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PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Josep Guardiola knows that before, during and after Saturday’s derby with Espanyol that he is going to be the focus of much attention. It will be his last ever home fixture as first team manager. Today he confessed that “I have never liked goodbyes. But I have been a very public person, the manager of a team like FC Barcelona and whether I like it or not, I’m always going to be on the front page and it’s only normal for things like this to happen … I just hope that the people react as they have always reacted - naturally”.

The game matters more

No matter how many tributes and displays of gratitude are being prepared, Guardiola is far more concerned about what happens during the 90 minutes on the pitch. “I have been a manager here for four years and it’s only natural for there to be so much attention on me,” he said. “But that has to be the secondary issue here. The people are coming to see a football match.” He added that more than anything, the game forms part of his preparations for the cup final on the 25th against Athletic Club.

Taking his hat off

Asked about the many achievements of FC Barcelona in his four years in charge, Guardiola commented that “people have sensed that the players have given everything they can. And if the fans have reacted like this, it’s because the latest successes are still very fresh on their minds. We have taken chances at every ground we’ve played. We have made it to 90 points for the fourth year in a row. With numbers like those, you can only take your hat off to these players”.

Not quite good enough

He also said that “to beat a team like Madrid, you have to do better than very well. This year we did things very well, but that wasn’t enough”. Asked about recent comments about him as a person, his reply was short and to the point. “For some time they have trying to make out that I’m not who I say I am” he said. “I just wish they’d leave me to be who I am”.


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