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