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El Mundo's football writer
"Barcelona has become a mediocre side"
 real 14k

banner Monday, 23 April, 2001, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK
Barcelona axe Serra Ferrer
Barca coach Llorenc Serra Ferrer
Ferrer's paid the ultimate price for failure with Barca
Llorenc Serra Ferrer's reign as Barcelona coach ended on Monday when he was sacked after a string of poor results.

Club president Joan Gaspart announced the decision following a three-hour meeting with the board of directors - 24 hours after the Catalan giants suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat to relegation-threatened Osasuna.

Barcelona finished Sunday's game with just eight men on the field after Simao, Ivan de la Pena and Sergi were all given their matching orders.

It's the saddest day in my career as Barcelona president
  Joan Gaspart

"I take full responsibility for this decision," said Gaspart.

"It was my decision to appoint him, although all the other candidates pledged to do so as well, and it's my decision to let him go.

"I met with Serra Ferrer face to face earlier on Monday.

"He was not in agreement with this decision. It's the saddest day in my career as Barcelona president."

Gaspart revealed technical director Carles Rexach will take temporary control until the end of the season, assisted by former club captain Jose Ramon Alexanco.

Rexach has already experienced the pressures of the Nou Camp when he was given temporary charge following the departure of Johan Cryuff in 1996.

He said: "My job is to bring some enjoyment back to the side over the remainder of the season.

Valencia coach Hector Cuper
Cuper has been touted as a possible replacement
"We also need to boost our morale and show our quality."

However, Gaspart said Serra Ferrer will retain his former role as director of football - he still has four years left on his contract in the position - but will have no direct input on the remainder of the season.

Barcelona currently lie in fifth position in the Spanish league, a massive 17 points behind league leaders and arch rivals Real Madrid.

Speculation now surrounds Valencia coach Hector Cuper as a possible replacement at the Nou Camp next season.

"I have not signed anything with Barcelona, although of course I am honoured that they may be interested in me as they are one of the most important clubs in the world," Cuper said on Friday.

"All I can say is what I have said before, and that is that there is a high chance that I will not renew my contract at Valencia."

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04 Apr 01 |  Uefa Cup
Houllier plays down Barca unrest
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