A bad week at Barcelona ended on a tragic note on Friday afternoon. After suffering a relapse of his cancer it was announced that Tito Vilanova was to resign. Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona President, stated at the Press conference: “Tito’s illness was incompatible with being Coach of Barcelona.”
So Vilanova heads off to fight in what Marca described as ‘the match of his life’ and hopefully, like he was during his brief spell at the helm of the Catalan giants, he will be successful. Anims Tito!
As for Barcelona, ‘life goes on’, as Rosell put it and for now this means finding a suitable replacement is the number one priority.
But it will not be easy. In fact, this time around it is harder than when Pep Guardiola called it quits. Barcelona like hiring from within and back then it was easy or, at least, easier. Vilanova had been the second in charge throughout Pep’s four-year spell and so when he decided to go on a year-long sabbatical, Tito was the ideal and logical choice.
Now, however, there are few options from within the club. Jordi Roura has been mentioned, and so has Joan Francesc Ferrer Sicilia, or ‘Rubi’ as he is known. But both Rubi and Roura remain outside chances to take over with the favourite, as it stands, being Gerardo Martino.
Mundo Deportivo has reported that the club is already in talks with Martino, or ‘Tata’ as he is better known. With Lionel Messi’s approval from last year being replayed through the media today, the Argentine looks to have a very good chance to be the next Barca boss.
However, it is thought that Rosell’s preference is Luis Enrique. And, for many reasons this would be the most logical choice.
Despite hailing from Asturias, as far as football is concerned Enrique is a Catalan. As a player he spent eight years at the Camp Nou. As a Coach, his first job was with the Barcelona B team whom he stayed with for three years. Suffice to say, he knows the club and its philosophy, the team and its players just as good as anyone.
Additionally, the likes of Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya and Sergi Roberto, who are now coming through the ranks would benefit greatly from the return of their former Coach, the man who oversaw their development in the youth side.
But, most importantly, Luis Enrique knows how to play the Barcelona way. His Barca B team employed the exact same system as that of Pep’s team while he was Coach. He employed a ‘false 9’ and his team played possession-based attacking football. The only slight difference was that his team was a little more physical and, considering what happened in the Champions League last season, a slightly more physical Barca may not be such a bad thing.
He may not literally be an ‘in-house’ signing, but for all intents and purposes Luis Enrique would be an ‘in-house’ appointment. The only problem, however, is that just last month the former Roma Coach was appointed by Celta Vigo. Yet, he could still be Barca’s if the club is willing to depart with €3m to release him from that freshly-signed contract. And, given that this is a relatively small sum for a club like Barcelona and that this is an exceptional situation, it may be a move well worth taking.