While it has not been made official yet, several reports are suggesting that Gerardo Martino, ex-coach of the Paraguay national team and the coach of the Argentine champions and Copa Libertadores semi-finalist Newell’s Old Boys, will be the next coach of FC Barcelona within the next 48 hours. Other reports place him as one of the favorites.
A number of individuals have been rumored as potential successors for the departing Tito Vilanova, whose resignation as Barcelona’s coach was announced on Friday due to a relapse of the throat cancer he has been battling for over the past year. As of Sunday, it was clear that the decision would be between Luis Enrique, a former Barcelona player and coach of Barcelona B and now current coach of La Liga side Celta Vigo and Martino.
What’s clear is that if Martino is chosen to succeed Vilanova, many will ask whether he is the right choice. They will question Martino’s abilities to coach one of the biggest clubs because most people are unaware of who he is given that he’s never coached in Europe.
Many only know Martino as the man who was the coach of Paraguay at the 2010 World Cup. Those who only know Martino from coaching that team will think he is a very defensive coach. This is far from the truth. That Paraguay team did not play like Martino’s style because they didn’t have the players or enough of them to run it that way.
But even given those circumstances, he coached a team into being a penalty shot away from defeating Spain in the quarterfinals. Then, in the following year, he coached a depleted Paraguay to a second-place finish at the Copa America, losing to Uruguay in the final. Last year, Martino has coached his beloved Newell’s, leading the team to a second-place finish in the Torneo Inicial, winning the Torneo Final this past semester, and led the team to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores only to lose to Atlético Mineiro in penalty shootout.
His Newell’s team played some of the most attractive attacking soccer in Argentina, maybe even in all of South America, and frankly were one of the 10 best teams to watch in all of world soccer during the 2012-13 season. This proves he’s a coach who is able to adapt to his personnel. After all, he is a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa, a man widely regarded as one of the best coaches and best practitioners of attacking football.
Because of his philosophy and adaptability, Martino is the best fit to coach Barcelona. Martino would be stepping into a team with a structure that practices and preaches the same type of football philosophy that he preaches. Martino is a coach who has always enjoyed the respect and devotion of his players. That human touch is one that will allow him to forge very good working relationship with the Barcelona players.
In addition, Lionel Messi, who before moving to Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy was a Newell’s youth team player, has spoken and given his endorsement of Martino, something that is always welcomed for a coach headed to a team like Barcelona. All these factors combined and put together will allow Martino to come in and work right away and do well in the short and long term.
Coaching Barcelona is a job that is like no other given what the club means not only to the sport but the culture. That said, ‘Tata’ Martino is the best choice to be the next Barcelona coach. He is capable of winning and winning big.