Tito Vilanova

WATCH: Arjen Robben subs on, scores, still can’t figure out arm band

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Bayern Munich wore black arm bands in memory of recently-deceased Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, and it took Arjen Robben more time to figure out how to strap it on than it did for him to score.

Entering the game in the 73rd minute for Bayern Munich, Robben needed less than a minute to bury a left-footed goal.

Coming on for the Bavarians against Werder Bremen, well, perhaps you should just watch the video. It would probably take less time than reading whatever I came up with…

Soccer reacts to sad news of Tito Vilanova’s death, as tributes pour in

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Following the sad news of Tito Vilanova’s death on Friday, the soccer community around the globe has paid tribute to the former FC Barcelona head coach.

Messages from former players he coached at Barca, rival clubs and a whole host of others flooded as the sad news reverberated across the world.

(MORE: Former FC Barcelona head coach Tito Vilanova dies, aged just 45)

Vilanova, who was just 45, has given the world so much through his soccer expertise and he will be sorely missed by everyone. The man who was an integral part of building one of the greatest ever teams Barcelona, and the world, has ever seen will be rightly remembered as a tactical genius in the game.

Here are just some of the moving message from all over the world, as soccer mourns the loss of one of the great coaches who left us far too early.

Three of Vilanova’s former players at Barcelona have taken to Twitter to show their love for Vilanova.

(My most heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of Tito Vilanova. Has always been an example with their struggle. You will never be forgotten. DEP)

Chelsea boss and former FC Barcelona translator and assistant coach Jose Mourinho.

Spanish international and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea sent his respects to Vilanova.

England national team manager Roy Hodgson and the English FA sent their condolences, as well as England international Jack Wilshere.

Manchester City and Argentine international striker Sergio Aguero.

Italian champions Juventus and their manager Antonio Conte also lauded Vilanova’s impact.

Other clubs to pay their respects to Vilanova were Barcelona’s crosstown rivals Espanyol and European foes, Manchester United.

Is David Moyes stubborn or silly when it comes to Cesc Fabregas?

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Despite having two bids immediately rejected by Barcelona, Manchester United manager David Moyes is not giving up in his quest to sign midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

Which begs the question, is Moyes being stubborn or just plain silly?

He’s stubborn (in the best way possible) if his efforts result in Barcelona selling Fabregas to United.

United’s first move for Fabregas on July 15 was for $38.2 million (£25m). Barcelona quickly rejected.

The second move for the midfielder made last week was understood to be in the region of $45.9 million (£30m)  plus add-ons. Again, Barcelona rejected on knee-jerk.

It now appears that Moyes is ready to table a third bid that will likely be somewhere between $53.5 million to $61.1 million (£35m to £40m). If the Catalan giants accept that bid then United will have their man and Moyes’ efforts will be classified as persistent. United will have their man, albeit at a slightly inflated price.

But if Barcelona deny the upcoming offer, many may consider Moyes to be a silly man.

Not only will he have failed to acquire the player he targeted to shore up the United midfield but, after having already missed out in his primary midfield target Thiago Alcantara, he also will have further dented the clout that Manchester United has long possessed in the transfer market. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s transfer market power was unprecedented. If the club wanted a player, the club got that player – and typically at a favorable rate.

Moyes further risks looking campy because he continued to pursue the player despite the tea leaves appearing relatively straightforward.

After United’s first bid was rejected then Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova explained, “Cesc has told me he wants to stay here. He has told me it is his dream to stay with Barcelona. He doesn’t want to go to other teams for money reasons or playing time. He knows there is competition for places here, but his decision is to stay.”

Following United’s second second bid a Barcelona source said that “Fabregas is not for sale” and that “[t]he president [Sandro Rosell] has been very clear with Man United.”

In addition to the club’s stance, Barcelona center-back Gerard Pique said: “United are wasting their time. It took a long time for Cesc to get his dream move back home, and he won’t give it up. This is home, it is where his family is, and he is playing with his closest friends. He has told us he is happy, and that he intends to stay with Barcelona.”

Even Alex Song, who arguably suffers from less playing time because of Fabregas, expressed his disbelief at the Spaniard moving to Old Trafford. “I did not speak with him but I know Cesc is 100 per cent here. He loves Barcelona, he loves the club. He will stay here next season and give 100 per cent because I know him very well and he’ll want to fight. He’s focused on the club.”

Yet while all those quotes seem to indicate only one result, the reality is that they are circumstantial in nature.

We have not heard directly from Rosell that Barcelona refuse to Fabregas to Manchester United. And we have not heard directly from Fabregas that he refuses to move to Manchester United.

Until either of those things happen ‘sources’ will blab and teammates will pine but Moyes still stands a chance at coming out of this situation looking more stubborn than silly.

 

Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol chat up Gerard Martino as next Barcelona manager

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It’s looking more and more like Gerard Martino will be the next manager of Barcelona Football Club.

Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol have spoken favorably about Martino as the Argentine manager has emerged as the favorite to succeed Tito Vilanova at the Camp Nou.

Messi told Diario Ole: “I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach and he showed that in the Clausura with what he did for the team, the way it ended and how he did it. He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him.”

The World Player of the Year and Martino share a few notable connections, the biggest being that the pair are both from the city of Rosario. In addition, Messi began his career in the youth ranks at Newell’s Old Boys, the Argentinian side where Martino starred as a player and managed to the Argentinian Clausura title this past season.

Martino, who is out of contract at Newell’s, is currently holding talks with Barcelona’s sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, in Buenos Aires. Puyol discussed Martino in a post-training news conference on Monday noting that the 50 year old’s philosophies chime well with Barcelona’s playing style.

Puyol said in a post-training news conference that he was sure sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and the club’s board would hire a coach able to adapt to Barca’s possession-based ethic.

“We know about his career, he is a very good coach,” the Blaugrana captain said. “He likes Barcelona’s playing style.” Puyol went on to add that when Spain met Martino’s Paraguay in the 2010 World Cup, which La Furia Roja won 1-0, he recalled in being “a very difficult, very hard game.”

Besides Martino, the candidates favored to succeed Vilanova include Luis Enrique, Frank de Boer, Rubi, Michael Laudrup, Jurgen Klopp, Marcelo Bielsa and Roberto Mancini. Jupp Heynckes and Feyenoord’s Ronald Koeman have both ruled themselves out of the position.

Jupp Heynckes rules himself out of Barcelona job

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Cross Jupp Heynckes off the list.

The former Bayern Munich manager has ruled himself out of potential candidates to succeed Tito Vilanova at Barcelona.

Following last year’s incredible treble winning season, Heynckes took a chapter out of Pep Guardiola’s book announcing his intention to take a year off.

Many believed Heynckes was headed for retirement after the story-book ending to the 2012-13 season but the 68 year old never officially retired.

Heynckes, who is fluent in Spanish following spells coaching at Athletic Bilbao (twice), Tenerife and Real Madrid, was immediately recognized as a potential replacement for Vilanova.

And what a story that would have been – the man who broke down Barcelona’s fabled tiki-taka tasked with building it back up. But it’s not to be, as Heynckes acted swiftly in removing his name from further discussions, citing his enjoyment of the simple things in life.

“I’m keeping myself busy with hobbies and sport. I have my animals and a huge garden,” Heynckes told Germany’s Sky Sport News.

The former West Germany international also noted his health as a reason. “I think it would be impossible for me, after working at Bayern Munich, now to take over a new club. I have understood the signals my body has been giving me and I am feeling good, enjoying the time I have for myself.”

With Heynckes now out of the picture, the top candidates favored to succeed Vilanova include Luis Enrique, Gerardo Martino, Frank de Boer, Rubi, Michael Laudrup, Jurgen Klopp, Marcelo Bielsa and Roberto Mancini.