Vilanova settling in to new role

  • Last Updated: July 18 2012, 11:00 BST

New Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova is still coming to terms with life without Pep Guardiola but is warming to the reality of leading the Catalans this season.

Vilanova: Preparing for first season in charge

Vilanova was Guardiola's assistant throughout a trophy-laden four-year period in charge and, after reuniting with his players who were not on international duty this summer, he is looking forward to incorporating those involved in the European Championships in the coming weeks.

He told AS: "Guardiola and I spent five years together and the first day seems strange, but we have to get used to it because this is what we will encounter all season.

"In these days I have tried to rest a lot. I have had conversations with some players during this time because I am interested in their development and yesterday was when we spoke clearly. However, the more extensive talk will happen when everyone returns."

The 42-year-old's first major challenge will be to overcome Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup next month.

Vilanova will be able to watch both matches from the touchline after his one-game ban and Jose Mourinho's two-match suspension from last year's preliminary to the season were overturned.

The Barca boss, however, still feels television evidence showing Mourinho poking him in the eye will have a lasting effect on the football-supporting public.

"After a year we are still speaking about the Super Cup with Mourinho and I am tired of it," he said.

"The only judge fixed a sanction and then relieved it as a measure of grace, which I accepted. The punishment they give us is not one game or two, the biggest punishment are the images that will be seen for many years to come."

The former Mallorca player also stressed the importance of maintaining a harmonious squad despite the loss of key players like Seydou Keita, who joined Chinese club Dalian Aerbin last week, and ill defender Eric Abidal who visited his team-mates on Tuesday but is still some way off a return to first-team action.

"The pre-season will decide the size of our squad," Vilanova added.

"We have a reduced squad and they will all feel useful. I like this possibility. We can see how the players are accepted or in some cases sent to stay in Barca B.

"It is not usual that a player like Keita leaves Barcelona. With him, he covered two positions, and with Abidal, out with illness, two more positions. If we can find a player that can play at centre-back and full-back then perfect. If not, then we will try home-grown players."