Sport

Guardiola to leave Barcelona

Coach Pep Guardiola is to leave Barcelona FC.
Coach Pep Guardiola is to leave Barcelona FC. Getty Images

PEP Guardiola is expected to walk away from FC Barcelona today, four years and 13 trophies after taking over.

Desperate not to lose their most successful coach ever, the club were hoping for a last-minute change of heart but after a three-hour meeting on Wednesday morning with the Barcelona president Sandro Rosell that U-turn looks unlikely.

Roman Abramovich, who has made no secret of his desire to bring Guardiola to Stamford Bridge, must now wait to see if he walks away from football for a year or straight into the club that has just knocked him out of the Champions League.

Guardiola will inform his players of his long-awaited decision and then make it public in a joint press conference with Rosell.

The two men met with director of football Andoni Zubizarreta, club vice- president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Guardiola's assistant Tito Vilanova just hours after the exit to Chelsea, and Rosell offered his coach full control over decision-making and a blank chequebook. But having been so successful in his first four years Guardiola already had the final say over almost all club matters, and loosening any financial restraints over next summer's signings also seems to have been irrelevant.

Chelsea, the club that ended Guardiola's chance of becoming the first coach to retain the Champions League, have already contacted his agent, Josep Maria Orobitg. But having taken the difficult decision to walk away, Guardiola is now expected to take a further three weeks to consider his future.

He could still follow the lead of Barcelona's last outgoing coach, Frank Rijkaard, who took a year away from the game after leaving in 2008. What is not under consideration is taking a job with the English FA.

Guardiola told Zubizarreta in November that he did not feel he had the physical and mental strength for another season. Those doubts were expressed at the time his assistant had emergency surgery to remove a tumour in his throat, and Barcelona supporters had believed with Vilanova back at work Guardiola would change his mind and continue.

The club captain, Xavi Hernandez, speaking in the run-up to last Saturday's clasico with Real Madrid said: "We don't talk about it in the dressing room. We want him to continue, but it is up to him." Guardiola's ability to lift his players will have been one of the key issues in his decision.

He has been strained by the intensity of his success at the club: in two of his four seasons Barça played every game possible and in the other two only fell at the semi-final stage of the Champions League. He complained at the start of the season that the summer tour had replaced a proper pre-season.

Guardiola has also been drained by 10 high-tension encounters with Jose Mourinho, his opposite number at Real Madrid. "I don't have good memories of the Madrid-Barça games, neither the victories nor the defeats - there were always other things that took away from the football. Good luck to the referee," he said before the last encounter, which Mourinho won - only the Real coach's second victory over Guardiola.

The current Athletic Bilbao coach, Marcelo Bielsa, and the former Barcelona player Ernesto Valverde, who has just quit Olympiakos after winning his third Greek Super League title, are seen as early options to replace Guardiola. Valverde has previously worked with Zubizarreta at Bilbao.

Topics:  barcelona fc




Ban makes smokers jokers

See what our readers think about smoking bans

Major events face chop

BRAKES ON: The Yangan Truck Pull would have to be cancelled unless the association receives more helpers.

Group after more help at Yangan

Stop and smell the pot

In this Jan. 7, 2016 photo, marijuana grows at a facility in Markham, Ontario. Neil Closner, chief executive officer of MedReleaf,  had applied to the Kashruth Council of Canada to have MedReleaf's cannabis oils certified kosher. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Man grew marijuana plants on the side of a Pratten Rd.

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa