While Lionel Messi gets most of the attention for Inter Miami CF’s turnaround from Major League Soccer’s worst club to the Leagues Cup 2023 Final favorite, the start of the club’s rebuild didn’t official begin with Messi’s signing.
It was the signing of manager Gerado “Tata” Martino.
“Tata has a proven track record of success in this league and on several other major stages of soccer” said Inter Miami CF Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson in the club’s announcement. “He knows what it takes to win in MLS and we’re confident that’s what he’ll bring to Inter Miami.”
Martino’s coaching record spoke for itself.
At the club level, Martino had won four Paraguayan championships, three with the same club: Club Libertad Asunción. He also won a Spanish Super Cup with FC Barcelona and the MLS Cup with Atlanta United. At the international level, he won a Gold Cup for the Mexican National Team and had reached back to back finals of the Copa America with the Argentinian National Team.
Perhaps even more important than all of his accolades: Martino had worked with Messi in two previous stops: FC Barcelona and the Argentine National Team. Prior to coming together in Miami, Martino was the only coach Messi had ever played for twice.
Previous success in MLS was likely key for bringing Martino on board. Not only had he won an MLS Cup in Atlanta’s second season of existence, the team’s style of play had one soccer tactics video channel calling the team “The Most Dynamic Side in MLS.”
Usually playing in a 4-3-3, Martino’s Atlanta United team was known for high pressure, forcing turnovers in the attacking area, and then scoring quickly off those turnovers before the opposing team really had a chance to gain its footing.
Martino’s MLS record speaks for itself. His .647 winning percentage is the second highest winning percentage for a manager in MLS history.
So,not surprisingly, it appears he’s trying to do the same with Inter Miami CF and the superstar trio of Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba. Despite starting on the right, many of Messi’s goals have come about from the team attacking down the left flank and Messi dropping deep to receive the ball and start an attack.
With someone as great as Messi on the pitch, Martino doesn’t have to spend too much time drawing up plays. But sometimes the best tactic is just knowing when not to tweak and change the tactics when things are going well.