Soccer-Martino future uncertain after latest Barca failure

By Iain Rogers

May 3 (Reuters) - The future of Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino was uncertain on Saturday after a 2-2 home draw with lowly Getafe all but ended the club's bid for a fifth La Liga title in six years.

The result against a team battling relegation means Barca, the 2009 and 2011 European champions, will almost certainly finish the season, Argentine Martino's first in charge, without major silverware for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.

Atletico Madrid can open a six-point lead over Barcelona at the top with two games left, including a visit to the Nou Camp on the final day of the season, with a win at Levante on Sunday.

Real Madrid are lurking three points behind Barca in third and well placed to overhaul their arch rivals as they have Sunday's match at home to Valencia and Wednesday's trip to struggling Real Valladolid in hand.

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, who is responsible for first-team planning, said he would sit down with Martino to talk about next season and any changes would be communicated in good time.

However, he stopped short of confirming that Martino, who is known as 'Tata', would definitely remain in the job.

"Tata is our coach and when we meet and talk we will take decisions and we will announce them," Zubizarreta said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Canal Plus.

"The planning process never stops," added the former Barca and Spain goalkeeper.

"Our season will end with the match at home against Atletico Madrid and after that things will happen that will shape the season to come."

At the start of last month Barca were on track to repeat their 2009 treble of La Liga, Champions League and King's Cup but are now likely to end the campaign with only the season-opening Spanish Super Cup.

They were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition by Atletico last month and Real beat them 2-1 in the final of the King's Cup a week later.


Martino took full responsibility for Barca's failures at his post-match news conference on Saturday and left open the issue of whether he would see out his two-year contract.

"Sometimes you ask for a (second) chance when you believe you are entitled to ask for it," the 53-year-old said.

"And there are times when you think you don't deserve to have it," he added.

"I will see what is in my head. We just played a match and there will be time to say what I am thinking."

At no point during the season had Barca reach the level they touched during four trophy-laden seasons under Pep Guardiola, Martino said.

"We have not been able to win a trophy because at no time did we see the best version of Barcelona.

"In the season when it was my turn to lead we were far from that level.

"Throughout the season we have been deficient in various areas. There were a lot of ups and downs in numerous aspects of our play.

"Of the three teams fighting for the league title, we were the least consistent."

Barca visit Elche next weekend before a home game the following week against Atletico, who will already be champions when they run out at the Nou Camp if they beat Levante and then win at home to Malaga next weekend. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris)