New manager Martino lays out his ambitions for Barcelona
Gerardo Martino was unveiled as Barcelona’s new manager Friday — promising not to change their attacking style of play but introducing “new ideas” to help the Catalan giants dominate European club football.
The 50-year-old Martino has replaced Tito Vilanova, who stood down last week to undergo further treatment for throat cancer.
Martino, who took Newell’s Old Boys to the Argentine Clausura Championship, has signed a two-year deal at the Nou Camp.
He will take charge of a side which romped to the La Liga title last season with a record points tally, but suffered a crushing humiliation in the semifinals of the Champions League, going down 7-0 on aggregate to eventual winners Bayern Munich.
It led to suggestions that Barcelona needed to make tactical changes, having gone out at the same stage of the competition for the past two years, but Martino believes it will not need a major revamp.
“Every team, even Barcelona which has already attained certain moments of excellence, can always improve, and Barca still has things to win,” he told gathered reporters.
“We are going to try to recover certain things that we’ve seen when Barca have been at their best, and add a few ideas of our own.”
Martino confirmed that Barca’s talisman and fellow Argentinian Lionel Messi would continue to operate in his current role.
“He will continue to play in exactly the same position. He has to feel comfortable, after that he’ll do the rest.”
Messi will be joined by big-name Brazilian signing Neymar for the new campaign, while Martino appeared to rule out the departure of midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who is the subject of a bid from English Premier League champions Manchester United.
Asked about United’s attempts to sign the Spanish international with a $38 million bid on the table, Martino gave a firm reply.
“If the club has signaled its refusal twice, then I signal it a third time – and so he (Fabregas) will be staying here,”
Club vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who flanked Martino with president Sandro Rosell, also chipped in.
“We are not thinking of selling Cesc,” he said. “That United are showing interest in Cesc is normal, because he’s a great player.
“That doesn’t upset us, that makes us proud that they want one of our players.
“But whatever the offer, we won’t be selling him. We are relying on him.”
Martino’s appointment Tuesday came as a surprise as he has no managerial experience in Europe.
But his pedigree is clear, winning four championship titles in Paraguay, before guiding their national team to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup.
He has also been a success at Newell’s, a former club of Messi.
Martino is the fourth Argentine to take the helm at Barcelona after Roque Olsen, Helenio Herrera and Cesar Luis Menotti.