Friday afternoon question: Is Guardiola the man to revive Barcelona?

May 9, 2008

Guardiola reacts during a news conferenceAfter a second consecutive season without any silverware — and a humiliating 4-1 drubbing by arch-rivals by Real Madrid into the bargain — Barcelona have tried to stem the rising tide of criticism of the club by announcing that former club captain Pep Guardiola is to take charge of the team at the end of the season.

It’s quite a gamble.

Over the past two seasons, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Marco van Basten, Juande Ramos and Ernesto Valverde have all been mentioned as possible replacements for Rijkaard, but the club have rejected the tried and tested contenders and gone for old boy Guardiola, whose coaching experience amounts to nothing more than a single season in charge of the club’s reserve team Barça B.

Given his Catalan credentials and close association with Johan Cruyff’s “dream team”, the appointment of Guardiola will be welcomed by some of the Nou Camp faithful, but he is hardly the sort of figure you would expect to take charge of a big team like Barça when they’re going through a Galactico-style meltdown.

Guardiola’s appointment could be a sign that Barça now realise their attempt to pack the team with big-name players was a foolish one and that they may now try to recruit more low profile figures to replace the likes of Ronaldinho.

But it is a risky strategy to ask a coach as inexperienced as Guardiola to try and pick up the pieces, construct a new side and deliver success in his first season in the big time.

Real Madrid tried a similar approach with coaches like Mariano Garcia Remon and Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, but both ended up being turfed out as they struggled to deal with the pressure and expectation. In the end it took the experienced Fabio Capello to get the team back on their feet.

Will Guardiola prove the sceptics wrong and make a success of his first major coaching job? He’ll need time to do it, and that may not be available. Maybe it’s a healthy sign that the club has gone for a former player, hungry to make his name in coaching. Or is it a case of being too scared to appoint a coach like Mourinho, who might be too headstrong and independent? Give is your thoughts in the comments below.

FILE PHOTO: Pep Guardiola during his presentation as Barcelona B team coach in 2007. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

It’s a risky gamble Barcelona is taking and if it backfires, it may take the president with it. Before Barcelona won the league and CL with Rijkaard, they went five years without a trophy (I think they didn’t even manage to win the Catalan Cup, which is a fairly restricted affair in terms of attendance); they risk doing the same if Guardiola doesn’t step up to the challenge.

Posted by Gonzalo @ All In White | Report as abusive

I hope you’re right that it signals a rejection of the Galactico strategy.
I used to love Guardiola as a player — technically perfect as he was — and he’s certain to command great respect from the home grown players, as well as most of the older pros.
I’m not sure if a brash youngster like Cristiano Ronaldo would see him quite the same way, and I hope it means Barca have chosen a different route.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

When Avram Grant replaced Jose mourinho,questions about his managerial credentials were asked.Now Chelsea are in with a chance to do the called “Special One” failed twice in his attempt to make it to the Champions league final ,both times falling in the hands of Rafa Benitez .So ironical that Avram Grant needed to overcome the same RafaBenitez and liverpool in Semifinal and e did it with such a conviction was amazing.So my point it’s how u put ur team up and tactics .My point is Mourinho was their and has done it already but again he also had the hiccups.So will Guardiola no doubt ,but giving time to the person who knows barcelona’s history makes sense.

Posted by chethan | Report as abusive

It is hard to decide how the Barca fans will react to this appointment. There is no doubt that Guardiola is well thought of by the club and fans but at a time when the club needs a steady hand and head, Guardiola’s lack of managerial experience might just make this a task too difficult.

I hope not, as it would be refreshing to see the beginning of a new great manager but the pressure is already intense and with so many big names to tame or re-house – any form of silverware next season would be a triumph for a rookie manager.

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

He has the correct make-up for the job (unlike the evil Mourinho) but he lacks the maturity that age brings and the actually experience of coaching and managing. This is a poor, forced decision on the part of Barca. But like all fans of FC Beautiful I hope that I am wrong and that Guardiola builds a beautiful winning team next season.

Posted by Beautifulgamer | Report as abusive

It is a major risk, but I don’t believe it’s comparable to Real’s hiring of Mariano Garcia Remon and Lopez Caro. Neither of them have quite the status of Guardiola, or the automatic respect he commands around the club. How long that respect and admiration lasts is the central question.

The one thing I really envy the EPL: their fans have more patience.

Posted by Linda | Report as abusive

Any time a high-profile coach leaves a massive club such as Barcelona, the successor has very little margin for error. Guardiola must win, and win big out of the chute, or he’s doomed to be run out of town. God forbid Barca has a slow start, or they’ll be calling for his head by Christmas. 05/which-players-follow-rijkaard-out.htm l

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Contrary to British journalists’ favorite cliche regarding the top Spanish teams, Barcelona does not have a Galactico policy or a Galactico-style meltdown.

The Galactico policy essentially mrans buying a few “Galactic” stars and supplementing them with substandard players from the youth academy, thus creating an imbalance…

Barca has quality all round — from Milito, Abidal, and Zambrottaon defense; Toure, Xavi, Iniesta in midfield, and Messi, Etoo in front.

The only person who can be accused of behaving like a Galactico is Ronaldinho, and he has hardly played this season. Moreover, he was there when Barca was winning everything and playing the best football.

The problems are inconsistency, lack of motivation, injuries…

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

[…] Who needs Mourinho when you can have…Pep Guardiola? (Reuters) […]

Posted by Hey, I Went Out Before, and I Picked Us Up Some Links – The Run of Play | Report as abusive

[…] Did Barca make the right move? (Reuters Soccer Blog) […]

Posted by Daily Dose.: 5.9.08 | The Offside | Report as abusive

Great point by Vincent. I would argue that a couple of other players have behaved like Galacticos too, but overall that’s not our main problem.

Posted by Linda | Report as abusive

I agree with Linda. You can’t say he’s just a nobody like Garcia Ramon or Lopez Caro. Guardiola has God-like status at Barcelona. I’ve got a feeling he’s going to be a big success. Back top basics, sort of thing.

Posted by Luc | Report as abusive