5 Reasons Pep Guardiola's Time at Barcelona Is Up
In the wake of Barcelona's unexpected—to many—elimination from the Champions League, most news has centered around manager Pep Guardiola's impending departure from the club.
Despite Barcelona's collection of silverware, Guardiola's one-year contracts have continually overshadowed much of their winning each of the past few seasons. It seems he has finally caved into the pressure of being a top manager and decided to call time on his current stint as the club's coach.
Now with Guardiola set to leave Barcelona in the summer, here are five reasons it is time for him to leave.
Barcelona Is Near the End of a Cycle
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Throughout the club's history, they have gone through cycles of winning trophies followed by a few seasons without silverware. The ability of many football fans and writers to look back over the years is quite low, and we live in a time when it is more about what you have done recently.
Looking back at the beginning of the century, Barcelona had a three-year spell without winning a single trophy. Prior to that, the club had revolutionized Spanish football when Johan Cruyff managed the club from 1988 to 1996.
When Dutchman Frank Rijkaard took over in 2003, he inherited a club that hadn't won a trophy in four years. Rijkaard brought the best out of the club with the help of a player by the name of Ronaldinho, and the two led the club to five trophies in five seasons.
However, in the manager's last season, Barcelona had another dry spell and ended the year trophyless. Rijkaard's ideas and tactics had run their course, and many of the players had as well.
Guardiola is facing the same problems in his fourth season at the club. Other than Johan Cruyff, no other coach has stayed at Barcelona for more than five seasons. Guardiola revived the club four years ago, and now someone else is needed to do the same.
Too Much Tinkering
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Guardiola has tinkered with the club's winning formula on too many occasions this season.
Yes, it has worked for the most part. I still argue that La Liga is the least competitive of the four top leagues in Europe. Yes, the Europa League final will be an all-Spanish affair. However, that shows those teams have put all their energy into winning Europe's second club competition rather than their domestic one.
Guardiola has gone back and forth over the season with a three- or four-man back line. He has gone from the club's traditional 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 and when teams have gotten past the midfield, they have challenged Barcelona's fragile defenders.
The Spaniard has also chosen to play Lionel Messi down the middle, despite him not being an out-and-out striker. Messi is more effective when playing as the playmaker rather than the man saddled with the responsibility to score all the goals. He has scored 41 goals in a defensively poor league this season, but keep in mind the next highest scorer, Alexis Sanchez, only has 11 league goals.
Poor Transfer Decisions
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic was bought by the club for $65 million and Barcelona's top scorer Samuel Eto'o. Every team Ibrahimovic has played for has centered their attack through the big Swede. That's something Barcelona didn't do, because their style doesn't focus on one man.
Ibrahimovic was then sold to Milan for less than half of what they originally paid Inter.
But the club's bad transfer dealings didn't start or stop with Ibrahimovic. In his time, Guardiola has also signed Kerrison and Henrique, who are still at Barcelona, though they have never played a first-team match. Most of their time has been out on loan.
The curious signing of Dmytro Chygrynskiy is another poor buy during Guardiola's tenure. The $32 million man played only 14 times for the club before he was sold back to Shakhtar Donetsk for half the price.
Guardiola has also allowed key players such as Yaya Toure and Maxwell to leave. Maxwell was sold this past January and a replacement was never signed. This thinned the club's back line and reserves even more.
Most confusing is the club's inability to buy center-backs that can cover for both Gerard Pique and Carlo Puyol. Javier Mascherano is not a center-half and his inclusion in the back line shows the manager's inability to find a quality backup.
Success Is Hard to Maintain
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It's no surprise that maintaining success is extremely difficult, even with some of the best players in the world at your disposal.
Regardless of if Barcelona win the Copa del Rey this season and finish the year with four trophies—they have already won the UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup—the season will be seen as a disappointment by most, because they couldn't win La Liga or the Champions League.
Fans and critics wrongly assume Barcelona should and will win ever trophy on offer. Barcelona has already done that in previous years, and now that they are on top of the mountain, the only place to go is down.
All previously successful clubs have cycled through periods of success and those times came to an end sooner or later. Liverpool in the '70s and '80s and Milan in the '90s were teams that dominated both their domestic and European rivals. However, over time the rest of the pack caught up and overtook them.
Success is hard to maintain over long periods, and Guardiola knows that..
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Five seasons and 13 trophies is an amazing achievement for any manager. Especially for a man in his first coaching position.
Guardiola is now the hottest managerial prospect in football. Chelsea has long desired him and Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has long admired him. Both clubs will do their best to lure the Spaniard to their clubs in the summer—both will most likely make a coaching change.
He has already won the biggest trophies in Europe with great players, but can he do the same with less talented players? The true test of Guardiola as a coach is not to win titles with Barcelona. Rather, the test is winning titles with clubs that lack the pieces Barcelona possess.
When Guardiola took the job in 2008, he had some amazing players. Many are still there today, but he hasn't had to build a team by himself.
It must be realized that Guardiola most likely will never replicate what Barcelona has done during his five-year reign. If his next managerial job doesn't end in trophies, he'll be seen as a manager that won due to his talented players, rather than a collective work.