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Apr, 27, 2012

Vilanova follows Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has confirmed that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season. His assistant, Tito Vilanova, has been appointed as his successor.

Guardiola has enjoyed great success at the Camp Nou since he was promoted in the summer of 2008 from his role in charge of the Barcelona B side. Under his leadership, Barca won the league title in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Champions League in 2009 and 2011 and the Copa del Rey in 2009.

However, he has been loath to make a long-term commitment to Barca, signing only one-year contract extensions amid fears of burnout in the face of the intense pressure the role attracts.

Following a week in which Barca suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Real Madrid - effectively ceding the title to their rivals - and then a 3-2 aggregate loss to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, Guardiola told the board that he was not prepared to extend his contract. The players were informed of his decision during training on Friday morning and a formal announcement followed in a press conference attended by Guardiola and the squad.

President Sandro Rosell introduced the conference by saying: "We have called you today to announce that Pep Guardiola will not continue in charge of the team next season.

"Thank you, Pep, for all the happiness you have brought us and for bringing a model of football that can never be questioned. The thanks from everybody at Barcelona will be eternal for the best manager in the history of the club."

Guardiola, who apologised for the uncertainty over his future in recent months, said his exit was the best thing for all parties.

"I would like you to understand that this is not an easy decision for me, but I would like to explain my reasons for this decision," he said. "I have always wanted short-term contracts. Four years is an eternity as Barca coach.

"In the month of October I announced to the president and to the sporting director that I thought my spell was coming to an end. The main reason I have taken this decision is because four years is many years.

"I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries. The demands have been great and I have not been able to rest much. I have to recover and the only way I can do that is by distancing myself. Otherwise, we would have ended up damaging each other.

"I know that I'm leaving the best place to work in. I am very satisfied with the result we have achieved. I have had the great privilege of coaching fantastic players. I want to thank them."

Guardiola also dismissed suggestions he could take another job this summer. "Sooner or later I'll take up another coaching job, but not right now," he said.

Following Guardiola's speech, it was announced that Vilanova will take charge of the first-team next season.

Rosell hailed Guardiola's contribution and backed Vilanova to continue Barca's success.

"Pep always takes the best decision for this club," Rosell said. "It was his decision and it's a personal one and an understandable one. We hope to follow the inheritance that Pep leaves us with the best we can. He has made us proud.

"Now we can confirm that Tito Vilanova will be our new coach. This was a decision taken by Andoni Zubizarreta and it has been ratified today by our executive committee.

"Tito and Andoni will now work on next season's planning and I am sure they will do a good job."

Barca have successfully promoted several players from the B team during the Guardiola reign, and sporting director Zubizarreta said the appointment of Vilanova was a continuation of that approach.

"Tito represents the philosophy of the club," Zubizarreta said. "We've always said that if the team needs players, we look at home first. Who do we have here at home? Tito.''

Guardiola believes Vilanova will prove a successful appointment.

"I think the club has taken the best decision possible," Guardiola said. "He is more than capable. The players know him. He will make few changes. He will give the club and these players something that I thought I could no longer give.

"I could have continued but it is not what Barca would have deserved."

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