Tonight was a sad night in Barcelona.
When F.C Barcelona President Sandro Rosell called this evening’s emergency press conference, everyone—fans, players, officials and journalists—already had an idea of what was to be announced.
But they hoped they would be wrong.
The stories had already been written. The speculation about a new coach had already begun. Barça’s friendly match in Poland had probably already been cancelled. All that was left to be added were Rosell’s quotes, which were to come soon enough.
And yet, when Rosell said the words, “we inform you that Tito Vilanova needs further treatment which makes it impossible for him to continue as coach,” it still came as a shock.
As Graham Hunter wrote today for ESPN, Vilanova is a man who doesn’t deserve to be punished by this horrific and currently incurable disease.
But he does deserve the respect of the world around him.
In just one season as head of the Blaugrana, Vilanova led his men to win the league title with 100 points, a feat the club had never achieved before. And he did so after winning 38 of the 53 matches he was in charge of and undergoing treatment after his throat cancer relapsed during the first half of the season.
But if we are to respect anything about Vilanova, it’s his fighting spirit. His focus and general love for the club is awe-inspiring, to the say the least. He’s undergone treatment twice, and ha come back to the club, strong and well each time.
Rosell also stated that the new manager would be announced early next week and he would be neither one of Vilanova’s assistants.
While the Barça squad will have to adjust to a new coach, they now have something and someone to fight for. But tonight, instead of brainstorming who the new head of the club could be, remember Tito. And hope.
Hope that the third time is the charm.