Pep takes a break after quitting Barcelona… but insists he'll boss again
21:01 GMT, 27 April 2012
Pep Guardiola admitted last night that he needed to get away from it all but stopped short of saying if that journey would take him to the Barclays Premier League next season.
Confirming that he was leaving Barcelona at the end of the season, he gave an emotional goodbye speech and refused to commit over his future.
He was asked about a story appearing in the Spanish press that claimed he had met with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich on February 29 in Paris and said: 'No, that would be a lack of respect to the club.'
Feeling the strain: Guardiola says he needs to get away
But he also said he would coach again 'sooner or later'.
THE NOU MAN
Tito Vilanova (right) has been Pep Guardiola's right-hand man since 2007, when they ran Barcelona's B side.
Vilanova, 42, has been involved in all Barca's triumphs since he became first-team assistant coach in 2008.
Watched by eight members of his first-team squad, Guardiola said: 'Four years as head coach here is an eternity. Time takes its toll, I am empty and I need to refuel. It would have been bad for me and for the squad if I had continued.
'I need to put distance between myself and the club. Sooner or later I will manage again, I don't know when. Right now I am interested in other things; life will take me where it takes me. There are other things aside from football.'
Club captains Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez, as well as Gerard Pique, Victor Valdes, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Pedro were all present at the Ricard Maxenchs room at the Nou Camp to hear their coach admit that he and the club had known for five months that he would not be continuing.
Stunned: Carles Puyol, Xavi, Victor Valdes and Andres Iniesta listen to their coach
Lionel Messi appeared to have taken his coach's decision worse than his team-mates and was not present.
He later said on his Facebook page: 'I want to thank Pep from the bottom of my heart for all he has given me. I prefer not to be there with him because of the strong emotions that I feel. I know the press will be looking for sad faces and that is something that I have decided not to show.'
Guardiola added: 'I am the coach with the third highest number of games in charge. That shows how difficult it is to coach this club.'
He also admitted that despite months of speculation that the club were desperately trying to persuade him to stay, the decision to leave had been taken last year.
He said: 'Between the end of October and the start of December I told the president that this was the end of my time but I could not make it public, or even tell the players. It would have been a mess if I had. The decision was taken a long time ago.'
Not returning: Guardiola revealed all at a press conference
Guardiola's decision to leave has saddened Barcelona supporters but they were lifted yesterday by the news that his right-hand man, Tito Vilanova, will take over next season.
'The players accepted the news with a lot of enthusiasm and that is a great sign. They are in good hands,' Guardiola said.
The 41-year-old added that he was proud of what he had achieved. He took over first-team responsibilities on May 8, 2008, after just one year's experience as Barcelona's B team coach.
He left the B side as Spanish third division champions and was selected ahead of Jose Mourinho to put an end to two years without a trophy.
Relief: Guardiola leaves the press conference with a smile on his face
He lost his first game away to newly-promoted Numancia and could then only draw his first home match against Racing Santander, giving rise to the suggestion that the club had erred giving so much responsibility to such a young and inexperienced manager.
The team then beat Sporting Gijon 6-1 away in their next game and the rest is history – or better put, the most successful period in.