Following the sad news of Tito Vilanova’s resignation last week, Barcelona have acted quickly to name a successor.
The world is about to get very interested in Gerardo “Tata” Martino, as he takes charge at the Camp Nou on a two-year deal.
But what do we know about him already?
Well, Martino is 50 and is one of the disciples of famed tactician Marcelo Bielsa. He has led the Paraguayan national team to the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals and they were also runners up during the 2011 Copa America in his time in charge.
The Argentinian manager is highly regarded by Barca’s players as both Lionel Messi and captain Carlos Puyol raved about him before the announcement was made official earlier this morning.
But he has no experience of managing in European soccer, with only a short playing stint at La Liga side Tenerife in 1991 and spent the rest of his time in South America.
So what can he bring to the table?
Well, Martino is a big believer in playing a 4-3-3 system that Barca already deploy and also likes to use a false number nine, as Barca already do with Messi on the pitch. Now it’s all starting to fit together.
He is made for the Catalan club and his values and tactical standpoint are in line with the philosophy the club has developed over the past decade.
Also, Martino was born in Rosario, the same city where Lionel Messi grew up in and was named Newell’s Old Boys greatest ever player. He was most recently in charge of Newell’s as they were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores on penalties at the semifinal stage.
His coaching pedigree is undoubted in South America, but can he translate that to European soccer? Only time will tell.
But if Messi and Barcelona’s other superstars wanted him to be their new manager, then the guy they call “Tata” has to be pretty good.
Soon we will know plenty about Gerardo Martino. But for now here’s a quick look at his playing and coaching career so far.
• Record appearance holder with Newell’s Old Boys with 505 matches and one cap for Argentina national team plus spells in Spain, Ecuador and Chile before retiring in 1996.
• As a manager, he spent his formative years with lower league Argentine sides Brown de Arrecifes, Platense and Instituto before titles in Paraguay with Libertad and Cerro Porteno.
• Took over as manager of Paraguayan national team in 2006 and four years later steered them to the World Cup quarterfinals where they were beaten by eventual winners Spain. Quit after finishing runners-up to Uruguay in the 2011 Copa America.
• Returned to manage his former club Newell’s Old Boys in 2012 and guided them to the Argentine Clausura title in his first season. They lost on penalties in the 2013 Copa Libertadores semifinal a few weeks ago.