Pep Guardiola is suffering a burn out
This has been a hard season for Barcelona when you think of how they have reshaped the sport. At the forefront of it all is their former number four who took the coaching reins in 2008. In four years, Pep Guardiola transformed this team into an unmistakable presence. Barca merits the highest place as a sporting landmark with all the trophies they have won but that is but a narrow reading of what they represent to the world. They are also an artistic phenomenon. A lovely syncopation of fluid overlapping bodies hitting the perfect strokes and notes with their instruments, i.e., their mind and feet for a mind blowing virtuoso, an unforgettable visual and aural experience.
Naturally, this style or its elements have been imitated by many teams with varying degrees of success but we know the world wasn’t really built in seven days or Rome in a day. Guardiola has been at this for years perfecting what Johan Cruyff brought to Barcelona in the 1980s putting his own special imprimatur on the defense as the Dutchman did transforming the attack.
The first instinct when Guardiola announced his stepping down was a base one. He was jumping off the ship at the first signs of adversity. But the man has been associated with Barca since he was a young teenager, first as a ballboy, then a player, more lately as the coach for their B team, and now the senior squad. This is 30 years of his life and there are few manager who can quite claim such roots or a lifetime spent at one club.
Guardiola’s decision to remain faithful has been made easier identifying strongly with Barca’s regional chauvinism but he has also used those politics as a spring board to become an obsessive innovator. The world gets to see him on the sidelines, a slim figure, encased in impeccable black, tie askew, and fashionably unshaven. There is nothing careless about that look as there is nothing careless about Barca’s performance on the pitch.
Naturally such obsession although pleasing to millions of fans takes its personal toll. It is mentally and physically exhausting as a perfectionist when you try and control circumstances of an arbitrary nature. Guardiola has not had an easy time in the last few seasons and it showed in his demeanour. The team also seems to be papering over some cracks which are getting larger. It is time for both Guardiola and the Blaugrana to recalibrate, rejuvenate, and rededicate to their cause. He will return because Barca runs through his blood. By that time, Jose Mourinho would have moved on to a new club to spread his recipe of instant gratification and leave the legacy makers to their natural inclination.