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.
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.
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.