Gerardo Martino's Bold Barcelona Statement Could Come Back to Bite Him

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

Barcelona's coach Gerardo Tata Martino from Argentina,  gestures to the  players during their La Liga soccer match against Levante at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

It's not the first time Gerardo "Tata" Martino has perplexed the awaiting press pack; if you push the right buttons and catch the Argentine in a wave of emotion, then he is more than capable of giving the perfect soundbite.

His comments over the team's style of play earlier in the season were both a dig at the local media and a reaction to criticism received. "Whenever you have a team that has been as successful as this side, these debates will occur, especially when the coach isn't from Catalonia or from Holland," responded Martino, via AS.

At a club the size of Barcelona, being able to hold your own with the media and show a bit of wit are valuable commodities. If you say the wrong things off the pitch, then when performances and results go astray the patience will be at a minimum.

Martino is clearly relaxed in this scenario and for the majority of his tenure he has been respectful of traditions, whilst trying to gradually explain his own ideas and beliefs.

The disappointment of the draw with Levante though, opened him up to a whole new world of denigration. As is common with a number of managers, if he is just simply deflecting the attention from his underperforming players, then it's a job well done. But if he believes in his own words, then the problem runs deeper.

"We shouldn’t have drawn this match for the level of football we played. We didn’t have much luck with our finishing and when you have days like this, there’s not a lot you can do," was Martino's post-match response. Before adding: "I don’t think that it was because we were not at the required level." (Per AS)

Evaluating the performance separately from the result is an important tool for managers and analysts; you don't always get what you deserve.

However, this was certainly a below par performance from Barça, they can and have played much better than this under Martino this season.

This was the same team with the exception of the full-backs that destroyed the "frogs" on the opening day of the campaign. They fashioned enough chances—although five less than the game at Camp Nou—but was the trouble in the type of chances created.

When the two sides met in August, Barça supplied 16 crosses; in exactly the same league fixture at the Ciutat de Valencia last term it was 13, this time around it was a staggering 37, all statistics from the FourFourTwo Stats Zone app.

Granted the goal came from a cross at a set piece, but without a dedicated target man is difficult to see what they were trying to achieve by continually going down this route.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Then Martino dropped the bombshell: "I would be more worried if our game had deteriorated but this draw isn’t a big worry because out of the next 10 games, we will win nine." There is a thin line between self-confidence and arrogance.

Presuming he meant La Liga fixtures, which would appear to be the case. It's not out the realm of possibility, after all, they have dropped points in just four matches out of 20.

There was just no reason to say this. It was a brash statement and could come back to haunt him. If Barcelona accomplish this target, then it will be a simple pat on the back in congratulations. But if they don't, it will be referred to continually.

With away trips to the Bernabeu, Anoeta and the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in this period, it would be interesting to know which one he doesn't think his side will win.

The slightest of slip-ups and the pressure will increase. There are enough people taking pot shots at Martino without him providing them with the ammunition.


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