Football commentator and former Bulgaria forward Hristo Stoichkov feels that Pep Guardiola’s stint as Barcelona manager was easy as the Blaugrana were “already cooked” by the time the Spaniard took them over in 2008.
Guardiola served as manager at Camp Nou for four seasons (2008-12), a stint that saw Barca lift the La Liga title three times along with two Copa del Rey and two Champions League trophies.
“Barcelona was already cooked. Pep’s work was easy, as he knew perfectly well the infrastructure of the youth system,” said Stoichkov as quoted by Mirror.
Prior to Guardiola, Frank Rijkaard was at the helm of affairs at Camp Nou from 2003 to 2008. The stint saw Barca lift two La Liga and one Champions League title.
Stoichkov feels that Rijkaard’s squad would anyhow have won the accolades irrespective of Guardiola’s presence.
“Frank Rijkaard made the squad Pep took over. Messi and other players had already debuted with Rijkaard. Spectacular things would have been achieved with Pep or without,” said the Bulgarian, adding, “There was Thierry Henry, Deco, Ronaldinho, Rafa Marquez, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes.
“There were a few players Pep needed to move, but Andreas Iniesta and Pedro came in, and there was more playing time for Lionel – then the team was complete.”
However, Guardiola’s stint saw the best of Lionel Messi. The Barcelona superstar was in scintillating form during his period, bagging the Ballon d’Or trophy four times on the trot.