Barç wars: A private affair goes public for Tito and Pep

Former friends at each other's throats

It's common - in both popular meanings of the word - for football to air its dirty laundry in public. And let'™s face it, everyone loves it. Our favourite sport has always been part ball-kicking about and part Latin American soap opera.

Barcelona, though, frequently seem to go a little bit too far in their spats, not so much airing dirty laundry as merrily wafting their bare bums in the air and doing their ablutions in the street for all to see.

Pep Guardiola'™s outburst last week - about how he felt his former club were besmirching his reputation by questioning his relationship with Tito Vilanova - was diverting, but always threatened to turn really nasty. That is exactly what has happened. And then some.

What should be private matter between two close friends (or perhaps now ex-friends) has become a public slanging match and is incredibly sad to see. The topic concerns how often Guardiola visited Vilanova when the Barcelona boss was undergoing cancer treatment in New York, where Pep happened to be living at the time.

All this shouldn'™t be anyone's business but the pair involved. However, Guardiola become irate at stories which he felt came from his former employers - and possibly Vilanova himself - that he had blanked his friend. In a Monday evening interview with television station 8TV, Sandro Rosell denied Guardiola'™s inferences but realised that it was all bad for business at a club with a reputation for in-fighting: 'œI ask all Barcelona fans to learn from the past and the era of Johan, which was divided into pro- and anti-Cruyff.'

But the following day, Vilanova was considerably more forceful during a press conference with a very public accusation against Guardiola on a very private affair: 'œI saw Pep for one day, but it was when I was in treatment, when they operated on me. We didn'™t see each other and it wasn't my fault. He was my friend and when I needed him he didn'™t come to see me' - a different version of events to that told by Guardiola.

Such a personal matter being discussed in public between a pair who were once so close is fairly distressing to see and it is hard to imagine how it can be cooled. Unsurprisingly, the Catalan papers are very worried indeed about the unfortunate affair.

'œThe Barça boss showed up and didn't hold back like Rosell,' said Sport's Josep Maria Casanovas, who is hoping for an embrace between the two managers before next Wednesday's Bayern-Barça friendly. 'œAll this has been disagreeable, but but let'™s not forget a friendship of 28 years.' 'œBarcelona cannot turn into Sálvame," writes Joan Vehils, namechecking a Spanish TV gossip show. 

The feuding hasn't gone unnoticed in Madrid: AS editor Alfredo Relaño opines that Vilanova probably shouldn'™t have stirred things up so much and that Barcelona doesn't seem a chirpy place these days. 'œIt'™s been an unhappy summer for Barça, and this is strange because normally summers are happy times for clubs.'

The culés' best hope is that the friendly can help cool tempers down a bit, but there is the feeling that another affair will arise to take its place. At the moment, FC Barcelona doesn'™t seem comfortable in its own skin. Maybe the only way of changing the current bad vibes will be the return to the relative mundanity of football.It's common – in both popular meanings of the word – for football to air its dirty laundry in public. And let’s face it, everyone loves it. Our favourite sport has always been part ball-kicking about and part Latin American soap opera.

Barcelona, though, frequently seem to go a little bit too far in their spats, not so much airing dirty laundry as merrily wafting their bare bums in the air and doing their ablutions in the street for all to see.

Pep Guardiola’s outburst last week – about how he felt his former club were besmirching his reputation by questioning his relationship with Tito Vilanova – was diverting, but always threatened to turn really nasty. That is exactly what has happened. And then some.

What should be private matter between two close friends (or perhaps now ex-friends) has become a public slanging match and is incredibly sad to see. The topic concerns how often Guardiola visited Vilanova when the Barcelona boss was undergoing cancer treatment in New York, where Pep happened to be living at the time.

All this shouldn’t be anyone's business but the pair involved. However, Guardiola become irate at stories which he felt came from his former employers – and possibly Vilanova himself – that he had blanked his friend. In a Monday evening interview with television station 8TV, Sandro Rosell denied Guardiola’s inferences but realised that it was all bad for business at a club with a reputation for in-fighting: “I ask all Barcelona fans to learn from the past and the era of Johan, which was divided into pro- and anti-Cruyff.”

But the following day, Vilanova was considerably more forceful during a press conference with a very public accusation against Guardiola on a very private affair: “I saw Pep for one day, but it was when I was in treatment, when they operated on me. We didn’t see each other and it wasn't my fault. He was my friend and when I needed him he didn’t come to see me” – a different version of events to that told by Guardiola.

Such a personal matter being discussed in public between a pair who were once so close is fairly distressing to see and it is hard to imagine how it can be cooled. Unsurprisingly, the Catalan papers are very worried indeed about the unfortunate affair.

“The Barça boss showed up and didn't hold back like Rosell,” said Sport's Josep Maria Casanovas, who is hoping for an embrace between the two managers before next Wednesday's Bayern-Barça friendly. “All this has been disagreeable, but but let’s not forget a friendship of 28 years.” “Barcelona cannot turn into Sálvame," writes Joan Vehils, namechecking a Spanish TV gossip show. 

The feuding hasn't gone unnoticed in Madrid: AS editor Alfredo Relaño opines that Vilanova probably shouldn’t have stirred things up so much and that Barcelona doesn't seem a chirpy place these days. “It’s been an unhappy summer for Barça, and this is strange because normally summers are happy times for clubs.”

The culés' best hope is that the friendly can help cool tempers down a bit, but there is the feeling that another affair will arise to take its place. At the moment, FC Barcelona doesn’t seem comfortable in its own skin. Maybe the only way of changing the current bad vibes will be the return to the relative mundanity of football.


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