This is the end. It's over. Pep Guardiola will coach Barcelona no more. The end of an era, the end of a style that had ruled the world of football over the last four years.
Pep leaves the place where he grew up, where he enjoyed with the skills of Johan Cruyff and Carles Rexach as a boy, where he played for more than a decade along with Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romario and Ronaldo. His legacy will be very difficult to surpass, but Pep has the chance to maintain it, with Tito Vilanova.
There are several ways to understand why he's leaving. Perhaps he's answering the family call. Perhaps he is just exhausted. Or perhaps he can no longer suffer the pressure of being under the spot light at Barça. People will draw their own conclusions, but at the end of the day, the only certainty is that Guardiola won't be the manager of Barcelona anymore.
Some suggest that he is leaving because results aren't going his way, others believe that Pep is simply tired of fighting with José Mourinho and has been worn down by the eternal duel between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The answer is that it's a mixture of everything.
Pep's decision has been met with total respect, as much in Barcelona as in Madrid. The entire Spanish media agree that Pep is a gentleman, a sportsman that has brought dignity to football's benches and has made the sport a better place. Guardiola is considered the perfect role model for kids everywhere in the way he carries himself in the game. And now, he's gone. It's time to look beyond and hope to find someone who can occupy the empty place. Or in other words: the pressure is now on Tito Vilanova, his assistant during the past four years and now the new manager of Barcelona.
Maybe you don't know Tito, but do you remember the guy that Jose Mourinho poked in the eye during an ill-tempered El Clasico? Well, if you remember that, then you know who Tito Vilanova is. He has been the man in the shadow of Pep, the co-creator of Barça's style, the man who was diagnosed with a tumour last year, at a time when the team were coming to terms with Eric Abidal's own cancer battle. Now all of this is behind him, he is the new Barça manager.
All the pressure, all the responsibility belongs to him. He is the chosen one, the man in charge and his work won't be easy. Guardiola had won 13 trophies in four years, including two Champions League titles and three successful La Liga crowns among others. Vilanova may inherit Guardiola's team, including Leo Messi, but a team is not only the sum of their players, it's something much more important, something that must be defined. It is something that Guardiola managed, but the question is whether Tito Vilanova will be able to do it? Only time will tell.
Mario Diaz Camacho is a respected journalist at Spanish newspaper at El Mundo