A few months ago, a few frustrated fans and Barcelona critics had all but deserted hopes of any noteworthy improvement for Barcelona under Tito Vilanova, the man who had been under Pep Guardiola’s wing for four seasons.
Vilanova, who turned 43 a few weeks ago, surprised them all. With the silent backing of the top management and an A-rated approval by the colonel – Lionel Messi, influential leader regulating the tiki-taka style of play, Barça has since managed to win eight games out of nine, with the only loss encountered against rivals Real Madrid in the Super Cup.
Like his predecessor, he recognizes what it means to be a Barcelonista. Having come spent six years at the club, four of them as a youth player and two in the reserve team, he is well habituated with the concept of “total football”.
Adding to the fact that he was the manager of the U-15 team that had the likes of Messi, Fabregas and Pique, participating in it and working with the reserve team under Guardiola that was promoted to Division three in 2008 assures the Azulgranas of the positive and productive switch for the club’s younger players.
It is yet to early to answer whether if he has the ability to achieve the success as Guardiola did. But one fact is strengthened. The fact that Barcelona strongly believes in maintaining the clubs playing vision of “total football” by promoting once again from within the club: a classicist concept that has shaped up one of the most entertaining sides that we see today.
The Super Cup loss at the hands of Real Madrid could truly be a blessing in disguise for Tito, as it undoubtedly took him past the anxieties of managing a club with high expectations. That game tested his emotions especially after being poked in the eye by Mourinho in a similar tie last year. In a press statement he was mature enough to laugh past the issue.
A straining sporting battle, or series of battles, lies ahead for Vilanova. With the team rocking with injuries in the defensive end and the latest less heated argument between top goal scorer, Messi and fresh-off-an-injury striker, Villa, he will have to roll up his sleeves and work on how to manage his players effectively throughout the season. All that kept aside, his greatest concern will be on the fitness of two of his central defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique before the El Classico.
For the moment he can dwell at the results achieved so far with Barcelona leading the Primera Division with an eight-point gap between themselves and Real Madrid.
If Vilanova can cope up with managing the robust style of Messi’s play, the apparent talks of Neymar making his way through and implementing the “total football” style as implemented in the past, Barcelona will be back in the front foot of both the domestic and European football.
Written by Shuaib Ahmed
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