There is an old joke about a guy who devotes years of his life trying to train a gorilla to play golf.
His friends constantly make fun of his plan but then one day he arrives on the first tee with the gorilla beside him.
The huge animal takes a driver from the golf bag and smashes the ball 500 yards into the centre of the green of a tough par 5.
The chastened friends spend their time hacking their way to the flag and discussing how much money can be made from the remarkable beast.
When they finally get to the green the gorilla calmly selects a putter and, without even lining up the putt, promptly hits the ball another 500 yards into a neighbouring field.
The moral of the story is that not only is it foolish to try to teach a lower primate to play a technically challenging past-time but also that in any sport being good at only one thing will eventually expose your limitations.
Enter Pep Guardiola.
Arguably the best manager of the current generation he fashioned a team that was not only beautiful to watch but one that was also ruthlessly efficient in winning games and trophies.
For years the best tactical minds in the game tried in vain to figure out a way to stop Barcelona even though they knew exactly what kind of game-plan they would employ.
Even Guardiola himself found it impossible to improve on his creation.
Bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play as a traditional centre-forward didn’t increase Barcelona’s options, it simply limited their opportunities to play the game in the best way that they can.
And this season has revealed the limited options that he has available when a few crucial injuries take their toll.
These limits weren’t caused by Barcelona having a lack of good players filling up the bench they were caused by the fact that those squad players found it incredibly difficult to seamlessly slot into such a finely honed system.
Even Cesc Fabregas, who spent his youth playing for the club, has found it hard to settle into a rhythm that is simpatico with the players around him.
And so, in the last couple of weeks, the seemingly perfect system has finally been foiled and, in the wake of being eliminated from both the Champions League and the La Liga title race, Guardiola has announced that he is stepping down from his role as coach.
What he will do next is already the subject of countless newspaper articles and blog posts but what is certain is that he will never again coach a group of players who are so fully in tune with his methods and so innately understanding of his preferred style of play.
At first that will no doubt be the most difficult aspect of his new life; having to explain things that he has taken for granted for so long
Yet there may also be positives that accrue from that very problem.
Just as Arsene Wenger benefited from taking over an Arsenal side that was already defensively disciplined then so might Guardiola benefit from aspects of his new team (whoever they are) in ways that we can’t yet imagine.
He may never create another team that is the clone of his current one but that doesn’t mean that the team that he does create will necessarily be inferior.
It may even have the infamous “Plan B” that he obviously lacked at Barcelona and, for his rivals, that thought must be scarier than a gorilla with a golf club.
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