Soccer

Barca hunt for new coach

2013-07-20 14:34
Tito Vilanova (AP Photo)

Madrid - Spanish champions Barcelona are looking for a new coach after announcing Friday that Tito Vilanova will not be able to continue after suffering a relapse in his battle against throat cancer.

Vilanova, 44, suffering from parotid gland cancer since 2011, has been receiving periodic treatment at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.

Barca president Sandro Rosell told a packed press conference: "We have to give a piece of news that he would prefer never to give. Tests have revealed that Tito will need a treatment which is incompatible with the job of coach."

He said a new coach would probably by named early next week.

"Life goes on," Rosell said. "It is a hard blow, but Barca have received many blows and have always recovered."

Rosell said that Saturday's friendly at Polish side Lechia Gdansk - which was going to be Barca's first pre-season friendly - has been cancelled.

According to media reports, the favourite to succeed Vilanova is Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, who is currently out of contract after a two-year spell at Athletic Bilbao.

The other candidates mentioned are Ernesto Valverde and Luis Enrique, though the former Barca players have recently taken charge at Bilbao and Celta Vigo.

Current Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas is a further alternative, as is Michael Laudrup of Swansea City.

Earlier Friday, when rumours about Vilanova's relapse started to circulate, Barca left-back Jordi Alba said: "This would be very bad news if it is confirmed. Tito did a great job last season. Let's hope he recovers quickly and is back with us as soon as possible."

Vilanova took over as Barca coach in 2012 when Pep Guardiola - to whom he had been assistant for four years - stepped down citing fatigue.

Vilanova guided Barca to the Spanish league title, equalling Real Madrid's record of 100 points, but missed a large part of the season due to his treatment in New York.

Vilanova said in June that he was able to continue as coach but has suffered setbacks in his health situation recently, to the point that he has decided he cannot continue at Barca.

Read more on:    barcelona  |  tito vilanova  |  soccer
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