The man tasked with the job of replacing Tito Vilanova - Gerard Martino
It’s been an arduous time for Barcelona fans worldwide as cancer-stricken coach, Tito Vilanova was forced to resign following his second relapse in throat cancer. According to reports in the Argentinian and Spanish media, FC Barcelona are set to announce former Newell’s Old Boys manager, Gerard ‘Tata’ Martino as their new manager.
The question on everyone’s lips, Who is Gerard ‘Tata’ Martino?
Gerard Daniel Martino comes from Rosario, the same city as Lionel Messi and Marcelo Bielsa. Nicknamed Tata Martino, he was a former footballer for Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys. Tata Martino scored 35 goals in just over 390 games for the Argentine based club in his time at La Lepra and made one appearance for Argentina in 1991.
Newell’s Old Boys’ are better-known for the players that have come through their ranks. The likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Jorge Valdano, Gabriel Heinze,Roberto Sensini, Mauricio Pocchettino, Maxi Rodríguez and arguably the greatest footballer ever Lionel Messi, all played for the Argentine club in parts of their career, with the most popular name on the list leaving the club at a tender age (12) to receive treatment in Spain at Barcelona.
Martino was a fantastic midfielder and was recently selected by a fan poll as the greatest player in their history.
As a coach.
Gerard Martino after retirement decided to delve into football management and coaching. In 1998, the Argentine signed a contract with Club Atlético Almirante Brown, an Argentinian based football club located in Arrecifes, Buenos Aires. After just one year in Arrecifes the Argentine was on the move, this time signing for Club Atlético Platense another team located in Buenos Aires.
It was in 2007 that Gerard Martino propelled his name into the footballing world. After winning the Paraguayan league title 4 times in just 5 seasons, Martino was in demand and in February 2007, he was appointed head coach of the Paraguayan national football team pipping world cup winner and shot stopping expert Nery Alberto Pumpido to the post.
In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he guided the Paraguayans to top spot in the group stages, topping the group without defeat, before being knocked out in the quarter-final stage by eventual winners Spain
The new Barcelona manager is quite similar to Marcelo Bielsa in terms of tactics, one of the best coaches in the game. Martino turns out to be a pupil of Bielsa as he was a member of Bielsa’s Newell’s Old Boys in the early 1990s.
He normally sets his team out to press from the front right from the start. Martino on his players: “I like protagonists, who don’t wait, who are aggressive in recovering the ball and getting it forward well.”
Barcelona are already well familiar with the ‘closing down’ technique instilled in the club by previous coach, Pep Guardiola. When perfected, this strategy is a game winning one. It prevents opponents from advancing and causes them to make mistakes, which could then be capitalized upon.
Martino favours the 4-3-3 system, with his trusted wingers and full backs pushing up as high as possible. The holding midfielder then drops back to the defensive line, eventually making it a back three. One major disadvantage of Tata Martino’s system is fatigue. More often than not, his players tend to run out of steam. When met with difficult or tougher opposition, he tends to play with a 4-4-2 system, which was apparent in the 2010 world cup campaign. Tata Martino plays an intricate brand of passing football with a slow tempo, similar to the famous ‘tiki-taka’ style.
“I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach. He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him.“- Lionel Messi on Martino
Tata Martino has never managed outside South America. He is a well respected coach there, and his football philosophies and strategies make him an outright replacement for the departing Tito Vilanova.
The Argentine becomes the first manager to take charge of Barcelona since Cesar Menotti in 1983.
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