Anims, Tito

Posted by Graham Hunter

The phrase which will echo around the world courtesy of social media is #AnimsTito.

It has a width of meaning and a depth of sentiment. "Get Well Soon, Tito," "We Support You, Tito," "Good Luck, Tito" -- all these messages are contained within the one -- #AnimsTito.

And while it's natural that a shock like this unites people, makes them recognise their own, our own, fragility, it's true that Tito Vilanova happens to be one of the good guys.

Not because of the Blaugrana sentiment he holds, not because he won the title for Barcelona last season, but because of what type of man he is.

- Barcelona confirm Vilanova exit

He is not a saint, nor a paragon of virtue -- simply a clear-thinking, articulate, intelligent, fair, decent fella who doesn't deserve this.

Of course it's only the naive who think that a cancer battle -- which took this Catalan football man all the way from Barcelona to New York to seek specialised, definitive treatment -- is immediately over once he's given the all-clear to resume work.

But two things add significantly to the horrible, sinking feeling in one's stomach as this news breaks.

Firstly, and I hope this doesn't sound too facile, Vilanova was the picture of health this week. Just a pound or two fuller of frame (lean though he is, naturally), tanned, smiling and with some of the pain of his New York treatment no longer etched in lines around his eyes and mouth. He looked ready to get stuck into what he loves doing.

Secondly, it's just sad and a little grubby that the last week of his work as Barca coach will be scarred by the fallout of Pep Guardiola's angry rant toward Barca President Sandro Rosell a few days ago.

Guardiola, speaking legitimately enough about a subject about which he's clearly passionate, alleged that Rosell had used Tito's illness in order to damage Guardiola in the media. Guardiola then went on to make a series of condemnatory allegations.

But what it led to was Vilanova, in what was his first news conference of the preseason and will now be his last as Barca boss, pointing out, in public, that while he still considered Guardiola a friend, that friend hadn't been there for him during the two months in New York when he was most needed.

Irrespective of who did what, neither man will be happy now that this is how what was a wonderfully constructed and immensely successful reign they began together in 2007 has concluded on this sour note, given that Vilanova, since he spoke, has been invalided out.

So, #AnimsTito. There will be many hundreds of thousands of users of this site who have either fought cancer or supported someone who has. Respect and "anims" to them. Vilanova is not an extra-special person because he could play football and could coach a winning football team; he is just a good family man unfairly hit by a callous and, we all hope, ultimately beatable, illness.

As for Barcelona, it feels uncomfortable to turn immediately to their future, but President Rosell did so on Friday night as he announced that Vilanova needs to leave his job because it is incompatible with the intensity and immediacy of his further treatment.

Rosell says they will have a new coach in place next week.

Life goes on, was the expression used. I fervently hope that remains the case for Tito Vilanova.

Who that coach will be, I don't know. And, for today at least, I don't care.

Tomorrow is another day; tomorrow may be a "news" day. And tomorrow the journalistic hunt for who the next manager is going to be will have full focus.

Tonight, it's enough for all of us to say #AnimsTito and, once again, embrace the concept of "Carpe Diem."

Treat every minute as precious.


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