Instead, FC Barcelona wasted no time in naming Pep Guardiola's best friend and second in command Tito Vilanova as the anointed one, the one best to secure the project, the one best to continue onward, the one least likely to annoy the staff and the players.
I know that's something that the very insular FC Barcelona faithful like and require, maintaining their philosophy and keeping faith with the values that the club and Guardiola maintained, and certainly most pundits did a direct about face when they heard that Tito Vilanova would be continuing the project forward, but I'm not one of them. It is not easy to continue on the same when a charismatic leader steps down and his second-in-command trudges forward.
The players are happy, they have a personal relationship with Vilanova that will change and grow somewhat, but they expect the ship to continue on the same course. Young players like Cuenca, Tello and the like will see the escalator to the first team continue onward from Barcelona B; a new manager might have brought in outside reinforcements to ensure his ascendancy instead, but sometimes it is best to move on. Then again, the second in command is always better liked and respected than the man-in-charge. It´s part of the job description. That familiarity and congeniality is quite often a hindrance though when tough decisions have to be made. Barça are an experienced team sure, and they practically lead themselves with the field leadership they have, but Vilanova will have to impose himself on the squad and that may not be easy.
I'm not saying it would have been better to look outside the family and bring in an outside influence, someone who has no Barcelona connection, but it might have been a more sound decision to give the reigns to another one of Cruyff's proteges: someone like Frank de Boer, who was tutored in the system, but has managed elsewhere, and can bring in a different perspective. Then again, this is Cruyff, and he has a famously contentious relationship with Sandro Rosell, so that would never have happened either. Vilanova may be the best possible option either way.
More power to them. They must know something we all don´t know. Much like when Guardiola himself was hired, many were shocked that a club like Barcelona had taken a chance on an inexperienced manager, Tito Vilanova will come with many questions. He´ll some sort of honeymoon period, just from the association he has with Pep and the assumption that he had a huge hand in winning all those titles in four years, but when the going gets difficult, as it obviously will considering José Mourinho´s Real Madrid will see the opening to completely shatter the Barcelona hegemony, will Tito Vilanova have the strength of character and the ability to motivate the greatest club-team ever assembled to continue onward in their rapacious need for trophies.
I don´t know. No one does. Not even FC Barcelona.