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08.11.2008 11:00

Guardiola: an impressive first six months

Roger Bogunyà

6 months is a long time in football and even more so at the helm of a club like Barça, where the action is non-stop. Exactly half-a-year ago on Saturday Guardiola signed his contract with Joan Laporta to become the new head coach of the Blaugrana.

It was on May 8, the day after the 4-1 defeat in the Santiago Bernabéu. The feeling is though that the loss is now in the distant past given the stark difference between how things were seen after that game and how they are seen now. Guardiola is one of the main reasons why Barça are now riding high and in the midst of an impressive run of form.

Important pressure

_CF_0897.JPGThe choice of Guardiola was controversial, after some rumours suggested that José Mourinho or Michael Laudrup could have been chosen, with some suggesting that he lacked experience after only one year in charge of Barça B in la Tercera. But in the fourth tier, the pressure was sufficient enough and showed the coach what to expect, according to assistant trainer, Tito Vilnova: “Since Pep took over in charge of the B team we saw an improvement in the youngsters from previous year. We had the feeling that we would be judged by what was done in la Tercera.”

Eto’o and Messi

sessio240708_x4x.jpgGuardiola’s start at Barça has been a long process, full of small and large decisions to be made that have made a difference to the way things have been done, as results have shown. The first came on the day that Guardiola first faced the press in his new role, on June 17, when he stated that players like Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o could all be leaving the club.

In the end Eto’o stayed and Guardiola has been able to help the striker reproduce his best form and he is now repaying that faith with goals and good performances. While that is the case Lionel Messi is also shining as he is the team’s top scorer. The Argentinian is another player that has continued to flourish under the new coach after being allowed to leave and help his country to win the gold medal in the Olympic Games in the summer.

Hard work and results

fcb-boca_x38x.jpgMan-management is also something that one of Guardiola’s assets, according to Vilanova. “It must be said that we are always working to help the players. All the hours that we have are being spent on them.” Other important factors are that the Guardiola knows the club inside out and knows all about the youngsters and is willing to use them and move them up to the first team if they do well. He also understand that type of football that the fans demand and works hard and with humility, which are characteristics that he shows every day on the training ground.

Before the Trofeo Gamper game in the summer the squad was officially presented to the fans and Guardiola said then: “We know that you depend on us if you come to the stadium. It is a marvellous challenge to win you over. I have you my word that we will make every effort.” At the moment, that promise has been well and truly kept as the team sits at the top of the league table and has qualified for the next stage of the Champions League.
Guardiola: an impressive first six months

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