|He came with clear, fresh ideas but ended up being the club's puppet.
Gerardo Martino is the first manager 'outside' the club since 2008 when Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova replace Frank Rijkaard. Guardiola came with a clear idea and philosophy and reached perfection with it. He left in 2012 because he felt that he couldn't control the team any more and couldn't trust the board. he was replaced with his assistant Tito Vilanova, who continued where Guardiola left, trying to be a little bit direct at the beginning but ultimately he ended up pushing the style possession based style to the extremes. His health issues couldn't let him continue at the club and he was replaced with Gerardo Martino, who was Bielsa's student (as was Guardiola)
He came to the club asked to continue where Vilanova finished but also add his own touch and vision to the team. He wanted to make some changes in the team like to bring a center back and a tall number 9 with him, but the club said no, because they wanted Neymar. So he had to work on what he had. He played with 4-3-3 and rotated mostly his midfielders (Song-Busquets, Xavi-Cesc, Iniesta-S.Roberto) and his four main strikers (Messi, Neymar, Alexis & Pedro) so that they would be fit at the end of the season in big title deciding games. From last season, he changed the team to be more dynamic, more direct and more quicker in transition offense. He had 4 very quick strikers so he used their speed to play more on the counter attack. Barcelona scored the most goals from counter attacks first half of the season from any teams in TOP5 leagues in Europe.
barca counters 2013/14
In September they won two games 4-0, against Ajax and Rayo.But they didn't win the possession stats. Against Ajax at home, they had 'only' 56% of the possession and against Rayo they had 49% of possession which meant for the first time since 2008, when they lost 1-4 to Real Madrid, they had less possession of the ball then their opponent. It created huge debate over the style, philosophy, the club, Martino...for some, it was almost like a loss, a humiliation, that they had less possession of the ball.
The other thing he changed was that the team changed their pressing style. When they had the opportunity, they pressed from up front, from opponents half, but they mixed it with pressing in midfield and they also sat back and let the opponent team to have the ball for longer periods, so that when they get the ball back, they would have more space from behind and then play quickly, with 2-3 passes the ball behind the high line. Verticalidad is what they call it in Argentina. It's different from usual long ball up front because you play between the lines and play the ball from back to front with 2-3 quick passes. Barceona used that style a lot in the first half of the season.
tata ball by allasfcb
Although the results were good, they won the supercopa, they won the first El Clàssic, they were winning games pretty confidently. But some the board, the fans and some players didn't like the style of play. They thought that they had lost something that made them 'special' and 'defined' them in previous years.
"Xavi was the one that went to Martino and said that 'some of what you're doing, we understand. But we're losing our positional play and the elements that make us special. We need to retrench to what makes us good and differentiates us from other sides. And Martino listened and now there isn't a confrontational situation.'" - http://www.newstalk.ie/Is-Xavi-on-his-way-out-of-Barcelona
From the Villarreal game at home on 14 December everything changed. Against Villarreal, Barcelona had 77% of possession but they created very little chances. They ended up winning the game 2-1 and everything seemed to go fine. Martino's first thought that he would listen to the players and staff and media. But as time went by, he had very little control and couldn't present his ideas to the team any more. He ended up playing with 4 midfielders and leaving out one of their wingers (either Neymar, Alexis or Pedro) to give more control in midfield. Since the Villarreal game Barca have hardly had less than 70% of the possession, they have dominated the ball, but haven't dominated the games, struggling in most of the games to get the result and have been very few 'easy' wins since then. With the 4man midfield formation they rely heavily on individuals to create something and when those individuals (Messi, Iniesta & Neymar mostly) don't produce their magic, they will struggle. It also makes harder for them to get through the defense because they let the opponent to defend deep, so they have very little space to play in. It's pretty ironic that Both Vilanova and Matrino tried to make the team more direct in the first half of the season but both ended up playing with 4 in midfield. Coincident or connection?
barca tata 2013 vs 2014 by allasfcb
Martino has received a lot of criticism over the last few months and has been the scapegoat every time Barcelona have lost. Some of which is deserved, not denying it at all. Like the loss against La Real, his prioritising of lesser games (Like La Real in copa del Rey) over a 100point-league games with La Real and some of his tactical changes like playing Busquets & Song together in midfield or resting key players in key games. But in a bigger picture, he lost control of the team in December and he couldn't put across his ideas any more. He became the scapegoat for everything - Barca fans blame everything on the coach, it's easier than facing reality that way. Even when the team has 29 shots in a game and plays wihtout a single center back, it's still coaches fault. Why? Because it's the boards first real coach that they had to sign outside the club and in a way they control him.