Tata Martino has explained that he is not fussed by continued debate over Barcelona’s developing playing style under his watch.
Whilst Barca ran out 4-0 winners at Vallecas on Saturday night, Rayo Vallecano became the first opponents since 2008 to record more possession in a match than the Catalans.
“I’m not bothered by the debate [over style],” began Martino to reporters today in his pre-Real Sociedad Press conference.
“For a team that has approached excellence, there will always be discussions in these situations, more so when a Coach is neither from inside the club nor Dutch.
“My interest is in how the group of players are. They look solid and relaxed and that gives me peace of mind.
“Possession is significant according to the team. For Barcelona it is very important, but you have to look at the characteristics of the opponents, the background and the Coach.
“The possession against Rayo last season was 55 per cent, which Barca was not accustomed to.
“Rayo was second highest in the League on possession. You have to analyse everything. The dimensions benefited them more. It’s okay.
“I came here to change nothing and if we question the possession average, in the past year it was 66 per cent and this year it has been 65.8 per cent.
“For this 0.2 per cent you say that I have come to change everything…and if we are to talk of long passes, I remember Rafa Marquez played here, so we are not doing anything that has not been here before.
“We have to keep improving the game. I want to look at the second halves against Ajax and Rayo. The players are becoming more comfortable. That is the way. We are far from perfect, but we are on the right track.
“We have many things to improve. The ideas is to play from the first half of games how we have played in those two games from the second half.”
Even with the discussion on playing style, Barca have so far won every League and European game played this season.
“I would much rather win the League than make a great start. I am interested in how the year ends, not records now, but if we keep winning then all the better.”
Real Sociedad arrive as Week 6’s opponents on Tuesday night.
“I consider them to be one of the best teams. Last year they did very well and started strongly in Europe. They are a very good team with excellent individuals. They are destabilising.
“We will see if and how they make any rotations to their team. I have a very good relationship with [sporting director] Loren, who has been very interested in my work.
“I had the chance to go to San Sebastian [earlier this summer], as I did with Malaga, but there were circumstances that prevented me.”
The weekend win at Rayo saw Andres Iniesta begin from the bench for not the first time this season.
“Nobody can think that Andres is not a starter. Clearly he is. But with everything that he has done in the summer, the Confederations Cup, some players need time to catch their ideal state of form.”
Martino was asked of Neymar’s early work in the team. The summer signing has yet to score in La Liga after five appearances.
“You measure the degree of adaptation depending on whether he scores goals, but he is providing a great contribution to the team’s creation with the ball and recovery of possession. He has adapted very quickly and I am very happy with his response.
“It cannot be forgotten that he has had a difficult summer in the Confederations Cup and a turbulent arrival to Barcelona, for everything he represents as a player and he has had many trips that have not allowed him to train normally.
“We are very pleased with all that he is offering.”