Gerardo "Tata" Martino is officially the new manager of Barcelona and many are still a bit confused. The Argentine tactician was surprisingly hired very quickly, but fans need not worry despite his low profile.
Barcelona fans and the football world alike now want to know everything about the new Barcelona manager. Will he be a good fit? Is the hiring a gamble? There are many questions circulating and we are here to try to answer a few of them.
In this article, I will give you the 20 things that you absolutely need to know about Tata Martino and then you can decide just how well he fits at Barcelona. Let’s get started.
In a recent report by Alec Fenn of Goal.com Lionel Messi addressed rumors which claimed that he played a part in the hiring of Tata Martino. The Argentine star was quoted as saying the following.
I don't have anything to do with the signing of Martino and I have nothing to explain. It's [Barca president Sandro] Rosell and the club's thing. At that time, I said that he looked like a good coach, but I have nothing to explain. I don't know him personally and have never seen him or Luis Enrique, who was also linked. He seems to be a good signing as he has demonstrated with Newell's and Paraguay that he is capable. Hopefully he'll do well here.
Many believe that Messi and Martino have a close relationship that played a part in his hiring, but that is not the case. In fact, both player and coach have admitted that they have never even met until now.
Martino was quoted on the club’s official website as saying, "Leo and I are both from Rosario and both from Newell’s, but we don’t know each other."
And so ends the speculation of a long-time relationship between the two. Messi very well may have played a part in Martino’s hiring, but he did not do so because he already knew the managerial candidate.
Surprisingly Tata Martino is not a new name to Spanish football. Following the exit of Jose Mourinho, the Argentine was in the running to take over at Real Madrid.
In June, Spanish daily paper Marca reported [in Spanish] that Real Madrid executives had met with Martino as the Argentine was a potential managerial candidate.
However, the club finally got their man in Carlo Ancelotti as the world now knows. But it is still interesting to note that Martino did not come out of nowhere, with the two biggest clubs in Spain having contacted him just months apart.
Barcelona is a club that has made a reputation for churning out some of the best young talents in the world and that will continue under Tata Martino.
In a recent interview reported on the club’s official website, two young Barcelona stars spoke out on Martino and the impression he has already made. Martin Montoya was quoted as saying, "He’s given us a really good first impression. I’m sure we’ll all adapt well, things will work out great with Tata."
But it was the words of reserve team captain Ilie Sanchez that has fans happy. The La Masia graduate had this to say about the new manager:
"Tata really surprised me. He greeted us one by one with a lot of affection. He was very attentive. We’re excited because we know that he’s a manager who likes to rely on young players."
Martino is clearly the type of manager who is not afraid to utilize youth and give players the chances they deserve. Expect it continue at Barcelona and for La Masia’s success to not be halted.
This fact seems to be the most worrying for Barcelona fans. Tata Martino began his coaching career in 1998 but has never coached a side in Europe.
Now the Argentine is expected to take over one of the most dominating clubs in European history as his first project.
Things will obviously be difficult for Martino. Managing in Europe is much different than other continents and Martino will have his work cut out for him. This fact does not mean that he will fail, but it does mean he will have a lot to learn with little time to do so.
Despite the fact that he has never managed in Europe, Tata Martino is a very successful football coach.
Fans should not believe that Martino is coming to the club completely untested. He has been a more than capable coach in South America and has won several titles.
I am not saying that Martino is a coaching legend, but rather that he is not new to his position. Let’s take a look at what the new Barcelona manager has already accomplished in his career.
Tata Martino has coached several different clubs during his career thus far but has been the most successful in Paraguay, winning four titles in the span of five years.
The new Barcelona manager won three Paraguayan league titles with Libertad in 2002, 2003 and also in 2006, but the most interesting fact is that he also won the league with a second club as well.
In 2004, Martino won the league while managing Cerro Porteno, meaning the Argentine won three consecutive Paraguayan titles while coaching two separate teams.
It’s clear that Martino has had his share of success in Paraguay and also with the national team, but that is not the only country where he has won silverware.
Tata Martino's success as a manager did not end in Paraguay. In fact, the Argentine coach is coming to Barcelona fresh off of winning the league title with Newell's Old Boys.
The former Newell's Old Boys manager led the club to the lifting the Argentina league trophy by securing 38 points in 19 matches. In his winning season, Martino's side only lost five matches.
On top of the trophies Martino has won over his career, he has also won a personal award for his exploits. Tata Martino was awarded the South American coach of the year in 2007 following his championship season with Libertad.
The South American coach of the year award is given to a manager of a club or national team working in South America for the previous season. This shows that Martino is definitely an accomplished coach and his work has been noted by others.
Everyone knows Lionel Messi's journey to Barcelona began with his youth career at Newell's Old Boys, but the most surprising thing is that Tata Martino was playing at the Argentina club at the same time as Messi.
Tata Martino spent his last season at Newell’s Old Boys in 1995, which was in fact Messi's first year with the youth club.
As we already know, the two have never met each other until now. That means that Messi and Martino never knew each other while at the same club, but it is still an unbelievable fact.
Many may already know this, but if you don't, it is important that you do. Tata Martino is a student of former Athletic Club Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa and his coaching style heavily reflects that.
Andy West of BBC recently reported that Martino played two seasons under Bielsa while at Newell's Old Boys and has modeled his coaching philosophy after that of "El Loco".
Bielsa is known for his high energy and attacking style of play. The same playing style has been seen under Martino and fans should expect the same at Barcelona.
One of the most shocking facts regarding Tata Martino is that the Argentine does not have an agent. Agents are not required by players or managers but are highly recommended.
This means that Martino not only handles his own decisions but also negotiates all contracts for himself as well. Being the manager of Barcelona is a very big deal but it seems as though Martino will face it alone.
Argentina is a country known for its football, so stating that Tata Martino is a legend in Argentina is a rather big deal.
According to Goal.com, a poll in 2003 revealed that Martino was voted as the greatest player to ever put on the jersey of Newell's Old Boys.
The Argentine club has a lot of history and Martino has been a big part of that. Goal.com also revealed that Lionel Messi's father, Jorge, idolized Martino for his contribution at Newell's Old Boys.
Tata Martino may be relatively unknown in Europe, but his name is a big deal in South America.
Barcelona fans will clearly hope that Martino will have a positive effect in the locker room and there is a good reason to believe that he will.
According to LiveSoccer.Tv, Tata is actually the Xhosa word for "Father" which he got during his playing days. But the same reports claim that his nickname is more appropriate now due his good-natured relationship with his players, especially younger stars.
Barcelona fans will be hoping that the club’s activity this summer is not over yet. The club desperately needs to sign a new defender and Martino could have just the answer.
According to reports from Goal.com, Newell's Old Boys defender Santiago Vergini is now out of contract and could make his way to the Camp Nou to follow his former manager.
The player’s agent revealed that Martino "really likes Vergini" and that there is a possibility that the tall center-back could make the move to the Catalan club.
Quite possibly the biggest thing that Martino will bring to Barcelona is something the club has missed recently. The Catalan club used to be known for heavy pressing and tireless work rate and Martino will bring that back.
As he is a student of Marcelo Bielsa, it was already expected that Martino would utilize a high tempo style of play that includes strong pressing, but the new manager has also made those expectations clear.
In an interview reported by the club’s official website, Martino stated, "We will try to recuperate some of the things we saw in the best version of Barca. Creating pressure and getting the ball back quickly are two of the things we really want to get the team doing again."
It looks as though pressure is back for Barcelona and with that could come enormous success.
"Man United want Cesc? If the club rejected two offers, I will reject it a third time. Cesc will be here." This is a quote from Martino reported by the Daily Mail and it has made one thing clear for Barcelona fans.
Cesc Fabregas will absolutely be staying with the Catalan giants and it is clear that Martino is not willing to even discuss a possible move. This quote speaks for itself.
One thing Barcelona fans will not have to worry about with the arrival of Martino is an unhappy locker room. Martino is notorious for having a good relationship with his players and has even admitted it himself.
In an interview reported on the club’s official website, Martino stated, "As coaches we have always tried to get close to the players. We are very open and we like to listen to the players’ suggestions. I think that forms a part of the way we all grow, especially as a team."
It is very clear that Tata Martino will continue his trend at Barcelona and will make every member of the squad feel valued and important to the club.
The new Barcelona manager even said in the same interview, "Right now I’m counting on every player in the squad. From the moment I start working, I hope we all stick together until the end of the season."
Martino is the type of manager that makes the players feel at home. Barcelona's motto is Mes Que Un Club and Martino fits that perfectly.
It was already known that no matter who Barcelona hired, the club would continue to be built around Lionel Messi. But just to be safe, Tata Martino has made that clear himself.
The club’s official website quoted the new manager as saying, "Messi will keep playing in the same position. We have to find him the same commodities that he has enjoyed until now.”
Martino will look to put important pieces around Messi and make sure that the world’s best player continues to get the service he needs to be more important than ever.
Make no doubts about it: Tata Martino has come to Barcelona to win trophies. The recent success of the club has showed that Barcelona’s era is far from over and Martino wants to continue the winning ways of La Blaugrana.
Here is just a bit of what the new Barcelona manager had to say about continuing the clubs success from his interview on the club’s official website:
Barca is used to winning and not doing so would have to be considered a failure. Barca have a lot to win.If we are able to maintain the essence of the greatest Barca moments, we’ll be successful. At Barca the shirt alone is enough to motivate
Barcelona fans can be sure of several things, but most importantly is the fact that Tata Martino is no joke and is here to win.
No matter what Martino has accomplished or what he brings to the club, it is what he does at Barcelona that will be all that matters. The club was put in a tough spot to hire a new manager but Tata Martino was the right choice.
The Argentine brings a winning philosophy to Barcelona and a playing style that matches what the Catalans already practice. He will also bring back pressure and will not try to change the Barcelona formula of success.
Martino will also give attention to the young stars of La Masia and seek to make sure that Barcelona is more of a home than a football club.
When looking at just what Martino will bring to the club it is hard to argue that he was a bad choice. He may not have experience coaching in Europe, but he was hired because of his footballing philosophy which is what ultimately matters for the Catalan club.
How will Tata Martino fair at Barcelona? Was the Argentine the right choice for the club? Leave your thoughts and comments below.