Sooner than later there will be changes in the FC Barcelona first team staff. Specifically, there will be reduction. When the club left on its pre-season Asian tour, 27 staff members (technical, medical and other assistants) joined the players. A prominent, but unnamed club source said, “the situation is unsustainable. It’s clear that we cannot continue like this for much longer.”
Basically Barça has let eras overlap. Often in other clubs, English ones in particular, as managers leave, the majority of the staff follows suit. At FC Barcelona, staff exists from Pep Guardiola’s and Tito Vilanova’s time. Now add Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s people, people he has all the right in the world to want around him.
Martino brought along with him four new personnel. Assistant Manager Jorge Remigio Pautasso and physio Elvio Paolorrosso have worked with Tata for over 13 years. The other two men (Raúl Marcovich, Adrián Coria) are scouting experts, and are actually being paid by Martino personally. This is because the club has refused to pay additional analysts seeing as three are already on the payroll. Again, that’s unsustainable. Martino cannot and should not continue to fork money out of his own pocket to have his men on board. At the end of the day, Fernando Polo from El Mundo Deportivo (EMD), is correct with his assessment that, “when it comes down to it, Tata will confide in his people.”
Smack in the middle of all this is obviously Martino himself. His initial approach was diplomacy rather than that of a bull in a china shop. He wanted to get to know all the staff members, see if they could work together and understand what value they could offer. And while Martino apparently was not against having so many people, as time passed, it became apparent things needed to be streamlined. He is trying to install his methods but there are many staff members in the habit of working under Pep’s style or Tito’s approach. And because those methods bore such success, it becomes difficult to see beyond them. He is additionally wary that “gangs” or “cliques” – the Pep guys, the Tito guys and the Tata guys – don’t begin to form which could disrupt the dressing room harmony.
But there are too many people, even for a club of Barça’s size. Right now there are four direct technical assistants in Jordi Roura, new man Rubi, goalkeeping expert José Ramón de la Fuente and second in charge Pautasso. There are also five pysios in Paolorrosso, Paco Seirul-lo, Aureli Altimira, Edu Pons and Francesc Cos. Reports are there are too many cooks in the kitchen, too many voices to be heard, too many people to travel with, too many hotel rooms to book. Employees are uncertain of their role because several others also occupy it. The setup isn’t efficient.
Not everyone’s job is at risk. There are four core members in the medical team, one club delegate, one manager tasked with managing players’ needs, two equipment managers and the press relations team. However, an interesting narrative presents itself in Jordi Roura, someone Club President Sandro Rosell called a “hero.”
Roura was hired in 2009 as a video analyst at the specific request of Pep Guardiola. When Tito Vilanova took the throne, Roura was made assistant manager. Then Vilanova got sick and Jordi Roura stepped up. And then Roura became the scapegoat. But those in the know, those close to the situation, Rosell, Andoni Zubizarreta, Tito and local journalists had only words of gratitude for Roura. As the El Pais put it, “Barça owe him one.” But now with an excess of technical assistants, Roura is uncertain about his role in the club. The goodwill he amassed last season sees the directive motivated in finding the man a role, but as Roura said, “what will be will be.”
EMD claims that while Martino wants the numbers slashed, he does not consider that part of his job. Therefore it falls to Zubi to scour the organization for roles that fit someone like Roura’s or even Rubi’s skill sets. That’s likely in the youth setup. However EMD reports that Martino is a fan of Rubi’s rapport with the younger squad members and values his tactical work.
While not related to Gerardo Martino’s arrival, there was chatter last week that Zubizarreta’s role was in jeopardy. The theory came from EMD’s Francesc Perearnau and is founded on the transfer market misses. Neymar was predominately signed thanks to Rosell’s past ties with Brazilian football and the obvious will of the player himself. His contract ends June 30, 2014, but reports yesterday from EMD indicate that he will extended until 2016, the end of Rosell’s first term.
Hiring Martino ended a metaphoric homogeny of managers. Barça very soon will do the same with the supporting staff. While such issues are almost entirely indistinguishable from a fans perspective, let’s hope everything is done with careful consideration and no unneeded fracturing occurs.
EnriqueSDS is a senior writer and editor for totalBarça, he can also be found in the Twittersphere under @enriqueschoch