Barcelona coach Guardiola shrugs off `greatest` tag

Last Updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011 - 16:04

London: Barcelona may have entered the pantheon of European football`s greatest teams, but coach Pep Guardiola is keeping his feet on the floor following Saturday`s destruction of Manchester United.

Barcelona lit up Wembley with one of the great performances here Saturday, mesmerising United with a bewitching display that left the English champions grasping at shadows en route to a 3-1 defeat.

It was the Spanish side`s second Champions League triumph in three years and confirmed the view of many pundits that Guardiola`s men are the greatest club side football has ever seen.

Guardiola, who has amassed 10 major trophies in his three years as coach of the club he graced as a player for 17 years, resisted the invitation to compare his team with legendary side of the past.

"I don`t know," said Guardiola when asked for his opinion on where his stood in the annals of history. "I didn`t see the Ajax of (Johan) Cruyff, I didn`t see the Real Madrid of (Alfredo) Di Stefano and I didn`t see the Santos of Pele.

"But if in 10 or 15 years time people remember us for the football that we are playing now, that will make me very happy."

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker wrote in his News of the World newspaper column on Sunday that Guardiola`s men could eventually claim the right to be called football`s best ever team.

"Other teams have played wonderful football but when you add fitness and mental strength, you have a side that are well on the way to becoming the greatest club side of all time," Lineker said.

"To achieve that status, Pep Guardiola`s team will have to win the Champions League two or three more times.
"However pretty your football, your legacy is ultimately judged on silverware. The early Real Madrid teams and Arrigo Sacchi`s AC Milan lifted the trophy as well as raising the bar in terms of what football could be.

"You would not bet against this Barcelona team doing it."

With his second European Cup triumph, Guardiola has become one of the hottest coaching properties in world football.

The 40-year-old deflected questions about his future on Saturday by stating that he would remain at Barcelona for at least another season.

He admitted though that joining another club after managing a side containing such peerless talents as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta would be a challenge.

"If you play this football you need these players. At another club maybe I would have a problem to find these kind of players," Guardiola said.

"I feel privileged to have these players. My future will be very tough as I`ll be at another club with other players, thinking `where are these kinds of players?` added Guardiola.

"A coach depends on the players. Obviously, you have girls falling at your feet when you win, but that can change overnight."

And finding another player of the calibre of Messi, who scored Barcelona`s second goal, before taking the man-of-the-match prize, would be practically impossible.

"He is the best I have ever seen and probably the best I will ever see," Guardiola said. "I don`t think this team would have made the qualitative leap that we have made in the past few years without him.
"Messi is unique, he is a one-off. I just hope he doesn`t get fed up. When he doesn`t play well it is because something is wrong with his environment. Let`s hope he can continue playing well."

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011 - 16:04

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