Tito Vilanova Now Faces His First True Test as Barcelona's Manager

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Tito Vilanova of Barcelona FC looks on during the Copa del Rey Quarter Final match between Barcelona FC and Malaga CF at Camp Nou on January 16, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

This week is one that Barcelona will want to forget. The club got its first reality check of the season, and it was very difficult to take. But the coming weeks will define not only the season, but Tito Vilanova.

First, Barcelona succumbed to a draw at home against a weak Malaga side in Copa del Rey action. With Malaga scoring two goals at the Camp Nou, Barcelona’s chances of advancing look very difficult.

If the draw was not bad enough news, goalkeeper Victor Valdes announced that he would not be renewing his contract with the Catalan outfit (via Goal).

This clearly will affect those in the locker room as every member of the club is aware of the situation. With Valdes leaving the club soon, much attention will be given to finding his replacement while his current play on the pitch will be analyzed.

Then came the worst moment of the week.

After remaining undefeated through the first half of games in La Liga, Barcelona allowed Real Sociedad to score a game-winning goal in stoppage time to end the streak.

Not only was Barcelona beaten, but the loss was embarrassing. The Catalans looked a shell of their former selves and there are no reasons as to why.

This is the moment that the great Barcelona player and coach Johan Cruyff spoke of. In an interview brought to us by Goal, Cruyff said these words.

“Now is not the time to judge him [Tito Vilanova] as a coach. The time to judge him is when something goes wrong; when things don’t work out, when there is a crisis. That’s when you know if the coach is capable."

The time has now come for all eyes to be on Vilanova. He now faces his toughest test as the Barcelona manager. And with his recent relapse in his battle with cancer, things appear to be even more difficult (via Dailymail).

It is now up to the Catalan boss to show what he and his team are made of. Things can continue to get worse for Barcelona, or they can fix all of the issues now.

The coming weeks will define the season for Barcelona, and more importantly, Tito Vilanova.

If Barcelona does manage to advance in the Copa del Rey, a tie against Real Madrid will ensue. However just as the Clasico will be taking place, the Champions League will soon be resuming.

La Blaugrana faces the road ahead knowing that things will only become more difficult. It is times like these that show the true capability of a team and their manager.

Tito Vilanova is in control of this team and the coming results will be completely on his shoulders. His future, and Barcelona’s success this season, rides on what happens next.

There are only two outcomes. Either Barcelona continues to falter in the face of trying times, or this week spurs La Blaugrana to finish the season strong.

Cules everywhere will be hoping that the loss against Real Sociedad will put a fire under Barcelona that will result in a big win against Malaga. These are great and likely hopes from the fans, but we must wait to see what actually happens.

Will Tito Vilanova cement his status as a successful manager of Barcelona, or will we find that he does not have what it takes to lead a team in the face of trouble?


How will Barcelona respond? Will Tito Vilanova show he is capable or not? Don't forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.


Tre' Atkinson, The Catalan Blood of Bleacher Report. 

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