cruyff built.
From 2008 to 2012 Barcelona under Guardiola were one of the best sides in history, winning 13 trophies. But when he left, Guardiola also knew that the team was coming to the end if its run and that some big chances needed to be made. Abidal has since left, Valdés will leave next summer, Puyol is on his last legs and Xavi is not the player he was even two years ago. The team needs rebuilding and with the health of Vilanova always an issue, the lack of leadership at the top of Barcelona is starting to show.