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“Of course I would like to play for Barca, who wouldn’t? We could have a lot of fun. It would be a pleasure to play with Messi, with my colleague Alves, with Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, with all of them. They are a brilliant team.
“I have played against them and I know their quality. But at the moment I can only do it on my Playstation.”
Manchester City’s gifted but controversial Brazilian forward Robinho was thus quoted in Barcelona-based newspaper El Mundo Deportivo on Thursday.
There is nothing new about putting expensively assembled football teams into the hands of former players with glorious on-field pasts and little coaching experience. But I think it’s fair to say that Pep Guardiola’s remarkable success in his maiden season in the Barcelona dugout contributed to AC Milan and Juventus recently appointing novice managers Leonardo and Ciro Ferrara.
Juve’s Italy defender Nicola Legrottaglie said he sees Ferrara as “the Italian response to Guardiola”. Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani, meanwhile, preferred to compare Leonardo to the precedent they set with Fabio Capello, who like the Brazilian was a club director before his 1991-96 stint in charge that produced four Serie A titles and a Champions League.
Eighteen years ago today, on Dec. 16 1990, a 19-year-old midfielder made his debut for Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona dream team in a Primera Liga match against Cadiz.
Pep Guardiola, who picked up a yellow card that day as the Catalans won 2-0, has come a long way since then, carving out a distinguished career both for Barca and the Spanish national side before taking over as coach at the Nou Camp from Frank Rijkaard at the end of last season.
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.