BARCELONA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona Xavi Hernandez defended coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino when he spoke in a press conference on Thursday.
Xavi insisted that recent poor results, which have seen Barca fall to three points behind traditional rivals Real Madrid in the battle for the BBVA Primera Liga, are not the sole responsibility of the Argentinian, while maintaining that Martino has the full backing of the squad.
Barca's 3-1 defeat away to Real Sociedad last weekend lifted the lid of a Pandora's Box of criticism directed at Martino, both for the football Barca played in the Anoeta Stadium, for his team selection which saw him rest key players, including Xavi on the night and for what many view as a betrayal of Barca's trademark attacking passing football.
After being supported, or at least tolerated by the press since his arrival over the summer, the knives are now out for Martino, although Xavi believes that is unfair.
"The coach has taken 100 percent of the blame and that is not fair on him," said the midfielder. "We are all responsible for the victories and also for the defeats. The boss picked a team, which he believed to e competitive and we got it wrong. Martino criticized his own decision and we should honor that, but everything is still there to play for and that is positive," commented Xavi, who was also asked about his companion, Neymar, whose transfer has been under scrutiny since the club were accused of tax fraud last week.
"We think Neymar looks good, He's happy and training as hard as he can. We are trying to ensure events don't affect him, there is a lot of noise, but this is Barca and we are used to it. We look to see he is happy and we will cheer him up if he looks a bit down, but that's not the case. His personality has not changed and I don't think that things have affected him," insisted the midfielder.
Meanwhile Martino has been suspended by the Spanish FA for one game after being sent off in the tunnel of the dressing room last Saturday after insulting Real Sociedad's assistant coach, Txema Lumbreras.
Martino's ban is for "insulting, offending, threatening or provoking another," and he will watch this weekend's home match against Almeria from the stands.