By Michael Lewis
Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to introduce Lionel Messi’s new coach.
That would be one Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
Yes, that Tata Martino.
Inter Miami CF on Wednesday named Martino as its head coach. Martino, who is the same nationality (Argentina) as Messi, will assume his coach responsbilities after he receives his work documentation, according to the MLS team.
Earlier this month, Inter Miami gave head coach Phil Neville the boot after a dreadful start to the season. Neville has resurfaced as an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s national team.
Martino certainly will have his work cut out for him as Miami (515-0, 15 points) is in last place in the MLS Eastern Conference. The team trails 14th-place Toronto FC by four points and is 11 points adrift of a playoff spot.
Messi’s arrival – he is expected to be available for the July 21 home game against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup – will turn matters into a circus for the club, given his status as a legendary player.
“I’m very excited to join a big club like Inter Miami and I know together we can accomplish many great things,” said incoming Inter Miami CF head coach Martino. “The Club has the necessary infrastructure to be a major competitor in the region and I believe that with everyone’s hard work and commitment we can get there.”
Martino does have credentials to run the show at the South Florida club. He directed Atlanta United to the 2018 MLS Cup title and guided Mexico at consecutive World Cups. He also has been head coach of the Argentine national team and Messi (from 2014-16) and at FC Barcelona.
“We are very happy to be able to welcome Tata to Inter Miami. We feel he is a coach who matches our ambitions as a club and we’re optimistic about what we can accomplish together,” Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas said in a statement. “Tata has coached at the highest levels and we believe that experience will be hugely beneficial to us as we aim to compete for titles here.”
Martino, 60, directed Atlanta United to the 2018 MLS Cup title and guided Mexico at consecutive World Cups. He also has been head coach of the Argentine national team and at FC Barcelona.