'Tata' Martino asks fans to be patient
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino admitted that the tactical tweaks he is making at Barcelona have yet to really bear fruit, when speaking after Wednesday's 4-0 Champions League win over Ajax at the Camp Nou.
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Barca eased home to victory thanks mainly to another dazzling Lionel Messi hat-trick, but looked less than comfortable at times against a young and technically gifted but still limited Ajax side.
Martino told reporters afterwards that he understood supporters' impatience, but there were signs the team was making progress in what he wanted them to do.
"Barcelona have recently reached footballing excellence so the fans are more demanding," Martino said. "I understand that they did not like the first half, that they were not satisfied. But they should be fairly satisfied with the second half. It was not a brilliant match but we put in a strong performance. Our second half was better than our first. We controlled the game better, we pressed well and we defended well. But, yes, it is a little worrying that the team can get 'broken' at times."
Martino rejected a suggestion from a reporter that his instruction for players to play more long passes at times went against the style that had made Barca so successful in recent years.
"I do not know how many times I have said this, but we are not trying to change the team's style of play," he said. "I saw Rafa Marquez making long passes five years ago. It does not mean we are changing the style if we add alternatives to our play."
Cesc Fabregas echoed his boss' sentiments in his post-game comments to Barca's official website.
"There are nuances that we have to improve," Fabregas said. "We are working well and the results are good. We all strive for excellence. I think it will come soon. If we can counter-attack it is worth giving it a try. We are training to improve a couple of things. We need to read the games the way the boss wants us to."
The ex-Arsenal man was again playing in a midfield 'interior' position, with Xavi rotated out by Martino for the game. Cesc said he was satisfied with his own personal situation at the moment.
"I have played in a couple of positions and the truth is that I feel comfortable," he said. "I am feeling good physically and that is the most important thing."
Messi was also on message when he spoke with Canal Plus afterwards.
"As games go on we are adapting more," the Argentine said. "In the second half we did what we always do -- have the ball. At the start pressing the ball was tough for us as they moved it well. In any case, we played a great game.
"There are games when it is better to have the ball, and others where the opponents close up and you must hit them on the break. We have good passers of the ball, and speedy players to do that. It is good to begin winning, knowing that all groups in the Champions League are difficult."