Sunday, February 28, 2010

In our model, the coach coaches (by Alfons Godall)

Barcelona first vice-president and presidential candidate Alfons Godall published this week an opinion piece in Catalan sports paper El 9 Esportiu.

"The coach has to coach, I cannot be everywhere, I cannot handle everything", replied Pep Guardiola on 20 January when they asked him if he would like to become the general manager of Barça. The words of Guardiola close, as I understand, an important debate about the model we want for FC Barcelona.

Let's talk about the role of the sports director and the coach, two positions of such importance and responsibility that they must be kept separated to allow the club to continue the successes of the last years. And there are many reasons that give meaning to the sincere reflection that Pep Guardiola expressed aloud.

Firstly, the immense dedication of the current coach towards the first team is incompatible with the sports planning on the medium and long term. Everyone understands that the coach, who must deal with the day-to-day issues, cannot be analyzing, for example, videos of the next opponent while at the same time watching summaries of other leagues to track down players who could be interesting for the next seasons.

Secondly, the sports director should report regularly on the football events of the club to the president, the board of directors, the delegate commission or the general assembly. The coach should be on the pitch with the players and so he cannot be at the same time at the offices to inform the leaders of the club.

The third reason is that the sports director must ensure the continuity of the sports project when things happen like the change of a coach. The club has won six cups one year after changing the coach. This was only possible because we maintained the continuity of the sports model through the sports director. The history and the experiences of other clubs show that when there is no well-defined philosophy, you move in all directions and the sporting successes don't come.

Fourthly, the sports director is the one who takes care of key tasks such as the signing of players, who manages the bonuses, the wages and the extras of the players. While the coach has to take care of the immediate result, the sports director has to worry about the two or three following seasons.

Pep Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain (and also Frank Rijkaard) have won league titles and Champions Leagues as players and as managers, and they know better than anyone how the club works. The coordination between the coach and the sports director has been the key that has led Barça to the best moments in its history. Changing this dynamics would be a clear dismantling of a model that is admired around the world.

In the upcoming elections, the Barcelona world must choose between several options and put their trust in the project they consider to be the most appropriate one. But don't let them fool you. What is at stake is not just the president, but something that is much more important: an idea about the club, a management philosophy, a sports model.

Regarding the pre-candidacy I'm leading, I've made clear my wish to keep the model that has given us so many successes. Our model will not be that of Ferguson of Manchester, but that of the Barça of the six cups. And the model of the Barça of the six cups has separated and will continue to separate the positions of the sports director and the coach. Because in the model of the Barça of the six cups, the sports director has to plan and the coach has to coach.

Read more:
Godall: "Txiki will be my sports director"
Barça, a 'wonderful rarity' (by Agustí Benedito)
Sala: "Rosell wants to sell us a product"