Strike one, aka “Why you aren’t watching Barca this weekend”

So, we should be discussing possibilities, who’s starting, the curse of the No. 9, etc.

Instead, we’re sitting on our tushies, watching old Barca matches on the DVR and dreaming of better times ahead. Or something.

Because the LFP players are on strike. Here’s the quick and dirty lowdown on what’s going on.

There’s the AFE (the players) and the LFP (the Liga). At issue here is players’ compensation in the instances of teams that can’t meet their bills. The players want guarantees that wages will still be paid in the event of a club’s insolvency. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but the linchpin of the labor action is that the players want a fund set up that will guarantee wages, as almost 44m in wages are still owed from last season.

The Liga wants to set up a fund, worth some 40 million, that will address the problem. That fund isn’t even sufficient to cover monies owed, say the players, much less the looming problems that will be going on this Liga season. The rest of it is the typical posturing that Spanish businessmen (players are also businessmen) adopt that is often an impediment to their actually doing business.

At the root of things is a deeper problem: The Liga, as a whole, is in debt. Irrespective of how you look at that debt or decide to structure it, 3 billion isn’t a small number, particularly against revenues of 1.5 billion. It presents the picture of a league that is living beyond its means, and presents real complexities when the FIFA financial fair play strictures come into effect. The beautifully run Athletic Bilbao is the exception, rather than the rule. Another problem is that the players want the contract to include the provision that a player who hasn’t been paid in 90 days can become a free agent.

As we know, the Liga is us, Evil Empire then a second tier (Valencia, Sevilla, now Malaga, Villarreal), then the rest. And that’s the problem. When you consider that we’re paying Messi more than the entire payroll of some Liga minnows, it’s not easy to see trouble brewing, because clubs want to win. New stadiums, player transfers financed by bank loans, all in the interest of if not challenging the Big Two, at least getting to European football, where some of those costs can be recouped.

What concerns the players union in light of this debt crisis is that at present, Liga clubs can do what consumers do, which is to go into what is in effect bankruptcy. This creates a new set of rules for administration of the involved party’s finances. So the rule that says a club has to pay its players or be relegated, no longer applies. Six Liga sides: Zaragoza, Racing Santander, Mallorca, Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Granada, are in administration. Half the clubs in the second division are, as well. It’s easy to see the players concert that the LFP fund is insufficient to cover the problem. And now, we have questions:

Why don’t the players of an individual team just strike

Because any labor action, particularly under the auspices of a union, has a greater effect if everyone takes part. The players union voted to strike, and that’s that. Our captain, Carles Puyol, is all for the strike, as is his counterpart, Iker Casillas. Players risk their careers and futures on the pitch, and they should be paid for it, say the union. That’s a stance that’s pretty difficult to argue with. It’s then a matter of the public relations battle. The owners will present it as millionaire players taking their ball and going home. The players will say that they just want to be paid for their efforts, now and in the future. As usual with any strike, everybody gets screwed: owners, players, fans, club personnel, vendors, you name it.

What about next weekend?

There are talks scheduled today and Monday, aimed at salvaging the second weekend of matches. The LFP spokesman, however, characterized the positions as being “very far apart.” Most are expecting the first two weekends to be canceled, then a deal will be reached after people realize that this is crazy, because the more matches that aren’t played, the less money is made and the worse the debt problems become, as teams aren’t taking in matchday revenues.

Could the strike continue?

The thing about strikes is once they start, they’re hard to end. At their core, they’re games of chicken. Whoever flinches first, loses. Rarely does one side or the other want a strike. Usually they want to take things down to the wire, get the best deal possible, breathe a sigh of relief and have life go on. But once a strike happens, nobody blinks, and the staredown ensues. At this point it becomes a matter of which side stands to lose the most. You fans of American football will recall that in 1982, a players’ strike knocked out half of the season (based on a 16-game schedule). The players caved, and the effects are still being felt on free agency. In 1987 the players struck again, and the owners brought in replacement players to continue the games. Again, the players caved. Recall that last season there was also the threat of a strike, again over wages not being paid to players in the 3rd and 4th divisions. We can assume it’s symptomatic of Europe’s fiscal woes as a whole that this season, it’s spread to the first and second division.

Will the players cave?

Good question. The Big Two have players who are being paid millions of dollars. Those players are fine. It’s the players for the smaller clubs in the first and second divisions that see their livelihood severely curtailed. Every good union has a strike fund set up. But that fund usually covers only a fraction of the salaries of striking members. If you’re making a million per season, with the attendant lifestyle, it isn’t long before you start to feel your style being cramped. That’s what happened with the National Football Association, essentially. Once a number of players crossed the picket line, the strike was screwed. Back in the day, when I was a clerk at a unionized newspaper, it was easy for me to vote to strike, as the strike benefits weren’t all that much less than my regular salary. The guy making 10x what I was, however, was in a very different boat.

What about replacement players?

The Liga isn’t stupid. European football is far more star-driven than American football, where people went to see the replacement players. If Barca fielded a team that didn’t include Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, etc, who the hell would watch? Further, you can presume that those matches would then significantly alter the terms of the agreement between the teams and their broadcasters. Sometimes, it’s actually cheaper NOT to play the games.

Jeez, what a mess. What now?

Now we wait. The more matches that are lost, the more complex the season becomes. With the American football strike, it was easy to deal with, because that was the only game in town. With the Liga, there’s national tourneys, European competition and for clubs such as us, special competitions such as SuperCopa and the World Club Cup. Potentially, all those could be affected unless the players union votes to allow the club(s) in question to take place. And then there’s Champions League. An exhibition such as the Gamper Trophy match isn’t held under any of the official sanctions of the LFP, which is to say, Barca is representing Barca, rather than the LFP. It is, in effect, an exhibition match. Just as a Liga strike wouldn’t affect a club’s American or Asian pre-season tour, the Gamper will go on.

What about scheduling matches after the strike ends?

That bridge will have to be crossed when it comes. Those matches can’t be dumped except by unanimous consent, and teams agreeing to the lost revenue of a big club coming to town would have a very difficult time consenting to such a thing. It will almost certainly mean schedules being cramped, or traditional breaks being shortened. In my world, the LFP would tell national teams scheduling friendlies to go to hell, and play matches on those international dates. But anybody who thinks FIFA would allow that, is crazy.

Is there any good to come of this?

Not really. The selfish can say that it gives our injured players more time to heal, etc. But practices are also affected by the strike. Players can work out on their own, or get together and work out. But theoretically, club training sessions are part of the strike. Some clubs have already suspended training sessions until Tuesday of next week, probably in the hope that Saturday and Sunday talks will solve matters.

And we, we wait, but there is a real possibility that the Gamper might be the last footy that we see for a while. So brace yourselves.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

105 Comments

  1. Vj
    August 20, 2011

    I had some reservations facing Malaga away, in the opening day of the season, so the strike has some positive effects. The players are training as usual, I hope we hit good form and fitness before the whole shebang starts..

    • K_legit
      August 20, 2011

      This..
      I believe the players are in need of some huge-ass training sessions..
      Plus, it gives guys like Cesc more time to integrate before been thrown off the deep end

    • Dani_el
      August 20, 2011

      I didn’t see that! I just don’t find any words to describe that, he should be banned for life years ago.

  2. blitzen
    August 20, 2011

    Small correction, Kxevin, you are mixing up your currencies:

    almost 44m in wages are still owed from last season.

    This figure is in pounds. It is about 50m Euros.

    The Liga wants to set up a fund, worth some 40 million

    This is in Euros. So the difference between what the AFE wants and the LFP is offering is about 10 million Euros.

    • August 20, 2011

      No, the numbers that I am citing are in Euros. Different numbers are floating around, dependent upon who you read. No single definitive source, as with most things Liga. But it’s in a range, for sure.

  3. August 20, 2011

    No la liga… I’m watching Chelsea west brom… 🙁

    Chelsea’s midfield play is terrible. No creativity at all.

    Chelsea is going to be hard pressed to make up for the mistake of buying Torres for so much money. The money alone forces them to build the team around him. Abramovich only has himself to blame but it will be AVB who feels the repercussions. They should have bought kun.

    Chelsea are in transition. Doesn’t seem like this will end well given the owner.

    • August 20, 2011

      They really do look awful. They’ve managed to equalize through Anelka, but I don’t think they have a team that is ready to dominate all that is before them. Lampard, while a good goalscoring midfielder, doesn’t provide much else IMO. And that’s what makes our transfer of Fabregas all the more amazing. They could really, really use a player like him.

      You know, I was just thinking something.

      You know Jonathan Wilson’s feature on The Guardian? The one where they asked him a question and he talks about it from a tactically point of view?

      I think it’d be pretty cool if we asked you a question, doesn’t necessarily have to be Barca related as this is a football blog, but could have some link to us of course, that you could answer.

      For example, there is a growing consensus that RM have closed, or are closing, the gap on us, and Chelsea and Man Utd on some English boards. The question I would ask would be: have our football rivals closed the gap in quality in regards to Barca?

      I think that it’s very premature talk and that the only reason we saw attacking football in the SuperCopa was because of our lack of fitness.

      • ciaran
        August 20, 2011

        I was talking about this early today with a few friends.
        I genuinely believe that we have widened the gap between ourselves and EE this season and I also believe that EE are better than Man Utd or Chelsea.
        Last season, we had just Keita on the bench for most of it really.
        This season we could potentially have Alexis, Afellay, Thiago & Cesc. Not bad

        • August 20, 2011

          Yup. I believe we’ve widened the gap as well. The reason why there was such venom after the SuperCopa was because EE did everything they could — extra, more intense training session, Barca-like pressing, using their athleticism and tactical fouling as a defensive mechanism — against a Barca who didn’t have a preseason (Xavi, Pique barely played, Adriano, Alves, Messi, Mascherano, Alexis all had the Copa) and started it a week later, and still lost. Everyone thought they were going to win this trophy; heck, Pep even thought they were going to win — but they didn’t.

          Imagine that same game with a team that is fully fit? With Alexis, Afellay and Cesc on the bench? It’d be similar to the manita IMO. But if the team was fully fit, there wouldn’t have been an attacking flavour to the game anyway.

          If people are using this tie to say the gap is closing, we can also use this tie to say the gap is widening.

          • Dani_el
            August 20, 2011

            My thoughts exactly! I was discussing this with a friend fan of EE, and if logic applies (and sometime it doesnt in football) we have a better squad this year (Cesc and Sanchez as supersubs, and we dont have to waste minutes on Bojan, sorry for this) than the last one. I hope we dont have any serious injuries, and that we can mantain that hunger for titles, that way maybe Pep will renew his contract.

    • nzm
      August 20, 2011

      It’s horrible.

      We’re being forced to watch EPL, then French League followed by the Portuguese games.

      I may just go and quietly whimper in the corner now. 🙁

  4. Helge
    August 20, 2011

    Did you also see Arsenal?

    I think they might be in serious trouble. Not only that players still drop like flies there, today they played their worst match that I’ve seen. It seemed they didn’t play as a unit, Nasri was on his own quite often. The short-pass-game didn’t take place at all.
    You cannot really blame Nasri if he also leaves, this year they even lack potential (which they usually blow by the end of each season).

    I wonder if Arsenal might be on their way out of the Top4, not just temporarily, but for a looooong time ???

    • Brosep
      August 20, 2011

      Even before Frimpong got sent off, Arsenal looked hopeless. RVP, Nasri, and Vermaelen can’t carry the team with their individual efforts. With both Frimpong and Song suspended, and Koscielny (maybe), Djorou, Wilshere, and Squillaci all hurt, Arsenal is going into their match against United next week with a crisis at holding midfield and center back. It’s already a bad start, and it’s not far from being a bad year.

      Surely at this point, Arsenal’s injury problems can be attributed to their fitness regimen, right? When Inter’s squad dwindled last season, the blame was rested on Benitez for his training program. Arsenal’s injury problems are becoming chronic and constant, and this suggests an institutional, rather than an individual, problem.

      That said, Liverpool looked pretty poor themselves until, and it’s unsurprising, Suarez and Meireles came on. Considering that Adam is a decent distributor and Downing can be a serious threat down the side, I was disappointed to see most of the infrequent Liverpool attacks as fruitless long balls to Andy Carroll.

      Based on this game, which is certainly no fair measurement, I can’t see either competing for the Premiership this season. City and United, not to mention Barca and EE, are miles ahead of these guys.

  5. August 20, 2011

    Jose, Barcaleya, I did read what you guys wrote. I’d write a post about it, but I just don’t want to start that stuff up again. Mentally tired of it.

    But it’s something I would want to post about in the future though.

      • August 20, 2011

        I kinda fibbed. I had a draft of a post I had started a little while ago, but I want to get my point across as soberly as possible and I might need a little bit more time to get my bearings together.

        I recently had an epiphany as to why I dislike the behaviour of these Clasicos and it took Graham Hunter’s first leg report, what Cesc Fabregas said post match, and adopted cule and Euler’s discussion for me to make the proper connection.

        Anyways, maybe we could do a collab post about it sometime, if you’re interested. I have time left over because of this strike stuff.

    • Barcaleya
      August 20, 2011

      Dear Kari – I totally agree with your rant and understand how mentally tiring it is. I even got physically tired arguing and explaining that point, both verbally and in writing, to my Madridista friends right after the four clasicos in April. I ended up tearing my hair in frustration.

      It seems like most people (esp the ones I read in blogs have completely lost all objectivity. A deliberate, physical, aggressive challenge is as much cheating as embellishment – the prior more harmful too because of its potential for injury rather than just a means for a card to be handed out.

      Now – anyone who watches Barcelona week in and out will know that the players hardly embellish. We have some guilty players but not many and often as being portrayed. And certainly – someone has to call attention to the ref if ref is not seeing or doing his role of penalizing foul play before it leads to injury.

      As they say – “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing.” Remove the good, we don’t have to be – but to NOT say anything, to NOT call attention (and the only way to call attention really is embellish a contact) is to allow savage and brutish men to triumph in their harmful ways.

      Heaven, heaven forbid that we have career-ending injuries in our team. I swear I’d go kamikaze and shoot the person responsible.

      So, I support fully this embellishment in the face of such blatant, repetitive, injurious fouling by a team – such as what RM did at the clasicos. Without such a backdrop and provocation, I would call out our players too for cheating. And brand them a disgrace. After all, we are so far ahead in skill and technique that we don’t really need to do such to gain an advantage. Anyone who does so is unworthy of our club, at the moment.

      In the meantime, given that everyone else is irrational in terms of supporting their own club, I ask again that we support ours as best we can. I love that we are able to discuss many things well and fully here. And we admit to our team’s failings too. But since we cannot convert others to our cause by rational and intelligent discourse – let’s clear out facts amongst ourselves and then just support our team.

      Forget the others. We shouldn’t even let them bother us. We have the trophies!

  6. August 20, 2011

    1) Translated a good part of an El Pais article on Mourinho’s tactics using quotes from Madrid players, which may be of interest to you guys. It’s toward the end of the previous thread.

    2) Allas has a video up of the 90 seconds of possession leading up to the second goal, starting from the Valdes distribution. http://youtu.be/MPTqegMtNjs

  7. Gogah
    August 20, 2011

    what a pain these strikes are.
    i hope there are no fiascos like the osasuna game last year.

  8. Ryan
    August 20, 2011

    Hey Kxevin, I’m a big fan of Guiza and look forward to seeing him play with Getafe this year, but I think you meant Malaga joining the second tier of Liga clubs.

    • Miguel
      August 20, 2011

      That’s almost verbatim what I was just about to write! You snarky bastard.

    • Ryan
      August 20, 2011

      Readers of great blogs think alike, eh?

      • August 20, 2011

        Thanks, eagle-eyed readers. Don’t know why I always mix up Getafe and Malaga, but I do. Fixed above.

        • Miguel
          August 20, 2011

          They were both bought by sheiks but Burger King FC is the one that hasn’t spent any of its sugar daddy’s money.

          • nzm
            August 21, 2011

            Except for the most bizarre ad campaign to get more fans!

  9. August 20, 2011

    That article from El Pais that Jose translated in the prior thread (thanks Jose!) is really a bad sign for Madrid.

    This is El Pais. It’s not Marca or AS (never mind Sport or MD). They aren’t simply making things up.

    Mou mou is already paranoid and intolerant of any leaks coming from the dressing room.

    And that story involves multiple leaks from the players themselves. Leaks questioning Mourinho’s tactics and organization of their system. That is going to incense him.

    It also makes life very uncomfortable for Coentrao as the new player on the squad.

    One of the most powerful people in Madrid now isn’t even a formal member of their club – it’s Jorge Mendes.

    Mendes is Mourinho’s agent – and the agent of I think 10 of Madrid’s first team players. I believe that’s the number. It’s some ridiculous number like that.

    And of course he’s Coentrao’s agent. And there’s been speculation that he was a major driving force to get Coentrao to Madrid despite them already having Marcelo.

    Mourinho’s been saying from the start that Coentrao can play multiple positions – and now the locker room players are saying that’s wrong and that cost Madrid the supercopa.

    And once again we hear complaints about Mourinho’s stifling tactics and players being unhappy with that. Leaking things publicly in El Pais really makes a statement.

    It was also interesting that the article also suggested that within the Madrid dressing room winning the SuperCopa was clearly something Mou mou and the club had prioritized.

    And they still didn’t win.

    • htMillBay
      August 20, 2011

      Mou’s high pressure tactics have a short life span in the dressing room. Modern players only go for that shtick a few times then the coach turns into a laughing stock among the players when his back is turned. The leaks are all very rational and based on tactics but you can be sure there are gripes about other things behind them.

      Men’s football is still a macho dominated sport especially in a country like Spain. Mou’s curious behavior w/Tito would be considered very “unmanly” by the players. If Mou had stepped in front of Pep and challenged him to a mano a mano fight that would have impressed the players. But his sneak attack on an assistant with the fingers on the eyes would be considered for lack of a better word, a “sissy” move. I’m telling you there is an anti-Mou rebellion brewing in Madrid and the kives are being sharpened.

    • nzm
      August 20, 2011

      It’s all interesting stuff, and what the fallout will be in Madrid is anyone’s guess.

      My hunch is that nothing will change. Mourinho’s statement in today’s Spanish press has stopped short of an apology for his behaviour, and I believe that he was forced to even say what he did.

      If I have another hunch, I would believe that Del Bosque (who was at the games) has most likely persuaded Casillas to rethink his initial reaction to the Marcelo tackle on Fabregas, and this is why he’s contacted Puyol about it, and will talk to Xavi also. Del Bosque still has a hell of a job on his hands to make the Spanish NT into a cohesive unit.

      Just one point though about the midfield and the discussion in this article – they are missing one key point, and that is we haven’t yet seen Nuri Sahin turn out for Madrid. He could potentially be the key to whatever Mourinho tries next with the team, in terms of tactics.

    • nzm
      August 20, 2011

      Earlier today, we were discussing the Supercopa fallout with some of our Catalan neighbours, and observing some of the reactions of Madrid’s NT reps.

      Certainly, there was involvement from them in the fracas that happened in the events after the Fabregas tackle, but afterwards some were seen to be making conciliatory gestures. Ramos (who at one stage had his hands around Pinto’s neck) was seen talking to Pinto, and they were really talking – not arguing or still duking it out. Ramos appeared to be apologising. Alonso was also seen trying to maintain some sense of order without getting caught up in the drama. Casillas, as captain – and a very frustrated one at that – is truly caught in Mourinho’s web of fabrication, and needs someone to shake him free of it. (Del Bosque, perhaps?)

      I believe that the key to ending all the crap at Madrid comes from the dressing room – and with the 3 main Spanish players in Alonso, Casillas and Ramos leading the way – with support from Ronaldo, Arbeloa and co. Just looking at these guys’ reactions now, makes me think that they’re sick of it, and want it all to end and get back to playing decent football.

      Perez doesn’t have the balls to do anything with Mourinho, but if enough key players are strong enough to address the issues with the Madrid board, then they’ll have little choice but to act.

      • blitzen
        August 20, 2011

        I have had the feeling for a long while that Casillas in particular is frustrated and unhappy with Mourinho’s antics and influence on the RM dressing room. Sometimes it seems like he has been caught up in Mourinho’s web of delusion, but other times he seems to be actively biting his tongue to stop from saying what he really thinks of his coach. Off the field, these are all decent guys, and my hope is that they will be able to stop this madness from escalating even more.

  10. just listenin
    August 20, 2011

    I have been thinking about what (among many things) bothers me so much about Mourinho’s behavior and I think it is the WWE pro wrestling-ish nature of it. He’s turning futbol into something that looks like semi-scripted or choreographed play. I half expect him to hit Pep over the head with the substitute board, jab someone with a corner flag or wrap one of those resistance training bands around someone’s neck putting them in a choke hold when the ref isn’t looking after some misdirection play… It’s almost silly. He’s making a serious sport among real athletes look like a performance act… Maybe he thinks it’s entertaining? You would almost think he would need to premeditate or script his antics to pull them off unless he were a sociopath or something (which can’t be ruled out I guess). There is a context where his behavior makes sense, it just isn’t futbol it’s wrestling… Doing it in futbol boarders on dangerous and irresponsible if he’s playing because everyone is not in on the joke. If he is serious?, it’s antisocial behavior.
    He is making me think of the likes of Captain Lou Albano, Fred Blassie or the Grand Wizard…back in the day. Mou would be a great pro wrestling manager. Missed his calling in my opinion.

    • Miguel
      August 20, 2011

      Mou Mou = Ravishing Rick Rude

      Anyone else watching the U-20 battle of the lusophones? Tied 1-1.

      • blitzen
        August 20, 2011

        Just tuned in. I live near Portugal Village here in TO, so I expect a street party to break out no matter the final result.

        • Miguel
          August 20, 2011

          Brazil’s keeper completely fluffed that one.

  11. The__K__Man
    August 20, 2011

    I think people who will really suffer from the strike are the fans. Sadly I’m one of them. I was supposed to attend the match vs Villarreal which looks likely to be cancelled. I’ve read a lot of posts from fans on the internet saying they were coming specifically to watch a match from another country and that it’s too late to cancel their trips.
    I hope at least the Super Cup gets played in Monaco so I can catch that one.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 20, 2011

      feel sorry for you.

      hope you’ll able to watch Barça vs Porto!

      • barca21farid
        August 21, 2011

        Hey barcagirl. im a malaysian n but currently in medan, studying. which part of indo are you in? n.. how did u fell in love with barca? haha

  12. andrecito
    August 20, 2011

    i don’t know how to post links, but i just read this on soccernet and wanted to share..this blows my mind..i live in kyoto, japan…even though the physical impact was minimal were i live, the mental trauma was, and still is, devastating in every part of the country…

    Eiji Kawashima Taunted In Belgium

    BRUSSELS — A Belgian soccer match was stopped temporarily Saturday after visiting fans taunted Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima over the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster.

    The referee halted the match between Lierse SK and Beerschot after some Beerschot supporters began chanting: “Kawashima-Fukushima.”

    The match resumed after a delay of several minutes and ended in a 1-1 draw. Kawashima left the field in tears and said later he could forgive many insults, “but not this.”

    The Japanese player said: “Using the drama of Fukushima in this manner is not at all funny.”

    An earthquake and tsunami in March devastated large parts of Japan’s northeast coastline and left more than 20,000 people dead or missing. Another 100,000 people were evacuated because of radiation leakage from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

    • August 20, 2011

      Speechless. Just when you think that football fans have found the bottom.

    • August 20, 2011

      Wow. Just wow. People really don’t have any boundaries, do they?

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 20, 2011

      heartless people. it is so sad to read.

  13. Víctor
    August 20, 2011

    This is totally off-topic, but something should be done to stop the madness that we are seeing in almost every Clasico.

    And I think that while Madrid is mainly at fault (some would disagree, but some attitudes from Barça aren’t helping at all), both sides and a inter-mediator should solve this.

    Things are getting out of control… sure, it’s a Clasico, it’s passion and rivalry and whatnot… but both sides (specially Madrid) do seem to take things very personally.

    As for the strike, I’m guessing that an agreement will come down in a week or two. However, it’s just a big reflection of how screwed up are things, economically speaking, in La Liga.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 20, 2011

      it was never like this before, mind you.
      not happened under Bernd Schuster, Juande Ramos, or Manuel Pellegrini.

      I agree that both sides are taking part of this madness.
      we are not the good ones/saints/angels. some of our attitudes were also very embarassing.

      but really, the main cancer is from one man.
      while some will disagree (especially EEistas and Barça haters), most football fan know this.

      http://www.totalbarca.com/2011/opinion-pieces/mourinhos-antics-inspire-a-firestorm-of-criticism/

      • August 20, 2011

        My view on this matter is that the best way to win the war is to keep on winning the matches. We can prattle on about this stuff until we’re blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that they hired him knowing full well what they were going to get.

        We can do our part by not overreacting, and taking part in the nonsense. If Marcelo fouls Fabregas and takes the red card, bereft of reaction from our bench, that ends it. Match over, Marcelo has his red and that’s that. It takes two to fight.

        Are we supposed to sit there and take it? Well, yes, to a certain extent. We won the match on aggregate, and weren’t anything approaching our best. That speaks more eloquently than anything else that could be said. Now all we have to do is keep kicking their butts, and watch them tire of all of his crap and show him the door.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          August 20, 2011

          agreed.

          I think if Mou fail to bring La Liga or Champions League trophy to Bernabeu this season, that will be the end of Mourinho in Spain.

          there is only one reason why they bring Mou to the club, to end Barcelona domination.

          • barca21farid
            August 21, 2011

            Well, i dont think Perez will sack Mou just yet. Even after another disappointing year, im pretty sure Mou will stil be the head coach next year. Perez is so much into Mou that he even kicked his long time second man(valdano) out of madrid to give Mou complete power.

            Perez is desperate n he knows, there’s hardly another coach out there who’s willing to take madrid’s hot seat let alone beating barca. So, the best bet that he got, still is Mou. (put in mind he sacked Capello twice after winnin la liga and Del Bosque after winning UCL but now he knows, Mou is his only hope)

            Hence, i really think even after another disappointing season at the capital, that idiotic shameless irrational will still be there.

        • August 20, 2011

          Most assuredly Guardiola has told them the same thing in private, but there is something here that needs to be addressed.

          Being the bigger person is something that Guardiola and the players have been doing all season, not only in face of an onslaught of EE based propaganda from their newspapers (nothing new) but also from their coach himself. No rational person is arguing that Mourinho isn’t a big part of this mess — the Barca complex he processes is quite severe.

          There are, however, many a people who seem to believe that the Barcelona and Madrid’s behaviour are equal to each other, meaning both take EQUAL share of the blame. I strongly disagree.

          If you agree that Mourinho is causing a large part of this mess, then you should also remind people that he is Madrid’s coach. It’s not only a case of Mourinho being Mourinho — he represents Madrid when he talks in press conferences. Do I care much for Madrid’s image? Not really. They hired him and knew what they were getting. But in that same vein, when he does and says things, he does them while representing Madrid.

          So if there is large part of this mess artibuted to Mourinho, it will, by association/representation, also be attributed to Madrid.

          We didn’t hire this psychopath — Madrid did. And they have to bear the consequences.

          We have Pep and Barcelona has to bear what he and our players do. When Marcelo tackled Cesc, Pep reacted immediately, then caught himself and went to control his players — at that point, they should have stopped and not risen to the bait that was Marcelo’s tackle . So our team isn’t innocent, angelic without any blame. They certainly have their share.

          It’s just not equal. And that’s something that should be clearly defined.

          And this goes for all of the Clasicos we’ve had in the past year.

  14. August 20, 2011

    On a distressing note, some of our players met with LeBron James today. I hope they were fumigated afterward. I’d hate to see his failure dust infect our lads. We still have much to do.

    • blitzen
      August 20, 2011

      It’s OK, the stench of failure concentrates around the head, which is at least a foot above our tallest player. Just sprinkle a little baking soda on them and they will be fine. 😀

    • nzm
      August 21, 2011

      I don’t think that they even had an offical photographer there to record his visit.

      The images on the website look as though thsy’ve been taken with a cellphone camera.

      • blitzen
        August 21, 2011

        He even makes Pique look short! 🙂

        Why is bouncieball so huge in Spain, anyway? All the football players seem to be big fans.

        • nzm
          August 21, 2011

          There’s a strong basketball (Baloncesto) league here, and Barcelona has a very good team (league winners, Euro winners etc last season), plus a couple of Catalans playing in the US, so it’s popular.

          La Lakers came out last season for a friendly.

          The spectator numbers are dropping at the games though – all this publicity could be to try and drum up interest in the sport again, and encourage people to attend the games.

  15. tutomate
    August 20, 2011

    Just wanted to say that I finally finished the comments in the last two post and Jose and Kari said how I feel to the T. Specially Jose with the “straw man” fallacy.

    And Euler & Adopted Cule’s tactical exchange was awesome

  16. culegirl3
    August 20, 2011

    Because this strike has left me feeling empty I decided to come to the HDC to watch the la galaxy and Robbie keane’s retirement debut…oooops I mean his mls debut. 🙂

    • mohit
      August 21, 2011

      He’s predicting Madrid to win the Liga!

    • nzm
      August 21, 2011

      Thanks for the link.

      Everyone with a spare 35 mins should listen to this.

      He thinks the same as I do about Mourinho’s antics. It’s part of his player selection process to see who are the biggest mongrels in the pack. The winners are those who are at the front of the fights. The losers are those who don’t fight – perhaps Kaka is on the way out? It will also be interesting to see what happens with Ronaldo, because he also didn’t get involved. I’m also wondering about Arbeloa.

    • Dani_el
      August 21, 2011

      I know it’s silly to read from Marca, but I actually wanted to see if there was any real regrets.

      Having seen the official photo of our squad, and though I did prefer Rossi over Sanchez (and was really rooting for Cesc to come back), if you have told me in june, that we would get those 2 signings, for less than 55 million euros in fixed payments, I wouldnt have believed it. I dont agree with some policies of Rosell, but damn he knows how to negotiate! From now on, I think we’ll always insist in a lot of variables in our signings. I do think we have a stronger squad than last year (and maybe Puyol will come back better and healthier .)

      • Vj
        August 21, 2011

        I think its a much broader policy that we are adopting, to only buy players who want to come only to us, or in the last year of their contract. In both situations the have the upper hand and can impose ourselves on the negotiations. Lets us buy players on the cheap.

        But sometimes this makes us let some good players slip through our fingers. Rosell got way too cute over Jose Angel. Might bite us, might not. Time will tell..

        • dennise
          August 21, 2011

          Abramovich offered for Mata 27 million euros, the latest rumors. No wonder why Rossell did not try harder. He probally got the message “we want more money and we can wait”.

          • dennise
            August 21, 2011

            Damn what a mess. What I wrote. Move along, there is nothing to see!

            I simply “mixed” Jose Angel and Juan Mata. What a shame.

  17. Huckleberry
    August 21, 2011

    a first step to solve the financial problems of the Spanish clubs would be a new and fair deal about the television revenues.

  18. K_legit
    August 21, 2011

    Lets be honest about this one irrefutable fact

    Barcelona is the team to beat out there. There is not one team on this planet that at the moment would not dread facing us n the football pitch.

    Some, like Villareal, like Valencia, play us on their own terms. They push us to the limit because they play a game nearly similar to ours in terms of possession, link-up play and short passes. This, helps us fans, see a game that is difficult, but incredibly satisfying to see. We win, or they do, based on pure merit on the day and in the end that is what I would want to see.

    I am tired of seeing my team labelled as cheaters, or divers, or actors when we are not. But you know what I am not tired of seeing? Us winning trophies, on our own terms, playing in a style of football that is non-negotiable.

    So, you may keep your ‘Man’s game’, your ‘Tough tacklers’ and what not…You may keep your ‘tiki taka is boring’, ‘passes are overrated’ views to yourself..while I will revel in the football of my Barcelona…the team of my heart, the one who I have supported through thick and thin, through trophy droughts and presidential fuck-ups, through victory and defeat and misery and happiness and I will continue to do so..something which you cannot aspire to

  19. mohit
    August 21, 2011

    Does anyone remember the quote “Hoy, mañana y siempre con el Barça en el corazon! – “Today, tomorrow and always, with Barca in my heart!” by Mourinho? Barcelona is known to embrace people and make them one of their own. What if Mourinho is an undercover coach at Real Madrid with the only aim of taking it down to the lowest levels so as to ensure Barcelona wins everything? That’d be some story.

    A little bit of fantasy to lighten up the mood. 🙂

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 21, 2011

      look at the previous thread.

      Jose, el traductor, the translator has translated for us.

      • Srini
        August 21, 2011

        Oh this is an another article ..not the one on the previous thread.

        • blitzen
          August 21, 2011

          Can’t give you a real translation, but the gist of it is:

          –Casillas has become disillusioned with Mourinho and his antics and recognizes the damage that has been done to the NT and his own reputation.
          –In February Perez called Casillas to ask him to make demonstrations of public loyalty to Mourinho. Casillas complied and repeated all the bullcrap about Barça being divers and the refs conspiring against Madrid.
          –his phone calls to Puyol and Xavi after the Supercopa to apologize for his statements were an honourable gesture and an attempt to rebuild the harmony of the national team as well as his own personal credibility.

          The part about Mendes is interesting. Why would an agent be at a training session? The article implies that the players Mendes represents (plus Mourinho) form a new power block within the team. This leaves out their own captain, Casillas, and also CRonaldo, with whom Mourinho “has been very critical in the dressing room.”

          • Srini
            August 21, 2011

            Thanks, Blitz. Much appreciated.

            Begs the question, is someone close to Casillas doing the leaking to the serious press (El Pais)? That does not bode well for EE, but it certainly does bode well for the La Roja team.

            But wait, wasn’t CRonaldo also employing Mendes?.

            As ludicrous as it sounds, it is turning into Spain v Portugal in EE. Very bad indeed.

          • blitzen
            August 21, 2011

            You’re right, Mendes is CRonaldo’s agent as well. But Mourinho has given CRon the cold shoulder since he complained about Mou’s tactics last spring.

          • Srini
            August 21, 2011

            Boy, does Mourinho remind me of Hitler in his “my way or the highway” routine.

          • FalseNine
            August 21, 2011

            Oh come on, no Nazi comparisons. Deep breaths please. Mourinho is just a jerky football coach.

          • nzm
            August 21, 2011

            Maybe Casillas is engaging in some interesting “pillow talk” with Sara that’s getting into the media!

            Ronaldo was a distant figure during the fracas on Wednesday night. He and Iniesta were out in the middle of the field having a chat at one stage. If Mou takes that as a sign of weakness from Ronaldo that he wouldn’t get involved in the defence of his team, this could cause further friction.

            T’would be interesting to see which, out of Mou or Ronaldo, Perez would prefer to lose!

    • blitzen
      August 21, 2011

      I know the actual stunts are done by doubles, but that dive made me wince so bad. YOW!!!!

      Messi makes a cute skateboarder! 😆

  20. blitzen
    August 21, 2011

    At 18 CET tonight Barca TV will telecast a Cadet B game of the 2001/02 season. Tune in to catch Pique, Cesc n Messi play in the youth teams.

    So. Jealous. 👿

    • nzm
      August 21, 2011

      Darn – missed it.

      But we will be at the Gamper game tomorrow – am looking forward to a game where myy heart won’t be threatening to break out of my chest!

  21. Xingxian
    August 21, 2011

    Tiding myself over during the La Liga strike by watching the EPL. Watching City right now. Every time I’ve watched Aguero I’ve loved his play, ESPECIALLY alongside Messi. How happy I’d be if the stars aligned such that he winds up somehow, someday, in blue and red…

  22. Xingxian
    August 21, 2011

    I think I just accidentally posted out of order and I’m sad because I can’t delete my own posts 🙁

    • outerspacedout
      August 21, 2011

      Sanchez also went from Sanchez to Alexis, and in Barca alone Busquets has a Sergio jersey, to list players who are more commonly known by their last names but have first names on their jerseys. Xavi, Pedro, Bojan, Thiago etc all being known by those first names more so their jerseys having that not being surprising.

    • FalseNine
      August 21, 2011

      We have a whole variety of jersey name patterns.

      First name: Pedro, Alexis, Xavi, Thiago, Sergio
      Last name: Messi, Afellay, Keita, Abidal, Puyol, Pique, Fabregas
      Both names: David Villa, Dani Alves
      First initial last name: A. Iniesta, V. Valdes

      Once upon a time Busi had first name last initial: Sergio B.

      I didn’t name everyone, but you get the idea. In Spain you can basically do whatever you want.

      • K_legit
        August 21, 2011

        In case of Busi at least the reason was that he didn’t want to be known as the son of Carles Busquets and rather as his own man..therefore, he doesn’t have his surname on the jersey

        • blitzen
          August 21, 2011

          Which is funny, since no one calls him Sergio anyway.

    • nzm
      August 21, 2011

      In an interview on Barca TV, he said that he had Cesc on his NT shirt and it didn’t go well for him or the team, but after he changed it to Fabregas, they won the Euro 2008 and World Cup!

      But he’s “not superstitious”, so he says, however he decided to keep the Fabregas on the shirt “just for safety’s sake”!

  23. messifan
    August 21, 2011

    @ Srini, I don’t think it’s nice or right to compare Mou to Hitler in anyway.

  24. August 21, 2011

    So, I ended up buckling and writing a post.

    Now seems to be the best time to get everything out there. It’s a controversial post, and there’ll most likely be things that people, even cules, don’t really agree with. But it’s worth getting out there, so I don’t have to get into anything when the next Clasico comes.

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