By Chris Harris
Pep Guardiola's imminent departure as Barcelona manager has come as a surprise to Arsène Wenger.
The 41-year-old is set to leave his post this summer after a four-year spell that brought 13 trophies to the Nou Camp. However the current season has been a relative failure for the Catalan giants with Real Madrid firm favourites to win La Liga and Chelsea proving too strong in the Champions League.
Guardiola is expected to take a year-long break from football and Wenger can understand his decision. All the same, the Arsenal manager would love to have seen the former Spain international persevere with his philosophy at the Nou Camp.
"It comes as a surprise to me because first of all when you make a decision after a big disappointment like he has had in the past week, it may not be the right moment to make this decision," said Wenger.
"The philosophy of Barcelona has to be bigger than winning or losing a championship. Guardiola is one of the representatives of this philosophy and made this philosophy triumph so I would have loved him, even going through a disappointing year, to stay and come back and insist with his philosophy. That would be interesting."
Guardiola's decision raises the issue of pressure on top-level managers and underlines the staying power of Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson - the Premier League's longest-serving bosses.
"Believe me, if somebody can understand [the pressure on Guardiola] it’s me!" smiled Wenger. "I can understand there are not many managers who work throughout a career without a breather.
"Maybe he has not shown the stress. Maybe it’s taken more than he has shown. You never know from the outside how deeply a man suffers from the inside. I have heard he has come out and wants to have a break to reflect on the situation, which you can understand after a certain time.
"I decided the other way to never come out of a job, because it becomes second nature to cope with it. It becomes your life. But some people need to move out at some stage."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source