Tiffs between clubs and their former coaches aren’t rare, but there’s something particularly depressing about what’s transpiring between Barcelona and Pep Guardiola. For all the complaints of arrogance disgruntled rivals would lob during Guardiola’s coaching tenure at the Nou Camp, there was a certain class the former captain brought to the sidelines, be it in his demeanor, reverence for his club and job, or respect for his opponents and the game. While he wasn’t perfect, during his time in charge of the Blaugrana, Guardiola was probably more perfect than most.
Unfortunately, Guardiola is in an escalating war of words with his former club, the new Bayern Munich boss taking exception to hints he ignored current Barça head coach Tito Vilanova when his former assistant was being treated for cancer last year in New York. Now Guardiola, who spent muc of the last year living in New York, is speaking out:
“I will never forget that they used Tito’s illness to cause me damage, because it’s a lie that I never saw him in New York.
“I saw him once, and the reason I didn’t see him more often was because it wasn’t possible, and that wasn’t my fault. To say that I don’t wish the best of someone who was my colleague for so many years is very bad taste …”
Given their reportedly long, close relationship, any attempt to use Guardiola and Vilanova’s friendship against the Barça icon would be a particularly low blow. Perhaps something has happened behind the scenes to compromise that friendship, though if it did, that would be Vilanova’s place to bring it into the public space. As Guardiola sees it, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and the club’s board have crossed the line:
“If any of the things I’ve said is not true, come out and rebut it, but it has to be them [Rosell and the board], not intermediaries or Barcelona messengers. Them.”
From Bayern Munich’s pre-season camp in Italy, Guardiola offered an easy solution: Leave him alone.
“I told them [the president and his directors] I was going 6,000km away and asked them to leave me in peace, but they haven’t kept their word … I did my time [at Barcelona] then decided to leave.”
“Did my time.” Maybe something is lost (or added) in the translation, but that’s the type of terminology you use around prison sentences. It’s not the feeling you normally have for a place you spent nearly 30 years of your life.