In news that has felt inevitable for weeks now, Barcelona and its manager, Gerardo "Tata" Martino, have decided to part ways after just one season.
Barcelona announced the news on their official Twitter account:
Tata Martino announces he will leave FC Barcelona. The agreement between the manager and Club is mutual. #FCBLive— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 17, 2014
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN has more from Martino in the press conference following Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid that awarded the Madrid side the La Liga title:
Martino: "We did not achieve objectives club is used to, and has done year after year. We tried until the end, but met rival better than us”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
Tata: "I was proud to coach this club, we admired players from outside, then inside, & will keep doing so in what will be successful future”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
Tata: "We apologise to the fans for not reaching the expectations."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
Only at Barcelona could the 2013-14 season be considered a failure, but indeed, the club did not meet their own lofty standards. They reached the Copa Del Rey final but lost to Real Madrid. They reached the Champions League quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by Atletico Madrid. And they had a shot to somehow win La Liga, but again were bested by Atletico.
It was Barcelona's first trophy-less season since 2007-08.
Martino had to navigate some rocky terrain this season. There was the Neymar scandal and the fallout that came from it, including the resignation of former president Sandro Rosell. The club was hit with a season-long transfer ban starting in 2014-15 (though that was postponed pending appeal). Star player Lionel Messi missed nearly two months of action over the winter.
But Martino couldn't quite ever overcome the distractions, and by the end of the season Barcelona appeared to be playing listless football. And with a chance to win the league title at home—and after Atletico's star player, Diego Costa, had to leave the game due to injury—the Catalans couldn't find a way to win the game.
So what's next for Barcelona and Martino? Ed Malyon of the Mirror makes his prediction:
This is how I expect managerial merry-go-round to play out: Oscar Garcia -> Celta Vigo. Luis Enrique -> Barcelona. Martino -> Argentina.— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) May 17, 2014
Martino will surely land on his feet. And Barcelona will expect to win a few trophies again next season, as is the expectation every year. Even with sanctions looming, the collection of talent at Barcelona is impressive, and is a group every manager in the world would likely enjoy working with.
For that reason, they shouldn't have a problem earning a high-profile manager to fill one of the premier positions in all of sports. Of course, it is also one of the most pressure-packed positions around.
Just ask Martino.