BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 05: Head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona acknowledge the fans at the end of the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on May 5, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. This is Guardiola's last match. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Apparently it's Talk About Pep Guardiola Day on the footballing internets. Who am I not to get involved? A Pep talk, if you like. Anyway, the BBC is running a story that features some quotes from the former Barcelona manager that are being interpreted as indicative that he's available for a new job as soon as this summer rather than taking his expected year's sabbatical:
I will receive all calls with pleasure, but for the next [few] months I have to recharge my batteries and my mind. I will be ready [to return] if one club wants me and seduces me.
First and foremost, I now have an image of Pep Guardiola being seduced in my head. Now you do too, because of this sentence. Blame him, not me. For my other thoughts, I'll resort to that principal tool of the lazy writer: Bullet points.
- I don't see how this means that Guardiola's open to a return this summer. He's talking about months off, and that would put him at a late July appointment for a new club at the earliest. That's nowhere near fast enough for Liverpool or Chelsea, both of whom are expecting to sort out their managerial position within the next few weeks. I don't see how Guardiola's wish to recharge his batteries indicates that he'll be with a new club this summer. Being ready to return after an indeterminate (but multiple-month) period of time is not conducive to building a new team.
- There's some thought that Guardiola's not a very good manager - or rather, that his success was entirely a product of the circumstances he found himself in. It's true that he inherited a very good team who were totally ready to buy into his system, and that's part of why he was so successful. But you also can and should look at the difference between his Barcelona side and their forerunners, most of whom had those same players. Guardiola's brilliance was in taking possession football to the extremes while at the same time getting the most out of an extraordinarily talented crop of footballers. Yes, Barcelona would probably have been excellent without him, but historically great? I don't think so.
Sure, he's not going to be able to impart Barcelona's style to whichever team he joins - not that I'd want him to - but he's an astute tactician with a real feel for the game, and he's not nearly as dogmatic about things as most of his players (and fans) tend to be. I also don't see him having problems with the dressing room - this is a man who commands huge respect from pretty much everyone in the footballing world. Why would he fail at Chelsea?
- All in all, my guess is that Guardiola will manage Chelsea, but not until the 2013/14 season. My guess is that the Blues give Roberto di Matteo a short term deal while Guardiola takes the year off and then joins the club at the end of next season. That could change, of course, but I don't see these quotes as game-changing.