No point in looking back to Guardiola's Barca

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Despite Gerardo Martino leading Barcelona to an unbeaten start of the season in little more than 100 days in charge, the Spanish media seems determined to try to find problems where, if you analyse the situation carefully, there aren't any.

After 14 victories, four draws and not a single defeat since official competitions started back in August, it really amazes me there are still some people out there who could be dissatisfied with the way their team is performing this season.

Perhaps those doubters were also the ones who started criticising Lionel Messi's commitment when the top scorer in the club's history went four matches without a goal after three weeks recovering from a recurring muscle injury -- proved wrong with his Champions League double against AC Milan.

-Martino says he wasn't worried about Messi
-Pique: We can't match Pep's Barca
-Adidas deny Messi move plot

I just don't see what Tata could be doing better at this stage. Barcelona fans had been demanding a more solid defensive approach and alternatives upfront to take some of the pressure on Messi's shoulders up front for years. The manager has already taken decisive steps towards improvement and, with time, things can only get better.

Sure, I understand the nostalgic will always look back at 2009 and dread any kind of change. Unfortunately, football is such a highly demanding sport that those who don't evolve with the times simply get stuck in the past and fail miserably as a result.

As successful as Pep Guardiola was, nobody can overlook his admirable attacking approach failed to break Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012 -- even the best manager in the club's history struggled at times.

While Barcelona's beautiful football received deserved recognition around the world, the formula was not infallible against ultra-defensive rivals who based their game on a robust back-line and lightning-fast counterattacking bursts.

Whether Cules like it or not, the romantic pass-and-move approach under Guardiola (carried on by successor Tito Vilanova) just wasn't enough for Barcelona to reach the top of European football -- as Chelsea and Bayern Munich so painfully proved in the two latest editions of the Champions League.

Allowing Martino to tweak the previous system by introducing these variations is not a choice, but a need. The more direct approach that key players such as Neymar, Cesc Fabregas or Alexis Sanchez are adding to the team could certainly tip the balance in Barcelona's favour this season when the crucial stages of European football come in April and May.

Having watched the Blaugranas from the early 1980s, I remember when winning La Liga over Real Madrid in the very last minute or once every four seasons was considered a huge success. The way in which the Camp Nou celebrated achieving fourth place (a massive 17 points behind Los Blancos) in the 2000-01 season is a clear indication that, despite the success the club has enjoyed in the recent past, things haven't always been so positive at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona are unbeaten and clearly growing as a solid unit under Martino. It is clear that the way the team is playing is still far from perfect but I'd rather have the team peaking when it really matters than at the beginning of November when no titles are decided.

Instead of taking these favourable results for granted, doubters should take a step back and appreciate that minor changes were needed in order to bring further success to Catalunya.

Having won 34 of 36 points in the domestic league and qualified for the Champions League knockout stages with two games to spare, El Tata has already earned my recognition and trust.

The Quote -- "Comparing us to the Pep Guardiola team back in 2009 team is difficult and can hurt us. That was the best team in history, the only one capable of winning the six major titles in the same season. Football changes and people already knew us. We now have a new coach and need time. Considering our results, talking about crisis would be worrying." -- Gerard Pique.

70,500 Cules follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Barcablog Facebook for news and opinion notes on Barcelona.

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