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Jul 24, 2013

Cruyff: I know nothing about Martino

Barcelona great Johan Cruyff has said he knows nothing about Gerardo 'Tata' Martino, who is expected to be unveiled as the new Barcelona manager on Thursday after agreeing a two-year contract to replace Tito Vilanova, who is stepping down.

Johan Cruyff is stepping down as coach of the Catalonia team after an unbeaten three-year spell
Cruyff is in the dark about Martino.

- Kelly: Traditions maintained

Martino spent much of his playing and coaching career in Argentina, and Cruyff told El 9 TV: "El Tata? I don't know him. I know absolutely nothing about him."

But Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who began his career at Martino's former club Newell's Old Boys, said on his wechat account: "Martino's arrival as manager of this club has been a wonderful surprise."

Elvio Paolorosso, Martino's fitness coach, said Barca would have "regretted it" if they had not made a move for him, adding: "Newell's Old Boys were the Barcelona of South America."

He told El partido de las 12: "Martino lives for football 24 hours a day. He knows about everything - systems, players… he will adapt perfectly."

Former Espanyol manager and fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino told La Sexta: "Barcelona are 100% right to make this signing. El Tata has the values that a coach needs in order to take charge of a team full of star players.

"His football philosophy is in line with Barca's, and he won't have any trouble settling in. He enjoys working with the younger players and he has a real love for the profession."

Ex-Barca player Juan Antonio Pizzi told Sport how fans could expect their team to play under Martino.

"He likes to play with a 4-3-3 formation, with two full-backs who play like wing-backs, just like at Barca, and with a midfield that controls play," he explained.

"The best thing about Tata Martino is the simplicity – he makes things very clear and easy to follow. He is very honest about the way he wants to play."

Pizzi also said that although Martino looks up to his compatriot Marcelo Bielsa, his teams do not play in the same way as Bielsa's.

"Martino doesn't play as directly as Bielsa and his teams aren't as intense as Bielsa's," he explained. "He prefers a more measured style of play."

Meanwhile, Barca's reported second option to replace Tito Vilanova on the Barca bench, Luis Enrique, said he had had no contact with his former club.

"The Barca stories were just rumours," the Celta Vigo boss told reporters. "We are preparing Celta Vigo for the season ahead, and we've been concentrating on that. But I wish Tata Martino the best of luck."

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