Gerardo Martino hopes to remain Barcelona coach at season’s end

The 51-year-old Argentine manager has come under heavy criticism at the Camp Nou this season.  

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Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino hopes to remain in charge despite the Spanish champion facing its first season without a major trophy in seven years.

The Argentine coach is once again countering reports that he will be fired, with Celta Vigo coach and former Barcelona player Luis Enrique the latest favorite for the position.

Martino has one more year remaining on his contract and says ”I’d like to think I’ll be staying.” He added that ”it’s been intense, I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

Barcelona is four points behind Spanish league leader Atletico Madrid with three games to play. While they play each other in the last round, the title race could already be over by then.

Martino says ”our chances are slim, but there is still a chance.”

Midfielder Sergio Busquets on Thursday described Barca’s season as "a disappointment" while the players have endured a difficult week, attending the funeral of their former coach Tito Vilanova the day after their come-from-behind 3-2 win over Villarreal last weekend, and since then defender Dani Alves has faced questioning over the pre-planned nature of his protest against racism.

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However, Martino is confident they will emerge full of fight on Saturday.

"These players have never tired of competing and winning," he said. "When there are serious difficulties and situations, they still compete."

The league is Barca’s last chance to salvage something from this campaign after they lost in the Copa del Rey final and were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico at the quarter-final stage.

Martino has come under plenty of pressure in recent weeks with the impression remaining that he will be replaced in the summer.

"The first is always a difficult year because you are exposed to everything," added Martino. "I learned a lot this season. Here you learn very fast and that is how it should be."