It's been a nightmarish couple of weeks for Gerardo Martino, as his Barcelona side were eliminated from two competitions and given a slim chance in the title race.
Two goals in two minutes at the Camp Nou on Sunday night stopped it from escalating beyond control—at least for now. It could easily have been four consecutive defeats, and the relief upon Martino's face was evident.
When he arrived last summer, the promises were that he would stick to the tiki-taka philosophy, but provide welcome variations tactically when under difficult circumstances.
"We don't want to change the team's style of play, but I saw (former Barca defender Rafael) Marquez make long passes too five years ago," he explained a month into the new season to Barcelona's official website (h/t Sky Sports).
"It doesn't mean we're changing the style if we add alternatives to our play," continued Martino.
At face value, it made sense. Many critics have complained about their lack of a plan B or failure to make a difference when the ideology is not working.
A record start to the season followed, but there was always a sense that something wasn't right. Some managers are so successful that it is virtually impossible to replace them. Pep Guardiola is proving to be that way.
Off-field distractions have certainly not helped Martino in recent weeks, but it's in these times of adversity that those destined for greatness show their worth.
Martino's problems stylistically aren't just the introduction of a more direct approach, but his lack of understanding within the initial genre.
His Barcelona don't display the fundamental traits that made the club so extraordinary, so whether he wants to admit it or not, he is changing the manner of their play.
If the players are struggling to do what was once second nature, that makes it even harder to apply differences in tactics. The specific movements and pressing of the Guardiola era need to be reiterated by the coach, as Jordi Roura found out.
The idea was sold that they needed an outsider that knew the philosophy with his own take on proceedings, when perhaps they needed someone within the club that could attempt subtle differences.
It could be argued that anyone that hasn't studied within the club or taken lessons from a few select masters could never fully appreciate the methodology.
It's easier to learn new words in a language that you already know than know fancy words but need to learn the language.
Martino himself seems resigned to the fact that this wasn't the job he envisaged after all and appears to be counting down the days until he can make his getaway.
"If we win the league it will make a difference but I don't think it will change my opinion," he told the media at a press conference Sunday night. "I am picky and so I raised the point that Barca usually win and after I've arrived they don’t win, and that I feel responsible."
There's no promise of a brighter future or display of belief in his working methods. He is almost trying to convince those that don't need convincing that it's best if he packs his bags and heads back to Rosario in a month's time.
Many managers have and will be linked in the coming weeks with the position at the Camp Nou. The decision-makers at the club need to think long and hard over their insistence of the Barcelona way. Otherwise, they may move away from the notion unintentionally.
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