Barcelona have hired Gerardo Martino as manager, the club confirmed Tuesday morning.
Martino is taking over for the departed Tito Vilanova. The Guardian's Sid Lowe reported Vilanova was forced to step down due to throat cancer treatment. It's the same health problem that forced Vilanova to miss so much time last season. Lowe reported Luis Enrique was the top contender to take over the job. It might have been hard for Barcelona to grab the former Barcelona B and Roma manager so soon after he took the job at Celta Vigo. Martino is an interesting hire in that he largely has no ties to Barcelona. The Catalans have had successful hiring former players and promoting from within their system in the past. This time, they have chosen a manager with no connection to the club. One key positive for Martino is that he already has the backing of Lionel Messi. The Argentine forward told the Argentine newspaper Diario Ole, via The Independent, "I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach and he showed that in the Clausura with what he did for the team, the way it ended and how he did it. He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him." The 50-year-old Martino is coming off a win in the Torneo Final with Newell's Old Boys in the Argentine Primera Division. He also had a successful run the with the Paraguay national team from 2006-11.
Martino will likely prove to be a shrewd hire and has the demeanor befitting a Barcelona manager. He's not going to try and be bigger than the club.