From the Frivolous Complaints Department: Ibra and the Wedding Fiasco

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray is forced to relive a single day–February 2, in this case–over and over again until he gets it right. I’ve always been fascinated with the movie for multiple reasons. First, it’s comedic gold throughout. Ned Ryerson? Genius character (and insightful, perhaps). Second, there are the concepts within it that mirror The 5 Stages of Grief as described in On Death and Dying.  Yet it’s the third thing, the attempt to get everything “right” that’s superficially fascinating.

What if you could relive everything until you got it just right? What if you could just hit reset sometimes and that awful day you just had could be a little better if you avoided stepping in that dog mess right before you went to the really important meeting with the CEO? This morning I read an article in the New York Times that set the stage perfectly for me then moving on to reading all about Zlatan Ibrahimovic railing against Guardiola and Barça in general. Check out versions of that story here, here, and here.

"And in this part of the Master Plan, you begin to hate me. We win the league anyway."

The difference between the two stories is pretty obvious: in one, the protagonist (or antagonist, if you will) is attempting to perfect the past while in the other he is attempting to redefine his own role in that past saga. I’m not even an amateur psychologist and I can tell you there’s got to be something going on behind-the-scenes. Yet they’re both attempting to redo parts of their past and re-emphasize certain parts of it. Perhaps Todd Remis is merely still in love with his ex-wife and really can’t stand that he doesn’t have all the memories as perfect as he thinks they should be while Ibra is attempting to tarnish the image of the thing he could not convert to his method of thinking and acting.

They’re both somewhere in the throes of grieving. Like Phil Connors in the scene where he drives Punxsutawney Phil off a cliff, they’re reacting negatively to the things that they perceive as having destroyed their opportunities. Having personally just gone through the stress of a wedding and gotten back wedding pictures, I understand how easy and comforting it is to blame the photographer for all the missed shots. Not necessarily his fault he missed that absurd dance move I put on because he was following my orders and snapping pictures of my grandparents doing the limbo, but I guess I could always sue him when my grandparents disown me.

Ibra may not be asking for a redo of the season, but he’s clearly pushing the blame onto Guardiola and the Barça system. Saying things like “I know I share some of the blame, but they were complete dinglewackers I couldn’t work with at all,” is, really, not taking any of the blame. You are clearly blame shifting!

Actual quotes, unlike the made up one above, are somewhat more interesting. From the Yahoo Sports article linked above:

“He wanted to play in the middle, not on the wing, so the system changed from 4-3-3 to 4-5-1. I was sacrificed and no longer had the freedom on the pitch I need to succeed. So I asked for a meeting with Guardiola – for a discussion, not an argument. I said I was being used in the wrong way and that they shouldn’t have bought me if they wanted another type of player. I told him what a friend had said to me – ‘you bought a Ferrari but drive it like a Fiat’. The chat seemed to go well but then Guardiola started to freeze me out.”

Some of that could be construed as fair criticism–Pep is listening to someone too much and destroyed his team’s star striker in the process. But he certainly doesn’t stop there. Apologies to sensitive ears who can’t deal with cursing. Yes, that means you, Bojan.

[Ibra] pinpointed the first major row he had with Guardiola, after a 4-1 win against Villarreal during which the former Juventus and Ajax forward only played five minutes.

“(Pep) was staring at me and I lost it. I thought ‘there is my enemy, scratching his bald head’. I yelled to him: ‘You have no balls!’  And probably worse things than that.

He went on:

Diplomatic relations broke down completely when he shouted: “You have no balls. You shit yourself when facing Mourinho! Fuck off!”


I was completely mad. I threw a box full of training gear across the room, it crashed to the floor and Pep said nothing, just put stuff back in the box. I’m not violent, but if I were Guardiola I would have been frightened.”

That, of course, is somewhere between “whoa, whoa, whoa” and “Who are you, Carlos Tevez?” on the scale of emotional reactions to being subbed into a game. So you’re pissed off that you weren’t subbed into a game that the team won 4-1? The thing is, the context of that game should be noted: the team had just been bounced from the Champions League by Inter and was just 1 point ahead of Madrid in the standings going into the match. Ibra had also started the previous match and had been fairly stagnate throughout, so why should he start in a massive game against a good team in La Liga, especially given that his replacement, Bojan, had been good as a sub and then scored this gem.

But it goes beyond that. It goes to this:

“I would walk into a room; he would leave. He would greet everyone by saying hello, but would ignore me….after this I stopped trying to adapt.”

Yeah, okay, let’s say Pep is a total dickweed with a hard on for making your life worse. You talk nonchalantly about being a Ferrari, that your teammates are good little schoolboys who follow the rules but you’re a hard drinkin’, swashbucklin’, man’s man and you won’t have it any other way but your way or the highway. So you hit the highway in your Ferrari and now you’re doing 200mph into happiness. Good for you. But that doesn’t make Guardiola wrong. It just makes you kind of a dingleberry for racing cops in a sports car.*

Know what’s weirder? I don’t really care if Guardiola is a terrible person. Almost the entire team seems incredibly happy with him and the trophies and lovely football are piling up like dead hookers in the back of Anton Phillips’ trunk. If Ibra can’t stomach tactical changes to suit Lionel Messi, well, he should probably not be a part of a team built around the little guy.

If Todd Remis is blame shifting–my wife left me because they didn’t record the bouquet toss!–then so is Ibra. And that’s lame. Or perhaps he should sue UEFA to make them redo the 2009-10 semifinal against Inter so they can include the part where he raced back onto the field and scored the tie-winning goal in extra time and became a Catalan hero. Instead of, you know, merely doing nothing and being subbed off with 30 minutes left.

*When I was in high school a kid bragged that he would outrun cops on his motorcycle, sometimes just for fun while joyriding in the countryside. I believe Ibra on this about as much as I believed that gallumph.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. olbucky
    November 3, 2011

    It’s funny when reading the article that Ibra claims he was bullied. He’s been a bully his entire career. His throwing gear across the room was an attempt to bully Pep. After he left the club he constantly bullied Pep through the Media. He was often quoted that “maybe Pep was afraid of him”. I was so happy when Ouch grabbed him by the throat last year during a Milan practice before being separated. My money would have been on Ouch.
    The funny slash ironic thing is that here is Pep…by all accounts is as non confrontational as they come yet he had to deal with the likes of Ibra and Mourinho. More importantly, if there is a flaw with Pep’s coaching it’s his not dealing with certain player directly. A common theme among Ibra, Bojan and Yaya is that Pep went incredibly long periods of time with absolutely zero man to man communication. He has to improve this black mark on an otherwise amazing job. These are distractions the club doesn’t need and could have been avoided.

    • November 3, 2011

      1. That typo made me laugh so much.

      2. I don’t know whether its Pep’s communication that is faulty, or certain players can’t take a hint.

      3. Would anyone here be willing to work/ communicate again with a guy who shot off so many profanities at you, not to mention the training gear?

  2. nia
    November 3, 2011

    I think Ibra subotaged Barca in the CL semi’s v Inter coz at that point he was already bitter and unhappy. All this talk from him and his agent just shows at how much he was really dissapointed, hurt and upset at being dumped like a hot potatoe by Barca and that they were willing to lose 50mil than keep him around. So he really thought that Pep was gonna keep him after throwing things and disrespecting the coach infront of other players? Guess he’s thicker than he looks. Pep might not be perfect and we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors but, as in any work place environment if you yell at your boss, you’re gonna get fired.

    Even though Villa right now doesn’t look happy in the position he plays, he’s accepted the role that Pep gave him coz Messi is simply better than the rest. At least villa just goes on with it and find ways to improve. According to Guillame Ballague, every player who signs at Barca is told everthing goes through Messi and the team is vuils around him.

    • Jafri
      November 3, 2011

      Thicker than he looks? Don’t think that’s even possible.

      And regarding Villa, what’s up with the news that he and Messi are having a rift because he doesn’t like playing on the wings?

      • Renata
        November 3, 2011

        Messi said it’s bullshit today and that’s the best we can get unless shootage of them assaulting each other shows up.

  3. Jim
    November 3, 2011

    Black mark? Not for me. He was more protective of Bojan than he should have been, Ibra was a donkey who deserved no more than he got and Yaya left because he seems to have either been after more money or else wasn’t prepared to sit out games. Haven’t heard ( and I suspect won’t ) Iniesta moaning about sitting out the last couple of games. If any of these players had asked to speak to Pep I’m sure he would’ve agreed.

    Mind you, I’m starting to enjoy Ibra’s attempt to juice up the forthcoming Milan game.

  4. Miguel
    November 3, 2011

    There’s the Saigon whore that ripped off my nose! Heh heh. Chris Farley.

    I keep coming back to that coversation Pep had with that director with the two glass eyes:

    Tú no vas a hablarle igual a la girafa, al elefante, o al chimpancé.

    Ibra was obviously a big elephant in the room but I think Pep could have done more to smooth things over with the Swedish meatball. Whatever. I’m glad he didn’t. I think Ibra would’ve been awesome on the wing had he put in the effort, though.

    I do hope we play Milan in the Champions League so we can revisit this topic some more!

    • blitzen
      November 3, 2011

      Um, dur, we have another game against them in the group stage coming up.

      • Miguel
        November 3, 2011

        Shut up. Vaporub fumes from my chest made me a little loopy. I obviously know Barça play them in a few weeks and that they’ve played Milan already(?) in the group stage. What I meant to say was that I hope Barcelona play them in the knock out stages, too, like how they played Inter in ’09 when Ibra and Eyjafjallajökull erupted.

  5. can_we_go_Xalvies
    November 3, 2011

    with regards to the Yaya issue, His agent had been beginning to make statements 12 months before his transfer to Man city. What gives Yaya or Ibra the right to complain about being ignored when at the same time their agents are causing problems on the outside. Why should Pep have to give them appreciation when their agents are making his job even harder?

  6. November 3, 2011

    “I’m not violent, but if I were Guardiola I would have been frightened.”

    Here’s where he’s wrong again. Pep was such a badass that he picked the clothes up. So f’in calm. Ignoring tantrums like a boss..

    Whatever he’s whining about now is irrelevant. Only makes it seem as if he couldn’t handle being benched..

  7. Dave
    November 3, 2011

    Well Ibra if your’re such a hard man ,why did you pussy out of the Barca and Milan in the Camp Nou? He’s a bully, pure and simple. The reality is that management in general requires a deal of ruthlessness. All the top managers have this among their other qualities. Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘hair dryer’ treatment has being a hallmark of his his 25 years at the top. While I have huge respect for Frank Rikarrd it was his lack of a ruthless streak that ultimately led to his demise as Barca coach.
    This argument is simple.
    Did Barca make a huge mistake with signing Ibra? In hindsight, yes they should have been aware of his previous form.
    Did Pep act to rectify this? Yes absolutely,
    1 won the league against a rampant Real under Pelligrini WHILE keeping a bad apple at bay.
    2 Sold Ibra and through which admitted his guilt. Bought Villa and destroyed Madrid 5-0. The sole reason why there wasn’t a repeat of these results in later Classico’s was because of Madrid’s dirt and disrupting the game of football.End result la liga and CL.
    3 Should we feel sorry for Ibra? I don’t. Too long in his career he has been an egotistical bollox. Kicking other players and sulking and whingeing. Boo Hoo. You live a life of luxury and earn more than some squad. GET OVER IT
    I hope Masch breaks his ankles.

    • Dave
      November 3, 2011

      Just a shame Pep is a gent. Imagine if it had been for example Graham Souness, Roy Keane or worse still Joe Jordan!

    • nzm
      November 3, 2011

      Yikes – yet another commenter wishing injury to a player.

      Seriously people, can we please refrain from doing this?

      It’s a fail on 3 counts:
      1. You actually thought about it in the first instance.
      2. You wrote it down.
      3. You published it to share with others.

      There are more eloquent, intelligent and analytical ways in which to express yourself, other than to resort to written thuggery and violence.

      Thank you.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 4, 2011

      I love Mascherano. I cannot imagine anybody would wish injury to this player, or any other player.

  8. culegirl3
    November 3, 2011

    Yet another reason to dislike this douche!

    Sometimes I wish Pep would have kept Ibra and benched him(or sent him to some little third division team on loan) just for spite.

  9. mom4
    November 3, 2011

    Best revenge=
    Our “schoolboys” need to make sure that BANGS never gets to touch the ball when we meet them in Milan. Then, for both poetic justice and a xavi-istic victory for football, Messi, the winger who took his spot in the center, and Cuenca, who is more capable of becomming the winger Ibra should have become, score a hattrick.
    We just need to make sure we remember to play the first and last minutes of the game as well as the minutes in between.

  10. swamidigital
    November 3, 2011

    I kind of laughed when I read his comments. He basically justified being tossed out, as he was looking out for himself above the welfare of the team and his personal desires ahead of the team’s results. No one player is bigger than the team, even Messi knows it. Pep changed the position for Messi because he is the most effective, and the results speak for themselves.

    I’m not big on judging players for anything beyond performance, but Ibra should realize he looks foolish for his criticism considering the results without him.

  11. BarcaGirl_Indo
    November 3, 2011

    “Barça players are like ‘schoolkids’ especially Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta…”

    well, thank God we have a bunch of schoolkids rather than a bunch of Ninja Gangsta in our club 😀

    I remember Xavi’s interview where he said, he’s been here for years,
    and the players were never this close to each other like they are right now.

    Cesc also said about a fantastic atmosphere in the dressing room,
    even the players show up half an hour before the training start.

    I don’t know, maybe Ibra doesn’t enjoy a peaceful environment or something. whatever.

    I Am Zlatan.

  12. ElJefe
    November 3, 2011

    What’s all the fuss about? Totally legitimizes why we dumped him and why he wasn’t a fit in addition to the obvious tactical reasons. All that hurts is the pocketbook. Sleep well tonight.

  13. deckardcain
    November 3, 2011

    On to a happier subject, just noticed this when I watched it again… Iniesta just makes me so freakin’ happy everytime I see him, his amazing skill on intercepting and taking the ball with him here. And then his “Oh no” look when he sees the ball go off of the post, and then his immidiate happiness when he sees Messi score. He doesn’t care that he just missed, as long as someone scores, he’s just so über-awesome as a human-being.

    … I kinda like him!

    Oh yeah, the link:

  14. pr17
    November 4, 2011

    Crackovia episode on zlatan etoo is hilarious.

    Love the schoolboy references – I can very well imagine messi, xavi and iniesta in school uniforms. Cuenca seems another schoolboy.

    More i think about Pep more i begin to respect him. I am sure he will remain silent on the issue just to compound Ibra’s misery. Just hope villa doesnt become too dissatisfied at being a winger (and loses Pep’s faith like Bojan and Henry)and scores a few at regular intervals to keep the faith

    Waiting for tasty rematch with Milan. Quite a few old scores to settle there.

  15. pr17
    November 4, 2011

    also i think maschete name suits masche more than sMasch..guy is a total boss…

  16. November 4, 2011

    Great read Isaiah, thanks!

    Concerning the Leo-Villa rummors i think we all can gues where they are coming from. All we need to do is watch how Leo celebrated Villa goal in the final to clear all doubt. Leo has been more individualistic for a 2-3 games not providing Villa passes and now the is a rift!…hahaha Laughing hard, I am!

    • barca96
      November 4, 2011

      What’s all this about Villa vs. Messi thing? WHere did it come from? WHy after nearly a year and a half only people start creating rumors like this? VIlla has been playing LW all this while… And look at the way VIlla celebrates Messi’s goals..It’s as if he is the one who scored.

      • November 4, 2011

        The only thing i can say is where the rumors are not coming from! And thats from neither Leo or Villa 🙂 I think the caverna is trying to do its pathetic little thing again as classico comes closer and closer..

    • Nav
      November 4, 2011

      Er, no. Messi created 2 or 3 clear cut chances for Villa and he missed them.

  17. barca96
    November 4, 2011

    “You have no balls. You shit yourself when facing Mourinho! Fuck off!”

    That comment hurt me the most. I first read it 6 hours ago and it’s still burning inside me. I know it hurt Pep inside too. I really feel like standing up for Pep in the dressing room just for that comment alone. It is so disrespectful.


  18. Helge
    November 4, 2011

    Apparently, Ibra also told Rosell that he will hit Pep in public if he has to stay at Barca 😀

    I find it – i.e. the whole Ibra comments – kind a funny (and also kind a sad, but I think the funniness predominates!). You could film a hollywood blockbuster about Ibra – the big ass ninja gangsta strikes back!

  19. BA
    November 4, 2011

    the explanation for all these Ibra quotes seems pretty simple: he thinks of himself as the best striker in the world, and when Barça (who were already winning all these plaudits for being the best team in the world) signed him he probably thought he would finally get that recognition in a great team.

    instead, he couldn’t hack it. he couldn’t adapt to the system that made Barça great; and now that he’s gone they’re winning and playing better than ever. it has to be confusing for him, and throw up a major contradiction to his self-image. hence his continued frustration and speaking out in the press. kinda sad, really, and i still wonder what might have happened had his ego not been so gigantic and unmanageable.

    then i realize we’re better off without that sort of player in the team. Pep was right, and will be remembered as such; Ibra was wrong and will get relegated to a 2nd tier of “could have been great” strikers. on some level, he knows that.

  20. blitzen
    November 4, 2011

    Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he would beat up Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola in front of the press if the coach would not let him leave the Spanish side. The revelation comes after the publication of Ibrahimovic’s autobiography in which he claims he was verbally bullied by the Barca coach.
    Speaking to radio station RAC1, Barcelona’s corporate vice-president Carles Villarubi said that Ibrahimovic made the threat during a meeting with him, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola.

    “He threatened to beat Guardiola in pulbic,” said Vilarrubí, “He said ‘if you do not let me go I will paste him in front of the press’”.
    Villarubi added that Raiola confirmed that his client was able to keep his word – “He will, he will,” he is said to have added.

    Wow. Just…wow. If this is true, the man is even more of a giant asshat than even I could have believed. And Raiola…is scum. Is he still Maxwell’s agent?

    I got this from here:

    But I gather that the interview was on RAC1? Can anyone confirm?

    • Sheena
      November 4, 2011

      If this is true…

      Damn. Brand new level of hate established.

    • November 4, 2011

      Confirmation here:

      (Poor as in terrible Google Translate job):

      Vilarubí Charles , vice president of Institutional Barca. “I witnessed as I said [to Sandro Rosell] that, if followed to the discipline of the club, stick to the coach in front of the press. ‘If you wait here sigo extended release and paste it in public, “said Vilarubí during the gathering of the world RAC1 . Ibra has published his biography, which explains its poor relationship with Guardiola and Messi accused of favoritism.

      Actual Catalan wording for someone who can translate better:

      Carles Vilarubí: “Ibra va amenaçar Rosell de pegar a Guardiola davant de la premsa” 04/11/2011
      Ho ha desvelat Carles Vilarubí, vicepresident de l’Àrea Institucional del Barça. “Jo vaig presenciar com li deia [a Sandro Rosell] que, si seguia a la disciplina del club, pegaria a l’entrenador davant de la premsa. ‘Si sigo aquí esperaré que esté la prensa y lo pegaré en público’, ha explicat Vilarubí durant la tertúlia d’El món a RAC1. Ibra ha publicat la seva biografia, en què explica la seva mala relació amb Guardiola i l’acusa de favoritisme cap a Messi.

  21. nzm
    November 4, 2011

    Our Barca Next Gen boys did very well last night, beating Manchester City 4-1 in a very disciplined show.

    The video doesn’t tell the whole story of the dominating possession that the team had over the 90+ mins:

  22. Lev
    November 4, 2011

    I can sympathize up to a point with Ibra for seeing his dream of being Barça’s striker fullfilled only to be asked to change to a role he is not suited for. Unlike others I never felt he would be able to learn to play well off of another striker, especially not in Barça’s system.

    Pep could / should have foreseen both this and the attitude problems that the change would cause. For me the real question remains why we were so eager to unload Eto’o in exchange for Ibra PLUS more than 50 mil. Oh well, water under the bridge.

    Having said that, LOL at Ibra’s comments. After all these years he still acts like a teenager trying very hard to convince us that whatever Swedish neighborhood he grew up in was more ghetto than the South Bronx.

  23. Cule
    November 4, 2011

    Does anyone know what date the classico is? I’m trying to find out if I’m gonna have an exam that day.

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