Stepping into the shoes of Pep Guardiola would have never been an easy task for any manager. With no disrespect for Tito Vilanova, who did a good job of holding the fort and keeping it altogether, Guardiola’s Barcelona looks to be a thing of the past for current manager Gerardo Martino, as the league title gently slips from his grasp.
It’s not just the league title that’s slipping away, either.Tata Martino’s relationship with the Barcelona squad looks to have broken down, too. After losing to Valladolid and Real Sociedad, the fans are starting to ask questions about the manager’s methods.
Martino has been fully aware that in order to continue in the same line of success as his predecessors, he would have to resort to “other tactics” in order to get his team firing on all cylinders. Martino has opted for a more direct style of football, one that used the long ball or quick counter-attack as an option.
Although, his new style was pulling in the results, not many people liked it as it was too “anti Barça”. No more technical flair, no more playing the ball out from the back and monopolising the game with the Barcelona “tiki taka” style of play. If truth be told, Martino got the team to play a different type of football which broke away from the Catalans awesome technical prowess. But nobody was impressed, despite the results. It was a case of ‘you can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all the time‘.
However, the style of Barça’s football is not the only thing to suffer.The team’s morale has taken a hit and Martino feels that apathy, along with a sense of not caring has crept into the squad.The coach doesn’t like the fact that the team is “over confident”, either.
Barcelona’s training sessions aren’t as intense as the coach would like them to be and the team is showing it’s worst side after many years at the top.It makes one think if Guardiola, in all his wisdom, knew what would happen to his beloved team, doesn’t it?
If things do not change at the Camp Nou, Martino will lose not only his players, but his job, too. President Bartomeu has said this week that he would like to see Martino at the club until 2015. Martino’s vagueness is another problem for the Catalan giants. The coach obviously wants to give himself a little more time to turn things around but the Argentine feels he cannot achieve too much with the current team. There is obviously a breakdown in his relationship with the team, and it is showing.
With the problems that the club has faced over the last few months, no wonder the team have an apathetic view towards training and playing. Sandro Rosell has gone but the scandal still rings through the Camp Nou. Did Barcelona really have to spend more money than Real Madrid to buy a Brazilian that, in my opinion, has yet to prove worthy of such a fee? To be honest, I think the club could have saved their money and brought in a tall young striker to partner Messi up front. Don’t get me wrong. I like Neymar, but he’s too young for the club and needed the guidance of Guardiola, not Martino.
Martino has a chance to get to the quarter finals of the Champions League tomorrow night and it’s up to him to enthuse his players with energy to make it happen.