Guardiola steps down as Barca manager

After leading Barcelona to 13 titles in four years, an exhausted Pep Guardiola leaves the Catalan club.

    Guardiola's resignation comes on the back of Barcelona's defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League [GALLO/GETTY]

    Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said on Friday he will not continue as coach of the Spanish club and that his assistant Tito Vilanova will take over next season.

    Guardiola's contract was set to end at the close of the season but the former player rejected Barcelona's offer to extend his deal.

    "The reason is simple, four years are long and they wear you down,'' Guardiola said on Friday after president Sandro Rosell announced he would not continue.

    "The reason is simple, four years are long and they wear you down"

    Pep Guardiola

    "I think that sincerely that the next person will have things to bring that I can't.

    "Every day during four years, the demands are very high, the pressure, the necessary energy to push the players and enjoy it. I need to rest and move away.''

    Rosell said Vilanova, who has served as Guardiola's assistant since he was promoted from B-team manager, would take over the coaching duties.

    The 41-year-old coach has led Barcelona to 13 trophies since replacing Frank Rijkaard at the beginning of the 2008-09 season, including two Champions League crowns and three Spanish league titles.

    "No one will ever match what he has done,'' Spain coach Vicente del Bosque told AP on Friday.

    "Espacially when you consider the level of what he has achieved, the image he has shown, his behavior - I'm sure it was the best decision for him and for Barca.

    "He was a great example for all, a Spanish coach which has represented (our football) very well.''

    Guardiola's decision ends a difficult week for Barca which saw them exit the Champions League semifinals to Chelsea following a loss to Real Madrid which will likely cost them a fourth straight Spanish title.

    "I'm very sorry for all of the uncertainty I created over this time over my future, maybe that was an error of mine,'' Guardiola said.

    "I didn't mean to create this kind of mood.''

    Although he has already been linked with Chelsea, Inter Milan and the England job, Guardiola implied at the news conference that he was planning to take a sabbatical.

    Specifically, Guardiola denied having had contact with English club Chelsea.

    "No. It would be disrespectful to the club, I haven't met with anyone,'' he said.

    "I don't know when (I'll return to coaching). Now I need to rest and look at it from outside. Life will take me where it wants to go.''

    SOURCE: Agencies


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