Courtesy FC Barcelona
Having kept his future in the dark all season long, Barcelona fans today received the dreaded news that Pep Guardiola would step down from his managerial post at the end of the season. In an emotional press conference at the club's training ground, Guardiola called time on his four year reign at the Catalan club, citing exhaustion and the need to "recharge his batteries" as his reasoning.
With many first-team players and coaching staff present, club president Sandro Rosell informed the room of Pep's decision and he was quick to pay tribute to what has been a remarkable era for the club. "Thank you Pep for all the happiness you have brought us and for bringing a model of football that can never be questioned."
"We hope to follow the inheritance that Pep leaves us with the best we can. He has made us proud." He later went on to describe the departing coach as "the best manager in the history of the club."
In his four-year managerial spell at his boyhood club, where he made 263 first-team appearances as a player, Guardiola has achieved unprecedented success, amassing an astonishing 13 trophies, including two European cups. However, the club legend insisted that he could no longer give 100% for the team and that he needed a break from the game.
"The main reason why I have taken this decision is because four years is many years."
"I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries."
"The demands have been great and I have not been able to rest much. I have to recover and the only way I can do that is by distancing myself. Otherwise, we would have ended up damaging each other."
"I know that I'm leaving the best place to work in. I am very satisfied with the result we have achieved. I have had the great privilege of coaching fantastic players. I want to thank them."
"Now we are out of the two main competitions it is a good time to announce this. I did not want to continue with the confusion. The reason is simple: four years is enough. The new coach will give things that I am unable to give any more. To be in front of the media every three days for four years is very demanding."
Speculation about Guardiola's long-term future had been an ongoing headline story for the Spanish media, which was heightened after Barcelona's surrender of the La Liga title to Real Madrid and their elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea.
In the aftermath of these significant defeats, it is believed that Guardiola was offered a blank cheque-book to sign whichever players he desired and told he would be given total control of club decisions. However, the proposal could not sway the mind of the tactical genius, who feels he has reached the end since stepping up from the Barca B team in 2008.
"When I was appointed, I started jumping like a little kid. To be able to take charge of the 'A' team was unbelievable. Time has taken its toll and I rise each day and don't feel the same. I am going with the understanding that I have done my duty," he said today.
Guardiola's position will be succeeded by his current assistant Tito Vilanova as the club seek to continue the beautiful footballing philosophy for which they are internationally renowned.
The departing manager could not be more pleased for his close friend, stating "I think the club has taken the best decision possible."
"He is more than capable. The players know him. He will make few changes. He will give the club and these players something that I thought I could no longer give."
While it is heavily expected that Pep Guardiola will test his managerial credentials abroad after a year-long sabbatical, his legacy will forever live in the memory of Barcelona Football Club.