Francesc 'Tito' Vilanova (2012-2013)

FC Barcelona had a record season in La Liga with Tito on the bench. Under his guidance, the team established a new goalscoring record and broke the record for the most points won in the first half of the season in the history of Spanish football

Born in Bellcaire d’Empordà, Girona, on September 17th 1969, Vilanova joined Barça’s youth system in 1984 - interestingly enough, this was the same year that Guardiola joined the team. Vilanova was part of one of La Masía’s most successful youth teams. The first-team manager applied his skills in the midfield, and was later promoted to Barça B and played three friendlies with the first team in the 1988/89 season.

He played professional football for Figueres, Celta (First Division), Badajoz, Mallorca, Lleida, Elche and Gramenet.

After hanging up his boots, Vilanova started his managerial career with FC Barcelona in 2001/02 when he took charge of the team’s U16 B squad. The team featured Gerard Piqué, Cesc Fàbregas and Leo Messi. He then managed Palafrugell, Figueres and Terrassa before reuniting with Josep Guardiola in 2007. Guardiola and Tito Vilanova, Pep’s assistant manager, guided Barça Athletic from Third Division to Second Division B. The following year the Guardiola-Vilanova duo took charge of Barça’s senior side, and led the team to 14 titles in 4 year. On April 27, 2012, Vilanova was named head coach of FC Barcelona for the 2012/13 season after Guardiola announced his decision leave the Club.

Known for his strong personality and winning character, Vilanova is a student of football strategy and a clear supporter of controlling possession, combination play and fast-paced attacking football.

The results he secured confirmed his commitment to footballing excellence. In Barça’s La Liga campaign, his men won 100 points in their successful bid to win the title, they took control of the top of the table from the first week of the competition to the last; Barça’s domination was simply unquestionable. The stats speak for themselves, Barça equalled the record set by Real Madrid for the amount of points won in a single season, 100 out of 114 possible points. In addition, his men set a new goalscoring record: 115 goals scored from 38 consecutive matches. Vilanova’s record in La Liga stands at 32 victories, 4 draws and only 2 defeats, and he won the title with an advantage of 15 points of the second-placed team, Real Madrid. These stats are sufficiently demonstrative of Tito Vilanova’s tenure as FC Barcelona’s head manager. The 22nd league title in Barça history, which will always be known as Tito and Éric Abidal’s title, will never be forgotten.

Vilanova also led his team to the semi-finals of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, but Barça didn’t reach the final of either competition.

Unfortunately, a serious illness – on the 22 November 2011 the Club announced that the manager had a tumour on his parotid gland – did not allow Vilanova to fully focus on his team in the 2012/13 season and at the start of the following season he had to step down from his managerial duties. President Rosell announced the news on July 19, 2013.

On April 25 2014, at the age of 45, Tito passed away after a long struggle against the illness which was first diagnosed two and a half years earlier.

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