The Barcelona fans knew it. The players thought it. And those who appointed him should follow him out of the door. For it was they who gave him the job and they who offered him so little help once they had.
Not least club President, Josep Maria Bartomeu. The supporters want that man gone. This is a man who said the following after Barcelona’s nervy, inept, kick and rush attempt to beat Atletico Madrid and land the most improbable and undeserving of league titles.
To the dismay of seasoned Barça fans, Bartomeu uttered: “A lot happened this season, but the team always kept fighting. Some players know they will leave, but the style will stay the same.”
I trust he doesn’t mean the “style” employed by Martino. There was no style.
He managed to turn a team that was beginning to be found out before he arrived, into one that was easy to roll over this past season.
Martino is the man who thought Xavi Hernández was the problem and not the solution. If he picked Xavi to start games the team might revert to the passing game perfected under Pep Guardiola. Perish the thought!
The Barcelona supporters I shared a bar with on Saturday night were not surprised the manager left Xavi on the bench. But, like me, they were dismayed. How can you possibly think of leaving out the finest of footballers for such a crucial match? Bringing him on as the last substitute with fifteen minutes remaining only added insult to injury.
Tata Martino threw out the baby with the bath water and I’m glad he’s gone. So are several players.
Yes we all know he has crazy hair, but he’s had it since he was a child. He never joined the race for a fashionable barnet!
But Puyol does represent what was best about the Barcelona side that won so many titles and trophies. He knew he wasn’t the best full back that’s ever walked the earth, but he was one of the best captains I have ever seen. On and off the pitch.
One of his former playing colleagues, a man Puyol calls “my good friend” will shortly be appointed the new manager of Barcelona. Luis Enrique is cut from a similar rock to that of Atletico’s now much celebrated manager, Diego Simeone.
Enrique played 300 games for Barcelona and coached Barcelona ´B´between 2008 and 2011. He worked closely with Pep Guardiola and his successor, the late Tito Vilanova.
Luis Enrique will leave his job as manager of Celta Vigo to take charge at Barcelona.
On Saturday I asked a collection of phlegmatic Barça fans if they thought he was the right man.
Pau said: “He is a Barcelona man. We forgive him for playing for Real Madrid. He is young and has done a good job at Celta Vigo. There are many changes to make and he is tough enough to do things his way.”
Feliu said: “He wouldn’t be my first or second choice. That would be Valverde or Pellegrini. I’m just relieved Martino has gone. He was a terrible choice.”
Enrique will put fire back in the bellies of Barcelona players. He will try to recreate the team spirit that was once the backbone of FC Barcelona. He will do away with what Barcelona players were calling the “old fashioned, out of date tactics” of Martino.
But can Luis Enrique solve the problem that is Lionel Messi?
Make no mistake about it, the form of Messi in the last third of this past season is a mystery that would leave the finest team of detectives scratching their collective heads.
What went wrong with Lionel Messi? Did he fall out with the manager? Did he down tools? Has he had one eye on the World Cup? I’ve been watching him for years and I saw him smile much less this past season than ever before. He looked as fed up at work as many a 9-5 office employee.
But Messi smiled today, Monday, when signing a contract extension.
Luis Enrique has a rebuilding job to do every bit as big as that facing the former Barça manager Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United.
Other players will leave Barcelona. Can Neymar please be one of them? Please!
When it comes to players who were just plain wrong for the Barcelona way of playing football, Neymar is up there with the brilliant (when in the right team) Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Barcelona need an outlet for Messi’s skills. They require a striker who will score plenty of goals and do so while being able to fit in to the passing game that worked so well for the club for so many years. Presuming, please God, that Luis Enrique brings such style back to Camp Nou.
Cesc Fàbregas is likely to be put up for sale. A likeable man and Barcelona courses through his veins. But he’s not good enough. I said so when he was signed and I say so again now. He was brought in with a view to eventually replacing 34 year old Xavi. Sorry Cesc, but you’re not in the same league as Xavi.
They need new defenders. Gerard Pique is signing a new contract, which is fine by me if not with all Barça fans.
Javier Mascherano has tried his best but was never cut out to play in central defence. After losing the La Liga title he said: “An unrepeatable cycle has ended. I don’t think this club, or any other club, will ever live this again. Now we can value it.
“My future? I said last week some players will leave, but I wasn’t talking about me. If the club wants me to leave, I will. This hasn’t been a good season, the club will have to make decisions.”
The aforementioned club President, Bartomeu, said: “We couldn’t win any major trophy. We’ve been working on a new project for weeks now. There will be profound changes.”
I’m pleased to hear it.