|Frank Rijkaard has been shown the door at Barcelona after |
another disappointing season [GALLO/GETTY]
Barcelona club president Joan Laporta has announced that manager Frank Rijkaard will leave Barcelona at the end of the season with former captain Pep Guardiola replacing the former Netherlands international.
Rijkaard took charge of Barcelona in 2003 and reached his managerial highpoint when he led them to back-to-back league titles and victory in the Champions League in 2006.
However, the past two seasons have proved lean for his side as they have failed to win any silverware their 4-1 defeat by arch-rivals Real Madrid on Wednesday added insult to injury.
That defeat combined with Villarreal's victory over Recreativo Huelva means the Catalans will miss out on automatic qualification for the Champions League and cannot finish any higher than third in the Primera Liga.
"The cycle is finished because the results haven't gone our way," Laporta said.
"The situation was very disappointing last season.
"We haven't been able to correct the errors that were committed then and we have decided that Frank should be relieved of his post at the end of the season."
Rijkaard's contract was due to run to 2009.
Born to the north of Barcelona, the 37-year-old Guardiola made his name at Barca as a cultured midfielder in the early 1990s when Johan Cruyff was manager.
He quickly established himself as a crowd favourite at the Nou Camp and became one of the key players in Cruyff's so-called "Dream team" which won four consecutive league titles between 1991 and 1994 and the European Cup in 1992.
He also helped Spain win the gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics and earned 47 caps with the senior national team.
Guardiola left Barcelona in 2001 to join Serie A side Brescia but his career in Italy was disrupted when he tested positive for nandrolone in November of the same year.
He served a four-month ban but strenuously denied any offence and went through the courts to clear his name, finally winning his case last October.
After spells in Qatar and Mexico, Guardiola announced his retirement as a player in November 2006.
He was appointed coach of Barcelona's B side last June and has steered the team to the top of their group in Spain's regionally-based tercera (fourth tier) division.
Laporta said he would give details of Guardiola's contract at the end of the season.