Sandro Rosell interview

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Post by The Franchise Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:00 am

Club president Sandro Rosell sat down with Sport on the eve of departing with FC Barcelona for the Peace Tour. Below is a totaBarça translation of the interview which discussed in length the situation with Tito, hiring Tata, and relations with Pep Guardiola.

It’s been 20 days since the announcement that Tito could not continue. How has it been?

That was the worst news I’ve received as president. Firstly because of the human element, it’s something you don’t wish even on your worst enemy, and then in terms of the club and sporting elements because it put to us [the board] the task of finding a replacement. It was a complicated and arduous task because Tito [Vilanova] was the best manager for Barça at the time.

And Tito told you personally?

We met at the Camp Nou at midnight on Tuesday. When he called at that hour, I went thinking the worse. Imagine the surprise of security when they first saw me arrive and after Tito in his car with the doctor. “What’s happening here?” they must have wondered. We met in the room next to the manager’s office, in the staff meeting room.


Tito and the doctor explained the situation to me, why they went forward with tests that were not originally planned. The results of the tests warned that the illness was not as previously thought, that it had returned and now Tito has to dedicate all his time to healing himself, that this fight has to be his job. We spoke for about an hour. It was the worst moment ever as president.

Were you expecting something like that?

When he called me I thought to myself, “Hmm…this smells bad”. The day before I did an interview and said Tito was in perfect health…at that time it’s what I believed. And the next day the opposite was shown in the tests. Everything changed in a matter of hours.

And what happened when you left Tito [after the meeting]?

When I got to the parking lot, I sat in my car, behind the wheel, and I said, “Ufff! What a blow for us to find a new manager!”. It’s the sort of moment you don’t feel like doing anything but we are obligated by our responsibility. From that moment on we began thinking about replacements. I don’t want to be cast as the victim here because it’s Tito who is suffering and him that is struggling through this with his family. As president and the man responsible for the club you think: “How helpless I feel now as president of Barcelona!”. They say this position [president] has so much power, I still don’t know where it is though, but in this case it was even less so. If I had the power, this would not have happened.

And how do you think Tito was?

Bad. I’m sure. There is something that I don’t know if I can quite explain but I’ll try. Tito told me that Tuesday night: “It’s not because of the sickness, the relapse, what’s going to happen to me, but the anger I feel having to quit being manager of FC Barcelona”.

Is that the same as saying “the best year of my life is turning into the worst”?

I haven’t heard that but it’s similar. The anger of leaving the job as manager of Barça, the highest aspiration of any coach, that he can no longer enjoy it, no longer achieve the goals he wanted. It was all very hard and even harder for a culé like Tito. And this after a great year, with the best league performance in the club’s history, 100 points, with the biggest gap to second place, with a record amount of goals…He should have been celebrating but the media created a story line that mitigated the value of the league. That creates contrasting sentiments.

How did you perceive Tito to be?

He showed his anger and I felt helpless.

And then it was time to dust off plan B?

It existed, we had spoken with Zubi about it after the first relapse. Then we put all our cards of the table, we spoke to all the doctors to understand what was going to happen in New York. We decided that Jordi Roura would continue being his immediate substitute, to whom I would like to say the club will never be grateful enough. He’s [Roura] like I said at the time, a hero. With Zubi we always thought about a plan B but this time we had to use it, however the truth is the names [for a replacement] changed seeing as the preseason had started and there were many coaches already taken [by jobs at other clubs].

Was Luis Enrique the first choice?


And only you knew Tata Martino?

It wasn’t like that. There are many people who know football, who follow the leagues worldwide and they had a great opinion of him [Martino]. Those that know, that don’t listen to just the media or politics of a story, those people know him and never made one bad comment about him. I, because of life’s circumstances, have known him for about 12 or 13 years.

What did your father say when you told him that Tata was chosen? Did he think his son went mad?

[Laughing] I never told him [my father]…that’s Zubi’s thing. He [Zubizarreta] analyzed all the options, including some not included on the initial shortlist because times were different, and he chose Tata Martino.

Did you phone him [Martino]?

Yes because we wanted to speak to him without going through agents and intermediaries.

Not because of Messi’s father?

Not him either, he knew nothing of our intentions. I contacted Tata thanks to the president of Paraguay because years ago he was the vice-presidnet of sport at Libertad and with the Paraguayan football federation and he was always close to Tata. I told him: “President, I would like to speak to Tata. Please give me his phone number”. I phoned him [Tata] and advised him that Zubi would be getting in touch. Andoni [Zubizarreta] spoke with all his global contacts and was told that this man [Tata] had more Barça DNA than many people at Barça.

Is the decision something that scares you?

Not at all. Zero. Let me make a comparison.

Please do…

It’s not necessarily the person at the Vatican that is the most Catholic out there. There are many people who are very religious that never went to the Vatican, and also, many people who have been to the Vatican who are not religious at all. That’s comparable to La Masia. It’s not necessary that you ate and grew up in La Masia to have Barça DNA. You may never have been there and have that DNA. That’s what happened with Tata Martino. He has a highly developed Barça system, more than most that passed through La Masia just like there is a Muslim that has never been to Mecca or a Catholic that has never visited the Vatican.

It’s an important decision. Is a president convinced with this kind of decision even if the easy thing to have done was rely on someone better known?

I was absolutely convinced.

Then in the middle of all this Guardiola made his comments. How did that feel?

That was a surprise. Everything he said is not true, said without explanation, without proof. I attribute it to a person with an interest to poison Pep’s mind and he let himself be poisoned. Having said that, it’s a drop in the ocean, such a small stain is not worth remembering in comparison to his amazing history at Barcelona. Time to turn the page and forget about it. If he could, he [Guardiola] would also take it back.

Do you think he’s sorry?

If he could, he would take it back.

In Munich, his relationship with the players and other staff members seemed cold. Did that surprise you?

Yes. It makes one think. Maybe it was just the moment. In a year from now the relationships between Pep and former players and staff will be different. It will be water under the bridge.

Are you uncomfortable with the meetings between Guardiola and [Johan] Cruyff?

No. They meet regularly. Thy play golf, have lunch and I suppose talk about football. Cruyff probably talks about Ajax, Chivas or Barça and Pep about Bayern.

Shouldn’t the president of Barça interact with Guardiola and Cruyff, two of most legendary figures of the club?

With Cruyff I’ve tried but he wasn’t interested. With Pep I tried to contact him, we talked and I hope in time we will sit down over a meal to explain to each other what happened because neither Tito nor the staff or players understand anything.

What are your feelings towards Guardiola now?

For many years I was the boss of his brother at Nike and I hold his father in high esteem. I’ve known him for 20 years, respect him and admire him as both a player and manager.

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Post by messixaviesta Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:15 pm

Thanks for posting this dani. A really interesting read.

Your worst enemy, the person who poisoned Pep's mind - this can only be one of two individuals, Laporta and Cruyff

They really should have also asked him questions about Thiago, Abidal and the need to sign a center back.

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Post by CBarca Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:24 am

Thanks for posting Dani.

I agree with JD, I like the questions but I wish they could have dug deeper into some of the recent awful decisions he and the board has made recently.

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