He may have been the popular choice among football hipsters keen to prove that they had heard of Newell's Old Boys before last Friday, but is Gerardo 'Tata' Martino really the right man to take Barcelona in the right direction after their season which ended in disappointment?

While he undoubtedly transformed a struggling team (Newell's had finished 18th and sixth in the first and second halves of the previous season) into title contenders from when he joined on December 29 2011, there were a few characteristics of his side that should worry Barça fans.


Barcelona, while no longer the undisputed best side in world football, will certainly be contending for Champions League glory towards the end of the coming season. One of the main problems they seemed to face in last year's challenge was burnout.

Not only was Leo Messi injured for the decisive run-in, but the rest of Barcelona's squad looked shattered too. They simply couldn't keep up with an impressively fit Bayern Munich squad.

That could be explained in part by the intense pressing game that Barcelona plays - a pressing game very similar and equally tiring to that employed by Martino. 

Inspired by his coach as a player - the now-Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa - Martino's Newell's side would press intensely in midfield, in an attempt to win the ball back before an attacking move could be made by the opposing team, and with the aim of winning it back in a favourable position.

This game is a similar one to that brought in during the Guardiola years, and can tire players out come April and May. That might explain why Newell's lost four of Martino's last five games, including the Copa Libertadores semi-final.

Falling at the semi-final phase of the continental tournament with a tired squad. That will sound all too familiar to Barça fans.

No Plan B

Like Bielsa, Martino believes that there is no need for a Plan B. Plan A should work and if it doesn't then it's the Plan A that needs changing.

Perhaps one of the most memorable cases in recent history of a side lacking a Plan B was the second leg of the Barcelona v Chelsea semi-final in the 2011/12 Champions League. 

With the 10 men of Chelsea packed in their own box, Barça had 82.4 per cent of possession, 16 total shots and 10 corners. Nothing was working to get the needed goals and there was no Plan B.

Barcelona should have won the game, but didn't. The new boss believes you only need a good Plan A. That night against Chelsea showed that even the best Plan A might not always work.

More Defensive

A more defensive manager might not sound like the worst idea for a side that just crashed out of Europe by seven aggregate goals. The Camp Nou, however, hosts no ordinary side and the culés want to be entertained.

While not as defensive as most managers, Martino is certainly defensive by Camp Nou standards. A better word may be "cautious".

He rarely used a back three in Argentina and his Newell's side failed to score in 16 of their 54 games last season, while Barça didn't find the net in just four of their 60 matches.

Even in his time in charge of Paraguay, his run to the Copa America final incredibly came with his side failing to score in four of the six matches, instead winning two penalty shootouts.

It might seem unfair to expect Martino to win and play attacking football, but that's what Guardiola managed and fans expect nothing less. 'Tata' could well be a success in Barcelona, but expectations shouldn't be set too high yet.


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