FC Barcelona

Making a Case for Pep Guardiola to Return to Barcelona

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2014

Making a Case for Pep Guardiola to Return to Barcelona

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    Making a case for Pep to return.
    Making a case for Pep to return.Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012 because he felt he could no longer inspire the team, but it might be time for him to come back and finish what he started.

    The Catalan is now in charge of Bayern Munich, where things are not going as planned.  

    His side won the Bundesliga in brutal fashion and have reached the German Cup final, but they were humbled in the Champions League by Real Madrid, 5-0 on aggregate.  

    Guardiola said, upon leaving Barcelona, as per the Daily Mail:

    I felt as if I could no longer lift the team. We were incredibly successful - winning 14 trophies in only four years was the greatest period in the club’s history. But gradually I found it more and more difficult to motivate myself and to motivate the team. That is when you know it is time to walk away.

    Returning to the Camp Nou is probably not on his to-do list, but if he did, he might be able to save the club from what has been a horrific 2014 so far.

A Return to Normality

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    Tata is likely to be waving goodbye in the summer.
    Tata is likely to be waving goodbye in the summer.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Firstly, Barcelona have practically fallen out of the title race, needing both Atletico Madrid and archrivals Real to slip up.

    They have also been turfed out of the Champions League by the former and were beaten in the Copa del Rey final by the latter.

    There have been several injuries, with Neymar out until the last game of the season, Victor Valdes out for several months and many others afflicted too.

    On top of that, there has been the tragedy of Tito Vilanova—but that has nothing to do with the football discussion.

    Obviously, Guardiola would not have been able to do anything about some of those problems, but it hasn't helped that they have hit the club while they are in a transition period. 

    Barcelona appear to be at a cross-roads, where they must elect to keep their current style and rebuild based on that, or to refresh their squad and playing style by taking on the character of a new manager.

    The alternative is to persist with Tata Martino and the same squad, both of which are unlikely.

    If Barcelona want to keep their style, then there's no better way to do it than bring back the man who perfected it. 

Restoring Messi to His Former Self

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    Messi (right) has been good but not at his very best.
    Messi (right) has been good but not at his very best.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Pep Guardiola might be able to get the best out of Lionel Messi.

    Tata Martino has struggled to, and although there are rumours that the bond between Messi and Guardiola had weakened by the end of the latter’s tenure at the Camp Nou, it could be rekindled.

    Some believe that Messi is saving himself for the World Cup and he would be better next season anyway, but Guardiola would ensure it.

    During his time at Barcelona he got Messi on a special dietary and training regime, as per Goal.com.

    It helped keep him fit and injury-free. 

Acceptance in Rebuilding

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    The likes of Xavi would trust Pep above any other manager.
    The likes of Xavi would trust Pep above any other manager.Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Pep Guardiola found it difficult to begin the rebuilding process himself and left the squad in the capable hands of Tito Vilanova.

    His former assistant won the league in his first season in charge, but his reign was cruelly curtailed by the cancer which saw him pass away last month. 

    Tata Martino has been treading water this campaign and Barcelona are slowly sinking.

    If Guardiola returns, it will be painful to slowly phase his old staff out, but players like Xavi would accept it better coming from him than from someone else.

    Just like how Chelsea players were furious when Andre Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez tried to take away some of the more established and older stars, Barcelona's legends would not take kindly to a new man trying to reduce or remove their impact.

    Guardiola though, they trust and understand. 

Development of the Team and Himself

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    Pep could help Neymar develop.
    Pep could help Neymar develop.Daniel Tejedor/Associated Press

    Pep Guardiola coming back to Barcelona is not hugely likely or necessarily fundamental for the team to progress and improve, but if the option is available then the club should at least investigate it.

    He oversaw several younger players like Sergio Busquets becoming fully established stars and would be able to help Neymar become more effective for the club.

    Perhaps the exact style of football Guardiola played with Barcelona before would not be the most effective now, but he will have learnt even from one season handling a different profile of player.

    He will be a better, more experienced manager for even just one season in the Bundesliga and could apply his new knowledge to help forge a stronger Barcelona side. 

The Board Would Trust His Judgement

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    Alex Song was a transfer market mistake.
    Alex Song was a transfer market mistake.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    If Barcelona are to spend big this summer then they need to fully trust the judgement of the manager—and they would do with Guardiola.

    They need to buy several players, including a centre-back, a centre-midfielder and more.

    If Guardiola asks for somebody, the Barcelona money-men will be more likely to trust his judgement than a new man, like Celta Vigo’s Luis Enrique or Athletic Bilbao’s Ernesto Valverde.

    In fact, if Guardiola returned he would probably strike an agreement with the club that gave him more flexibility in the transfer market.

    Back in 2012, Barcelona wanted Javi Martinez but ended up signing Alex Song, per ESPN Soccernet, a poor substitute. Guardiola would ensure it did not happen again.

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