When Pep Guardiola decided to voluntarily leave Barcelona after winning a record 14 trophies, many expected the Catalan manager to take a sabbatical and roam casually around the streets of Lower Manhattan in order to recharge his energy levels after four seasons under the intense Camp Nou spotlight.
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Unsurprisingly, the world's media was instantly eager to find out what Pep's next managerial challenge may be once his yearlong break came to an end. British clubs Manchester City and Chelsea seemed to be the ideal next step for him due to their highly competitive squads and undisputed economic power. In what many initially considered a surprising move, he decided to join the Bundesliga champions at the Allianz Arena.
Recently, Bayern Munich directors Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explained that their first contact with Guardiola took place back in July 2011 when, to the Germans' surprise, the Catalan manager reportedly approached them out of the blue, expressed his admiration for their club philosophy, shared his desire to coach there one day, gave them his phone number and walked away.
In other words: Pep's carefully crafted master plan to land a job at the Allianz Arena had already started to develop several months before even leaving Barcelona, and his supposedly stress-free year away was, in fact, used as preparation for his German adventure.
From the moment the former Blaugranas leader was famously presented as treble-winner Jupp Heynckes' successor, it became increasingly clear that Guardiola had no intention of keeping the peace with Barcelona, the club which gave him the chance to become a professional player (first) and one of the most successful managers in football history (second).
Disappointingly, Pep doesn't seem to have any problems with attacking his former employers from the comfort of his newly found German home: "Too many things have happened that have crossed the line. I will never forget that they used [Tito Vilanova's] illness to cause me damage. I just ask the Barcelona board to go their own way and leave me alone and stop using me and my friends to hurt me. All I asked was to be left in peace."
Personally, I believe Guardiola's shocking rant is totally uncalled for and will certainly damage the Catalan club by causing a further division within supporters at a time of increasing difficulty given the controversial decisions the board has taken lately.
It’s no secret former supremo Joan Laporta has the support of both Guardiola and mentor Johan Cruyff in his continuing battle against current president Sandro Rosell, and regrettably, it looks as if the war is only likely to become worse in the near future.
As a lifelong Cule, I must admit that I am hugely disappointed about the fact that such important names within the club's present, past and future don't seem to able to put their differences to one side and put the interest of the club ahead of their huge egos.
Blaugranas members will have the chance to vote for their next president in the summer of 2016. In my opinion, causing further instability and internal debate three whole years before any kind of final decision can be made is neither necessary nor beneficial to the club as a whole.
A strategy to hide Thiago's signing?
After unleashing his furious attack against the current Blaugranas board of directors, the newly appointed Bayern Munich manager went on to, unashamedly, confirm his interest in luring the promising Thiago Alcantara away from the Camp Nou: "It is either Thiago or no one. I know him very, very well. He is a super, super player. He can play three, four, five positions. He wants to play and at Barcelona his chances would be worse."
Don't get me wrong, I am aware that the youngster has recently become more reluctant to continue to challenge Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas for playing time at the Camp Nou, but honestly, I didn't for one second expect Guardiola to be the one convincing him of leaving.
If we consider that Thiago's agent is in fact Pere Guardiola (Pep's brother), the whole story becomes even more twisted. Was the current Bayern Munich manager involved in ensuring that the youngster's buyout clause dropped from €90 million to €18 million at this point? I guess we will never find out ...
Oh well. I would certainly not lose any sleep over making an €18-22 million profit from selling a player who went on record to announce "I would lie if I said my dream was to succeed at Barcelona" shortly after being promoted to the club's first team. As I have argued many times before, the door is wide open for those who don't appreciate the privilege of defending the club's colours in front of the eyes of millions of adoring fans.
Pep Guardiola played a vital part in bringing plenty of silverware to the Camp Nou, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. I sincerely wish him all the best at Bayern Munich.
However, I strongly recommend that, if he wants to be left in peace, he stops trying to damage Barcelona by reigniting divisive, harmful debate and trying to convince promising young players of leaving the club that has enabled their development.
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