Tottenham Hotspur manager shortlist: Gerardo Martino

David Ramos

Barcelona's stopgap could be Tottenham Hotspur's version of Manuel Pellegrini.

La Liga's de facto championship playoff game is this weekend, and if he doesn't win, Gerardo Martino is probably out of a job. Heck, FC Barcelona might fire him even if he does win La Liga. That will make him available for other jobs, and Tottenham Hotspur might be a great landing spot.

Let's talk about him.

Gerardo Martino, manager, FC Barcelona

Career Record: Between his stints in the top flight in Argentina, his spell as Barcelona boss and his time as Paraguay's manager, he has 92 wins, 43 draws and 41 losses. That's good for a winning percentage of 52.27 percent. Stats aren't easily available for his other jobs, but he did really well in Paraguayan club football.

Accomplishments: He's won the Paraguayan Primera Division four times, the Argentine Championship once and the Supercopa for Barcelona. He's also qualified Paraguay for the World Cup, gone undefeated in a World Cup and made the final of Copa America. He also guided Barcelona to this year's Champions League quarterfinal, Copa del Rey final and will finish second in La Liga at worst. He could win the title on Saturday.

Before he was a football manager: Martino was a very successful attacking midfielder, mostly for Newell's Old Boys, who he eventually went on to coach. He also had one spell in Spain. He was capped once by Argentina in his career and won the Argentine Primera three times. He's considered one of the best players in Newell's' history.

Tactical analysis: Martino's best trait as a manager is probably his tactical flexibility. He prefers to play a high-pressure, exciting, attacking style of football, but certainly isn't married to it. By the end of his reign as Paraguay boss, they were one of the most boring sides in world football, but they were effective. They drew each of their World Cup games and Pulisballed their way to a Copa America final. His favored formation is 4-3-3, but he's busted out plenty of 4-4-2, 4-5-1 and even a narrow 4-3-1-2 in his career.

At Newell's, Martino eased a poor team into his preferred style of play. They started out fairly rigid and defensive, then gradually became one of the most entertaining sides in South America. By the time he'd fully implemented an extremely aggressive and exciting style, Newell's were able to win a championship.

Martino has been a stopgap coach at Barcelona and he seems to know it. With the Catalans having no time to seek out the perfect successor to Tito Vilanova, they made the choice to hire Martino, who they thought could help bridge them from the style they're known for into some combination of tiki-taka and the bulldozer football Bayern Munich destroyed them with. He's been somewhat successful -- Neymar's solid defensive workrate is quite stunning -- but there's nothing anyone could do about Barcelona's shambolic defense.

This guy sucks; why is he on the list?: Because he's a better coach than his Paraguay and Barcelona sides indicate. I think Barcelona would have won two domestic trophies comfortably and competed for a treble if they bought a world class central defender in the summer, and he obviously only had a limited set of players to choose from as Paraguay boss. It's telling that Newell's and Paraguay have both dropped off considerably since he departed.

Would he come to Tottenham?: I don't have the answer to that question, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. I've never heard Martino speak about a desire to try his hand in England, but I can't imagine he'll be offered a job bigger than Tottenham Hotspur if he's fired by Barcelona. It would certainly be tempting.

Final thoughts: I'm a big fan of Martino's and I think he's gotten a raw deal at Barcelona. A Supercopa win, La Liga runners-up, Copa del Rey runners-up and a Champions League quarterfinal exit sounds like a failure of a season for Barcelona, but they've been ignoring their central defense problem for years and it's finally caught up to them. He's a versatile tactician who has been a success everywhere he's gone and he's a Marcelo Bielsa disciple without the craziness that makes Bielsa unfit for big jobs. If he gets fired on Monday, Daniel Levy would be crazy not to give his agent a call.

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