FC Barcelona's new coach Gerardo Martino said it was a "privilege to be joining this institution" during his official unveiling as Tito Vilanova's replacement at the helm of the four-time European champions.
Martino's appointment on Tuesday was necessitated by Vilanova's departure late last week following a setback in his recovery from throat cancer. As he greeted the press upon his arrival from CA Newell's Old Boys, the new Barça boss paid a warm tribute to his predecessor. "I would like to send my best to Tito – we know the reasons we are here," the 50-year-old said. "I have spoken with [Vilanova] and thank him for the welcome he gave me. He wished me, and everybody, the best of luck."
Acknowledging that taking charge of the Liga champions was a daunting task for any coach, Martino told Friday's media conference that he would nonetheless look to tailor his own methods to fit an already successful Blaugrana side. "We are going to try to play in a way which the players are most comfortable with," he explained. "Obviously I will put my own stamp on things, personal ideas that can help make the team more complete. Here there is already an idea [of how things are done]. I have to make sure the players continue with a hunger and desire to win. If we can achieve that, we will have good years ahead."
A former midfielder and trainer of Newell's in his native Argentina, 'Tata' also coached the Paraguay national team between 2007 and 2011, leading them at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Despite his managerial successes in South America, however, he said his reputation in Europe had yet to be forged. "It's absolutely normal that many Barcelona fans don't know me," he conceded. "Had I worked in Europe before they would surely [know me] better. [But] being a coach in Argentina is not easy, in footballing terms it's a difficult job."
Thrilled at the prospect of overseeing the Camp Nou's multi-talented squad, Martino thanked those responsible for his installation on a two-year contract. "I am full of appreciation for the board of directors for this opportunity and the confidence they have shown in me," he said.
"A year ago I would never have thought about being here. I thought one day I would coach Lionel Messi at Newell's. For me and many other coaches, coming here is not easy, even if you are ambitious. I want us all to start getting to know each other very quickly, to gain the players' confidence. Even though Barcelona have achieved excellence I believe every team can improve in some way. Sustaining a high level in order to keep on winning will be the key."
Martino had arrived in Spain on Thursday and becomes the fourth Argentine to take the reins of the Catalan club after Roque Olsen, Helenio Herrera and César Luis Menotti.
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