Introducing Gerardo Martino
Introducing Gerardo Martino....never heard of him? I have not either...definitely not a household name in Europe....now the United fans can at least said we got David Moyes. Anyway, jokes aside, it seems that there is a link to the man that has just been introduced as the coach of one of the best football clubs in the world.
And that link is none other than Lionel Messi, the player most valued at Barcelona.
|the new coach to ensure Messi keep smiling?|
Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona works on a tactical vision that has been one of bielsismo -- the high-pressing, possession-based ideas espoused by Guardiola's idol, Marcelo Bielsa.
Martino arrives in Barcelona from Newell's Old Boys, where Bielsa is so adored that their stadium was renamed after him in 2009. After playing for them, Bielsa enjoyed his first managerial successes with Newell's. Martino, an elegant playmaker, was a vital part of the team that won the Torneo Apertura title in 1991, though he left for Tenerife before the championship was confirmed with a win in a playoff over 1992 Clausura winners Boca Juniors.
By now, you should know...the major reason for Martino's appointment in link to Newells. Lionel Messi is a lifelong Newell's fan -- it was in their youth ranks that he started playing before his family's lack of finances to fund his hormone treatment necessitated a move abroad -- and his father, Jorge, holds Martino as his favourite player. With Neymar's arrival in Catalonia and Messi's (personally) underwhelming finish to the 2012-13 season, the Barca board are eager to keep their most important player as happy as possible.
|Tata replacing Tito|
Well, that aside, here is a brief summary of the Martino's previous coaching experience:
1998: Started managing in Argentina's lower divisions
2002: Moved to Paraguay and had his first major success. (winning 4 league titles in 5 years with Libertad and Cerro Porteno, including 2 consecutive seasons (2003 and 2004, one with each club).)
Internationl achievement in 2010: Took Paraguay to 2010 World Cup in South Africa. (even when his important attacker, Salvador Cabanas was shot in the head in a Mexico City nightclub. Cabanas incredibly returned to football in April last year and played for local club in Paraguay's third division now)
The loss of Cabanas meant Paraguay's performance in South Africa was far from a true reflection of how Martino had improved them, and yet they still came close to dumping eventual champions Spain out in the quarterfinals -- if only Oscar Cardozo's penalty hadn't been saved by Iker Casillas with the score at 0-0! Although they were dull during the 2011 Copa America knockout stages, this was at least in part because Martino recognised that his team conceded too many goals during the group stage. A tighter plan and a run to the final was the result.
Tactical diversity and ability to make the most out of his players are evident in his recent spell at Newell.
From a club with a woeful performance for a long time, with a trouble in Argentina's relegation table (takes into account of previous 2 seasons as well), Martino took charge and lead to an improved performance in the half-season. There was a need to challenge for at least one of the season's championships in order to stay up and under Martino, they got not one but two title challenges, the second of which was successful. They also got a glut of goals, scoring 40 during the 19 games of the Torneo Final after only 23 from 19 matches in the Torneo Inicial.
It's those goals that Barcelona fans should pay attention to rather than the fact that Newell's had a hard time scoring in this year's Copa Libertadores. Their squad wasn't large, and at times, the rigours of playing two competitions sapped the players' energy. A run to the semis of the Libertadores involves as many games as a run to the semis of Europe's Champions League, but with greater travel times and with all of the continental matches squeezed into one half of the season. The demand is constant and rest time limited.
On Sunday, Martino was alongside Newell's new manager Alfredo Berti (ironically, an internal appointment after the club wanted, Barcelona-like, to maintain continuity), watching a youth game. That moment exemplifies the humility that the club's new striker, David Trézéguet, talked of on Monday afternoon at the press conference for his own unveiling. "They'll appreciate that [side of Martino's character] in Europe," he said.
Martino is also a man of his word, having turned down Santos and Real Madrid because they wanted to bring him in before Newell's Libertadores campaign ended.
Well, so far, all the indication seem to point at the right direction, but the past is the past. It is not an appointment without risk...but that's just what makes this season all the more interesting.