Last season, we started with a right smart thumping of Racing, then lost to Hercules. So going into the third match, we had 3 points in the Liga.
This season, we started with a right smart thumping of Villarreal, then drew Sociedad. So going into the third match, we have 4 points in the Liga.
We had a short bench, an experimenting coach, a bedding-in new purchase and new president/board. How did we do?
This season, we have depth, but a couple of key injuries that will take some time. But we also have quality replacements, and a very favorable schedule over the next month or so.
Does anyone still think we’re going to die? Didn’t think so.
To bide the time until the review that your life-constrained mods will work up, this is a plea for calm. Some of us are veteran cules, some are newcomers. Most have become accustomed to seeing this club take care of business with style, going about the business of living up to the press plaudits. There was talk of a manita against AC Milan, Serie A champions and one of the best clubs in the world. They even have a Prince in the lineup.
So we drew a match against one of the best clubs in the world, a club with an excellent coach who devised a game plan that capitalized on the strengths of his club, and the weaknesses of ours. And it was a very good match to watch, one in which we left some goals on the table as we work off the rust and clunky off season. It happens. And had we started the Champions League campaign against BATE Borisov (last year it was Olympiakos), I rather imagine the mood would be a lot calmer. But it’s a pretty safe bet that after two Champions League matches this season, our number of points in the group will be the same.
And still, nobody is going to die.
Has success really spoiled us that much? As Sid Lowe wrote, we live in a world where a draw is a loss, and when we “lose,” someone must be blamed.
–Keita blows at DM
–Busquets is a crappy CB
–Guardiola is messing with things too much
There is plenty of blame to go around, and none. As Puyol said in his presser today, we win and lose as a team. Is it Busquets’ fault for not marking up on Thiago, or Abidal’s for conceding the corner? Or the midfield for ceding possession in the first place and not pressing the ball so that it never got that far? Or Messi’s for not scoring another goal or two? Or Villa for not providing the pace and width necessary to alter the Milan tactics. Maybe if Pique had been training harder instead of frolicking with his pop tart, he wouldn’t have gotten injured and would have been out there. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.
It’s also a new project, that its coach is still tinkering with. There have been some comparisons to the Rijkaard dismantling, comparos that are in no way valid. Even when the Rijkaard clubs were winning, things were tenuous, waiting for the first sign of failure for the claws to come out. Guardiola came in and fixed that stuff. The players present today are friends, and have been in many cases, teammates since forever ago. It’s different.
Rijkaard’s crew was a collection of individuals, brilliant ones, but individuals. This current crew is a team, and this team is one of, if not the best team in the world. We have strengthened ourselves in the transfer window with not one, but two world-class players, and it’s all going to be fine. And even if it isn’t fine, even if we don’t win all the silver, “Dancing With the Stars” and a Nobel Prize, we’re still going to be fine, because it’s just a game. A game played by millionaires in the employ of other millionaires.
Do we love it? You bet. But it also requires some bloodless perspective, and that perspective tells me that we’re going to be fine. Which club is reality, the one that dismantled the 4th-place side in La Liga with only one defender on the pitch, or the one that drew against a traditional bogey club at its house, then against one of the best clubs in the world, with a legitimate shot at winning the Champions League?
Maybe we’re neither, just a collection of athletes who, like the rest of us, get tired, have good days and bad days, make mistakes that they wish they’d never made, and can learn from.
It’s all going to be fine, people.