Tito Vilanovas' Barcelona : A Work in Progress

John RayContributor IINovember 13, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Tito Vilanova of Barcelona reacts during the UEFA Champions League group G match between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC at the Camp Nou stadium on October 23, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Tito Vilanova must be thinking that this managerial business is easy. He has a win percentage of 82.4%. is 8pts clear of Real Madrid in the League and is top of his Champions League group. 

However, don't let the great start totally fool you, he still has a lot of work to do to sort out a very unbalanced squad that is leaking goals by the bucket load. 

Barcelona are fixated with playing defensive midfielders at centre back. The club was screaming out for a world class centre back in the summer yet Vilanova instead signs Alex Song.

Song is a defensive midfielder who's weakest aspect of his game is defending. He can play as a centre back but he is a poor centre back at best. He has no pace and his positional play is suspect.

The Arsenal fans were not too sad to see him go. Barcelona did not need Alex Song and it was a baffling signing.  

Mascherano was another baffling signing. Guardiola—although a brilliant manager—made some poor decisions in the transfer market. One of his biggest mistakes was letting Yaya Toure go.

Barcelona had too many midfielders and Guardiola couldn't guarantee him games even though Toure could play in all three central midfield positions as well as been a quality centre back.

Guardiola sold Toure and replaced him with Mascherano—a defensive midfielder.

Why would you sell a world class midfielder because you couldn't guarantee him games and then replace him with another midfielder when a centre back was needed?

Barcelona had Keita and Busquets, both of whom played in Mascherano's position. It made little sense to sign another midfielder. 

Mascherano was then played out of position at centre back just like Yaya had done before him.

Now the same mistake is made by Vilanova with Song.

What is this fixation with playing midfielders as centre backs? 

Soon Barcelona will be playing a midfielder in goal!!!

It's madness.

Barcelona are paying for this transfer policy. There is absolutely no cover for Pique or Puyol besides Marc Bartra and Vilanova  doesn't seem to trust him, preferring instead to play Song or Adriano.

Guardiolas' last season was a disjointed one. He had too many midfielders at the club and was constantly tinkering with the formation to try fit them in.

At times he was playing with five central midfielders on the pitch. The team dropped points as a direct result of this. 

Vilanova now has too many wide men and too many midfielders. Song was a strange signing—especially as Thiago was already there and looking for games. 

In my opinion, Mascherano and Song should be sold as should Sanchez, Affelay and Villa.

Villa is 30 and isn't a first team regular. It looked like he was going to be sold before he broke his leg so Vilanova should cash in on him now.

Sanchez has had plenty of time now and unfortunately he just hasn't settled at the club which is a shame as he is a quality player.

Affelay is obviously not in the managers plans. 

Vilanova could use the funds generated by these sales to buy one or two quality centre backs which would really give the side organisation and balance. 

Puyol is approaching the end of his career and is picking up a lot of injuries and Piques form is unpredictable. They need competition for their places. 

He would also then be able to give Tello, Thiago, Deulofeu and even Dongou more game time.

Tello offers Barcelona something different. He is more direct than the other wingers and will take the goals responsibility off Messi. .

Inter, Chelsea and—most recently—Celtic have all shown that if you crowd the box and let Barcelona have the ball that they will pass themselves to death. Tello wont do that. He will go for goal and his pace terrifies defenders.

Tito Vilanova has had a great start but this team still needs a lot of work—especially at the back—before its the finished article.


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