Wenger’s Ring

I read the news of the world today. Oh boy!

“There is only one signing left and you know who that is.”

Panic on the streets of London. Panic on the streets of Birmingham. Authorities scrambled to restore safety while the Beeb rushed to judgement. Was it consumerism? Opportunism? Or even … Social Network-ism? But your dogged BFBlogette always checks her sources.

“There is no news,” Arséne Wenger sighed. “If there is news, I promise I will give it.”

“If there is, you’ll have egg-custard on your face,” I said. “Word is you’ll be replaceable.”

“All the cemeteries are full of replaceable people,” he replied dourly.

An Amazonian Trophi Wife grabbed me by the scuff of my neck. “So your low-class blog continues its low-class behaviour right to the very end!” she screeched. As my arms flailed, I clutched her thousand-pound weave. “Stop touching what you can’t afford,” she snapped. “And learn some manners.” Then she tossed me out on my arsenal.


As I slipped down a Leeds-side street, a grey van pulled to a screeching halt. The door flung open. Her hair was crazie. “Get in,” she said. “And put these on.” She handed me a pair of old-movie spy-style headphones.

“Becky!” I cried. “Wiretapping up clubs? You’re flouting all decorum!” But she was fussing with cranks and dials.

“moc moc moc moc moc”

“It’s all static anyway,” I said.

“You know what they said?” she muttered. “Well, some of it was true.”

I listened hard.

“Today moc moc might be a great day”

“I can’t imagine this Barça without phschshhh moc moc moc”

“Welcome moc moc home! We’re moc to have you”

I threw the headphones on the dash.  Pep, that lucky man, had made the trade.

But London was calling – again – at the top of the dial. The press was all a-twitter: Le Professeur was teaching class to Míster P. Apparently, it was an Introduction to Social Media seminar, and the day’s topic was “Electronic Mail Messaging”.

Meanwhile, thousands thronged the Plaça Cataluyna (yeah, I was there, too). They were young, they were culé, and they were indignados. “There’s no future for him in England’s dreamland!” they cried. “We have money in the strongbox! We will fight to the end!”

Him? I stopped dead in my tracks.


I thought we were getting Pippa.

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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. outerspacedout
    August 13, 2011

    No, EE were the ones trying to sign her. Loadsa cash from the merchandising.

  2. blitzen
    August 13, 2011

    I should get home tomorrow just in time to join the LoveBlob for the Supercopa, yay! I’m looking forward to match, not because I think we will win (we won’t), but because we will finally be playing with an all (or mostly) grown-up squad! I think Pep will start with:

    Alves Pique Abidal Adriano
    Xavi Mascherano Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

    I suspect Busi will not play at all. Subs: Sanchez (Pedro), Keita (Xavi), Fontas (Pique).

    I predict we will lose 2-1. That still gives us plenty of room to come back at the Camp Nou, so no need to panic. I don’t care too much about this trophy, but I also don’t want Madrid to start off their season with silverware.

    If they do win it, though, they should get a pre-squished version to save Sergio Ramos the trouble. 😛

  3. August 13, 2011

    For that are interested, Barca B is playing its last friendly against Girona. I’m not watching it, by the way. Just letting you know. (Too much Carmona, Saul and Armando exposure is not good for my health…)

    • Diego
      August 13, 2011

      Gool Girona! Girona 1-0 Barca B, Torneo Costa Brava.

  4. Diego
    August 13, 2011

    Next season’s Scenario :

    We’re winning 12-0, Pep is on the sidelines worried and wanting to choose someone to go in and fire us up as he’s not liking our performance. He looks at the bench,

    Afellay : Pick me, I’ll ran fast to the end line and then make a low croess.

    Alexis : I’ll do some stepovers and keep rotating around the ball.

    Thiago : I’m gonna do some fancy tricks and flicks, I’ll make the simplest pass look like the best thing in Football.

    Cesc : Fans hate me for irritating them for 3 years, Give me a chance to prove why I’m the player with most assists in last 5 years.

    Keita : Crush. Kill. Destroy.

    I just can’t wait for next season, Pep will have to find time for The previous 5 with only 3 subs each match.

      • The__K__Man
        August 13, 2011

        ALexis , Cesc and an improved Thiago give us sooo much depth..our bench is scary for the first time ever!

  5. August 13, 2011

    Jeffren only played 50 minutes in his league debut for Sporting in Portugal before getting a right calf injury.


    (That said, I hope he recovers. Feel bad for him. On the other hand, how did he get through the medicial…? But, seriously, I feel terrible for him.)

    • blitzen
      August 14, 2011

      That makes me very sad. 🙁 Poor Jeffy just can’t catch a break.

      I do hope we added a “No Returns” clause to the sale contract….

  6. August 13, 2011

    Grimaldo is once again playing an outstanding match against much older competition. Really remarkable – especially for a backline player. It’s really impressive.

    Barca B really needs Espinosa out on the pitch to organize play. Not sure why he didn’t start.

    But he just came on – for Carmona.

  7. Miguel
    August 13, 2011

    Speechless. You’re insane, SoccerMom. This was beautiful.

  8. August 13, 2011

    As my arms flailed, I clutched her thousand-pound weave. “Stop touching what you can’t afford,”

    This really was just awesome. Thousand-pound weave – gold.

  9. August 13, 2011

    SoMa 😀

    Just caught up with Valencia/Roma. Krkic looks about the same to me. Roma fans are excited, and I can’t for the life of me imagine why. On the other hand, if I could ask ZubiZa one question, it would be why in the HELL we didn’t stump for Jose Angel. Dude is the for-sure business, with pace, positioning, all that good stuff. I’d rather have him coming off the bench than Maxwell any day of the week.

  10. Barcaleya
    August 13, 2011

    Love this soma! So funny. Brilliant!

  11. Bill
    August 13, 2011

    “An Amazonian Trophi Wife grabbed me by the scuff of my neck. “So your low-class blog continues its low-class behaviour right to the very end!” she screeched.” Lmao! Low class? That from a woman that married her host Dad?

    Great commentary on the “British spring”. How come it’s not being praised as a revolution?

    Kxevin, I still maintain in two years you will be amazed at Bojan’s progress, once he is given time to work out the kinks in his game.

    Finally, it’s sweet watching this guy with his hands on his hips constantly, watching Messi making history over and over again. Go Barcelona!


    • August 13, 2011

      I hope you’re right. Right now, he’s like an analog radio tuner that isn’t quite on the station, but you can just hear the music.

  12. Jnice
    August 13, 2011

    Kari, Euler, Ramzi, blitzen, Calvin and anyone else registered on fbtz.com…. check this thread out and tell me if what I said at the end isn’t true. I might be going crazy, but some of the posts.. particularly from gastador and bigboi are mind-boggling- http://fbtz.com/forum/showthread.php?t=183561

    • August 13, 2011

      Okay, just read it.

      Some people are just so freakin’ delusional. The best post has to be this one by gastador (an EE fan) :

      With all due respect to sensitive Barca fans, this was a shameful case of tapping up, 1st degree. It’s been many years of basically everyone in Barca camp speaking about Cesc coming home (the very home he chose to leave), and Arsenal, at first and for a long time, had no interest in selling. Yet an indispensable player, a captain for that matter, with a 4-year contract seems to be leaving against the wishes of everyone at the club (including himself, as there never was a transfer request). Strange, isn’t it?

      For real people. Someone actually said that.

      • Vj
        August 14, 2011

        And he forgets about Thong Boy. Just because they paid over the top for him doesn’t mean that nobody did the exact same thing he accuses us of now..

    • August 13, 2011

      You’re spot on, Jnice, but you will never be able to reason with those people. They have this thing in their minds, that will never, ever go away. Never mind the fact that each club sets out with its ideal valuation in mind, and try to get as close to that number as possible. Never mind that if there were in fact legitimate tapping up, Wenger would have had our butts in front of the authorities so fast, heads would have spun.

      None of that matters, because people have their minds made up. I had one person on Twitter say that one of the biggest reasons we’re buying him is because he’s Catalan. I just let that one go, because at that point rationality is gone. If that’s the case, we’d still have Oluguer, right? 😀

    • August 13, 2011

      Further, one major problem that Arsenal face is that there is no replacement for Fabregas for them. I think that was the biggest resistance to the sale. Where is the player who can do what he does for them, that can be had for 40m? They would have been better served to let Fabregas go, and lock up Nasri. Instead, they are going to lose both. They played it wrong. Dead, commpletely wrong, and now are dealing with the consequences.

      That Newcastle match was dire, and Arsenal weren’t even playing a contending club. Had Wenger and the club accepted reality earlier, they could have done the deal (for the same numbers that Laporta offered last year), and had the whole transfer window to suss things out. Sahin? Sure, why not? Gourcuff? Another option. Instead, with two weeks to go in the window, Wenger has to figure out how to replace two key players.

      He was naive in this whole matter, frankly. Players don’t respond to professions of love. He loves Fabregas, and wants him to stay. So what? He has confidence in Nasri, and is willing to risk him leaving on a free, to demonstrate faith and confidence in him. So what? That stuff doesn’t have an effect on the modern player, who is first and foremost, a businessman. A self-interested businessman.

      There is so much of this business that I just don’t understand. It could all have been so easy, and so painless. Instead it’s ugly, and personal, and filled with recriminations from clubs and bickering fans.

      • messifan
        August 13, 2011

        I didn’t really care that much about cesc’s transfer before, but the past few days and after watching arsenal game today, I really feel sympathetic towards their fans. This whole thing could have been resolved more smoothly and somehow it’s gotten to this point. I think Barcelona’s reputation is tainted a little bit by this process as well. As for Arsenal, let’s hope Wenger will buy quality players to save their season.

        • August 13, 2011

          I don’t see how our reputation was tainted in any way. We drove a hard bargain, and negotiated for the best price for the player.

          I feel sympathy for their fans in that they have a naive coach, and two immense holes to fill in about two weeks. As far as a situation being resolved more smoothly, I just don’t see how that could have happened. This was a nasty negotiation that was carried out in public.

          • Víctor
            August 13, 2011

            I don’t get ya, Kxevin. About two weeks ago you made a post about how both clubs look “stupid” for the whole Fabregas affair and now you say that it was all OK.

          • August 13, 2011

            Easy. We were stupid not for seeking the best deal, but in the way that we went about it. I have no issue with us shooting for the best price, just do it in a way that is grownup. Don’t offer a nickel for something that you know is worth at least $100. It makes negotiations easier, and gives the other side a way to get a deal with some dignity, instead of being perceived as rolling over, which is the perception that many have of Arsenal in this transaction.

            To me, reputation and stupidity are two different things. You can be stupid, and have your reputation be intact.

          • messifan
            August 13, 2011

            I disagree. From the point of view of people who are not die-hard barca fans and just simply admiring the way barcelona play their football and represent the club outside of the field, this ordeal does hurt barca. What tarnishes the reputation is not about the transfer fee but the way some barca players (pique and puyol mostly) talk about cesc and his importance to the club. I know it’s not tapping and the media has a lot to do with creating this sensational atmosphere, but the players are also responsible for their conduct. There’s always the right and wrong way of answering questions and yes, these players want to give honest answers but sometimes those responses come across as arrogant and lack of respect. And for a highly covered story like this transfer, whatever perceived controversial comments these players made becomes front page news, and the general audience, who don’t follow this case as closely, could very well see it as barcelona trying desperately to take a player away from another club. Not just players that conduct themselves poorly, Rosell also said something about cesc’s injuries and thus his value is lowered this year. That may be a legitimate point, but the way it came across was a bit disrespectful and contradictory. Pep and Zubi have publicly commented on this transfer but they’ve done in a way that is professional and respectful and sometimes I wished that other people at the club would do the same thing. You may call the club’s action stupid but I think in the short run it does impact our reputation.
            Yes, Arsenal are also at fault like you stated in your previous entry, and other players have done similar things to other clubs’ , but i don’t care about those clubs. I’m just critically analyzing Barcelona because I want other fans to view us on how we play the game. I started follow barca because of Messi but I support the club because of the way we play the game, the history, and how Barcelona uses the name to promote social causes. In my opinion, this side show is not helping our image at the moment.

    • The__K__Man
      August 13, 2011

      “And we’re wankers because of that? Because we did what was best for ourselves and didn’t pay “fair” money? ”

      Good stuff from you..can’t believe how delusional that guy is!

  13. barca96
    August 13, 2011

    Mourinho: “What did I learn from the CL tie against Barcelona? That I can’t say the truth, but I won’t keep quiet.”

    And he started already…

  14. August 13, 2011

    if I could ask ZubiZa one question, it would be why in the HELL we didn’t stump for Jose Angel. Dude is the for-sure business, with pace, positioning, all that good stuff. I’d rather have him coming off the bench than Maxwell any day of the week.

    Almost everytime I watched Gijon play Angel was the player that caught my attention. I really liked his game and wish he had come.

    We talk a lot about “costs” during transfer season. Most of what we focus on are the direct cash costs.

    But a major part of running a club is understanding opportunity cost.

    Just a guess – but I think the reason why we just gave up on Angel was because it became apparent that the only way to get Cesc was to front a huge amount of cash on hand up front in a huge payment.

    To me that’s the most direct explanation for the club’s bizarre behavior in those negotiations.

    • August 13, 2011

      Yep. But I also think that in the context, 4m is walking around money for a big club. I have to believe that there were some qualities that somebody just didn’t deem were worth the price. Dunno, but it’s weird. From what I saw (though he was part of a craptastic Roma back line), he has pace, strength, good ball skills and positional sense. So sell Maxwell for 4m and buy this kid, right? I think we screwed the pooch on that one, but what do I know, right?

      • htMillBay
        August 13, 2011

        We always assume that every player in the world wants to play for Barca.

        Is it just possible that Angel preferred to play for Roma that’s why Zubi could not get him? For a young player, being on a Roma first team might have had some appeal versus being on the Barca bench. Same for why we didn’t buy back Botia, perhaps he just wanted more playing time. For every Cesc that wants to go to Barca for the silver, there could be young uns who just say, “I’ll never crack the Barca starting 11.”

        • August 13, 2011

          Angel publicly said he wanted to play for Barca and was hoping to do so. He was awaare that he would be splitting time between Barca B and the first team and would have to earn his minutes. And that’s what he wanted to do.

          He made multiple statements to this effect.

        • August 13, 2011

          But negotiations were advanced, and the player himself was talking up the transfer. We just didn’t meet Gijon’s valuation, from everything that I read about the situation.

          I wouldn’t blame a player for wanting a starting slot for a big club vs a bench spot for us. Maybe there was some behind-the-scenes stuff going on, as well. But left back is a void in the making for us.

          • August 14, 2011

            Maybe he was sacrificed to prove a point, that if our initial valuation isn’t met, we’re not just going to raise our bid endlessly just to have the player

  15. August 13, 2011

    check this thread out and tell me if what I said at the end isn’t true. I might be going crazy, but some of the posts.. particularly from gastador and bigboi are mind-boggling


    What you’re arguing is on the mark. But there’s honestly no point in even trying. It’s not a rational argument their trying to have. It’s completely emotional – and the main emotion is anger.

    Arsene Wenger has made it a systematic policy while Arsenal has been under his stewardship to get the best possible bargain for his club in every transfer. He has stated that getting the lowest possible cost is his responsibility to the club and the fans.

    “Sustainable model” that’s the buzz word with Arsenal.

    But for some reason only Wenger and Arsenal should be able to act in this business fashion.

    If anyone else does it it’s “classless.”

    Some Arsenal fans really don’t understand the basics of supply and demand. It’s pretty much as simple as that.

    They were so convinced by Wenger and Arsenal’s tough talk about their “valuation” having to be met that they really didn’t objectively analyze the situation. Arsenal never had leverage in these negotiations. And it was Fabregas who took that leverage away from them.

    But there’s really no point. Aresnal are always talking about economic value. Always. But they are the only club that has the right to act by this principle. It’s amazing. No business acts any different.

    Arsenal fans love to derisively talk about Barcelona’s “debt” and transfers gone wrong where we overpaid like Ibra and Chygrinski.

    And now they talk derisively about a transaction where Barca negotiated astutely, utilizing the leverage Fabregas took away from Arsenal.

    That’s all that really happened. Cesc was never “worth” 50M because there was always only one possible buyer.

    They’ve turned an issue of business into a symbolic issue – and much of why their fanbase is reacting this way is because the club themselves has so consistently misinformed them.

    Wenger adamantly said – if we sell Nasri and Fabregas we can’t be considered a big club.

    That set expectations. And now almost none of those expectations (and all of the others – like spending some money on a CB, etc) have been met so many of them seem extremely angry.

    Barca did not act well in this situation. But overall this particular notion that somehow Barca were wrong to not “pay up” is just absurd.

    It’s often written that Wenger fashions himself the eternal victim in football. And that attitude is being reflected right now in the fanbase.

    • August 13, 2011


      But it’s easy for us to weigh in from a rational worldview, as we don’t have a psychic horse in this race, really. Or I don’t, just because of my view on players as little more than interchangeable multimillionaires in the service of clubs that we love.

  16. August 13, 2011

    And as The__K__Man notes above, we potentially have one hell of an attacking squad this season. Last season, to change matches off the bench, we had Krkic, Jeffren and Afellay.

    This season, we have a fully integrated Afellay, Sanchez, Fabregas and Thiago. The difference/improvement is immense. EE has made some smart buys and improvements in their club, but it’s suddenly occurred to me that if all works right, we could be monstrous.

    And both the Sanchez and Fabregas transfers directly affect speed of play. In the case of the former, it’s pace and composure on the ball. The game seems to speed up when he’s on the pitch. In the case of the latter, he has a knack for those defense-stretching passes that we could use when Xaviniesta aren’t in there.

    We won’t learn much from this SuperCopa, truth be told, but the season is shaping up to be an interesting one. The best club in the world has, on paper, gotten a LOT better.

    • August 13, 2011

      Agree. On paper this is a better team. They still would benefit from adding depth and I do think they are going to wind up in a crisis yet again on the back line but the players they’ve added are world class and that’s going to make a huge difference.

      Sanchez has a chance to be very special. Watching him play against France – he’s really getting better and better. So much better than he was last summer in the world cup. Better than he was for Udinese this past winter.

      I do wish Afellay didn’t get injured as I think he would have benefited greatly from a full preseason with the team.

      But on the whole – this is a truly remarkable collection of talent operating within a robust, cohesive system of play.

      • August 13, 2011

        And potentially (shudder) better than the ’09 squad with Eto’o and Henry.

        I also like that the only reactive defender that we have left is Maxwell, now that Milito has departed. Part of Guardiola’s defensive belief is that the play shouldn’t get to the back line. So our defenders act in ways that keep such things from happening, except on set pieces. Maxwell is the only defender we have who doesn’t think in that super-reactive way all the time.

        And my only guess for why we didn’t buy a CB, is that Mascherano will be getting a lot of time there. And again, his DM abilities make him a perfect reactive defender.

        The real question will be whether Guardiola’s gamble on the B Teamers will pay off. If the likes of Montoya and Muniesa can fill in when required, that’s our depth, potentially giving us almost a 24-player squad, if you add the likes of Dos Santos and Bartra. Heck, we could almost field a world-class, all-Masia starting XI.

    • Judas Pissed
      August 14, 2011

      Exactly! Last season’s bench often had Krcic, Jeffren, Keita, Affelay & Maxwell on it. This season it will have Cesc, Sanchez, Affelay, Keita & Thiago – along with sMasch, Fontas, Maxwell & Montoya when required. Infinitely stronger!

  17. August 13, 2011

    I agree with the missed chance re: Angel but for the sake of being a contrarian: Maxwell isn’t that bad. HERE ME OUT PLEASE DON’T LEAVE. He just doesn’t have any pace, and is a stay-at-home, typical Serie A type LB. I’d call him neutral in both attack and defense. (Doesn’t contribute much in attack (the backpasses, oh, the back-passes.) solid in defense. IMO, of course).

    Against team that park the bus (i.e. the majority of lower level Liga teams and TBH most teams in general), he won’t be a problem. Against teams that press, or use very quick wingers on the counterattack, he’ll be a bit of liability because of his lack of pace. If we have pace at CB i.e. Abidal, we have someone to cover for him/help him out if needed.

    At this point, we have a solid back-up to a back-up LB who cost us 4.5m (coincidentally the price Gijon is asking) with experience in Serie A and the Eredivisie.

    Angel is a great player but he needs to play regularly as well. That’s crucial for a defender IMO, particularly a defender playing for Barca. But we all know that.

    Re the B-team, he’d be a great asset, particularly because Muniesa is so injury prone. But here’s the thing, Pep and Eusebio know much more than we do re: talents. I have a sneaky suspicion that Grimaldo* had a part to play in the negotiations. If we got Angel, that’s all well good, but we didn’t really want him all that match, considering the talents we have coming up – who really do need to play.

    Seeing as we were wishy-washy in the first place, I’d imagine the Club got annoyed Arsenal-style at the fact that it was leaked by Gijon reporters.

    Should also be noted Roma wanted him more, as Angel said it himself. Lucho was aware that he could have a great player at a cut-rate price and, with the new management at Roma ready to adhere to any of his demands, was readily after him, guaranteeing a starting spot on a big Serie A club (and probably a better wage).

    Combination of all of the above + what Euler was saying means it makes a bit more sense as to why we didn’t buy him.

    FWIW, I would have liked to have us sign Angel and I thought the way we came in like bullies wasn’t very great. We offered 1.5M? Really? I guess it’s the around the same price we paid for Kiko, minus the variables, but that’s because Hercules never had money in the first place. Gijon is awesome, still in the top flight and didn’t deserve that. Sigh.

    *If you guys haven’t seen Grimaldo, I’d check him out. I think allas has a video up on him. He’s the real deal. And 15. YES.

    • August 13, 2011

      But your points in Maxwell’s favor are my points against him (where’s Jim right now? 😀 ). I just think that reactive defenders are not what our back line needs. Yes, all defenders are reactive to an extent, in that they have to react to the play in front of them. But the methods differ, and that’s where Maxwell brings complexities for me. If his reaction doesn’t work, the other side’s attack is already in the box and we’re screwed. Milito improved when he was healthier and became more proactive.

      I think that people are going to be pressing the hell out of us this season. Note that every team we played in pre-season did it, from United to Club America. It’s going to make proactive defenders even more valuable.

      • August 13, 2011

        You can have proactive defenders and still get beat for pace — particularly against forwards with quick feet.

        What’s important for a defender (IMO) is the ability to read play, position yourself accordingly and time your tackles/interceptions right in that order. Maxwell, IMO, has all three but his slower reaction rate (what you’re saying) can hinder him, but with the most important parts, he can overcome it.

        That being said, the major problem for me is that he hasn’t had a preseason due to injury. What people are forgetting is we could potentially see Fontas at LB, where he played and was impressive against Sociedad last season.

        I think that people are going to be pressing the hell out of us this season.

        I don’t think most teams will. I think they definitely should, but they probably won’t. Because here’s the thing, we’re kind of scary. Press us, a full-strength, no kiddies, or out-of-position regulars and kiddies us, and you’re leaving space open for Messi, Pedro!, Sanchez, or Afellay to lead a counter, or Xavi, Iniesta, Messi to pass into space for others. You’re taking a gamble that we won’t be on. Besides, you only have so much energy to press, and there’s VV to beat, who is no slouch. In preseason, sure, they’ll press because it’s a one-off game, and friendly, so no-one really cares, plus it’s a good way to get your fitness up. You can say you beat us, which is cool for your players mentally/moral-wise, but it doesn’t really mean much. In a competitive game, you don’t want to take as much risks.

        The ones who will press us are the brave or the ones that have nothing to lose.

    • Brosep
      August 14, 2011

      Kari, I think you’re right, but I would interpret Maxwell’s style differently. Describing him as a typical Serie A level defender is right on the mark. But he’s a bad option for Barca because of what he *doesn’t* provide, rather than what he does.

      Barca’s ideal left back is another Dani Alves – someone like Marcelo or Adriano. Maxwell is an okay defender but he’s a rubbish attacker. He doesn’t have the pass, the speed, or the technical ability that Barca needs to make that left wing, and thus the rest of the team, completely deadly. Every decisively talented player on the team makes *all* of the other decisively talented players better, and Maxwell drags down the team by giving the talent fewer options.

      The CL games against Arsenal this season are great examples of what the team has with Maxwell and what the team needs in a LB. Adriano changes the team immensely in the second leg, and Barca were sublime. In the first leg, the attack was stale, and I look to Maxwell.

      • Jim
        August 14, 2011

        Another Maxwell debate – the season must be starting 🙂

        I was gonna stay out of these as they were becoming a little tiresome last season but the batteries must be recharged.

        First, he’s not gone – not because nobody would have bought him so there must be a Barcelona reason for that. I’ve never been against him being dropped / sold if we are improving the team. Don’t understand the Angel situation either but there you go.

        I actually agree with Brosep. I don’t think you can fault Maxwell at all in a defensive sense as he has never let us down. Still waiting for evidence to the contrary on that one 🙂 However, in the system we play there is no doubt that he doesn’t offer as much offensively as Alves. If we are looking for both full backs to provide that he’s not the answer. He’s also not the answer if you have a pacy winger able to run at him without cover although that shouldn’t happen. I have to point out here that Abidal is no great shakes when faced with a tricky winger and has an annoying habit of turning his back on a cross allowing it to come into our box – not hating on Abidal just saying that they all have strengths and weaknesses.

        In fact the only comment I would strongly disagree with is Brosep’s assertion that Maxwell doesn’t have technical ability. To my mind he is the most technically able of the three LBs. If you look at the way he accepts the ball, the way he “pings” passes with little effort and the flicks he can produce that is not one of his weaknesses.

        Finally, if you’re looking to blame a stale attack on your LB there is something wrong with your attack. Now, can we have a season where we get behind all our players and deal with what happens on the pitch rather than any preconceptions we may have regarding certain players.

        • nzm
          August 14, 2011

          I’m a Maxwell supporter too.

          We just don’t utilise him in the way that Alves is used on the right. I’ve seen Maxwell running up the left so many times, waiting for the return pass to him, and then the ball goes across to the right side of the field – often from Iniesta who seems to not be able to see Maxwell’s movements. The left hasn’t been played well, nor developed, since Henry went to New York.

  18. August 13, 2011

    The issue of not buying a CB because Masch is going to play there makes sense in many ways. It’s important for him to get minutes and he makes a good partner for Pique.

    But that creates another problem – it leaves Barca with no depth at DM. If Masch is needed at CB and Busi is hurt or is out due to cards the club is in a bind.

    But this is the direction the club is going with. Using Masch as a player to cover two positions.

    And this is why it is going to be critical for Keita to be able to play effectively at DM.

    And I’m really not sure how that is going to go. Keita just doesn’t look natural at that position. Perhaps he will pick it up – but it’s never been a position he likes or seems comfortable in.

    • Jnice
      August 13, 2011

      And this is why it is going to be critical for Keita to be able to play effectively at DM.

      And I’m really not sure how that is going to go. Keita just doesn’t look natural at that position. Perhaps he will pick it up – but it’s never been a position he likes or seems comfortable in.

      Please no. That’s why I thought Romeu would’ve got chances this season.

      Keita at DM makes me dislike the guy, and I don’t want to do that. He just pisses me off with his positional sense at DM, his conservativeness when receiving the ball with his back to the opposition, lack of incisive passing, etc.

      • August 13, 2011

        ^ This.

        I’m pretty upset we let Romeu go. Dude is a total beast and if we’re really looking at Keita being a DM, well…

        Pep has something in mind, and I want to see how things turn out before criticizing. There might something here that Pep thinking of that we don’t know yet. I’m interested to see what will happen if one of Busi or Mascherano is suspended with Puyol out too. Will he use (gulp) Cesc as a DM with Xavi and Iniesta? Or will it be Keita? Or will he just not use a DM? (LOL. DMs and the defense for that matter, are totally overrated anyway. (joking, joking))

      • August 13, 2011

        I think part of why they let Romeu go was out of loyalty to Keita.

        Keita’s opportunity for minutes this season is at DM. That’s really the only area where he can get any meaningful minutes.

        And I do think Pep will given him an opportunity there.

        It’s going to be a huge challenge – because he really has never appeared comfortable deeper in the pitch. I guess in theory he has an appropriate skill set and should be able to adapt – but that’s a completely theoretical argument.

        In practice – he hasn’t looked good.

        I would have kept Romeu and looked to give him first team minutes.

        But if that had happened then Keita really would have had no role on the team as far as I can see. He may have been forced to leave and I think Pep didn’t want that to happen.

        • Calvin
          August 14, 2011

          Keita isn’t disciplined enough to play DM. He has all the skills except for the mental attributes. Keita likes to put himself around the pitch and be near the action as much as possible. This often leads to him following the play too far up the pitch and not being able to recover on a counter attack.

          Busquets does this amazingly well. I can’t remember who said it, but the best quote I’ve read that describes Busquets is “He has an amazing positional sense that allows him to find space where he is open for a teammate and can receive a pass while still being in a position to defend in a seconds notice.”

    • Srini
      August 14, 2011

      Keita at DM is a recipe for disaster. I remember last season against Madrid in the second clasico at the Bernabeu where he was tried out at that position and he was very uncomfortable. Don’t remember individual plays, but I think Mesut Ozil had his number.. (correct me if I am wrong).

      Have a sneaking suspicion that Cesc will play a role there.. a role like Alonso played to some extent in Liverpool.

      • mom4
        August 14, 2011

        I can’t stand Keita at DM, but I’m glad he got some preseason exposure to it just in case.

        Romeu to Chelsea is gonna give him more minutes than he would have had here. He gets good there and we can get him back with the buyback. A no risk way of developing a player.

        Cesc should be able to fill in quite nicely at DM and it is an option for more playing time for him.

        Totally comfortable with Mascherano at CB. His tackles are beautious. He deserves minutes any way he can get them.

        Fact, anyone other than Busi at DM hampers us at least somewhat. Such a crucial position for our system. You don’t realize his worth until you have someone like Mascherano come into a position and you see that even he is a step down. I’m now at the point where I’m totally comfortable with Mascherano playing there but it has to be acknowledged that Busi is the prefered DM. Only Mascherano and maybe Cesc can adequately replace him now that The Yaya is gone. I spent 09/10 in constant “where is Yaya what could Pep possibly be thinkng?” mode; now I know. He’s annoying as heck, he’s perfect for us, he’s ours and we gotta love him. Embrace the peekaboo.

        • ooga aga
          August 14, 2011

          i think theres something to this possible loyalty of pep towards keita, he has always said the most glowing things of him. plus dude is a great athlete, a work horse, he cant dribble for shit but otherwise great fundamentals, a great squad/fill-in player. every team needs a player (or three) like keita

  19. August 14, 2011


    I posted my five cents on that thread, though I am not interested in make more people love Barcelona. Haters will hate and will make all their arguments to spit that hatred. No reasoning can counter that.

    Underachieving clubs receive sympathy and compassion. Successful clubs are the target of hatred and envy. We’ve been on the two sides of the equation during the years and I prefer where we are now.

    The club has enough lovers. So we are settled to what we are happy to have. Winners cant heal whiners. Never happened. Never will.


    Angel is a good player for the future. But I am, not that upset that we didnt sign him. Maybe, because i look at the squad needs first before looking outside. Adriano is still more reliable that Angel -at the moment. And we have some great talents in the farm for the future. While Abidal is still the king on his thrown even if we used him as a CB when needed. Maxwell is an experienced luxury (who is also more reliable than Angel right now – Yeap!) and can serve in other positions from LM, to LW, to DM where he played before.

    I think the main reason why Angel didnt sign for Barcelona was his role in the squad more than the 4 M. If he wanted to join Barcelona things would have gone Sanchez way and done. The moment Roma approached him he didnt think twice. I dont blame him. actually, I congratulate him for making the right decision. There he will play sooner, more, and under relatively less pressure. Now that’s what a young player needs.

    We have one of the most covered positions on the Left back. And we have some of the most exciting youth coming thru the ranks for that position. We are cool with it. 4M well saved.


    Can’t wait for Sanchez Debut for the club. For years I liked many players and was hoping to see at Barcelona. Most of the times they didnt of course. Sneijder from Ajax to replace Deco was one of the most annoying unfulfilled wishes.

    But with Sanchez, it is different. A player I really like but never imagined Barcelona will consider. We can insert the cliche’ and say “It still can go both way success/disappointment” but I cant resist the optimism I have toward this one and assure that he will exceed everyone’s expectations. The boy doesn’t only have unquestionable talent, but most importantly, the right personality.

    So yea…He was the only floating forward midget Barca can sign and avoid receiving my rants about how it was better to sign a true nine instead. Not that I dont believe we need it. I just think that what i call the excess of offense quality can flood and wash most tactical defects most of the times. And you cant be greedy and ask for more.

    Still, I think he will not start this match, but will be used in the second half. Hopefully while the team is in a good position to introduce him calmly.

  20. outerspacedout
    August 14, 2011

    Hernandez is 10th in the Goal.com 50. Sanchez and Cavani hasn’t even made the list yet. Ronaldo Oezil Messi Iniesta Xavi will definitely be in the top ten. Falcao also I’m sure will be in the top ten.

    My bets for 17 of the top 18 was Sanchez, Cavani, Thiago Silva, Rooney, Pique, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Ronaldo, Oezil, Sahin, Falcao, Tevez, Nani, Eto’o, Vidic, Suarez and unsure. Silva, Rooney, Pique, Sahin, Tevez, Suarez, Eto’o, and the unsure (Neuer) have all made the list so far.

    So that means they’re gonna say out of Sanchez, Cavani, Nani, Vidic, Falcao one of them won’t even make the top 50? Di Natale is already in the list in the thirties, and though Nani was arguably United’s best attacking player over the whole season with Rooney and Hernandez in the top 20 already and since Nani wasn’t starting in the latter bit of the season perhaps it’s him. But it’d be a travesty if Sanchez or Cavani didn’t even make the top 50.

    But then again, this IS Goal.com…

    • Diego
      August 14, 2011

      Pedro is yet to appear.

      Gareth Bale infront of David Villa for a decent half season.

      I don’t know what to say.

      • htMillBay
        August 14, 2011

        Goal.com is a British site? It can sometimes be annoying watching American coverage of the Olympics and the obvious bias, but the Brits are even worse when it comes to any sports.

      • outerspacedout
        August 14, 2011

        There is no way Pedro will be in the top nine, and he wouldn’t even have made my top 15. But he didn’t even make the whole top 50 list yeah.

    • August 14, 2011

      You know it’s an inevitability now that we will draw Chelsea in the CL knockout rounds this season, right?

      • nzm
        August 14, 2011

        Of course! It appears to alternate between Chelsea and Arsenal. It’s a given.

  21. Vj
    August 14, 2011


    Gabrielle Marcotti lauding our transfer season, saying 58m spending as opposed to 50m in incoming funds (Though he thinks we’re getting all of Ibra’s 24m now) which is good in terms of getting transfer targets and FFP and the “MASSIVE” debt that we have.

    When I asked about that (24m spread over 3 years) he replied:

    “True, but it’s a receivable. Acct-wise can book it str8t away. Cash-flow wise may choose not to.”

  22. Diego
    August 14, 2011

    Do you think they’ll play or Kick ?

    • Calvin
      August 14, 2011

      That’s what I’m most worried about in this game. Everyone is saying it will set the tone for the beginning of the season, and it will in a small way, but what I’m most worried about is injuries.

      We are going to be fielding a team that only has a handful of players who have played a full game in the preseason. Some of the starters barely played at all during preseason (I’m looking at Xavi and Messi). They have been training, but to paraphrase from Guardiola “nothing keeps players in game shape like playing games.”

      This isn’t just a rivalry where players will be making harder tackles and playing rough. This is possibly the team that played us the most physical out of any team we faced last season. When you are playing an extremely physical team and you aren’t at 100% fitness the chance of injury increases exponentially.

      Then, to top it all off you have a couple players with mini-knocks from midweek. Busquets and Pique both were slightly injured, and so it’s risky to play either of them in this match. Pique will almost undoubtedly start, but it still worries me.

      If I was coach I would be tempted to leave some key players on the bench. I don’t know how fit Messi is, but I would consider starting Thiago over him and using him as a second half sub. The score is secondary at this point in my mind. We need to keep everyone healthy.

  23. Calvin
    August 14, 2011

    The inclusion of both Dos Santos and Montoya in the squad seems to confirm what almost everyone (excluding me) has surmised from the pre-season: Dos Santos doesn’t work as a right back.

    If Fabregas does indeed touch down in Barcelona later this season it’s going to be almost impossible for Dos Santos to get any first team games this season. It’s unfortunate as he is loyal and hard working, if not quite good enough for the team. He strikes me as a more cerebral player than Thiago, a player who may have blossomed greatly with several years playing as a sub on the first team.

    We are going to see more and more of this in the coming years. We have so many talents coming out of the youth teams that a lot of players who could have been useful to the team in leaner days are going to be sent on their way due to lack of space for them. I just hope we are careful – many players develop more slowly, and we need to make sure we aren’t sacrificing them for players who hit their peak early and then stop developing (Bojan maybe?).

    I’m glad I’m not the one making these decisions.

  24. Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol)
    August 14, 2011

    @Euler/Jnice: Don’t you think it would be better to use to Keita at LB. His mistakes would cost less there and his penchant for vertical runs would be quite useful there while that’s pointless at DM.

    BTW Ajax were really fluid today, the defense is still shaky but the midfield was well in control. Lots to like and seems they are improving with every game.

    Also looking at all the big teams it’s apparent that fitness is a big problem. That’s what happens when teams are travelling round the world rather than training.

    • Calvin
      August 14, 2011

      Ajax were very exciting today. They obviously have some issues to sort out but I get the feeling they are going to be a very fun team to watch this season.

  25. August 14, 2011

    LOL. This is quite sensationalist from El Pais:


    Basically, it’s saying that after the first Clasico last season (the 1-1 draw in the Bernabeww), Mourinho tore the EE players a new one, calling them ‘traitors’ and insulting them in general (in the EE dressing room). The players had never seen him so distraught. Apparently, sometime during the rant, he says, “The only friend I have in this lockeroom is Granero. But I can’t even trust him! I’m left all alone! You’re the most treacherous squad I’ve ever had!”

    Then, he took a can of Red Bull and threw it against a wall. The best lines from the article follow IMO:

    “Bathed in this energy drink flavored with berries, sugar and caffeine, some players were puzzled. Others watched with indifference. Casillas went to the showers with other Spanish players. Despondent, the coach leaned over and planted a knee on the ground and cried disconsolate tears. Then he got up, rinsed his eyes, and told everyone, between sobs, he was going to talk to Florentino Perez and Jose Angel Sanchez (executive chief).”


    The rest of the article talks of EE players and staff winding up our players. “You believe you play football, but all you do is steal referees!” was the basic theme. Dunno how much of it is true, but considering Mourinho is such a drama queen and the general nastiness of the Clasicos, some of it probably is. The rest is to get people’s panties in a bunch before the Clasico methinks.

    • Lou
      August 14, 2011

      Interesting, I’d sort of expect that kind of an article from Sport or El Mundo Deportivo, but I though El Pais was supposed to be less biased.

      It’s pretty hard to believe that Mourinho would lose control like that given that his coaching style is so based on controlling his players mentality.

      The mental images are amusing though…

      • tutomate
        August 14, 2011

        What’s rash is that the parent company that owns El Pais also owns AS.

        • tutomate
          August 14, 2011

          Rash? Stupid iPad.

          Also by extension they own the character that is Tomas Roncero.

  26. Reaper
    August 14, 2011

    Does anyone on the Indian subcontinent know if the game will be shown here? Tenaction, Sony Pix etc????

  27. August 14, 2011

    Hey folks – new post up with some tactical issues to watch for today.

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