Hear ye, hear ye! I am NOT going to pretend that Gerardo “Tata” Martino had been on my personal Barcelona managerial candidates list in light of the sad departure of Tito Vilanova following grave health concerns.
Nor am I going to offer a long list of reasons why he’ll be great, or why his ‘tactical approach’ will mind meld with the Barca first team, because I would be feeding you a line. It should be enough perhaps that Lionel Messi has given him a strong endorsement, although he would, wouldn’t he, based on his most recent club affiliation:
“I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach and he showed that in the Clausura with what he did for [Newell's Old Boys], the way it ended and how he did it. He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him.”
He was South American Coach of the Year in 2007. In 2010, he took Paraguay to the the quarterfinals of the World Cup in South Africa, where they lost 1-0 to Spain. A year later (he had resigned after the World Cup but after agreed to stay on for one more year), he led Paraguay to the final of the Copa America against Uruguay without winning a single match—the side drew three times in the group stage and then nil-nil-penalty’d their way to a 3-0 loss in the final. Let’s just say my memory of that tournament is that Para didn’t exactly set hearts on fire with their positive, attacking approach.
Judging a manager by a national team is never the best policy, what with the short time they have with their players, and their limitations in selection. So what of the Old Boys? Well, in this last Clausura, they finished first with 40 goals for and 21 against. While not the most defensively solid sides, they led in scoring. However, the Apertura was a different story—Old Boys were 7th in the league on goals scored with 31. They lost the final to Velez 1-0.
So, you know, it’s hard to know what Martino brings to the table exactly. Reading through some old Zonal Marking round-ups, the take-away is roughly that Martino preferred a narrow formation with Paraguay at both the World Cup and the Copa, and were aggressive in pressing, but nothing too technocratic.
It will be interesting to see how the media will attempt to fill in the blanks on a possible Martino appointment, unless it goes to Luis Enrique.