Barcelona: Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has enjoyed his first season in charge at the club despite a disappointing season for the Spanish champions, he said on Friday.
The Catalan side have stuttered into the closing stages of the campaign and only have a remote chance of winning the La Liga as they trail leaders Atletico Madrid by four points with three games left.
They were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals by Atletico and defeat in the King’s Cup final by bitter rivals Real Madrid means Barca have fallen well short of expectations. “It has been a year that of learning for me, of a team of this level, the league and of European football," Martino told a new conference ahead of the weekend match at home to Getafe.
"How to manage with difficult situations, live with the criticisms and the praises as well as many other experiences.I think you learn everywhere but especially here you learn a lot and quickly. “It has been a season with a lot of intensity but I wouldn’t say problematic. The club receives a lot of attention and the first year was always going to be difficult. The analysis changes with the results. It is a year where there has been a lot to learn and incorporate in my career. I hope to take it all on board.”
The Argentine signed a two-year deal ahead of this campaign but it includes a clause which allows either party to cancel the agreement after the first year.
He looks unlikely to stay and former Barcelona favourite Luis Enrique, currently coach of Celta Vigo, leads the list ofcandidates to replace him.
“The chances until recently against Granada have been high (to win the league) and we had a lot of hope. We now continue with the same desire that we have shown against Athletic (Bilbao) and Villarreal,” said Martino.
“We hope to continue as far as we can and do what is in our hands. It is still mathematically possible even though the likelihood is not very high.
“The players have the drive which was important in their period of glory that they have had. Even when things are not going well they continue to battle."
Martino also had words of sympathy for Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola who has been criticised for his style of football following the German side’s Champions League mauling by Real Madrid. “The comments that he and I receive cannot be compared as what he has achieved is the best in the history of football, not just Barcelona,” he said.
“He defined a new era. To praise Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid it is not necessary to discredit another style or another way of thinking.
"On top of this, the Spain national side also plays this way. If you discredit the short passing game of Guardiola then you are also saying that the national team is going to lose as well.”