BARCELONA (AFP) - Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino announced he will leave the club after failing to win a major title in his one season in charge.
The Catalans’ hopes of retaining La Liga were ended on Saturday by a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid which saw the side from the capital crowned champions for the first time in 18 years.
“I wanted to announce that I have reached an agreement with the club to no longer be the coach of Barcelona,” he said at his post-match press conference.
“I congratulate Atletico Madrid. We have faced them six times in the Supercup, the Champions League and today and they have been a great opponent throughout the season.
“I would to thank absolutely everyone at the club for believing in me. I am sorry that we didn’t achieve the objectives that the club normally does.
“We have tried until the end with a lot of dignity, but in the end we came up against an opponent that was better than us.
“It was an honour to manage Barca. I admired the club from afar and now from the inside. Great things and great moments will return to the club.”
Martino had been thrust into the Barca hotseat just two weeks before the start of the season after Tito Vilanova was forced to resign due to his battle with cancer, which he lost last month.
The Argentine made a fine start to his reign, winning his first eight league games and the Spanish Supercup against Atletico on away goals.
However, questions over his style of play turned to greater concerns in the second half of the season as they dropped 22 points in their final 20 league games and were also dumped out of the Champions League before the semi-finals for the first time in six years by Atletico.
Former Barca captain Luis Enrique is expected to be named as Martino’s successor after announcing on Friday that he will leave Celta Vigo at the end of the season.
And Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said there would also be big changes in the playing staff between now and the start of next season.
“We have been preparing a new project for many weeks now. There are many issues that are very advanced,” he told Canal Plus.
“There are a number of players that already know they may not continue next season and others will come in.
“In the end the players have worked and fought until the last minute. It is a team that is used to winning and always wants to win, but today it wasn’t to be.
“Our philosophy to keep the ball and control the play will continue to be the same. This is not the end of an era, but a continuation of that era with some profound changes.”