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Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Tito Vilanova knows the magnitude of the challenge before him. The assistant manager during the best era in the history of the Club is embarking on a monumental challenge: maintaining the steady flow of titles now that he’s the head manager of the team. “Improving upon what we’ve done in the past is very difficult. I’m aware of how hard that is, but I’m also aware that people want us to keep on winning. We’re here to try and do it, we want the people to be happy with our work,” said Vilanova in his second press conference as FC Barcelona’s manager, the first since he was presented by the Board of Directors.

He wants a smaller team

Like Josep Guardiola, Vilanova prefers to have a shorter roster for the upcoming season. “This forces everyone to be on form and feel important.” With that said, he reminded the press room that “until the 31st of August there is time to bring in more players and let players go” and that at this point in the preseason that he’s “counting on all of his players.” The manager pointed out that “the preseason matches and the players' performances” will serve to make final decisions about the 2012/13 squad.

Center defender, a priority

The FC Barcelona manager talked about the possibility of bringing in a new defender: “it would be great to have a defender that can also play in the pivot role, but if we can’t find anyone we’ll go with a player from the reserve side, that has always worked out well for us.” The manager also noted that Abidal’s illness means that the team have lost a player that played in two positions - left back and center defender - and that the issue would be fixed with the addition of a new player that’s capable of playing both in the center of the defence and in the pivot position.

Javi Martínez, for example? “It’s not time to talk about specific players. Javi Martínez can play in both of those positions, but it all depends on the Club’s capabilities. In Europe there are 50 or 60 players that can play in both these positions, and if we can’t find one, we’ll go with a reserve-side player,” said Vilanova.

Furthermore, Vilanova rubbished the possibility of signing a new forward: “we are not looking for forwards. We don’t need one.” Vilanova highlighted the fact that Villa is close to being back to full form after he broke his leg in January.

Positive preseason

The manager also said that he’s pleased with the team’s atypical preseason this summer: “working in Barcelona we know what the climate will be like and what installations we’ll use for training. We also save ourselves a few trips, even though we will travel this preseason. The Club believes that this is the most convenient option.”

Lastly, Vilanova admitted that he’s “had conversations with some of the players this summer,”  especially players that are coming off of serious injuries, but the manager said that he prefers to wait until all of his players are back from holiday before he addresses the team.

In terms of titles, Vilanova didn’t place priority on a specific tournament, but he did recognise that the Liga rewards “consistency” and the Champions League “is the title that every European team wants to win.”

The run-in with Mourinho

The first and one of the most repeated questions throughout the press conference had to do with the incident with José Mourinho during the return leg of last year's Spanish Super Cup. “It’s tiring that we still are talking about what happened with Mourinho after a year. The judge imposed a ban and the president of the Spanish Federation lifted the ban. I accept the decision like an athlete,” said Vilanova.

The manager believes that ban quantified by a number of games isn’t a real punishment: “the punishment isn’t about getting a one, two or a five-match ban. The biggest punishment are the images that show what happened, those won’t be forgotten anytime soon. This is our punishment.”

The manager also said that Mourinho greeted him after the match at the Santiago Bernabéu and that he doesn’t believe that he has “a bad relationship” with the Real Madrid manager.

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