But really has any manager brought as much to the game in a four year span as Pep Guardiola? He took over Barcelona at a time when they had just finished third in La Liga, 18 points behind champion Real Madrid.
Then in his first season he won the league and just about everything else. He could have entered the Kentucky Derby and had Messi ride him and he’s have won that too. They went from scoring 76 goals and conceding 43 in 2007/8 to scoring 105 goals and conceding just 35 in his first season in charge.
That year before Pep arrived the team’s top two scorers, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry scored 28 goals combined. Puts Messi’s 50 La Liga goals this season in perspective.
This is not lost on Messi. This is his celebration after scoring his fourth goal today against Espanyol in Pep’s last game in charge at the Bernabeu.
Let’s hope it’s just one year off for Pep and he’s back in the game. It’s so hard to see where he could possibly have the same effect as he had at Barcelona. He was as engrained in the club as it was in him. It was perhaps a unique set of circumstances that enabled his success but the game, even if the context and the club changes, is better with him than without him.