Argentinian coach Gerardo Martino is not as prone to sounding off as some of his colleagues, but he never shies away from a debate or leaves a question unanswered. Ever faithful to his coaching philosophy, he adopts a pragmatic approach in defending his ideas on and off the pitch.
That pragmatism was very much in evidence earlier this week, when he was unveiled as his country’s new national team coach. Speaking at a press conference, he reflected on his time in charge of Barcelona: “It was a situation I was unfamiliar with but eventually got used to. Coming from Argentina, where the result is everything, to a place where the result is not enough, I had to learn pretty quickly. And I did." All in all, it was a "pretty good grounding" for what lies ahead.
Not averse to being self-critical, pausing for thought and telling it how it is, the 51-year-old Tata has scaled the heights in a coaching career that has also produced some memorable observations. FIFA.com rounds up the best of them
“I’m against teams that have the resources to attack but choose not to. As for teams that don’t, well I try not to judge them. I’d never just sit and wait. I always play as far away from my goal as possible.”
On his football philosophy.
“Both are important today and one’s linked to the other. There are times when players’ minds are not right and they look as if they don’t know how to play. And there are times when they’re in the right frame of mind and they look like they’re from another planet. In my book, anyone who makes the first division knows how to play the game. But the mental side of things has a very big part to play.”
On being asked if he is more concerned with players’ minds or their feet.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t learn Guarani because the players didn’t have to hide themselves away in a room to insult me. If you ask me, I’ve always thought we were the foreigners, that we were the ones who had to change and not them.”
In a May interview with the magazine El Gráfico, on being asked if he had learned Guarani, an indigenous language spoken by many Paraguay players.
“We had our chances but it was Spain who went through, not Paraguay. It’s a game. Chances got created and only one team took one of the few going.”
Following Paraguay’s 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Spain at South Africa 2010. La Albirroja missed a penalty when the game was still goalless.
“I’ve got nothing left to offer. We thought the team would grow after the World Cup, and there’s no one else responsible for that but the coaching team.”
In July 2011, on leaving the Paraguay job following the side’s defeat in the final of the Copa America, a tournament in which they did not win a single game in open play.
“Nearly a year and a half has gone by since the World Cup and I still haven’t watched the Spain game again. I’ve got it taped in my house, but I’m never able to say how close we came to winning it.”
On that 1-0 defeat to Spain, in an interview with the newspaper La Nación in January 2012, when he was still in charge at his beloved Newell’s Old Boys.
“I totally disagree with the idea that coaches are more important than players. I don’t see it that way at all. Coaches have been on a pedestal for a while now.”
Speaking on the Argentinian radio programme Un Buen Momento on 30 March 2012.
“Coaching Argentina would be amazing but it’s not a dream.”
Also in 2012, when the national team job was still a long way off.
“It’s always nice when people compare you to someone you admire. You can even get many years of work out of it. There are 19 teams that want Bielsa, and they can’t all get him so they call someone else. It’s something that works in my favour.”
On comparisons between him and Marcelo Bielsa.
“I agree with [Pep] Guardiola on everything: his ideas, the way he plays and the way he behaves. That said, I’d never pass up the chance to have a coffee with [Jose] Mourinho.”
Speaking on the TV programme Estudio Fútbol in January 2013, while still in charge at Newell’s Old Boys and before Barcelona came into his plans.
“A winning coach isn’t always in the right. You can win titles but leave no legacy behind you, though I have to admit that it would be a failure not to win major titles here. I’m going to respect the style of the club and its players and the way they’ve become accustomed to doing things. On top of all that I’ll be bringing in one or two of my own things to make the team more complete.”
On his appointment to the Barcelona job in July 2013.
“When we won it was because of the players. When we lost it was because of me. It was hard to carry on. And when players come out and support the coach in public it might be nice at the time, but it weakens your position.”
In June 2014, on his departure from the Camp Nou.
“The door is open to every player.”
The new Argentina coach, on being asked if Carlos Tevez will be recalled to the side.