Tata Martino: I'll take responsibility if Barcelona finishes without a trophy

The Argentine, who took over as Blaugrana boss last summer, says he will accept the blame if such a successful club "stops winning" on his watch
Tata Martino says that he will take full responsibility if Barcelona finish the season without a trophy.

In the space of one week this month, the Blaugrana have gone from treble-chasers to a club seemingly in crisis, having been dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, fallen off the pace in the Primera Division and lost the Copa del Rey final to Real Madrid.

Consequently, Martino's position is under intense scrutiny, and he accepts that he must take the blame if Barca win nothing this season, given last summer he took over a team that had just been crowned champions of Spain.

"I'm very demanding of myself," the Argentine coach told reporters after Sunday night's Liga win over Athletic Bilbao dragged Barca back to within four points of Liga leaders Atletico. "I came to a team that normally wins and when I came to the team, it has stopped winning. I see this as my responsibility."

However, Martino laughed off reports that he has fallen out with Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez, who has featured only sporadically in recent months.

"He joked in training yesterday saying we had fallen out," he said. "I didn't know what he was talking about."

Martino also revealed that he was encouraged by the way in which Lionel Messi silenced his critics by scoring a game-winning free kick against Athletic.

"It gives me great pleasure to see Messi respond as he does," he said. "He does not fight back with his mouth; he does it with his football. For every 100 games, he plays well in 99 of them."

The form of midfielder Cesc Fabregas has also been the subject of much debate lately, and the midfielder was seemingly booed by some sections of Camp Nou during the 2-1 win over Athletic.

However, Martino was reluctant to confirm if he had heard any whistles, preferring instead to defend the players' character.

"All I can say is that he's a very brave player," he said. "He never hides and isn't afraid to make mistakes. He always wants to play."