- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will not continue as coach of the Spanish club after this season and assistant Tito Vilanova will take over.

Guardiola’s contract ends at the close of the season and the former player rejected Barcelona’s offer to extend his deal. His last game in charge will be the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25.

“The reason is simple, four years are long and they wear you down,” Guardiola said Friday after president Sandro Rosell announced he would not continue. “I think that sincerely that the next person will have things to bring that I can’t.

“Every day during four years, the demands are very high, the pressure, the necessary energy to push the players and enjoy it. I need to rest and move away.”

Rosell said Vilanova, who has served as Guardiola’s assistant since he was promoted from B-team manager, would take over the coaching duties.

The 41-year-old Guardiola has led Barcelona to 13 trophies since replacing Frank Rijkaard at the beginning of the 2008-09 season, including two Champions League crowns and three Spanish league titles.

The coach’s decision Friday ends a difficult week for the team, with its defeat to Chelsea in a Champions League semifinal on Tuesday coming on the heels of a loss to Real Madrid that likely will cost it a fourth straight Spanish title.

“I’m very sorry for all of the uncertainty I created over this time over my future, maybe that was an error of mine,” Guardiola said. “I didn’t mean to create this kind of mood.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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