Tito Vilanova Can Build On Pep Guardiola's Success At Barcelona

Thank you Pep Guardiola and good luck Tito Vilanova. It is official. The most successful coach in Barcelona's history has made it official that he will not continue after this season.

Pep Guardiola has finally confirmed what I think we were all beginning to think was likely to happen. It appears that the most successful coach in Barcelona history had decided to finish months ago but the club had delayed any announcement in the hope that he would change his mind. He did not. We must respect Pep's decision and thank him for the joy his team has brought all of us over the last few years.

What has been a very sad week for Barcelona fans everywhere just became a little worse.

The outgoing Barcelona coach has achieved the biggest trophy haul in our club's proud history: two Champions Leagues, three La Ligas, two Club World Cups, one (hopefully two) Copa del Reys and five Supercups. However, how many people actually knew that much about Josep Guardiola when he was appointed coach? His coaching experience had been limited to one year as coach of Barcelona B. Many people, including myself, were very surprised when Pep was appointed instead of the clear favourite, Jose Mourinho.

As for Guardiola the player, I remember Pep as an integral member of Johan Cruyff's Dream Team. However, without the benefit of today's technology, I  can't really say much about his playing career. I do remember him scoring a penalty for Spain at the 1994 World Cup. It was against Bolivia but I had to look that up.

I think we were all surprised when Francesc "Tito" Villanova was immediately announced as the club's next coach. This has the benefit of preventing a media frenzy of speculation as to who our next coach would be. I had already seen a few articles where several names were mentioned but Tito was not one of them.

Even though Tito has been Pep's right hand man for all five years he has coached Barcelona and Barcelona B, Tito had kept a low profile. I suspect that many people may not have even known who he was until Mourinho infamously poked him in the eye in the Spanish Supercup earlier this season.

I am sure that everyone is wondering how Tito will perform in what is a very demanding job. I think that appointing Tito could well be a good move as it gives the opportunity to make needed changes without a potentially disastrous complete change of direction. There is always a danger that any new coach would feel the need to dismantle everything so as to impose his own philosophy. 

Barcelona is a difficult environment for any coach as success is demanded and style matters almost as much as results. For example, Louis Van Gaal won two La Ligas in his spell as coach but never gained any real acceptance. In fairness to Van Gaal, he may have achieved more success had it not been for Luis Figo's infamous defection to Real Madrid.

This year's results show that there is not a lot wrong with the Barcelona machine but subtle improvements are needed in both defence and attack. Tito's appointment should ensure we have evolution and not a potentially disastrous revolution in the coaching of the team. From all reports, Tito played an integral part in the devising of tactics and took many of the training sessions. That means he is well qualified to facilitate this coaching evolution.

The main challenges for Tito will be in his dealing with the media and especially in his man-management of the team. Tito will need the total support of the playing roster, especially the senior players some of whom may have to accept a reduced playing role in the team. All going well, the Pep era may just evolve into the Tito era.

Finally, I would again like to thank Pep Guardiola for the delight his team has given Barcelona supporters everywhere.

It is an absolute certainty that Pep Guardiola will be very much in demand for any high profile coaching job that becomes available. In fact, he already has been linked with several such positions. However, I hope that this is not the end of his involvement with our great club.

Pep Guardiola has been a great Barcelona player and a coach. Why not a future president?

Posted by: Drago , Columnist at 'Culé Talk'