5 reasons why Pep Guardiola should move back to Barcelona
Barcelona are yet to decide on the successor for Luis Enrique - here's making a case for a rather familiar, yet unlikely candidate.
On 27 April 2012, in front of cameras that clicked away at the press conference in Catalonia, Pep Guardiola announced that he would step down as Barcelona manager at the end of the season. He had led the Catalan club to 13 trophies in four years by then and would go on to win a 14th.
The likes of Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas looked visibly emotional; Lionel Messi opted to stay away from the news conference and later revealed that he felt too much emotion to face the media.
The nostalgia and gloom were understandable. He was and remains the most successful manager in Barcelona history. His departure felt like the end of an era, and indeed, it was. For all of Luis Enrique's success, Guardiola represented Barcelona in a way no one else has done since – in terms of identity, aesthetic value, style of play and most importantly, trophies.
Guardiola himself has had a roller coaster career since leaving Catalonia. His undisputed success in Bundesliga with Bayern Munich was tarnished by the club's inability to reach the Champions League final. His winning streak to start life in Manchester made the subsequent fade-out even more painful.
Neither the manager nor the club has enjoyed a similar level of success ever since Guardiola left Barcelona – and their identities remain so intricately linked with one another that Guardiola had to rule out the possibility of a reunion again as recently as February.
But not just for himself, not even just for the club, Guardiola should return to Barcelona for the greater good of football. Here are five reasons why Guardiola should move back to Barcelona:
#5 He in underappreciated elsewhere
One can almost sense the hidden glee and snigger that accompanies reports of a Guardiola team's loss. After all, it was so haughty of him to cast out England's beloved Joe Hart. How dare he pick Gabriel Jesus over the widely adulated Sergio Aguero? He must be insane to switch between a back three and a back four every other week. And don't even get me started on Jesus Navas at right back!
Guardiola is a true football scientist – tweaking established, even successful systems religiously in search of continuous improvement. He is no more excited by a dull 4-1 win than an innovative 0-0 draw. Several eyebrows were raised when Guardiola commented on the aftermath of a 1-1 draw at home against Liverpool in March that "it is one of the most special days of my life." Even at Bayern, stories of his successes were often with a backdrop of media-invented dressing room problems.
To truly feel loved again, to be appreciated for all his brilliance, to be forgiven for his minor eccentricities, Guardiola should move back to Barcelona. Even a person like Guardiola who may come across as aloof and forlorn relishes appreciation. No stadium on Earth is going to have as much love for Guardiola as Camp Nou – and deep inside, he must be yearning for it.