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The Barcelona Manager Hunt
With the departure of Tito Vilanova, due to his battle with cancer, the position of manager has become vacant at the helms of one of the greatest clubs in world football. The lucrative chair at the Nou camp looks set to be filled by the beginning of next week. As you can imagine speculation is rife as to who will be named as Vilanova’s predecessor, with Tottenham’s Andre Villas Boas numero uno with the bookies to take over.
However maybe Barcelona may opt to do what they have done with their last two managerial appointments and promote from within. This would most likely leave two people at the club as options for the Barcelona board to ponder over. Jordi Roura and Eusebio Sacristan.
Jordi Roura, for those that don’t know, is Barcelona’s current assistant manager. For those that do know you will probably only be thinking one thing. “wasn’t he the chap that was in charge when Barcelona we’re humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final earlier this year.” Well yes, he was. But don’t let this fool you into thinking that is his only credentials! He has far more to offer.
He began his managerial career at CE L’Hospitalet at the start of the 07-08 season, I would now like to say he led them to promotion, however he didn’t. In fact he lasted just a few months before being fired in December. He then moved to Barcelona in 2009 and became a part of Guardiola’s technical staff, becoming assistant manager to Vilanova following his appointment as manager.
However there is another string to his bow, he has had experience of working alongside Carles Rexach in Japan, at Yokohoma Flugels, as part of his coaching staff. For those of you unaware Carles Rexach is a former Barcelona player and Assistant Manager alongside the legendary Johann Cryuff. let’s hope for Jordi’s sake that he learnt much from the man during his time in Japan.
Second on the list Eusebio Sacristan is the current Barcelona B manager. Eusebio’s playing days were somewhat successful, like Roura before him, he played for Barcelona under Johann Cryuff’s leadership and featured in a European Cup Winners Cup victory. After retiring in 2002 he opened a Coaching school in Valladolid, his home town, and gained his coaching degree. He then went on to become a part of Frank Rijkaard’s staff at Barcelona.
His only first team managerial experience comes in the form of being the head of Celta in the second division. After 15 months in charge he was dismissed from his post, even though he did succeed in keeping them up that season. He then went on to coach Barcelona B at the start of the 2011 season.
Now on paper neither of these two look like the most promising of propositions. But they could just hold exactly what Barcelona need, and to see why we must first look at the other side of the coin, Villas Boas. Villas Boas as mentioned earlier is the number one contender for the role at Barcelona, however does he fit the description needed by the club?
To begin with we have to look at Villas Boas at both spurs and Chelsea where he opted to play a 4-2-3-1 formation for a majority of his games. I have nothing wrong with this formation however if he is to move to Barcelona he will have to adopt a 4-3-3. Within Barcelona is continuity in coaching and tactics. Every coach in their youth system up coaches the same brand of football. The 4-3-3. This way players are never out of place on the pitch, this means that from the first time to pull on the Barcelona shirt in La Masia to stepping out for the first team at the Camp Nou they are never unaware of the position that they are playing.
On the other hand this may not be as much of a problem, as Villas Boas already looks set on implementing the 4-3-3 formation at White Hart Lane. He began using the formation towards the end of last season and with the arrival of Paulinho it is more than likely he’s planning on playing this 4-3-3 style for the 2013-14 season.
The second problem that Barcelona face with the appoint of Boas is a switch in coaching staff. When moving to a club, many managers prefer to bring their own staff than work with those already around, regardless of their success at that club. An example would be David Moyes’ culling of many of the back room staff at Old Trafford after his arrival earlier this year. With many changes in personal on the
pitch already apparent for Barcelona, with David Villa and Thiago already out the door and other stars being hounded by European elites it is important that Barcelona keep continuity within their staff. However this is difficult with the appoint of an outside manager as you must balance this need for continuity with the task of settling in a new face. Barcelona will find it difficult to keep all parties happy.
The third problem in the appoint of a Boas is his lack of Barcelona football. Barcelona sits within Catalonia, a Autonomous community of Spain. Catalonia has a proud heritage and FC Barcelona is one of the main identities of Catalans in recent years. Being a former player of Barcelona or having a tie to the region creates a level of rapport with the fans. Guardiola had this being a former player of Barcelona, as did Johann Cryuff. Tito Vilanova may never have played in their first team however he did play for Barcelona B, and he is a Catalan. True, you may look now at Frank Rijkaard, the last manager who was neither Catalan nor a former Barcelona player. However his appoint came immediately after the appoint of the new Barcelona president Joan Laporta in 2003. Laporta won the presidency race for Barcelona that year based on many things. However being a Catalan certainly didn’t inhibit his chances, quite the opposite.
Now I’m not saying that Barcelona shouldn’t hire someone who has never played for the club or who isn’t a Catalan. What I am saying is that if you have these two boxes ticked, the die hard fans at the Camp Nou would certainly appear to be happier.
Whoever the new manager of Barcelona ends up being, with the odds of who is the favourite changing regularly, (as I write this it appears that Villas Boas now appears to be second favourite with Gerardo Martino taking his position as the safe bet, by tomorrow it may be someone completely new) I believe Barcelona could save themselves a lot of trouble by simply appointing one of the two applicants mentioned above. Although their previous managerial careers don’t show themselves as standout candidates they still could be the perfect fit for the position at the Nou Camp.
If Barcelona do choose to hire from outside, they could still save themselves a lot of trouble by hiring someone who has been a former player, and former coach for the club. Can anyone say Luis Enrique?
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