Is Tata Martino the Right Man for Barcelona Long Term?

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IFebruary 11, 2014

AP Images

Tata Martino has only been in the Barcelona hot seat for barely six-and-a-half months but has already polarized opinions amongst supporters.

That the Barca faithful are already passing negative judgments after such a short tenure is in itself a little concerning.

As of this moment, Martino's debut season record holds up well, compared to that of his most recent contemporaries.

In their first 22 La Liga games, both Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova won 19 games, drew two and lost one, to give them a points total of 59.

Tata's 54 points from 17 wins, three draws and two losses is not anywhere close to the disaster that some would have you believe.

The Argentine is struggling to curry favour amongst the rank and file because of a steadfast refusal to play "tiki-taka" when he believes that there is a more practical way of getting results.

The sharpness and urgency of the Guardiola years has inevitably waned, and the fickle everyday Barca fan has therefore seen fit to direct their ire toward the manager: 

It's fair to suggest that the baying masses had already sharpened their knives whilst Vilanova was in-situ.

There were murmurings of discontent during that 2012/13 season concerning Tito's lack of trust in the youngsters in his squad. 

For those used to seeing regular promotions from Barca B—there were 22 during Pep's four years—Vilanova's insistence on playing his most senior players as often as possible was probably a chief reason for Barca's mental and physical tiredness at the business end. 

Cristian Tello is one of just a handful of La Masia graduates to make the first team in the last two seasons.
Cristian Tello is one of just a handful of La Masia graduates to make the first team in the last two seasons.David Ramos/Getty Images

The humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich might well have been limited had a clear rotation policy been in place throughout, and Vilanova's most unfortunate illness diluted and deflected much of the criticism that would surely have come his way otherwise.

Aside from unforeseen injuries, the current squad remains fresh. 

Martino has done the opposite to his predecessor insofar as everyone in the squad, including the previously untouchable Lionel Messi, has been rotated diligently and used intelligently.

If we want to be picky, there is perhaps a reasonable argument as to why Marc Bartra has been under-utilised.

Yet before the Champions League game in Amsterdam against Ajax, and the Athletic Bilbao game just a few days after, the manager was being lauded and applauded for his acumen.

Marc Bartra could perhaps have been used more in the centre of defence.
Marc Bartra could perhaps have been used more in the centre of defence.Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

The manner of those two defeats did little for his ongoing credibility and candidacy for a longer term appointment in the eyes of many. 

A perceived lack of urgency and "sparkle" unmasked Tata's fiercest critics. 

The vitriol spouted in his direction has even seen the Argentine confide to close friends that he will leave his post at the end of the season (per Football Espana), however successful it may be.

And successful to this point it has been.

How can the loss of just three games in all competitions this season and still being alive in all of them be considered anything other than a success?

The doom-mongers will have you believe otherwise of course. La Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League are well beyond Barca they'll say, but the stats say otherwise.

The best goal difference in all of the top five leagues in Europe, over 100 goals for the ninth season in succession, highest amount of successfully completed passes in the top five leagues (per We could go on...

A couple of lacklustre performances aside, there seems little to reproach Martino for. 

In a day and age where managers are hired and fired on a whim, he deserves to be given the reins on a longer term basis.

Whether he or the club allow his contract to run for the two full seasons that he originally signed up to (per, we can only speculate on at this stage. 

But supporters with very short memories should be careful what they wish for...