Barca leaders reject Guardiola rant
Barcelona's leaders teamed up against the club's ex-coach Pep Guardiola on Tuesday, denying his charge that the club used his successor's cancer illness to criticise him.
Club president Sandro Rosell and Guardiola's successor as coach, his old friend Tito Vilanova, both denied claims made by Guardiola of sly dealings by directors.
Guardiola, now coaching German and European champions Bayern Munich, accused Barcelona at a news conference last week of using its current coach Tito Vilanova's illness "to damage" him.
Without saying who exactly had made the accusation, Guardiola denied that he had missed a chance to visit Vilanova while he was being treated in New York for salivary gland cancer.
Guardiola was living there during a break after leaving the club.
"Pep wasn't correct, and I have to admit that what he said surprised me," Vilanova told a news conference on Tuesday. "I don't think they used my illness to attack him."
He added that on a first visit to New York he saw Guardiola but when Vilanova spent two months there later for surgery they did not meet "and it was not my fault. He is my friend and I needed him".
Rosell made a conciliatory move, denying Guardiola's claims but hailing him as the club's greatest ever coach.
"We were very surprised by his comments. What he said about the board of directors and about Tito is completely false," Rosell said in an interview broadcast on Catalan television channel 8TV.
"In the press archives you will see how the club has treated him, the best coach in the history of the club."
Rosell urged supporters not to let the issue become a cause of division as he said disagreements with its legendary former player and coach Johan Cruyff had been.
"I ask that there not be Guardiolistas and non-Guardiolistas," he said.
Guardiola, 42, whipped up a media storm last week with his rant.
"Using Tito's illness to damage me is something I will never forget," he said.
Vilanova had been Guardiola's assistant at Barcelona for five years and he led the Catalan team to what Guardiola called their most successful league win in history last season.
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