Yesterday Pep Guardiola announced to the entire world that he would be standing down as Barcelona's manager at the end of the season. He stated "tiredness" as being one of the main reasons behind his decision and that he was going to take a break from the game. Obviously, Barcelona fans are upset and most of them have expressed their gratitude to the most successful manager in their history. His record speaks for itself, winning 13 trophies out of a possible 18 since taking over at the start of the 2008-2009 season. The style of play which was imposed on Barcelona's team during his tenure there is what will be most remembered of his time as manager. He will, without a doubt, forever be remembered as one of the greatest managers of all-time.
However, there are a few things that his resignation has proven. To begin with, and I'm sure many Barcelona fans will probably disagree, but Guardiola is a bit selfish to walk away now. 4 years at any club is an average amount of time in a managerial career and for Pep to walk away when the club needs him most should be evidence that his personal interests have come first ahead of the club.
Barcelona, for the first time since Pep took over, won't be winning La Liga this season and are knocked out of the Champions League, with their only hope of a trophy being the Copa Del Rey. With many of the greatest managers of all-time, the biggest sign of their authority, endurance and skill has been when they've bounced back from defeats and disappointments. During his tenure at Barcelona, this has rarely happened to his team. They have never faced the prospect of ending a season trophyless. So at this moment in time, with their backs against the walls and ready to bounce back from a "disappointing" (by their standards) season - what does Pep do? States that he's tired and walks away.
The second thing that's worth mentioning is that while Guardiola's record has been unbelievable and the club have done everything with a unique style of play, what we have all witnessed over the past 4 years isn't all of Guardiola's work. When he took over the job, he was inheriting an already fantastic side which had seen great success under Frank Rijkaard. He took that very good side and turned them into a great one by implementing the Barcelona philosophy; a philosophy that he was brought up into by none other than Johan Cruyff.
In fact, the Dutchman deserves as much as credit as Rijkaard and Guardiola for Barcelona's success in recent times. Many of the players who had played under Cruyff when he was a manager have tried their hands at management and the majority of them tried to instill the same principles that Cruyff had adopted at both Barcelona and Ajax. Some succeeded, others failed, but those who inherited the players to do it went on to achieve great things. I do believe that if most managers were given such a fantastic squad with 3 key players about to peak - Messi, Iniesta, Xavi - they could become successful. Getting various players who are from within the club and peaking at the same time is, most times, a guarantee for success (ex: Sir Alex Ferguson's "fledgelings" during the mid-90s).
The third thing to mention, as opposed to the first point I've made about his selfishness, is that Guardiola has just proven to everyone that you can walk out at the top. Despite their "unsuccessful" season, right now if you ask any Football fan which club is the best of this era? Barcelona is the answer. Nobody can convince you that right now there's a better club out there today. They are the benchmark. Hate them or love them, they've been ripping teams to shreds for the past 4 years under Guardiola and have become among the greatest teams of all-time. So for Guardiola to have taken his team this far and to walk away is a simple reminder that with guts and single-mindedness, you can leave it all when you're at the top. What has he got to prove to anyone anyways? He's done his duty at the club. He has won every single trophy possible and imaginable at Barcelona. He states the reason as "tiredness", I believe it's boredom. He's lost the hunger. He needs time away from the game to regain that hunger and implement it somewhere else. Somewhere he can make a difference. Somewhere he is needed.
Which brings me to my fourth and final point. Guardiola is no longer needed at Barcelona. The Catalans have always prided themselves on their motto of "Mes que un club" and Guardiola's departure and the subsequent immediate appointment of Tito Vilanova has reminded everyone that this is indeed "mes que un club". Guardiola may look for pastures away from the Nou Camp in the future, but Barcelona will carry on without him. In fact, I'm so convinced that Guardiola isn't needed at Barcelona, that I'm pretty sure they're about to get even better under Vilanova. During Pep's reign at the club, he's always had Vilanova assisting him, keeping a watchful eye over things and is probably an unsung hero behind the scenes. Now is his time to shine and don't bet against that happening.
Remember what happened the last time Barcelona took a chance from someone within the club and promoted him? Pep's time may have ended, but Barcelona's certainly hasn't.