MIAMI -- It isn't easy taking over one of the world's biggest clubs but Javier Mascherano believes Tito Vilanova is ready to lead Barcelona.
While the versatile Argentine admits that Pep Guardiola left behind a grand legacy at the Catalan club, Mascherano says that Villanova has learned a lot working with the revered head coach.
"I think that obviously the person who's responsible for this is Guardiola. But, behind Guardiola you have people doing a great job like Tito," Mascherano said at the World Soccer Masters press conference. "Now he gets to take over the team and what they've done over the past four years keeps going for a longer time."
Guardiola announced his decision to resign from Barcelona after Chelsea's shocking win over the club in the Champions League semifinals. Under Guardiola's guidance, Barcelona has won 13 trophies including two Champions League wins during his four years at the club.
The 41-year-old Spaniard's biggest success was tapping into the massive potential of Lionel Messi, who was previously considered to be just a talented playmaker during Frank Rikjaard's spell at the club. Messi's numbers in all competitions exploded under Guardiola as he doubled his scoring amounts during the coach's first year at the club, going from 16 goals in the 2007-08 season to 38 goals in 2008-09.
As Guardiola continued to make Messi the focus of the offense, his scoring numbers continued to grow exponentially. In Guardiola's final season, Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions.
Vilanova will have a difficult task of winning over a locker room that is very loyal to Guardiola but so far the team appears to be unified in their support of Guardiola's former assistant.
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