Not the News, a.k.a. “Surprise edition” UPDATE

In case you were wondering who I am
In case you were wondering who I am

So Thierry Henry is the best player in the world right now? Well he is according to the Castrol FIFA Rankings system, a complicated edifice that involves enough numbers to make even Isaiah tremble in terror, voodoo, live chickens and a chipmunk. It doesn’t bother weighting all that stuff that we fans value, such as clutch performances, match-winning efforts, etc, etc.

And you throw all that stuff into a hat, fire up a supercomputer or two, and out comes a numerical ranking that rates the best players across the top 5 leagues in Europe.

At the top, with 978 points, is Henry, followed by Leo Messi, with 964. “The Castrol rankings is the ranking every player wants to top,” says current 3rd-place player Thong Boy. “Can I have my check now, for saying this shit?”

Now, I know what some of you cynics are thinking, which is that Kxevin has gone and sponsored a ranking system that will shower glory on his beloved. But hey, did you also know that Gerard Pique, Rafa Marquez and Carles Puyol are also in the top 10? Shiver me timbers, yo.

I leave it to Isaiah to interpret their numerology. But suffice it to say, Henry is rather surprised at his ranking. “Incroyable,” said the Frenchman, smacking his forehead. “Vraiment? Incroyable!”

These rankings, however, measure everything — every pass and goal, every tackle and move, even how many times a given player had to make wee. (Okay, not that last one, maybe.)

But check this out: Castrol’s index finds that Henry’s 5 goals and 3 assists during the Champions League run, along with 18 goals and 8 assists during the Liga run, couple with his ball winning abilities and pretty amazing strike rate that found 70% of his shots on target. That’s compared to an average of 42%. Yes, you don’t need a Castrol index to know that weak-ass rollers that are easily scooped up by the keeper shouldn’t be counted, right? Just saying.

Suffice it to say, people are scoffing at the Castrol Index, its spokesperson and the fact that Insert Name Here isn’t in the top 10. But Luca Toni is. Maybe that’s why his name came up as a potential transfer target. It all makes sense now.

UPDATE: In the “realer than real” division, a BritPress entity says “Chelsea dominate FIFA World Player of the Year shortlist.” Which kind of surprises me, given that Chelsea, with 5 players on that list, have one fewer player than we do, with Henry, Messi, Puyol, Ibrahimovic, Xavi and Iniesta. Maybe it’s some kind of new math that I’m not aware of, London-style.

It’s also worth noting that none of those Chelsea players have a shot in hell of winning the award, but we’ll just leave that out so that our Anglo friends can continue to crow about having the best league on God’s Green Earth.

As if that award is going anywhere except to Messi’s crowded trophy cabinet ….

UPDATE: Dani Alves actually worked out on the pitch by himself yesterday, and is saying (though the medicos aren’t saying anything) that he is working to be fit for the Rubin Kazan return leg in mid-week. Does the Brazilian Hummingbird also have superhuman healing powers to go along with indefatigability?

UPDATE: Speaking of rumor mills and how crap gets started, AS, presumably taking a break from flailing about at its own all-white wailing wall, reports that Guardiola is on the outs with Henry, who has either been mediocre, or injured so far this season and further, that if the rift deepens, expect him to be shipped off in January. Becasue Pedro is every bit as good.

This is why I love the Spanish press. Because 7 matches into a new season, we are ready to discard a player who was essential to the triplete last season, and will be essential if we are to repeat that amazing feat this season. Makes sense to me.

UPDATE: Rafinha, Tymoschuck, Naldo. These are the most recent transfer market rumors/links to us, by somebody or another with too much free time on their hands.

–A new contract for Rafa Marquez, No. 7 on the Castrol list, is imminent. He’ll be getting two more seasons after this one, but I wouldn’t expect him to finish out the duration of that contract. Not with those hungry, agile young’uns champing at the bit. But it is a very nice gesture to a player who was crucial to our triplete last season and who, when he’s on, is one of the best attack starters in the world. When reached for comment, Marquez said “Have you tried Castrol oil? I hear they have this ranking system, but in no way does that affect what I choose to lubricate my personal car. It’s anti sludge, you know.”

Marquez even took a break from his busy schedule of making sure his headband is just right and looking bewildered, to say that Guti should be punished for his alleged flare-up with Pellegrini during the unfettered delight that was the EE’s Copa egg-laying. “Any player who does not show respect to his boss should be fined or punished.” True that.

–Speaking of Henry, he continues to make progress from his injury, and should see action against Osasuna this weekend. Said the French striker, “I love Castrol oil. I use it in my car all of the time. I even cook with it, and it keeps my old joints well lubricated.”

–And speaking of chicken farming, we are said to be trying to nab exceptional Arsenal young’un Benik Afobe away from the Gunners youth system. The kid is 16 and growing like a weed. He already has strength, a head and can shoot with both feet. Sporting supremo Txiki B simply said “Recordi en Fabregas, beeyotches! And have you tried Castrol’s synthetic motor oil?”

Suffice it to say, all sorts of teeth gnashing, wailing and rending of garments is transpiring in Gunnerville. But should it be? And how high can our dudgeon be over their prising of Cesc Fabregas from us, if we return the favor this way? Just asking.

–The lads aren’t being at all naughty this year, so the fines bin is empty. The 20,000+ that was collected from various miscreants last season, then donated to a hospital to fund disease research, probably won’t be matched this season. By the by, last season’s top contributors were Pique and Hleb. Hmmm….

–And, Eto’o is still pissing and moaning about his departure from the club. You can view the video here if you wish. It won’t shock anyone to hear that I don’t. Move on.

UPDATE: A few quotes from the video interview:

“I never imagined that my departure from Barcelona would be so hard. There have been many injustices.”

“Since I left Barcelona I decided to not say anything that might affect the performance of my teammates …. But I am disappointed with many people. If I have to name two, I point to Pep (Guardiola) And Joan (Laporta), But there are many people in this club that have disappointed me.”

“You say to a man’s face, ‘Here we are, this is my way, this is my point of view.’ But I found out everything that happened in the press …. The way he has acted …. [has been] with something to hide. It is as if they had decided many months before.”

“I dreamed of this goal in the Champions League final for many months. The morning of the final, my father sent me a message that it took me about 6 minutes to read. He told me about his life, everything he had fought for …. after I read it I wanted to eat the world and the world for me was Manchester United. Hitting my arm to celebrate that goal was like telling my father that I was the blood of his blood …. but I didn’t know that this game was going to be one of my last with Barcelona”.

UPDATE: In the “how to win friends and influence people” file, Alex Hleb, sore perturbed at being substituted in Stuttgart’s loss to Hannover, threw a tantrum, wouldn’t speak to anyone and shoved a team doctor who was reminding him that he was one of the selections for the drug testing that day. The team’s manager called his behavior “outrageous,” and Hleb could be 30,000 Euros in the deficit column when all is said and done. Wow. What a douche.

UPDATE: Finally, the weather forecast for Tuesday’s Champions League return leg against Rubin Kazan: -2 C at kickoff, with a possibility of snow and sleet. But in four visits to Russia, we have a win and 3 draws in our past.

By Kxevin

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.


  1. I love what Eto’o did for the club. Sadly, I just don’t think he gets it. He doesn’t. Mistakes were made on both sides; let’s not let ignore that Laporta and, yes, Pep could have handled things better. But it’s time to move on.

    1. P.S. The Castrol bit had me in stitches. This is the perfect sample post for exactly the tone that this blog excels at!

    2. Jose34, I don’t think Pep could have handled the situation with Eto’ any better. They didn’t get along extremely well and i vividly remember Barcelona scoring a crucial goal sometime last year and Pep was pumping his fist like mad and eto (who was on the bench) jumped at him from behind in excitement and Pep gave him the coldest stare ever!

      Not that i’m suggesting that we read too much into that but… we all know the rest of the team loved Eto’..ish; so for pep to go out and do things any differently had potential to cause alot of friction within the team.

      So i think he did the best he could.

    3. “Jose34, I don’t think Pep could have handled the situation with Eto’ any better.”

      Pep could have not started their professional relationship by announcing to the press that “Eto’o [along with Deco and Ronaldinho] are not part of my plan for FC Barcelona.”

      That, of course, creates friction, and was one particular case in which I have to say: regardless of Eto’o’s issues, Guardiola should’ve handled it better.

  2. A computer program is as smart as the programmers make it to be. It could also (if it’s not already) take in shot velocity, location, and whether its deflections led to a goal (as examples to the “weak-ass roller” problem). All the info are fed by human, so you can put in as much as you want. The weightings are the most tricky part though.

  3. What the hell??? Is this ranking really made up by Castrol Oil? What’s the matter of an oil company entering the world of football? CR is already making commercials for them, and now this? Absolutely ridiculous!

    Oh, and did you read about this “news” from AS?

    How typical… “We are in trouble, so let’s seed rumours to distract attention from our own crisis” 🙂

    1. hahahahaaha! that’s some funny ______________.
      Helge did you check the comments by users? there many who joke about it and asked “soo if there’s tension between Pep and Titi, the relation between Guti and Pellegrini is what? love?!?!?!”

    1. No word on a definite fine yet, though. I think because he arrived late but in an Audi (corporate sponsor), some arrangements might be made. 😀

  4. -Could the non spanish speakers get a brief summary of the vid please?

    -Lets not forget Merida when we mention Fabregas

    -After some thought I realize the Rankings measure displayed skill rather than effectiveness with some subjective assumptions (it is more valuable to win the ball win the Def. 1/3 than the Att. 1/3, irrespective of tactics). Not measuring effectiveness but ability and making assumptions about ability, because nothing in football is fact but a goal; shots on target, winning a ball, loosing possesion, a pass completed etc. are all subjective.

    So in measuring just individual ability it is biased; because Valdes isn’t tested in a game he can’t show his ability…it is not his fault his side hog possession and play decent defense. Conversely Casillas may concede alot but its not his fault his defense does rubbish. They even mentioned ‘shots a keeper should have saved’ affect the rankings…come again? It’s not subjective but you are saying you can tell what a keeper should and shouldn’t have saved?

  5. The fact that Marquez is in the top ten tells you all you need to know about that list.

    Question though about Bojan… could he play in midfield? Or even as a false 9?

    1. For somebody to play as false 9, they first have to prove themselves to be a good 9, otherwise the defender will not follow them, so there will be no open space for other players to take advantage of. Bojan needs to be offloaded.

    2. it was past 12 months… he played very well last year. He and pique let in close to no goals, so please elaborate on your “tells you all you need to know about that list.” statement.

  6. well another rankings and they do not make sense. cannot believe that they are putting across these things with serious face. at least should have done internal review and tried to change parameters so that people can make sense of these ratings.

  7. If we get Tymoschuck in the transfer market to buff up our midfield, I will faint. I just can’t believe how the Master of Terror (van Gaal) is wasting him. That dude was the business with Zenit.

    Then again, its just rumors.

  8. As an aside, while I think that the Castrol rankings are …. erm …. a bit suspect overall, I applaud the fact that someone is trying to hone a system that will remove as much of the subjective hoodoo from defining who the best player in the world is at a given time.

    Yes, any system that puts Henry over Messi and Marquez over Xavi and Luca Toni WAY over Xavi, is crocked. But it’s a work in progress, and if they get it right it would be a hell of a thing.

    1. Because when someone adds a comment with a Web link in it, amal, it goes into the “to be moderated” link. An admin checks to make sure it isn’t spam or some such, whereupon it is made live.

      This prevents the space from being cluttered up with “comments” that are really adverts for various things, from penis enlargement to football shirts.

      One way around it that most others use is to add a bit of punctuation before the URL, as in: //http://www.blahblahblah. The filter then treats the comment differently, and a mod makes the link a live one during the ongoing tuning-up process that goes on here.

  9. Oh, and the folks over at La Liga Loca are predicting losses for both us and the EE this weekend. Let’s hope they’re wrong and right.

    1. Osasuna gave a shitty game last time in in the Navarra, and Camacho knows he could do it again.
      but thoses La Liga Loca folks are crazy .. plus i never get their articles >> so lame .

  10. Wow, so the winter has finally begun in Russia… just 2 weeks ago, there were still about 13°C !

    It’s not only the Brit press, international also reports that the FIFA list is dominated by players from the English Premier League, although there are actually 9 players from both EPL and La Liga who played the last season in the respective league. Guess some people will never learn it 🙂

  11. Awesome news, Puyi officially resigned until 2013. HELLS YES:


  12. So I know there has been talk here about us signing a new winger/forward this winter. I know a lot of people have been interested in Suarez, and why not, he was in excellent form until his injury.

    Food for thought: why not take a look at Jovetic? He has also been in fine form and has been scoring goals in big games.

    1. If we do buy Jovetic, Bojan is gonna be in real bad situation… The kid, rejected all offers last year to be at his club, then wanted out in the summer to gain some experience while Pep convinced him to stay. Now imagine him going out and signing Jovetic to only start ahead of him!!!
      Though imo Jovetic is better than Bojan, we owe that much to the kid to not sign any of Jovetic, Pato & Balotelli… Although I think that Pato looks better only because of the playing time he’s getting at Milan, he’s way too inconsistent! And Balotelli, with that shit attitude of his, keep him away from my club! As far away as possible!!

  13. Rafinha is talented and, perhaps, just what we need in January/summer.

    Go Henry! VavaVOOM!

    Fuck, about the weather in Tatarstan this week.

    Where is Eto’opologist? Honestly, reading those comments, I have mixed feelings. I’m not sure if he’s technically guilty of leaving the club (read: party) line. If he was a Barca player, it certainly would be, but since he’s an Inter player, there is a certain caveat in which people can interpret him as saying he’s looking for revenge. But a glance says that he’s saying he never wanted to be at Inter. Well, that’s Eto’o for you, but I still love him. That last paragraph about the Man U goal was quite tragic, and I still feel bad about the way he left, even if I do think it was necessary. It’s a shame it could not have been amicable.

    It probably hurt him that MARQUEZ got a new contract…I can’t believe that crap, triplete member or not.

    And yes, Gunnerworld is all out of sorts at the moment…

    1. Rafinha along with Alves is aiming to get into Brazil main team for RB position… Do you really think he’s exactly what we need!? Being second fiddle to Alves at Barca sure won’t help him beat Alves for Brazil NT, never mind Maicon!!!

  14. Oh yeah, also, if AS is right about the rift, that IS bad news. I wouldn’t believe that he would leave in January since he was and is essential, but rifts are irrational, human problems that get solved in irrational, human ways. I can’t see it though, since Henry is such a professional and Guardiola is pretty level-headed himself.

  15. The ironic thing is that the statistical revolution in sports is supposed to highlight the contributions of unsung stars (Xavi, Makelele etc) who go under the radar of causal fans but whose importance “real” fans know well. The basic idea is that if you look only at goals and assists, you will miss 90% of the game, and so a more finely-grained statistical analysis (rather than Youtube videos) will reveal other players to be stars, not just forwards and strikers.

    But if Xavi is not even in the top-25, well…

    Though it bears mentioning that just because this ranking seems silly, we should not dismiss numbers altogether. For instance, the “pass completed percentage” number which has come up in the last five years has really shown the value of Xavi types, which simply did not exist before.

    I think numbers and stats really mess up the defensive side of things more than the attacking side of things, which is easier to measure. For instance, you may count “number of tackles” but that would be misleading because often it is the worst defender who has the most tackles, simply because he’s out of position and has to come sliding in from god knows where. A truly excellent defender won’t have to make many tackles because he will be positionally excellent, and will force the attacker to give up a pass without the need of a tackle. But how the hell do you measure “positional awareness” statistically?

    1. You mentioned Xavi but Iniesta under that unsung category!! Going by stats Arteta is leaps & bounds better than Iniesta, leave aside Fabregas!!

    1. To start with, we have Guti 😉
      But the nice thing about these kids claiming to be Barca fanatics is, they admit they aren’t yet Barca level & would like to develop themselves before thinking of their dream move, now by that time we might not be the invincibles that we had been last season!!

  16. I don’t like using stats to see who’s a better player very much, thank god the fifa world player is not given like that. Xavi 26th? For real?

    Please tell me if I am so FCB fanatic I don’t see reality like I should but: Aren’t 1- Messi 2 – Xavi 3 – Iniesta the best players in the world judging by last year’s performance? …. well … maybe thong boy should be there also, somewhere 🙁

  17. Here’s what I wrestle with: A way to quantify the “best” player that gets away from subjective voting. If someone flat out doesn’t like a certain player for whatever reason, the voting gets skewed. And in a close race, it’s easy for the “wrong” player to win an award.

    This Castrol Index isn’t it, but it’s a good start. And on the other hand, what if the Index is more right than we believe, based in our own Barca and player-centric myopia? No, I don’t believe it to be thus, because any system that has Marquez and Luca Toni over the likes of Xavi and The Yaya, is fundamentally absurd.

    But the question is worth asking.

    Another good question, poipoi. You’re definitely Barca-centric, as are we all. Here’s another good question. If you base awards solely on results, how can you quantify excellence by a player who has the burden of playing for a crap team? Or does any measuring stick automatically presume that player excellence leads to team excellence?

    My brain hurts.

    –Meanwhile, Blow-Granite wants to offload Krkic. Wow. That’s a step that I’m not sure I’m ready for psychologically. I think we might need another Krkic post by somebody. Stay tuned.

    1. To me it’s all about talent and winning … xavi and iniesta won the triplete + eurocup, messi is just the best player in the world right now.

  18. A bit off topic, and i don’t know if this has been posted before, but a must see nonetheless…shows what the Real Madrid culture is all about!! Although it’s fairly straightforward, if someone can translate what the commentator is saying it would be great.

  19. Aww I logged on hoping to see a few irate Gunnersfan comments but nope…none. Maybe if that was the headline of the post?

    We are supposed to lose this weekend? HUH? After doing a damn successful job of transforming out of the FIFA virus lag last weekend v. Zaragoza, why would someone predict us to lose against Osasuna? We need another win to build a streak, one that will hopefully continue in Russia.

    1. guardiola said this game vs osasuna will define the year for barca. i don’t think he was bullshitting. do we go on a hot streak into our next game on the frozen tundra of russia or do we stumble and keep trying to regain our form?

  20. mexico just scored vs japan in the under 17’s. nice left footed shot from a ways out.

    why the need to quantify the efficiency of our players? we’ve got 3 trophies for that. you need numbers to back up what you’ve seen on the pitch this last year & a half? i don’t.

  21. A really wonderful post – it’s so much more fun to read all the news here with a touch of humour.
    Just one thing – isn’t the next Champions League game for Barca on Wednesday, 4th November, not Tuesday? Maybe the forecast is different for the next day. 😉 Hopefully a one without any snow.

    P.S. Btw, here’s the video to Hleb’s “incident”, if anyone’s interested.

    1. I feel sorry for Hleb man, he had such a good time at Arsenal… Although as a cule, I’m freaking pissed now!! That prick cost us 12mill euros now, damn it Hleb!

    2. This is different from what I imagined from reading Kevin’s description, the guy he shoved was let’s say “aggressively escorting ” him and it seemeed to me hleb didn’t want to be nudged or have his hand held all the way to the locker room, but the guy wouldn’t stop and got pushy. Still bad, but less douchey than what I thought.

      Not that any of this is important

    3. From what I see, it’s full-on douche. The medico is very casually touching Hleb, seemingly directing him, and an already-pissed Hleb just loses it. The constant “Alex, no! Alex, no!” pleas are particularly interesting. It’s the extra shoving that elevates it for me.

  22. Alexinho! I’m like a genie that you just raised from my bottle. Everybody here would tell you, why did you go and do that? 🙂

    Anyway, like most have said, Eto’o is gone….. But… I can’t help stick my tongue out(along with all that defended him) to all that were saying things like he was a locker room cancer, he was demanding lot’s of mullah, didn’t love barcelona, wasted many chances(Ibra has wasted quite a few, yet no one points it out). None of that turned out to be true. Even Laporta and Txiki laid that egg squarely on Peps feet. They all said they didn’t have a problem with Eto’o other than Pep wanted him gone.

    I know, I know, some will say it’s bringing up shit thats in the past. Yes it is, just like you cant say someones mama is a crack whore and when they confront you, you claim it’s all in the past! Or the Iraq war….well, you get my point. The haters were all wrong about him! By the way, he has been nothing but professional at inter and the are loving him there. Ibra is doing great at Barcelona soo far, so I guess it all worked out.

    But whats up with Barcelona refusing to give him a percentage of the selling price as per contract agreement by using a flimsy technical argument that it’s only for players sold in spain? Shady and beneath Barcelona. You royally shafted the man! Pay him his dues and keep being classy Barca!

    1. 😀 We were missing you! Welcome back!

      We have indeed been ripping Ibrahimovic for missing chances. For sure. We hold everybody to the same standard.

      The departure of Eto’o was a mess, to be sure. I think that the complexity comes in the valuation of his contract by us, and the situation that we landed him in. Truth to tell, I haven’t been following it with sufficient scrutiny to be able to adequately explain why we aren’t paying him, other than us saying “Dude, we got you a raise, sent you to a league and Champions League contender. That’s not enough?” But I’m sure it’s deeper, and more legally solid, than that.

      Oh, and I don’t really know if there were any Eto’o haters here. How can you hate someone who bangs in 30 goals for you every season? But it was certainly more like “Let’s give the guy who won the triplete a shot with the players that he wants.”

  23. By the way, where is Bill? He was the one guy I respected how he tried to say the truth about this issue, where are you at? I would love to hear what say you about it.

    1. I believe Pep wanted Eto’o to move out to the right, and Eto’o said it would be better if he were in the middle. He scored then told Pep, “I told you so” or something of the sort.

  24. I heard that we were having a mock football game between the two sites and the regular readers. Sounds interesting, although I am rather rubbish at right back. Should be able to keep an eye on your three man strike force though.

  25. I have to say watching the beginning of the interview made me a little sad.Anyone know where i can trade my heart for ice?

  26. CR9: “I Would Spend More Than €94 Million On Myself”

    Just when I thought I couldn’t hate him any more….

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