Pep Guardiola Stepping Down As Barcelona Manager

Pep Guardiola, head coach of FC Barcelona addresses the media during a press conference at the BayArena. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola will not renew his contract with FC Barcelona and will leave the club at the conclusion of the season. Tito Vilanova will take over as manager.

Today it was announced that Pep Guardiola will step down as manager of Barcelona at the end of the season. The move does not come as a surprise as rumors have been swirling since the Blaugrana exit from the Champions League on Tuesday.

No one can question the success Guardiola had during his four year run in charge of the Catalan side. Barcelona won three league titles (09, 10, 11), one Copa del Rey (09) and two Champions League titles (09, 11). Despite it all, Guardiola never made a long-term commitment to the club, agreeing to single year contract extensions after every season. In the wake of the Barca's tumultuous last week, his exit seemed inevitable.

Guardiola made his intentions known the club's board this week, informing them that he would not be extending his contract. The players were informed of the decision during training on Friday and the official announcement came at a press conference this morning that included Pep, players, team president Sandro Rosell and others.

"We have called you today to announce that Pep Guardiola will not continue in charge of the team next season." Rosell said in opening remarks at the press conference. "Thank you, Pep, for all the happiness you have brought us and for bringing a model of football that can never be questioned. The thanks from everybody at Barcelona will be eternal for the best manager in the history of the club."

Guardiola spoke as well, apologizing for the uncertainty surrounding his tenure in recent months and explaining the decision was the best one for all parties involved.

"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," Guardiola said. "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 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," he continued. "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."

As for his future in coaching, Guardiola made it clear that he had no plans to take on another job in the summer, though he did admit that he would eventually return to the sidelines.

Once the announcement was complete, Barcelona announced that assisstant Tito Vilanova would take over as manager of the club in the summer. The decision was made by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and was been ratified by the club's our executive committee.

"Tito represents the philosophy of the club," Zubizarreta said. "We've always said that if the team needs players, we look at home first. Who do we have here at home? Tito.''

Guardiola praised the decision to hire Vilanova, saying he felt the club had made the best possible decision and that he was more than capable of handling the job.

Speculation will no doubt begin as to Guardiola's next job, despite his intentions to not immediately coach again. Until he does make a decision, he's likely to be coveted by teams and fans alike, along with being linked in the media with nearly every open high profile job. Let the games begin.

For more on Barca, head over to FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.

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