Friday, April 27, 2012

What Next For Barcelona?

It would seem to border on insanity to question the immediate future of what has been heralded as the greatest ever club side yet Pep Guardiola's resignation as Barcelona coach from the end of this season could possibly throw the Catalan club into turmoil.

Under Guardiola, Barca have enjoyed a period of unheralded - even by their standards - success with multiple La Liga and Champions League titles. They have swept all before them and done it in the most incredible style.

Whilst Guardiola remained, so the club even in the face of a most 'weekus horriblus' looked to have a bright future in the short term with planning no doubt being made for another twin assault on the trophies they so covet.

Without him however, one possibly might start to cast a look at Barca's team and suggest that Carlos Puyol needs to be replaced, that the unfortunate Eric Abidal needs to be replaced also and that Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano are not defenders.

Xavi Hernandez is approaching his twilight years and David Villa, even if he were to make a full recovery from injury is already also past his prime. Given Barca's huge debt, replacements will prove expensive even if players are indeed queueing up to play for them.

There is of course the 'conveyor belt' of talent that La Masia produces but whilst there is no doubt that the Barca model is excellent just as Ajax's was before them, there are times when golden batches of players are produced such as the current crop. It is hard to replicate in a short space of time.

In that way, there can be an assumption that anyone who graduates from La Masia is an automatic world beater but it is not always the case. Since Fergie's Fledgings, ManYoo's youth policy has produced little with nearly all their current squad of players being bought in even if at a young age.

For Barca, the question will be whom to turn to. For this blog the obvious choice is Arsene Wenger. Wenger has been chastened by the money thrown around in the Premiership by teams finishing perennially above him.

Whilst his commitment to Arsenal is not in question, the lure of the Nou Camp would be huge especially given the opportunity to play the brand of football he loves whilst actually having an opportunity to win something. The opportunity to coach the likes of Messi doens't come along often.

There will be other candidates such as Marcelo Biesla and Barcelona at least have time to plan ahead of the Summer now that Guardiola's mind has been made up.

For Guardiola, he can leave the Nou Camp an incredibly proud man having produced a team that few could have dreamt of and winning a plethora of trophies along the way. This season will feel like a failure but it should not do as on most other occasions they would again be in the Champions League final next month.

Guardiola has done a fine job and conducted himself magnificently at all times. It is clear however that the stress of the expectation at the club, the Spanish press, even the barbs from Mourinho have simply got too much for him.

There is no crisis at Barcelona, far from it but it might just be that last year was the absolute peak for this particular group of performers especially now that their conductor has left the building - No Nonsense.