| 16.3°C Dublin

Pep backing Vilanova

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will be standing down at the end of the season to "recharge his batteries" with his assistant Tito Vilanova confirmed as his replacement.

Guardiola, who has presided over a period of unprecedented success at the Nou Camp -- the club have claimed 13 trophies in his four years at the helm, admitted he has been pondering his future for some time.

At a press conference, he said: "I would like you to understand that this is not an easy decision for me. But I would like to explain my reasons for this decision.

"I have always wanted short-term contracts. Four years is an eternity as Barca coach. In the month of October I announced to the president and to the sporting director that I thought my spell was coming to an end.

"The main reason why I have taken this decision is because four years is many years.

"I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries.

"The demands have been great and I have not been able to rest much. I have to recover and the only way I can do that is by distancing myself. Otherwise, we would have ended up damaging each other.

"I know that I'm leaving the best place to work in. I am very satisfied with the result we have achieved.

"I have had the great privilege of coaching fantastic players. I want to thank them."

At the same press conference, Barca president Sandro Rosell announced Vilanova would step up into the top job.



promoting

Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta felt promoting from within, as they did with Guardiola, was the best way forward.

He said: "We've always said that if the team needs players, we look at home first (Barca B). Who do we have here at home? Tito."

The move to name a replacement so swiftly was a surprise with speculation in Spain linking the likes of Ernesto Valverde, Laurent Blanc and Marcelo Bielsa with the position once it became clear Guardiola was heading for the exit.

Guardiola endorsed the move. He said: "I think the club has taken the best decision possible.

"He is more than capable. The players know him. He will make few changes. He will give the club and these players something that I thought I could no longer give.

"I could have continued but it is not what Barca would have deserved."

Rosell hailed the contribution of Guardiola and backed Vilanova to continue Barca's success.

He said: "Pep always takes the best decision for this club. It was his decision and it's a personal one and an understandable one.

"We hope to follow the inheritance that Pep leaves us with the best we can. He has made us proud.

"Now we can confirm that Tito Vilanova will be our new coach."

Guardiola has operated on short-term deals throughout his tenure but has usually renewed before this stage of the season, prompting speculation he was ready to walk away.

He is thought to have met with Rosell, vice-president for sport Josep Maria Bartomeu and Zubizarreta on Wednesday -- the day after Barca were eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea -- and indicated his desire to leave.

At the club's request he promised to give it further thought but emerged with the same decision.



setback

The setback against Chelsea came just 72 hours after Barca's hopes of retaining their Primera Division crown were dashed following a 2-1 home defeat to Real Madrid.

Guardiola led Barca to the La Liga crown in his first season in charge, after masterminding a squad overhaul which saw the likes of Ronaldinho and Deco shipped out and a greater emphasis placed on youth.

The results were immediate. Not only did Barca win the league -- the highlight being a 6-2 thrashing of Madrid at the Bernabeu -- but they also claimed the Copa del Rey and Champions League crowns.

The 2009/10 campaign kicked off with further success in the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup. They failed to defend their Champions League crown after being eliminated by Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan at the semi-final stage, but retained their La Liga title.

The 2010/11 season was supposed to pose new challenges for Guardiola. But the former Spain midfielder guided Barca to the league title once more and they backed that up by claiming the Champions League crown by defeating Manchester United in style at Wembley.


Privacy