FC BARCELONA’S COACH TITO VILLANOVA RESIGNS DUE TO HEALTH REASONS



Barcelona’s coach Tito
Vilanova has stepped down
after suffering a further
relapse of throat cancer.
Tests detected that the
disease that was first
diagnosed in November
2011 required a course of
treatment that has forced
Vilanova to step down, the
club’s president Sandro
Rosell explained. Barcelona
cancelled a planned trip to
Poland for a pre-season
friendly.
Barcelona expect to
announce the new manager
in the coming days. Until
then, the first team will be
run by the assistant coach
Joan Francesc Ferrer Sicilia
“Rubí”, who only joined the
club from second division
Girona in the summer. But
the new permanent
manager will not be an in-
house appointment.
Rosell appeared before the
media alongside the
sporting director Andoni
Zubizarreta on Friday night.
Vilanova was not present
but the press conference
was attended by coaching
staff from all levels at the
club and those first-team
players who have returned
for pre-season training in
Barcelona, including Leo
Messi and the captain
Carles Puyol. All were
ashen-faced. There were
no questions and Rosell
spoke for just three
minutes.
“Following routine tests, it
was decided that he would
follow a course of treatment
to continue to control his
illness that is incompatible
with fulfilling his role as
coach of the first team,”
Rosell said. The club’s
president described the
news as a “terrible blow”
and asked for
understanding “for people
first, before the club”. He
added: “We will present the
new coach in the next few
days, hopefully by early
next week.”
Vilanova, 44, missed two
months of last season after
travelling to New York for
treatment on a relapse of
his cancer. In his absence,
the team was coached by
the assistant Jordi Roura.
Although Vilanova returned
for the denouement of the
season, which ended with a
title success and Champions
League elimination at the
semi-final stage, Barcelona
held concerns over his
medium- and long-term
health. Vilanova remained
determined to continue but
a further worsening of his
condition appears to have
made that impossible.
Vilanova first had a tumour
removed from his parotid
gland in November 2011
and underwent radio
therapy and chemotherapy.
He returned to work after
just 18 days and at the end
of the 2011-12 season he
was given the first-team
manager’s job. The news of
his relapse broke on 19
December last year,
following a routine check-
up carried out at the Vall
d’Hebrón hospital in
Barcelona on the previous
day. Cruelly, that was the
very day that defender Eric
Abidal, who had suffered
liver cancer, finally
rejoined his team-mates in
training.
The coach underwent
surgical intervention and
although he momentarily
returned to work in early
January, he flew out to New
York for two months on 21
January. Barcelona
remained adamant that
Vilanova would remain their
coach for as long as he
wished to continue and
resisted some calls to hire
a permanent replacement.
Barcelona won the league
title, equalling Real Madrid’s
record by reaching one
hundred points. The title
was widely referred to as
“the league of Tito and
Eric”.

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