Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger understands Pep Guardiola’s decision to step away from football after a highly successful four-year spell at Barcelona but has revealed that he wished for the 41-year old to stay put after the Catalan club’s most difficult season during his reign.
Guardiola led Barca to three consecutive La Liga titles as well as two Champions League triumphs before falling short in both competitions this year. The young manager confirmed today that he will leave the club at the end of the season, citing the need to recharge his batteries.
Wenger, who has been in charge at Arsenal for 16 challenging years, believes that building a club around one’s philosophy for as long as he has done is an exciting prospect for any manager and one that Guardiola should have given more consideration.
“It [Pep's departure] comes as a surprise to me because first of all when you make a decision after a big disappointment like he has had in the past week, it may not be the right moment to make this decision,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website.
The Frenchman added: “The philosophy of Barcelona has to be bigger than winning or losing a championship. Guardiola is one of the representatives of this philosophy and made this philosophy triumph so I would have loved him, even going through a disappointing year, to stay and come back and insist with his philosophy. That would be interesting.”
In his press conference, Guardiola emphasized that his decision to step down was not a knee-jerk reaction to a disappointing last week but one that he had been planning on since October due to signs of fatigue emerging back then.
Wenger knows that the pressures of being a football manager can take a toll on many managers but used himself as an example of how not to get tired of the game even during the most stressful situations.
He explained: “Believe me, if somebody can understand [the pressure on Guardiola] it’s me! I can understand there are not many managers who work throughout a career without a breather.
“Maybe he has not shown the stress. Maybe it’s taken more than he has shown. You never know from the outside how deeply a man suffers from the inside. I have heard he has come out and wants to have a break to reflect on the situation, which you can understand after a certain time.
“I decided the other way to never come out of a job, because it becomes second nature to cope with it. It becomes your life. But some people need to move out at some stage.”
For now, Wenger’s Arsenal side is the one that cannot afford to move out of their third place in the Barclays Premier League table as a potential Chelsea win in the Champions League final next month will allow the Blues to enter the competition next season at the expense of the fourth-place team.