In a press conference at 7.45 pm this evening Sandro Rosell and Andoni Zubizaretta appeared to confirm today’s bad news about Tito Vilanova. A small tumour was discovered yesterday during a routine check-up and Vilanova will undergo an operation tomorrow to remove it. He is expected to remain in hospital for three or four days and that will be followed by a period of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for six weeks.
In the press conference which was also attended by first team players Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Valdés, Zubizaretta insisted that Vilanova continues to be Barça’s first team coach but for now Vilanova’s assistant Jordi Roura Solá will take over for Saturday’s game at Valladolid where he’ll be assisted by Aurelio Altimira and the rest of Vilanova’s coaching staff. Whether or not Vilanova can be involved with Barça or not during his recovery period will depend on his evolution. A year ago when Vilanova was first diagnosed he was back three weeks after his operation to travel to Madrid for the clásico. However, his return to work was gradual and it is probably best not to speculate too much about these things.
Jordi Roura joined Barça as a fourteen-year-old in 1982 and he progressed to the first team, making his debut in one of Johan Cruyff’s first games as coach in September 1988. Unfortunately his career as a player was seriously affected by a knee injury in the European Supercup second leg at AC Milan in December 1989, meaning he only played a total of ten first team games for the club before being released in 1991. He went on to play for Murcia, Figueres and Sant Andreu but his physical problems meant he was forced to retire in 1994 aged just 26.
As a coach he first assisted Charly Rexach in his time in Japan at Yokohama Flugels and later he was Jordi Vinyal’s assistant at Terrassa before taking over as first team coach at L’Hospitalet in 2007. He was sacked after less than half a season but in 2009 he returned to Barça as part of Pep Guardiola’s team with the job of watching and analysing opponents. Tito Vilanova had no doubt in choosing his life-long friend to be his assistant when he took over from Guardiola at the end of last season. It will be a tough test for Roura, but at least we can be sure that he knows the philosophy and the playing style well. The first test will be at Valladolid on Saturday, though the most important thing now is Tito’s health. Here’s to a speedy recovery.