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Martino’s Barca job at risk as Messi says season can’t be saved

| 15.05.2014

The writing seemed to be on the wall for Tim Sherwood at Tottenham some way before the season completed and, sure enough, two days after its completion he was shown the door by Daniel Levy.

Tata Martino finds himself in a similar position at Barcelona, having failed to impress in his debut season on the Camp Nou touchline.

The Copa del Rey final went Real Madrid’s way instead of the Argentine’s, then Atletico Madrid knocked them out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Diego Simeone’s club could yet compound Martino’s misery if, at 3/1, they beat Barca on the final day of the season to claim the La Liga title.

It seems not even a league title can save the 51-year-old as Lionel Messi recently declared his uncertainty over whether beating Atletico to the top-flight title, at odds of 5/6, would save the Spanish giants’ season.

With such weak backing coming from his star player and countryman, it’s looking increasingly likely that Martino won’t be in charge of the diminutive Argentine next season. But who will?

As a general rule Barcelona like to employ one of their own, although they aren’t bound to it. Having moved away from that philosophy with the Martino appointment, and seeing it go so wrong, it’s likely they’ll return to home comforts to find his successor.

Luis Enrique, who made 207 La Liga appearances for the Blaugrana between 1996 and 2004, was among the leading candidates to succeed Tito Vilanova before Martino got the nod.

Enrique had just taken the Celta Vigo post at the time after an unsuccessful stint at Roma but, having guided Os Celticos to eighth place this season is sure to be among the frontrunners again.

Like Enrique, Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde is another member of the Barca alumni performing well on the domestic front.

The Basque club have sealed Champions League status under the 50-year-old with a game to go, while former Barca defender Frank de Boer’s relentess trophy collection at Ajax isn’t likely to have gone unnoticed.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.