It’s official. It’s a new era for
Tito Vilanova’s departure represents a true cutting of the Pep Guardiola umbilical cord.
Yes, it was supposed to be so when Guardiola left
last year. But, now it is official.
A new direction is coming. Barcelona
First off, all wishes are with Vilanova as he once again battles cancer.
His exit as
coach, due to
ill-health, was announced by club president, Sandro Rosell, at an emotional
press conference on Friday evening. Barcelona
Vilanova needs further treatment for the throat cancer he was first diagnosed with in late 2011. This is his second relapse. In December he had an operation before undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy in
After missing two months of the season, Vilanova returned to the dugout in April guiding
the finish line as they claimed the La Liga title – and in the process becoming
only the second team after Real Madrid to reach 100 points in a campaign. Barcelona
However, with his health not improving Vilanova will not be returning to defend the title.
Though Vilanova’s health struggles have always been known, this is still a traumatic moment for a club that doesn’t want to be defined by the Guardiola era.
Not a lot needs to be changed and this is a mistake
shouldn’t make. Barcelona
But Barça do need to focus on hiring a long-term replacement and moving to their next chapter.
Despite reservations when he was appointment, Vilanova was undeniably on his way to creating his own legend but his untimely illness took that away for him and
In his absence the importance of a coach, even for
, was clear and in the two months
without Vilanova the side looked distinctly human. Barcelona
So, hiring a replacement is not a straightforward decision.
wants to continue its Barça-DNA mantra
and would prefer to again promote from within but similarly they need an
established coach. Barcelona
|Winning has become routine at Barcelona|
There are many reasons for this.
have just signed Neymar. They need a coach who will be able utilise the young Brazilian
talent well and also manage all that comes with a star-studded dressing room. Barcelona
also still needs to make adjustments to the defence, presumably in the form of
new signings. Barcelona
And most importantly, the club needs a coach with sound tactical knowledge. It had become everyone’s favourite claim: “Anybody can manage, what, with Messi et al”. However, it was evident in that two months under Jordi Roura last season that this isn’t so.
Yes, they were distracted, but at times
were tactically inept. Perhaps this was most visible in the Champions League
2-0 loss to AC Milan at the San Siro when Barça didn’t have a plan beyond A,
despite their dominance of the game. Barcelona
Speaking of a plan B,
Barcelona’s new coach has to find one – and one which
doesn’t offend the
Purists shouldn’t forget, however:
have been successful in the past with a Samuel Eto’o – and a David Villa later
– and having a direct attacking threat. They have the tools now, with Neymar
and Cristian Tello, to add the penetration they didn’t show in the second half
of last season. Barcelona
The coach faces the challenge, as well, of keeping
at the top of the food chain. Barcelona
be stronger in La Liga this season and they will spend to win – as they always
Europe, Bayern Munich have proved they are the business. will be strong. Madrid under Jose Mourinho can only grow and
improve. And PSG, with their money trees, have emerged as a genuine contender
thanks to their signings and last season’s Champions League performance. Chelsea
Luis Enrique is the man favoured to take over at the Nou Camp. As a player he enjoyed legendary status at
games for the club after joining from Real Madrid in 1996. His first coaching
job was with Barcelona B, when he took over in June 2008 after Guardiola was promoted
to the first team. Barcelona
|All in Barca...|
He immediately masterminded Barcelona B’s to a return to the Spanish Second Division for the first time in more than a decade. After three years, he left for Roma but experienced a largely tumultuous 2011/12 season in the Italian capital and left with a year remaining on his deal.
Now Celta Vigo coach, Enrique still represents a figure that will command respect. Gerardo Martino, coach of the Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, and
Swansea boss and former star, Michael Laudrup, are also
said to be candidates. Barcelona
But, whoever comes in, this is a big decision.
This would have sounded insane two years ago… but
’s seat at the table with the world’s
best depends on it. Barcelona