Mascherano: Vilanova must carry the pressure

The 28-year-old has alerted his new coach to the fact that he will now be the accountable one after taking over at the end of last season
Javier Mascherano believes Tito Vilanova's biggest challenge as coach of Barcelona will come in taking on the responsibilities that previously fell on Pep Guardiola.

Vilanova spent four seasons as assistant to the Blaugrana's most successful trainer and the Argentine midfielder has warned his new boss that the spotlight will now solely be on him.

"Tito will now carry the pressure. Until now he was a lower-profile coach and all the responsibility fell on Guardiola," Mascherano said to AS. "Now he has to assume the main role.

"With the move from assistant to manager he has gained notoriety. Today all the attention falls on him but he has always been an important part in the success of the team.

"Every one of us ought to respond in the same way."

However, Vilanova will be able to count on a Lionel Messi who has had a summer off from competitive fixtures after featuring in international tournaments in 2010 and 2011, and his compatriot believes it will be a huge positive.

"He [Messi] has returned in good shape. It is true pre-season matches are to remember the habits, but the fact he has had a month's rest has been proven to have an effect. This season he will be fresher."