Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova yesterday claimed former colleague Pep Guardiola “wasn’t there for me” during his rehabilitation from cancer.
In the latest chapter of what has turned into an unseemly row between Guardiola and the club he served with such distinction as coach and player, Vilanova admitted he had been disappointed by the new Bayern coach’s conduct.
Vilanova underwent treatment for salivary gland cancer earlier this year in New York, where Guardiola was taking a year-long sabbatical after leaving the Nou Camp hot-seat at the end of the 2011/12 season.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell had previously suggested Guardiola had made little attempt to visit Vilanova in the US, claims furiously contested by Guardiola, who then claimed the club were using the issue to “cause him damage”.
Rosell last night attempted to diffuse the row by calling Guardiola “the best manager in the history of the club” but Vilanova himself re-opened it.
He said at a press conference: “People aren’t interested in personal matters, but Pep got it wrong and I’m surprised by his comments. No-one on the board used my illness to attack him. The club tried to help me as much as possible.
“He visited me once in New York when I’d just arrived, but during my recovery from the operation... I was there for two months and I didn’t see him.
“He’s my friend and I needed him, but he wasn’t there for me. I would have done things differently.” Vilanova disputed the suggestion the pair had fallen out after he succeeded him as Barca boss.
“I talked to him and told him what I intended to do. It was him who encouraged me to become Barca coach,” he said. “I’ve known him for 28 years. He’s my friend. I’ve won titles with him and we had amazing times together.”