Saturday 31 May 2008

Rijkaard To Leave Barcelona

The Barcelona Board of Directors agreed that Frank Rijkaard will leave the club at the end of the season. The widespread speculation of recent days that Barca B Coach Josep “Pep” Guardiola would be the replacement was also confirmed. The changes will take effect on June 30th next.

Speaking at a press conference held after this afternoon’s Board meeting, Club president Joan Laporta announced the decision to relieve the Dutch coach of his duties and praised the contribution he has made over the last few seasons:

“He’s done an excellent job and behaved excellently. We will remember Frank Rijkaard as the coach who led the recovery of the team and in three years took it to the glory of Paris”.
Joan Laporta described Frank Rijkaard’s record with the first team as “exceptional”: two Spanish league titles, two Super Cups and a Champions League title. He stressed that Rijkaard’s achievements “should not be obscured by the results of the last two seasons”.

He added: “We can conclude that Frank Rijkaard has made history”.
The Barcelona President explained that although Frank Rijkaard still had a year left on his contract, it was time for a change:

“It’s the end of a cycle and the results haven’t gone our way. It’s proof that the mistakes we detected last year haven’t been corrected”.
The president also spoke about Josep Guardiola, the man who will take over from Frank Rijkaard next season:

“We believe in Guardiola to lead the new sporting project. He guarantees renewed continuity in the footballing style that has given us success”.
Referring to Guardiola’s capacity to take on the task, Laporta told reporters:

"He has the knowledge, the enthusiasm, the self confidence and the love for the Club that are necessary”. Guardiola will be officially unveiled later on, when Barça B finish their involvement in the play-offs to Second Division B.

The Board’s decision to appoint Guardiola was taken unanimously.

In a rare moment of self-criticism Laporta, announced that the season and the players would be evaluated at the end of the season, also accepting some of the blame for the way the season has gone:

“I am also responsible. I’m sure we haven’t made the right decisions. Decisions have been taken that just didn’t work. The players haven’t responded to the hopes we, and the coach, had in them. We had put together one of the best squads in the world”.

Barcelona were beaten 4-1 by Real Madrid in the return leg of the “El Classico” with a solitary goal from Thierry Henry late in the second half. The Real Madrid goals came from Raul; Robben, Higuain and van Nistelrooy.