“We are sons of the Dream Team, trying to emulate them,” — a quote used from Pep Guardiola in 2009 to describe the Barcelona team he took over from Frank Rijkaard a year before. The quote was directed towards the ‘dream team’ Johan Cruyff had created in his stint of the club. Guardiola was primarily used as a defensive midfielder; beginning his career for Barcelona ‘B,’ he clocked 59 appearances for the team until Cryuff added the final piece to his brilliant jigsaw and stepped back and viewed what he had created, the dream team.
Guardiola appeared for Barcelona 366 times in the eleven years he had played for the famous club, collecting 6 la Liga trophies, 2 Copa Del Reys and one European cup, giving Barcelona’s first of four victories in the famous competition. Never contributing much to the attacking side of Barcelona, he became a pivot for the midfield and proved his worth for the club becoming the captain of Cruyffs team. He then left Barcelona in 2001 and retired in 2006 while playing for Mexican side Dorados.
The retirement didn’t last long however, as in 2007 he was appointed Barcelona ‘B’ manager and guided them to promotion from Tercera División, the fourth level of Spanish football to Segunda División B in his first season in charge. The following season, he was then promoted to Barcelona FC, a decision which at first wasn’t looked upon greatly. Barcelona at the time were viewed as a team that needed to be reconstructed, a team that had too many celebrities and not enough footballers. The Catalan newspaper El Mundo Deportivo reported that Jose Mourinho was to become the next Barcelona manager quoting that the now Chelsea manager “explained the main lines of his football project. He even handed Barcelona vice president Marc Ingla and sports director Txiki Begiristain a DVD that contained a more complete analysis and his view on the team and the players.”
But that wasn’t to be, and Guardiola was chosen as the successor to Rijkaard and given the task of turning Barcelona from headlining the gossip pages to headlining the sports pages. Guardiola had imposed new rules on the team such as creating a dining room for the players so they could all eat together, and whenever they were training, the public and press could not follow, making the training sessions private to only the players. Fines were introduced to the club; being late to training resulted in a €6,000 fine and missing a team breakfast would result in a €500 punishment. Guardiola wanted a togetherness of the players but also a professional attitude.
His first season in charge saw the team win the treble and subsequently become the first ever Spanish side to do so. He then followed that with a record of 14 trophies in four seasons and has made him the most successful coach in Barcelona’s history.
After the 2011/12 season, Guardiola needed a deserved break from football, having put the amount of effort he did in Barcelona he left, leaving Vito Vilanova in charge of the team he had changed into world’s most talked about to the world’s greatest.