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May 17, 2014

Martino to leave after Barca fall short

Barcelona boss Gerardo 'Tata' Martino has announced that he will leave his post after failing to guide the club to the Primera Division title.

Mitten: Three Things from Camp Nou
Walker: Tears of joy for Atletico

Atletico Madrid were crowned Spanish champions for the first time since 1996 after drawing 1-1 with Barca in a dramatic La Liga title decider on the season's final day.

The Argentinean manager, whose one trophy came in the season-opening Spanish Supercopa, arrived at Camp Nou from Newell's Old Boys last summer, stepping in for Tito Vilanova as he sought treatment in his fight against cancer -- a battle he ultimately lost last month.

As well as failing to win the league title, Martino fell short in the Champions League and Copa del Rey -- with exits to Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid respectively -- and confirming his intention to leave at his postmatch news conference on Saturday.

"I want to communicate that I have agreed with the club to end my time as Barcelona coach," Martino said. "I appreciate the club, the president [Josep Maria Bartomeu], sporting director [Andoni] Zubizarreta, [former president] Sandro [Rosell] having all supported me. But we did not achieve objectives club is used to, and has done year after year. We tried until the end, with a lot of humility, but we met a rival better than us.

"Above all I want to thank the group of players - to talk of their great qualities as players and persons too. The club does not just have a great heritage in players, but also in human quality, which is the most important thing. We apologise to the fans for not reaching the expectations.

"It has been enormous pride for us to coach this club, we admired the players from outside, and then admired them from inside, and will keep doing so again in what will for sure be successful years for them. I want to congratulate Atletico Madrid for their season - they have done very well and deserve their success."

Zubizarreta was also present in the Camp Nou press room and thanked 'Tata' for his work through what was a difficult season at the club.

"I want to thank Tata for his work in what has been difficult year from the start," the former Barca keeper said. "He has helped us to keep the team's competitive level. We were still in the Copa del Rey final five minutes from the end, and in the running for La Liga until the last seconds. We appreciate his dedication, how he has maintained the prestige of this club. He is a good person and a great coach, we will have an excellent friend in Rosario from now on."

While no official confirmation has yet been made, the Catalan club is expected to appoint former Blaugrana player Luis Enrique as Martino's successor early next week. On Friday Enrique announced he was stepping down after just one season in charge at Celta Vigo, and hinted he would soon be able to reveal his next career step.

Tata Martino is unlikely to still be in the Barcelona dugout next season.
Tata Martino leaves Barcelona with just one trophy to his name, the 2013 Spanish Supercopa.

Bartomeu would not talk about the coaching position when he spoke on Canal Plus after the game but did confirm that the coming summer will bring sweeping changes at the Camp Nou.

"There are some players who know they will not continue," he said. "It is not the end of an era, but there will be deep changes. From Monday we begin to execute the projects Zubizarreta has been working on."

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