FC Barcelona: 4 Possible Replacements for Tito Vilanova Amid Illness
It's the type of news no one wants to hear.
Barcelona were rocked today by the breaking story of manager Tito Vilanova's illness after an apparent relapse of a salivary gland ailment that forced him to have a tumor removed last year.
While all good thoughts and well wishes should be with the coach after his sickness, one cannot help but wonder what the future holds for Barcelona.
If true, this would be quite a shame, as Tito has led Barca to such an incredible start to the season in just his first few months in charge.
With the club planning a press conference later today, all signs point to this unfortunate outcome.
So the question is clear: Who will be the next manager of FC Barcelona?
Here are the four most likely candidates for the job.
Pep Guardiola is the obvious name that will be at the fore of the conversation.
Pep led Barca through one of the most successful periods in football history before going on sabbatical in April.
While speculation has had Guardiola going for a new challenge, the fact that he is a Barcelona legend and a close friend of Vilanova's could lure him back to the Camp Nou in this troubling time.
I'm betting Barca players and supporters would be pretty happy to see him.
Eusebio Sacristan is another good option for Barca.
Sacristan is a former Barca star who played seven years for the club and played in the "Dream Team" under Johan Cruyff.
As the current manager of Barca B, the reserve side of the club, Eusebio is obviously familiar with many of the Barca players who came up through the side.
This could be a good choice for Barcelona on such short notice.
Luis Enrique is another familiar choice for Barcelona.
The former Blaugrana player is beloved at the Camp Nou, if for nothing else, because he moved from fierce rivals Real Madrid and became the Barca captain in his eight-year run in Catalonia.
After retiring, Enrique became the Barca B manager after Pep Guardiola moved to the first team and succeeded for three years.
In 2011, in search of top competition, he moved to AS Roma. After a year there, though, he quit the club when he failed to lead them to European competition.
With his time managing Barca's reserves and getting to know the players who are now featured at Barcelona, Luis is an obvious candidate for the job.
On the other hand, the fact that his only top-flight managing experience lasted just a year is a bit off-putting.
Expect Jordi Roura to take the reins at Barcelona, if only for a match.
Roura is the current assistant manager to Tito Vilanova and, should Vilanova step down, he will take over before Barca get a new manager.
Jordi doesn't have the most stellar record, playing just ten matches at Barcelona and managing Hospitalet to relegation.
However, he was on a team of observers for Guardiola and got some good experience as assistant manager.
Perhaps he wouldn't have been at the top of the list, but Roura could get a chance to prove himself worthy over the next few weeks.
There are four of the top candidates for the job should Vilanova step down.
With Barca's recent history of keeping the job in-house combined with the fact that this decision would be made in the middle of a season, I made my choices from those who have connections with the club.
Any of the four have a decent shot at the position, though Guardiola would probably have it if he wanted it.
In the midst of such a sad moment for the club, this is an intriguing sub-plot.
What do you think? Did I miss anyone? Do you have any thoughts you'd like to add?
Let me know in the comments section below.
For the latest news in the world of football, follow me on Twitter.