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Barcelona (2003–2008)
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Barcelona (2003–2008)

Rijkaard was not out of a coaching role for long, and less than a year after leaving Sparta Rotterdam, he was appointed manager of FC Barcelona for the 2003–04 season. The season would prove to be a watershed for the club, but not without initial instability. Rijkaard arrived at the club as it entered a new phase, having elected a new President in Joan Laporta and a new managerial board, but with fans unhappy that Laporta had let English midfielder David Beckham snub the chance to join the club. For Rijkaard, the team he inherited, with the exception of new superstar signing Ronaldinho (who was the club's second choice after Beckham), also consisted of many underachieving players from the old guard and era that failed to meet the club and its fans' demands to match arch rival Real Madrid's success in the early 2000s, having not won a trophy since 1999.

Rijkaard had a disappointing start at Barcelona that saw some sections of the club's fans call for his resignation, and he drew flak from the media when the team lost to Real Madrid in December 2003. Rijkaard's resilience won through and from 2004 onwards, he achieved a massive turnaround, as the team went from strength to strength. Barcelona finished runners-up in La Liga in 2003–04, having been close to the relegation zone at one point in the earlier stages of the season. Rijkaard then took Barcelona to the next level as he phased out the old guard and rebuilt a new look side around Ronaldinho, with new players like Deco, Samuel Eto'o, Rafael Márquez and Ludovic Giuly, along with the ultimate uprising of some young players from the previous era formed in the club's youth teams (i.e. Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta). He eventually succeeded in turning around the fortunes of the club, with the strong support of Laporta, and within the next couple of years finally managed to win La Liga both in 2004–05 and in 2005–06.

He became the first Barcelona coach to have won twice at Real Madrid's stadium Santiago Bernabéu, an achievement which even successful managers like Johan Cruijff, Louis van Gaal and Luis Aragonés were unable to accomplish. His no nonsense policy on and off the field, and the sparkling football played by his team, have won him many plaudits and Rijkaard was among the five nominated coaches for UEFA's Team of the Year 2005. On March 8, 2006 he was also honoured by UEFA for his contributions to the European Cup Competition throughout his career as player and manager.

Rijkaard also achieved success on the European stage winning the 2005–06 Champions League with a 2–1 win against Arsenal in the final. Barcelona had been losing 1–0 for most of the match before his late tactical substitutions proved the decisive factor, as the introduction of Henrik Larsson and Juliano Belletti contributed directly to Barcelona's two goals. The win made him the only fifth individual to have won the European Cup both as a player and as a manager, alongside Miguel Muñoz, Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cruyff, and Carlo Ancelotti.

After losing to Manchester United in the Semi-Final of the 2007/2008 UEFA Champions League, Rijkaard was asked whether he would quit at the end of the season seeing as though he had not won anything for two successive seasons. Rijkaard replied:

"I have no intention of leaving. It would be different if the players were saying it is time for me to go but that is not the case"

On May 1, 2008 it is reported that Frank Rijkaard allegedly confided to a colleague that he would be stepping down as FC Barcelona manager at the end of the season. But 24 hours later Rijkaard stated in a press conference that he has no intention of leaving Barcelona.

On May 8, 2008, the day after Barcelona's dismal 4-1 defeat to arch rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona's president Joan Laporta announced that at the end of the 2007-2008 season, Frank Rijkaard will not longer be head coach of the first team. Laporta made the announcement after a board meeting; Rijkaard was succeeded by Josep Guardiola.[7] Joan Laporta made it clear that Frank Rijkaard's achievements "made history" and praised him for his time at the club.

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