Outgoing Barcelona coach Pep
Guardiola sought to make the succession of his number two Tito
Vilanova as smooth as possible as he gave his last Nou Camp news
conference on Thursday, ahead of the King's Cup final.
Guardiola has the chance to exit the club with the 14th
trophy of his four-year reign if Barca can beat Athletic Bilbao
at the Calderon in Madrid on Friday.
The build up to his departure has been dominated by media
rumours that he was unhappy with the way club handled the news
that his friend and assistant Vilanova was to succeed him, with
suggestions that he did not know.
This has led to sniping between the former president Joan
Laporta and incumbent Sandro Rosell that has threatened to
destabilise the club.
"After being knocked out by Chelsea I rang Tito and I told
him the moment had arrived and that they were going to offer him
the position, and that he should do what he thought best,"
Guardiola said referring to their Champions League semi-final
"Who am I to deny him something? I told him 'whatever
decision you take I will support you.' I have known him since I
As to the exchanges between Laporta, who appointed him as
coach in 2008, and Rosell, Guardiola said: "I have a marvellous
relationship with Laporta and Rosell, and I am grateful to them
both for the way they have left me to get on with my job.
"I have told them both I am going, taking a step to the
side, and I have asked them not to use my name."
Guardiola was also pressed about comments made by the
president of the Madrid regional government, who has stirred up
a political storm by saying that if fans whistled the national
anthem on Friday, the game should be suspended.
At the cup final between Barca and Bilbao in Valencia in
2009, when Guardiola lifted his first trophy as coach, Basque
and Catalan nationalists among the fans whistled the Spanish
"I am not in favour of the whistling of the national
anthem," the former Spanish international said.
"But I think it is a poor show the president of the region
won't be there. She would have honored us with her presence, but
I respect her decision not to attend.
"Tomorrow it is the King's Cup final which should be all
about football. Other issues can be sorted out in Parliament."
Barca take on a Bilbao side who, after impressing during the
season, have dropped away badly in the last few weeks of the
Guardiola was expecting a different side to the one beaten
3-0 by Atletico Madrid final in Bucharest earlier this month.
"I expect to see the side who beat Manchester United and
Schalke 04," he said. "It is a side which never gives up. It
will be an extremely tough final."
Earlier, Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa was asked how he was
going to stop Barca forward Lionel Messi, who has netted an
astonishing 72 goals in all competitions this season.
"Messi has solutions for most of the problems you present
him with," Bielsa said of his fellow Argentine.
"We have to try and make sure he doesn't find those
solutions and that the defenders don't even let him try."
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