Guardiola’s love affair with Barça continues

Martin Caparrotta
By    

Whichever way you look at it, Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge at Barcelona has been a phenomenal success.

On Wednesday, he became the youngest manager to ever lead a team to Champions League success, and in doing so, he rounded off the Spainish treble: the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in one season. Not bad for a 38-year-old manager who is currently managing his first ever professional side.

Josep or ‘Pep’ was born in Barcelona in 1971. His footballing talent was became evident from an early age and he spent six years coming through the ranks at Barcelona’s youth academy, planter Barcelonista.

He made his senior debut in La Liga in 1990, aged just 21. Under Johan Cruyff, Guardiola – playing as a commanding defensive midfielder – soon went on to become an integral part of their squad.

In total, he spent eleven successful years in Barça’s first team, and was a key player in leading the club to their first ever European Cup triumph in 1992. He was made Barcelona captain in 1997 by then manager, Louis van Gaal.

In 2001, he left Spain for Italy and joined Serie A club, Brescia for a season, where he made 11 appearances, scoring two goals. The following season he moved to AS Roma for another season, where he only featured four times.

Unfortunately, his time in Italy was surrounded by controversy when he was forced to serve a four-month ban for testing positive for steroids. But thankfully just two years ago in 2007, his appeal against the charges was successful, and he was cleared.

Guardiola retired from professional football in May 2006, but spent little time away from the game – and Barcelona. He was appointed manager of Barça’s ‘B’ team a year later in the summer of 2007.

And before the end of his first season in charge of Barça’s second string, it was announced that he would succeed Frank Rijkaard as Barcelona manager at the start of this season.

What Guardiola has achieved in his first season in charge at Barça is nothing short of remarkable. The style of play he has implemented this season has been largely focused on possession and passing and movement. And when his side click into gear, it is beautiful to watch.

The way in which his team so outclassed Manchester United in the Champions League final on Wednesday proved to be a thrilling climax to an already memorable debut season. The question now is: how can he possibly do better next season? Simple, really. Do it all again.

MORE: Latest transfer news and gossip

MORE: Back to The Sport Review homepage

MORE: Man United latest news

MORE: Arsenal latest news

MORE: Chelsea latest news

MORE: Liverpool latest news

Australian Open preview
The Sport Review
Australian Open 2017 preview: Murray and Djokovic renew rivalry; Federer and Nadal return
Slideshow
The Sport Review
Photos: Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham stars watch NBA match in London together
The Sport Review
Dele Alli: 15 photos of Tottenham midfielder’s stunning girlfriend Ruby Mae
The Sport Review
Top 25 Muslim football players in Premier League: Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea stars feature
The Sport Review
Bastian Schweinsteiger: 17 photos of Man United midfielder’s beautiful wife Ana Ivanovic
The Sport Review
Seven players Man United could sign in the January transfer window
The Sport Review
Man United WAGs: Meet Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and David De Gea’s girlfriends
The Sport Review
Seven strikers Liverpool could sign in January transfer window
The Sport Review
Top 26 Christian footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd players feature
The Sport Review
Photo: Sir Alex Ferguson reacts to Man United’s comeback against Liverpool
The Sport Review
Gary Neville reacts to Man United’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool
The Sport Review
Photo: Alexis Sanchez sends message to Arsenal fans after 4-0 win at Swansea