New Barca coach eyes defensive signings
Barcelona are looking to land two players to strengthen their defence, coach Tito Vilanova said at his official presentation on Friday after he signed a two-year contract to replace Pep Guardiola.
The 42-year-old stepped up to take over from his friend after a trophy-ladened four years as assistant at the Nou Camp, and started laying out some of his plans for the future.
"We want to reinforce the squad at the back. It's a position we have had problems with," a calm and confident Vilanova told a packed news conference.
"At the moment, we are interested in a left back and a centreback. We don't have any plans to bring in any one up front.
"Last year David Villa, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro all suffered injuries but we hope next year they'll be ok. Also we can count on (youth academy players) Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello."
With inspirational captain Carles Puyol nearing the end of his playing career and Eric Abidal recovering from a liver transplant, Barca's defence was always going to be the starting point when it came to strengthening their squad.
Vilanova has a tough act to follow after Barca won 14 trophies under Guardiola, but he batted aside questions over the pressure he would be under next season to match their previous success.
"They don't worry me, the comparisons with Guardiola. I have come here to do my work," Vilanova said.
"Pep and I were very close. Pep was the communicator of the message, but he shared the decision-making with me 50-50 and sought my opinion. Most of the time we were in complete agreement.
"I am not going to try and change things just to differentiate myself. That doesn't make any sense."
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell said the board had been fully behind sports director Andoni Zubizarreta's proposal that Vilanova take the reins.
"He represents the type of football we want and he is imbued with the values he learned in La Masia (Barca's renowned youth academy," Rosell said of the former youth-team player.
"He has been a Barca supporter all his life."
Vilanova, in his first appearance in front of the media, refused to get drawn into any early talk about their great rivals Real Madrid, who wrested the league title off them for the first time in four years last month.
Real coach Jose Mourinho infamously poked Vilanova in the eye during a melee on the touchline at the end of the Spanish Super Cup last season.
Asked how he was going to handle these high-tension situations he simply replied. "I am very calm. I don't get nervous."
Vilanova needed surgery on a tumour in his saliva glands during last season, and said the experience had left him with a different perspective on life.
"I had an important operation a few months ago," he said. "I spoke with the medics and my family about the job, but they all said I was perfectly okay and there was no problem.
"Having overcome this operation it gives me a different view on life. Perhaps, after what has happened, training Barca will be like kids play."