In the wake of his side’s 7-0 demolition of Levante last weekend, Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino shed some light on his intentions after his perfect start to life in La Liga.
The Argentine boss held little back when speaking in the moments after his debut success, in which no less than five of his players got their names on the scoresheet.
According to the Telegraph, Martino was quick to highlight the first half as a particularly strong period of his new side’s display, adding:
The concepts we wanted to improve we have improved, but it was nothing new. They were things from the past that we have returned to doing. We scored a goal from pressing high, played both through the middle and on the wings, but we have only just started.
It’s that last sentence which will be found most endearing to the Argentine’s new fans: “We have only just started."
While Levante may be far from the hardest test La Blaugrana will face this term, a 7-0 victory against an outfit in the Spanish top flight is something to be enjoyed. But Martino has the humility to know there’s a long campaign ahead.
Goal's Ben Hayward expressed this exact sentiment on Twitter following the result:
Symbolic scoreline in Martino's official debut given Barça's 7-0 (aggregate) loss to Bayern last term. Positive signs, but real tests await.— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) August 18, 2013
What might not be as agreeable for all Barcelona supporters, however, is the sense Martino gives that this summer’s transfer business is nearing completion, if not finished altogether for this term.
The South American spoke in the post-match briefing of how his side are addressing things how they used to, describing the past season or two as a different approach while the old ways were “archived,” per the club’s official website:
We can be more intense. We can prolong our pressure and we can continue to look for alternatives when we go forward.
The concepts that we addressed with the players – which aren’t new, they’ve just been archived – were brought back. Our interior-playing midfielders went deep, we switched up direct play with build-up play, these are good signs despite the fact that this just started. One of the aspects we’ve insisted on the most is pressure. I’m very satisfied.
On the one hand, Martino’s current batch of players, the squad which has been largely assembled without his input, will be boosted by the comments and rejuvenated by the new faith in their abilities.
Under Tito Vilanova, players such as Alexis Sanchez, Adriano, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and several others stagnated somewhat, but would appear to all be part of Martino’s movement.
The squad under Vilanova was undoubtedly one of the strongest in the world, but the expectations built as a result of the years previous to his appointment made the job of living up to the Guardiola legacy almost impossible.
However, Martino now has an easier job, albeit still having to defend the La Liga title Barcelona won by a margin of 15 points last term.
Can Martino replicate Guardiola's success at Barcelona?
If there were to be a criticism of the Spanish side at the moment, it would be the quality of a defence that can no longer rely on Carles Puyol to remain fit year-round.
The recent pursuit of David Luiz appears to have come to an end now, but one would think that to be Martino’s priority if he is to dip back into the market.
What’s more, the new manager appears intent on developing a defensive line not structured around classic centre-backs, but a team capable of defending high up the pitch with more mobile players.
Judging by what the Argentine has had to say in recent days, it looks clear that Martino is content with what he already has under his command. Who wouldn’t be?