He has won all there is to win in European and Spanish soccer in his first season as coach of FC Barcelona; however, clouds are starting to form around Pep’s long-term future at the Catalan club.
It remains to be seen if Pep would review his coaching contract. Seemingly, he is waiting for the presidential elections to see who succeeds Joan Laporta. In that case, this soap opera can go on 'til the middle of June next year. He has not associated himself with any of the candidates, though all want him to continue after elections.
Will he walk away from it all if he would find elected president and board is not compatible with his personality and style? Maybe not or Barça Fans hope not, but even if he leaves Barcelona for Italy or England, what will be his legacy at the Camp Nou?
Current team is the best in the world in performance, hard work, talent, discipline, and is brimming with winning mentality and hunger. So he would leave club in best condition but would his successor be able to emulate his success?
Speculation surrounding presidential and board elections also links Pep to the post of Sporting Director at the club with his confidant and assistant coach Tito Vilanova moving to take his place as the head coach.
Sandro Rosell, a former Barcelona vice-president and former friend of Laporta, who left after developing differences, is apparently ahead in the running. Rosell has been a key man in reviving fortunes of Barcelona and is influential in making transfers. He has supported Pep and is willing to give him additional powers in transfers which will mean Txiki Begiristain will have another reason to leave after Laporta.
But Rosell also made a political promise to bring Cesc Fàbregas and earned wrath of Arsene Wenger in the process for Barcelona. He is known to have good relations with top soccer players around and reports say that he has unwritten agreement with three big players to join Barcelona should he win.
It is very soon to judge him, but if current situation is put aside, can or will Pep be considered one of the greatest soccer coaches ever?
Does a performance of only one season will make him an all-time great no matter what happen from now onward in his career? That’s a definite no. Does he has anything more to prove? Yes he does. Will he be a one-time wonder, perhaps after the effects of his tough discipline wear off and team starts to lose focus? We will have to see. A trophy less season will also be a test of his mental strength and character.
Pep definitely needs more and consistent success, face more challenges, cross more hurdles to be called a great coach in any sense and if he decides to stay at Barcelona than he can win more trophies because of the talent at his disposal and if chooses a long-term coaching career than may lead club to further great achievements.
Then there are other questions. What makes him a great coach? Is it because he is a disciplinarian or because of his determination, meticulousness, straight-talk or being a control freak, good motivator and organizer? He has definitely been able to root out indiscipline of Rijkaard era and get most out of his players. Besides discipline his chief characteristic has been idealistic high tiki-taka football.
One thing is for all to see that Pep has been steadfast and refused to change his playing philosophy among criticism that Barcelona are becoming predictable and teams are now playing defensive against them to blunt their offensive edge.
There are so many variables, so many possibilities, so many ways this episode can turn out to be for this intelligent, deep, intriguing yet complex man. A man all want to see continue at Camp Nou.
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