Josep Guardiola / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The international media has been unanimous in its recognition and appreciation of Josep Guardiola after the manager announced that he will leave FC Barcelona at the end of the season. The announcement was made this Friday during a joint  press conference with President Sandro Rosell and football director Andoni Zubizarreta.

Appreciation and success

Writing for ESPN, Graham Hunter analyzes Guardiola’s trajectory at the Barça helm and traces the overall impact Guardiola has had on the sport: “That is to say anyone, at all, who loves soccer owes Pep Guardiola a debt for the style, the creativity, the thrills, the bravery and the inventiveness. Sure, Barca fans covet and treasure the trophies, but neutrals like the majority of us simply know that someone who revolutionized football has been among us for a short, dramatic space of time.”

Hunter goes on to make the case that Guardiola did, in fact, make the right decision to step aside after achieving unprecedented success in his relatively short tenure as Barça’s boss. “My view is that those who think that losing this season's Champions League semifinal and probably watching Madrid lift the title are reasons to delay departure are absolutely wrong,” writes Hunter. “[N]ow he has taken the correct decision ... Guardiola, in life as in football, sees things just a little differently. His decision to leave the club he passionately loves comes at a cost because sooner or later it will move him to tears. Count on that ...  But he knows he has reached that moment in time that, if ignored, will bring errors, regret, ill health and possibly failure.”

Football writer and ESPN columnist Phil Ball explains how Guardiola raised his Club’s profile in the world of football: “it has been interesting to see just how the whole Barcelona image, internationally speaking, has changed since Guardiola took over back in June 2008. Before then, people were very aware of the club and its culture, of course. Now they're hyper-aware, not so much for the politico-cultural reasons but because of the footballing paradigm that Guardiola has helped create. Its impact has been massive, will continue to be, and the news last Friday that the architect of the edifice was not going to continue was akin to the resignation of a head of state.[...] He leaves on a wave of affection, but his departure should nevertheless mark a point of reflection for the club, and perhaps for La Liga in general.”

Exhausting search for perfection  

For the Guardian, Sid Lowe writes that “few men have represented Barcelona like Guardiola." Lowe adds: “it is not just the talent but the intensity and commitment that make Guardiola. It is the same intensity that has contributed to his departure and the same commitment that contributed to delaying it: the coach was concerned about the impact that his announcement could have. Ultimately, though, the impact upon him was greater. In the end, it was too great. His left-back Eric Abidal has had a liver transplant, his assistant Tito Vilanova [was sidelined with illness], he has been hospitalised with back problems. The emotional cost has been as great as the physical one. Managing Barcelona has taken its toll.”

Global chorus

BBC pundit Andy Brassell writes: “Pep Guardiola's departure as Barcelona coach, after 13 trophies, including three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues, will sadden many beyond the club and its supporters [...] Even if Guardiola decided to turn his sabbatical into a retirement, his Barca legacy will be felt for generations.”

New York Times football journalist Rob Hughes writes, “trophies do not define Guardiola’s success: Style does. Even now, as he announces his imminent departure, he shows that the style is the man. Guardiola is not quitting because his team has lost its two major pieces of silverware — the Spanish league and the Champions League trophies — over the past week. In fact, losing and feeling the players need guidance makes it all the harder to go now.”

Argentina’s Olé daily recounts Angel Cappa’s, Argentinean ex-footballer and manager, take on Guardiola’s impact on the sport: “if I see him, I will say thank you. That’s the best think that we can say to him. Thank you very much, Pep. Come back soon [...] Each game promised happiness. Every match of Guardiola’s Barça made our dreams come true.”

Global audience for Guardiola’s goodbye

More than 34,000 users tuned in to FC Barcelona’s website to watch Guardiola’s live press conference this Friday at 13:00. When the news hit social media networks it spread like wildfire; traffic to the Club’s site jumped 10 fold. Moreover, throughout Friday, Barça’s official YouTube channel had over 60,000 users watch the recorded press conference at one time, the video itself was watched over 256,000 times in two days.

Multimedia: overview of Guardiola's career

Lainformación.com, while analyzing Guardiola’s departure, created an excellent interactive overview of Guardiola’s career with FC Barcelona. The content special can be viewed here.

BBC also paid homage to the outgoing manager by creating a photo gallery of Guardiola’s best years both as a player and as a manager. The gallery can be viewed here.

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