Els cinc entrenadors, al Palau. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Tito, Xavi, ‘Pasqui’, Marc and Gaby have a lot in common in addition to the fact that they all manage professional FC Barcelona teams. The four FCB section managers (basketball, handball, futsal, and roller hockey) hosted Tito Vilanova - the newest manager to join the team- at the Palau Blaugrana for a meal.

Similar careers

The five men have all either played for the Club or been assistant managers before being awarded first-team manager posts. Their commitment to the Club goes well beyond their professional obligations, seeing that all of them spent time in the Club’s youth academy and they’re all Club members. “To go from second in command to first is a positive thing, but starting out is difficult if the results aren’t good, it’s more difficult to get noticed,” said Barça Regal manager Xavi Pascual. Vilanova, who was also an assistant manager before taking the head manager job, explained that “being a head manager is difficult, but being an assistant manager isn’t easy either. I would say it’s more difficult to be an assistant manager than it is to be a head manager.”

The conversation then turned to how they manage their players. Each one of them noted that their pasts as professional athletes - with the exception of Xavi Pascual, who never played a sport professionally - helped them find the right balance in the dressing room. 'Pasqui' said that when he was a player her would often imagine what it would be like to be a manager and now that he’s a manager, he imagines what it’s like to be a player. Marc Carmona noted that it’s necessary for the players “to know that I’m close to them, I like to be able to touch my players, physical touch - for me - is important.”

Style of play and the youth academy

The five managers are committed to the idea of bringing players up from the Club’s youth academy. The football team, for example, is reaping the benefits of the work done years ago. Vilanova explained the advantages of having homegrown players in the team: “Our style of play is so different from the rest of the teams that it’s just easier to send out a guy that grew up playing our style football. These players train their whole lives as Barça players, with the Barça system. If they play [for the first team], it’s because we think we can win with them on the pitch.” The manager went on to say that he believes the first team plays like the Club’s youth teams, not the other way around: “When I was in the youth academy my manager was Charly Rexach, and before that it was Quique Costas, and we played in a 4-3-3 formation, the same formation the first team utilises now. When Cruyff arrived the first team adopted our style of play.”

Barça Alusport manager Marc Carmona talked about the importance of reminding his players that they represent more than a Club when they don the Blaugrana strip. The manger talked about the last match of the 2011/12 season, when Barça had the game (and title) won with seconds left to go on the clock away to ElPozo Murcia: “When I told my players that they needed to know how to win . . . it was difficult. The final was decided and there was a real danger of emotions boiling over after such a long season. I saw that we could have made a mistake [in conduct and sportsmanship].” Xavi Pascual added that “the right attitude is not negotiable in all of Barça’s teams. Club members expect their teams to give it their all.”

Gaby Cairo commented that the first team players (in any sport) are role models for the youth players: “They are important role models. Off the court their image is normal, simple, and calm. We’re lucky to have humble players as role models for the youth academy.” 

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