Josep Guardiola, known as Pep oversaw his last match yesterday as the Barcelona coach, when Barca comfortably beat Athletic Bilbao 3 nil at the Vincentre Caldron stadium in Madrid. In 2009, when Barca beat Bilbao 4-1, that marked the beginning of the Pep era, the first title win under Pep, and how more ironic it can be that Barca beat the same team to mark the end of Pep's era, winning its 14th title.
Yes, 14 titles out of a possible 19 in an era spanning 4 seasons, August 2008 to May 2012. And all this by playing a brand of football which is considered by most football lovers and pundits as the best brand of the beautiful game. Pep's Barca made football look like an art performance. There were specific patterns written down and his players followed it to hilt and made their game look like a performance, and that too consistently in each and every game they played. Even when they lost, only few games may I say - only 21 loss & 47 draws in 247 matches, they held on to their principals of playing beautiful football. Never had we seen perfection attained in sport.
Brazil of 70's and Holland of 74 is supposed to have played this brand of a football. But in the modern days never did somebody expected any team to play so and win too, playing this kind of football. For, football has evolved much more since 70's and is heavily tactical and very defensive too, that no body in good senses might have imagined it would be possible to play well and win titles, consistently win titles, playing a complete attacking brand of football in the modern times. (One result being that, coaches all over the world started looking football differently and are wondering how to make their team play likewise - Argentine to Indian football team coach thought aloud about this; even the British pundits admire Barca football now and ponders around the possibility of Pep being the advisor to England FA) Pep's Barca did that and I can only say a BIG BIG THANK YOU, for all these 4 years of beautiful football.
After Maradona's retirement, I had lost bit of my interest in football and then got my own Satellite TV subscription and watched one of the early games of Pep's Barca in Aug/Sep 2008. I really mesmerised by their passing play and immediately got hooked (Just before that, Pep had permitted little Leo Messi to play for Argentina in the Beijing Olympics, against the wishes of FC Barca, and had impressed me really. I wanted to see how he used Messi). I want to thank Pep for all that, for bringing me back to the beautiful game and also for this amazing ride in the past 4 years. I have seen great moments of football on the field, jaw dropping moments, which I thought could be only dreamed, but never to be seen in real.
Dear Pep, it is only because of your team, I now have this habit of watching a football game again and again. I cant recall how many times I have watched some of your team's great games.
Gracias Pep, you will always be in our memory for showing what is beautiful about football, and to show that it is possible to win playing the right away.
Thank you also for being class personified in your conduct as the Barca coach. Showing respect to each and every opposition and being courteous in everything you did and spoke.
You are a legend. I will follow you, whichever team you decide to coach, next.
Wish you all the best in your future too. Mucho Gracias Pep.
Pep's last day