Jordi Roura is proof that not anyone can coach Barcelona. Actually he gives an impression that most fans, apart from supporting, know very little or nothing at all about football coaching.
In his first year as Barca head coach Tito Vilanova is not having the best of times health-wise; in-fact, he is currently in the US receiving treatment for cancer, while his second-in-command, Roura takes care of the team.
However, in Vilanova’s absence, since the first week of December, Barcelona have put in some underwhelming performances, including probably their worst against AC Milan and Real Madrid in the last two weeks.
It’s very difficult to be on top all the time or even play fantastic football in every game, but for Barca, it has become even more complicated to produce their best form when their coach, a man most of the players have known for all their life, is fighting for his life.
It’s strange to even think about how it could be affecting the players, and I don’t want to think that the players should be using it as an excuse for the performances in the last couple of games; unfortunately, I believe Barca fans have been confronted with just those thoughts recently.
Under Pep Guardiola last season, the fans probably wondered whether their team would have won the Champions League with Frenchman Eric Abidal in the team, and not fighting a liver tumor.
And now, they wonder if the dismal performances and unconvincing results of the last few weeks are partly due to the absence of head coach Vilanova, and his assistant doesn’t offer any hope as he looks out of depth.
In-fact, I wonder whether his results in the interim capacity have not jeopardised his chances, however minimal, of taking over as permanent coach in case Vilanova leaves now or in the future.
Reports in the Spanish media say Vilanova is in constant communication with all of the staff, but it’s Roura in charge of the day-to-day running of the team.
Roura, in his first year as Barca assistant manager, was a scout under Guardiola and does not have much an impressive CV as manager—I think there results is proof of that (and it’s affecting the team), that you can’t he will win anything this season.
You could say the Spanish league, but with Atletico Madrid 12 points behind and Real Madrid firing on all cylinders despite standing 16 points adrift, it’s not over yet and Barca know that more than anyone else.
It’s been reported that Vilanova watches the games on the internet and sends his recommendations via mobile phone. From that, you can argue that he probably has a say in team selection and strategy.
Nonetheless, with such a situation, fans could be wondering, would Vilanova have made more substitutions against Real Madrid or rotated the squad more against Valencia?
What strategy is Roura planning to employ to stop another defeat against Real when they meet for the fourth time this season on Saturday in a Spanish league encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu?
Picking line-ups and making subs is but a small part of the puzzle that entails being a manager. It’s probably the easiest part, but it’s what happens behind-the-scenes that really make a manager.
The small adjustments, the observations in training, and even the halftime speeches, go along way to make or break any coach, something that Barcelona players seem to be missing in the absence of Vilanova, and Roura can’t deliver perfectly.