Spain: Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova today signed a two-year contract with the Spanish giants to formally take over from Pep Guardiola.
It had been announced in April when Guardiola, who won 14 trophies with Los Cules, stepped down as head coach, that his assistant Vilanova would take the reins.
At the press conference to announce his signature, Vilanova thanked his predecessor, who informed him that he was in line to succeed him as head coach after the Champions League defeat to Chelsea.
Vilanova told a news agency: "I thank Guardiola, my friend, he has almost been like a brother to me. It has been a privilege to be by his side for 5 years. After the Chelsea game, Guardiola told me he wanted to take a break and that the club would offer me the job. First I was surprised, I didn`t hear anything about it before. The club confirmed the offer. I took a few days to think about it."
Having never managed a team before, Vilanova suggested that he would have remained by Guardiola’s side had the former midfielder not chosen to take a year’s sabbatical from football.
"If Pep would have joined another team this summer, I probably wouldn`t be here now."
Reacting to comparisons with the man whom Vilanova made his name as assistant to, the Spaniard attempted to separate himself from Guardiola.
"I`m just here to do my job. I know if people start comparing, we`ll never win it. As I said, I`m not worried about the comparisons with Pep. I lose them all anyway.”
The new boss has also pledged to make very few alterations to Guardiola’s Barcelona set-up, which transformed the Nou Camp outfit into what many regarded as one of the most complete sides of all time.
"Changes? Pep and I shared almost every decision, he communicated them. So now I won`t make many changes either. Alves will stay, that`s obvious. Don`t understand the rumours. He has been of the best transfers of the last years. With Keita the same: if he wants, he will stay." Vilanova said.
Responding to rumours of the transfer budget available to Vilanova to strengthen his team, which lost out on the La Liga title to arch-rivals Real Madrid, the new manager gave little away.
"€35 million (£28m) transfer budget? Nobody told me any number. We want a centre back and a left back. We don`t plan to sign any forward. Just hope to have less injuries. Cuenca and Tello are there too, we have enough attackers", he added.
The 42-year-old was confirmed as the new manager on Wednesday, and according to the club’s management, he was always the first choice for the job.
First Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 18:57