Tata Martino has admitted he isn’t happy with his performance in his first season as Barcelona Coach.
The tactician has also complained about the rush to judge Barca using only short-term criteria and not the club’s longer track record.
Martino has held a Press conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Athletic Bilbao and Mundo Deportivo reports the Coach touched on a number of subjects, from recent results and Barca’s prospects for the rest of the season to his long-term future.
“We have all felt the blow of what happened in the last week. It was three hits in three games and that hurts,” Martino said.
“They are very hard knocks to which we are unaccustomed. There’s no formalities or a result, just bumps that hurt and leave us disappointed. We have to make an effort and draw strength.
“It could also be that the team above us [Atletico Madrid] had a result that favours us and we just have to do our job.
“You have to analyse the five or six years this team has played together. Doing it on the last two years seems a bit unfair.
“When one reviews the players at Barca and their ages I think we can continue competing without any problems of age.
“As in every club there are players coming and going. We also make winning teams.
“When you look at the ages of Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi, Neymar…they’re kids with a bright future. I don’t think the squad’s age means we need a profound change.”
The talk turned to Martino’s future amid speculation he will only spend one year on the Camp Nou bench. The Argentine confirmed he wasn’t planning for next season – but only because Barca still have something to play for this year.
“It would be a mistake to think of next season when we still have a chance in the League,” Martino argued.
“I didn’t say I had made a decision [about my future]. I said [after the Copa del Rey final defeat] that winning or losing doesn’t change my view of my contractual situation.
“I don’t have to say anything. I have come here to stand up for the results but I have nothing to report.
“I hope we can get back to winning ways in the next game and prolong the season with five remaining dates. Otherwise we have no chance.
“I’m not satisfied with my work. We’re managing expectations for the remainder of the season because the expectation is to win something.
“When the results are what they are I can’t be satisfied with my work.
“The Supercopa was almost forgotten but the fact of not having any more opportunities in two competitions and almost none in the third one means you can’t take anything positive from my work.
“My strength must be in the current season. I owe these players and would betray myself if I was thinking about next season.
“We shall see but I’ve got to focus on what happens this year and in these next five games.
“Our stumble has meant teams above us have a better upside. Unfortunately we’ve lost the ability to depend on ourselves.”
Much of the talk around La Blaugrana this season has related to Neymar and Messi. The former is facing a race against time to be fit for the end of the season while Martino says the latter is unduly criticised.
“I’m not optimistic Neymar could play again this season for Barca,” Martino revealed.
“They talk about the future of Messi, me and 99% of the people in the football world, we’re surprised that anyone can question Messi’s future.
“Players sometimes have good games and bad games. Not to give anyone greater importance but what happens with Messi is that everything is magnified.
“His future is in Barcelona until he stops playing.”