FC Barcelona - Part 2
Pep Guardiola was the most important person in this re-design of the club, Pep was the brains behind the operation with a little help from Cruyff.
It all started when Pep Guardiola was on holiday, when the FC Barcelona B job became available. Joan Laporta, the Barcelona President, offered Pep Guardiola the job as Director of Football, as he was unsure that he wanted a former Barcelona captain as a FC Barcelona B coach who were in the fourth division as Laporta thought it would be bad for the Catalan’s image, Laporta decision proved very affective. Pep rejected the Director of Football job as he always wanted to be a manager as he felt he was best suited to that position.
Guardiola was appointed coach of the B team on 21st June 2007 with his good mate Tito Villanova as his assistant who has just had to resign from the managerial job at Barcelona, get well soon Tito. Pep knew he had to change areas of the team he signed current Swansea defender Chico Flores too add aggression to the team, and also demoted a lot of players.
Under his guidance, the team subsequently won their Tercera Division group and qualified for the 2008 Segunda division B playoffs, which the team won, thereby achieving promotion.
FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced before the end of the 2007 – 08 season that Guardiola would be appointed manager of the senior Barcelona squad to replace a struggling Frank Rijkaard at the end of the season.
Joan Laporta had a shortlist of managers which included Pep, Jose Mourinho and Michael Laudrup. Joan Laporta narrowed it down too Pep and Jose. Mourinho met with the directors and showed him his plan and his potential signings, which included the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, Jose wanted to change the clubs philosophy and create a much more defensive team which would break quickly on the counter attack.
The new era for the first team under Pep in the season 2008- 2009 was a Pep’s most successful season, after being appointed the new coach of the first team Pep revealed that big names Ronaldinhio, Deco , Samuel Eto`o and others were not part of his plans for the coming season, straight away Pep stamped his authority on the team and introduced many rules for the squad.
By the time of the announcement, Guardiola had already offloaded full back Gianluca Zambrotta to AC Millan, attacking midfielder Giovani dos Santos to Tottenham Hotspurs, and middfilder Edmilson to Villarreal CF. Deco went to Chelsea, while Ronaldinhio joined Zambrotta in Milan. The fate of Cameroon star Samuel Eto`o took much of the summer to unravel with the Barcelona star being linked with many clubs around the world, but Guardiola finally declared that Eto`o would stay at FC Barcelona after the Cameroon dedication in training and recent performances in the pre season games.
In association with Barca director of sports, Txiki Begiristain, several new signing were made by Guardiola such as Dani Alves and Seydou Keita arrived from fellow Spanish team Sevilla FC, Martin Caceres from Villarreal, Gerard Pique returned to Barcelona from Manchester United, if you remember Gerard was one of the three La Masia players which includes Cecs Fabregas and Leo Messi. Alex Hleb was signed from Arsenal.
In interviews with the press Pep Guardiola stressed a hard work ethic than before, but also a more personal approach during training and a closer relationship with his players. Along with new singings, Guardiola promoted Sergio Busquets, Pedro, and Jeffren Suarez to the first team.
Barcelona went on a 20 match unbeaten streak to move top of the league and remained top of the league for the rest of the season to secure their fist league title under Pep Guardiola. Pep’s most memrobiable win in the league was against biter rivals Real Madrid 6-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Barcelona also won the Copa del Rey after defeating Atheltic Bilbao by 4-1. Pep finished the season by securing the Champions League where they beat Manchester United 2-0, by achieving this they became the first club in Spain to do the treble. This Barcelona squad were regarded as the finest team in club history with Pep Guardiola becoming the youngest coach to lift the Champions League.
2009 – 10
During Pep Guardiola second season as manager Barcelona traded Samuel Eto`o for Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Inter Milan and 46 million Euros. Many players left the club in the same transfer window. Sylvinhio and Albert Jorquera’s contracts ended and other players were loaned out, including Alex Hleb to VFB Stuttgart, Martin Caceres to Juventus, Alberto Botia to Sporting de Gijon, and Victor Sanchez to Xerez CD. Barcelona started the season defeating Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana and Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Super Cup. On 25th September 2009, Barcelona gave Guardiola his 50th professional victory, away against Malaga CF and on 19th December they were crowned FIFA Club World Cup champions for the first time in their history.
Guardiola finished the calendar year 2009 with a record of six trophies, the Spanish league, Copa del Ray, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, and the Club World Cup, becoming the first manager in history to achieve this. January 2010 also saw Guardiola become Barcelona longest serving Spanish coach. In February 2010 Pep Guardiola coached his 100th game his record stood at 71 wins, 19 draws and 10 losses with 242 goals and 76 against an unbelievable stat, each game Barcelona averaged a possession of 67% per match
Guardiola’s third season in charge saw the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he moved to Milan on loan. Rafael Marquez and Thierry Henry were released of their contracts and both players moved on to joining the American team New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer. Yaya Toure also left Barcelona and moved to the Premier League to join Manchester City.
FC Barcelona signed Adriano from Sevilla FC, David Villa from Valencia, and Javier Mascherano from Liverpool. On 14th July 2010, Guardiola signed a new contract to stay with Barcelona until June 2011.
On 21st August, Barcelona beat Sevilla 5-3 on aggregate to win the 2010 Spanish Super Cup, his second in a row. On 29th November 2010 my favorite ever Barcelona match Barcelona accomplished a 5-0 win over Real Madrid giving Guardiola five straight wins in the EL Clasico. On 8th February 2011, Guardiola accepted the clubs offer for a 1 year extension signing a contract until June 2012.
Guardiola’s fourth season in charge started with the departure of three players who had been part of the team for a long time. Gabriel Milito moved back to Independiente, Jeffrén Suárez was sold to Sporting Clube de Portugal, and Bojan Krkic was sold to Roma.
Two big signings were made winger Alexis Sánchez came from Udinese for €26 million plus bonuses and Cesc Fàbregas, a former La Masia graduate, returned from Arsenal for €29 million plus bonuses. To complete the squad, two players where promoted from the youth system: Thiago Alcântara and Andreu Fontàs.
The season started with a 5–4 aggregate win over Real Madrid for the Supercopa de España. Barcelona won their second trophy of the season on 26 August, beating FC Porto in the UEFA Super Cup final 2–0. With the trophy won against Porto, he became all-time record holder of most titles won as a coach at Barcelona.
He had now won 12 trophies in only three years. November of the same year saw Guardiola coach his 200th match for Barça’s first team. His record stood at 144 wins, 39 draws, and 17 losses with 500 goals for and 143 against. Barcelona ended the 2011 calendar year winning the Club World Cup, beating Santos FC 4–0, the widest margin in an Intercontinental Cup/Club World Cup final since changing to a single match format.
This was Guardiola’s 13th title of only 16 tournaments played. On 9 January 2012, he was named FIFA World Coach of the Year. On his 41st birthday, he led his side to a 2–1 victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid in El Clásico, ensuring that he remained unbeaten against Real Madrid in regular time as a manager.
On 21 April, Guardiola conceded the league title to leaders Real Madrid, after they beat Barcelona 2–1 and extended their lead in the table to seven points with four matches remaining. Three days later, a 2–2 draw at home against Chelsea in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final knocked Barcelona out of the competition on a 2–3 aggregate score. That effectively left the team with only the Copa del Rey to play for.
Guardiola had faced some criticism over his recent tactics and squad selections. On the 27th April 2012, Guardiola announced he would step down as Barcelona’s coach at the end of the 2011–12 season. Pep Guardiola became FC Barcelona most successful coach in that four year period, a Barcelona and football legend.
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