When Pep Guardiola plumped for a head-scratching football sabbatical in 2012, he had seemingly cracked the game having won every trophy going with Barcelona.
There was an understandable degree of perplexity about the decision considering how easy he was finding things, but the man himself has now explained the reasons for the move with the revelation leaving a detrimental mark on the Blaugrana.
“I had the feeling that I was no longer able to reach my team, and if you can no longer reach your players then it is time to move on,” Guardiola said, adding that the increasing success the team experienced made it tough for him to motivate them.
That admission makes Barcelona’s odds for this season’s Champions League, which at 7/2 makes them the second favourites for the tournament, ones to now avoid.
After winning 14 trophies in four seasons with the former Catalan midfielder, Barcelona have never quite been the same sledgehammer of authority that they were under Guardiola.
Tito Vilanova secured a La Liga title by 15 points in the first season post-Pep, but that success was undone by the severe aggregate hammering Bayern Munich gave them in that season’s Champions League.
Now under the guidance of Tata Martino, Barca have slipped further with rumours of managerial changes whirling like a tornado and stuttering form leaving them four points off Real Madrid in the league, which makes them 4/1 shouts to triumph.
Guardiola’s comments may start to answer a few questions over Barcelona’s dwindling dominance. If one of the greatest managers in the world failed to motivate them, any subsequent dugout-dweller will undoubtedly fail too.
For that reason it’s Guardiola’s current club, Bayern, who should be lumped on to retain the trophy they won at Wembley last season, at odds of 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
Reinvigorated under a fresh set of players, the Spaniard has improved what was a record-breaking Bayern outfit and looks on course for another barrel-load of silverware.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.