Three Cheers For Sarcasm Guardiola But Zlatan Is Just Vindictive Of His Barcelona Spell

Three Cheers For Sarcasm Guardiola But Zlatan Is Just Vindictive Of His Barcelona Spell

The year was 2009 and Pep Guardiola just came off his first season in charge of the Blaugrana after winning the historic treble. In hindsight, it was perhaps one of the greatest seasons for the Catalan club with their very own born & bred regista Guardiola at the helm, guiding a transition from the Rijkaard era into the new ‘Guardiolista’ Barca.

Guardiola’s radical reshaping of the team he inherited by letting go of club icon Ronaldinho, playmaker Deco and a host of players from Rijkaard’s reign, was looked at considerable scrutiny, but he delivered, winning the iconic treble.

Guardiola offloaded Rijkaard’s no.9 & goal machine Samuel Eto’o in exchange for a €46 million move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter ahead of the 2009-10 season & his rival Mourinho pounced and signed Eto’o immediately at Inter. But to many, it was a move that Barcelona expected to benefit from.

However, things contrived to go south for Zlatan during his time at the Nou Camp despite a record-breaking start. The towering Swede created history by becoming the first Barcelona player to score in his first five La Liga matches.

But a thigh injury meant his solid start was disrupted. Game after game, appearance after appearance, Zlatan couldn’t fit into Guardiola’s system & the demands the Catalan boss expected of him. It was in essence, a clash of two people with larger-than-life personas who just didn’t see eye to eye. But to his credit, Ibrahimovic scored 21 goals for Barcelona in that one fateful season.

After ‘that’ defeat against Inter in the Champions League semi-final over two legs, masterminded by Jose Mourinho, Zlatan famously attacked Guardiola, as he recounted later saying, “I yelled: ‘You haven’t got any bal*s!’ and worse than that I added: ‘You can go to hell!’ I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward. He just […] left, never to mention it again, not a word.”

It was a famous bust-up that led Guardiola to relegate Zlatan to the fringes & whom he eventually sold to AC Milan first on loan & later on a permanent deal. And the famous quotes of calling Xavi, Iniesta & Messi, Guardiola’s ‘schoolboys’ & the Ferrari & Fiat analogy, where the Swede reportedly told Guardiola, “I’m a Ferrari, but you are driving me as if I were a Fiat,” further led to the bad blood between the pair.

In recent comments, the Swedish striker has been vocal about his career & that infamously maligned spell at the Nou Camp.

Looking back on his time at Barca, in recent comments speaking with Canal Plus, Zlatan said, “My worst memory? I think it was Barcelona, but not for football,”. “Yes I disappointed myself. I did things differently. I thought twice before acting and I disappointed myself. I lost my identity there. Afterwards, I found it again, and that allowed me to conquer the world.”

This is a player who to his credit has had a stellar career despite being a proverbial nomad and serving spells at clubs across the spectrum & amassing goals at every club he played for through the years. Zlatan is known for his over-the-top behaviour and is not shy about speaking his mind. He has also defied norms & is still playing for AC Milan(the club Guardiola sold him to) at the age of 41, despite currently nursing a long term injury.

While for Guardiola, he has tasted success as a manager at every club he’s been at since his Barcelona spell. First at Bayern & then at Man City, although his dominance has been only domestic at both clubs. Guardiola has gone on to reach heights as well but that Champions League trophy eludes him as he looks to win City that first European trophy.

But coming back to the present day, Zlatan’s latest comments scathingly attacking Guardiola for the latter’s “ego”, while referring to City wonderkid Erling Haaland’s development, reflects on that ill-fated season under the Catalan manager.

Guardiola’s retort was rather amusing & has been in the news lately, calling out Zlatan’s comments by sarcastically narrating how he’s “jealous” and that he indeed has a huge “ego”.

Especially ending it by suggesting that Zlatan should “read another book”.

While it’s a rather amusing amount of banter for football fans across the globe, the pair have both tasted the heights of success ever since they parted ways, but that clash of arguably football’s most eccentric & esoteric players and managers respectively, remains in the undercurrents of the present & their feud lingers on in the finer pages of their story as they continue to fire shots at one another a good decade since their fall-out.

Three cheers for the sarcasm Guardiola, but Zlatan is simply vindictive of that 2009-10 season, where Ferraris became Fiats, and where friends became enemies that loathe the very sight of each other.

Related post