“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.”
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.
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.”
Here are the comments made by Vilanova on the first-team players:
Alexis Sánchez:“He’s doing great, he’s one of the players that takes physical conditioning very seriously, and now is the time to get in shape. He’s aware of the importance of the preseason.”
“Each day he’s a more complete player, he helps the team on defence, he’s the first to start pressuring up high, and he can still improve.”
Jordi Alba:“Alexis is a very important player for us, the Club really pushed hard for him a year ago. He had a series of injuries that stopped him from having continuity but I’m convinced that his performance this year, even though last year’s was very good, will be even better.”
“Alexis is young, with room to grow, and his injuries stopped him last year, this year will be better.”
Cesc Fŕbregas:“We are very pleased with Jodi Alba’s signing, it was a priority. The fact that he had a brilliant Euro campaign makes us think that we didn’t make a mistake [in signing him].”
“The fact that Jordi Alba is going to the Olympics doesn’t disrupt our plans. He’s young, and he was very excited to go to the Games, chances are he won’t have another opportunity like this. The only thing I’m concerned about is that he might not get enough time to rest.”
“Time will tell if he had enough time to rest, but I completely understand the national team manager wants to take the best possible team to the Games.”
David Villa:“Winning always lifts morale. His second year will be even better than his first. We saw that he’s more comfortable playing in a 3-4-3 system, he can also play as a false 9. I’ve known him since he was a child and I know that he’s very self-demanding, when he played in the 9 position (center forward) he had the feeling that he was playing in the traditional 6 position (creative midfielder - like Xavi, for example).”
Ibrahim Afellay:“It has been a pleasant surprise. I saw him train before his holiday and it’s obvious that he’s worked and improved a lot. We all hope that he can recover as soon as possible, but we can’t rush his recovery, because the most important thing is his ability to play once he fully recovers.”
Gerard Deulofeu:“Afellay is a great player with a lot of quality, but he sustained a serious injury. We need to see how he feeling during the preseason.”
Bojan Krkic:“We’ve known him for years. He has a lot of potential and his style of play makes it very obvious. But we can’t rush the issue of his promotion [to the first team], his place is in Barça B and he needs to improve aspects of his play - it’s a question that only he can work on, it’s about his performances.”
(fcbarcelona.com)“He’s a fantastic player, he was promoted when he was young. Whenever he’s been given the chance to play, he’s put the ball in the back of the net.”