So, what have we learned this pre-season, aka “Patience, Cules”

Here’s what I know that I know: What I don’t know. This is true of all of us, right? As true as what we know being able to quite effectively deceive us into thinking that we Know.

At the end of last season, one bereft of major silver, people knew that we needed defensive help, a Plan B and a sandwich. Time went on, the antsiness grew and grew. The throngs wanted SOMETHING ….

And we got a squirrel. “Too small,” “We are going to be in trouble with he and Alves on the pitch,” etc.

What has happened? Without even being at all integrated into the club, Jordi Alba has done exactly what he was signed to do: provide a pacey defensive presence on the left, and open up the side offensively in a way that Adriano can’t.

Imagine that!

“Bartra isn’t ready,” is another thing that we “knew.” And all he did was roll out a series of calm, intelligent, assured defensive performances that have put the lie to what we knew. Yes, some will still say no, because that is the Way of the Cule. Every incoming CB has to be the next incarnation of Carles Puyol, or “What the HELL, yo!”

But Puyol wasn’t Puyol when he first rolled out.

Recall Abidal and the Cule Chorus that greeted him. Or Mascherano. “Card magnet,” “Bad passer,” “Will leave us a man down all the time.”

And now?

Alex Song.

Unlike the Catalan sporting press, I don’t “know” that we are going to sign Song. I know the headlines can be fun:

–New Song, same tune
–Song not yet on the same key

What I do know is that I don’t know as much as the FCB coaching staff about assessing football talent and suitability for the system. Alba wasn’t on my radar, until he was. And by all indications, he is going to be brilliant. With Song, we know what we see at Arsenal, which doesn’t exactly warm hearts and convert minds. But with Abidal, what we saw at Lyon didn’t exactly warm hearts and convert minds, either. He grew into the role and the system, to the point where healthy, he is one of the best LBs on the planet.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Song. I do know that often, not always, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Sometimes, stories start and fizzle in the Catalan media. Other times, the rest of the world picks them up and if the conflagration gets big enough, one club or the other calls B.S. on the rumors. This hasn’t happened, and dollar figures are starting to float around. If those numbers are to be believed, as usual Arsenal will, if rumor has any truth, be doing a nice bit of business.

You can visit YouTube and find a video of pretty much any player, that will make said individual look like the second coming of Lionel Messi. Song is no different. People who tout him mention versatility, physical presence, etc, etc. Whatever. Here is one of them:

And it doesn’t mean a thing. Look at Ibrahimovic. The best striker in the world didn’t fit because he was a douche. So, simply enough, what I am suggesting is that we sit tight and let our coaching staff do what it does. Do they make errors? Yep. As we know, not every signing has worked out for the best, though I would suggest that none of them have been for purely talent-based reasons. Txigrinski deserved more of a shot, Hleb and Ibrahimovic were asshats, which couldn’t honestly have been predicted. Caceres blossomed into a fine defender, who I kinda wish was still sitting on our bench.

And now, still, we wait. Depending on who you ask, we have one or two massive needs: defender and natural forward. Maybe. I don’t know. I do know that if the club needed a player, there is too much riding on this season with the looming specter of Laporta, for RoSELL not to get Vilanova anything he needs. So we will discuss, and we will debate, and we will say that X or Y player isn’t suited for the club for X or Y reason. But at the core of it all, we know what we don’t know.

P.S. Few things speak more eloquently to the state of La Liga than the fact that to date, our 14m acquisition of Jordi Alba has been the most expensive transfer in Spanish football. Yow.

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. It looks like Song deal is done, at least according to (not the most reliable), but anyway, it’s just a matter of time before we buy an Arsenal player, again, and that’s almost 20 mill euros!
    Where the hell is he going to play? New Yaya? The old Yaya made way for Bisquits, so the new Yaya will probably end up warming the bench.

    1. IIRC Tito mentioned that Keita was in his plans for this season. I’m getting a feeling Song just might be his replacement. So I think he’ll do things Keita used to do with us – help us out defensively, add some physical presence, relieve some of the pressure while we’re defending a lead, add another passing outlet (if his passing/assist stats are something to go by) and get blamed for whatever crap happened through no fault of his such as the faltering economy, rising unemployment, skewed TV deals and so on and so forth.

      Thats if he comes. Big if mind you. I don’t claim to know whatever goes inside Tito’s head but it will become clearer once he starts to lose (or tear out – if you’re inclined to believe that) his hair like Pep did. So, to borrow from someone, strap in, you’re in for a heck of a ride..

  2. Why is Ramzi allowed to disagree with Kevin but when I do its me “screaming bloody murder” or “being contrary just to be contrary”? y’all a bunch of poo butts

    1. Because it is already known that I’m a “bloody murder” or “being contrary just to be contrary”, so no one feels like pointing that out all the time:)

      I just got LOLed for god sake! Did you? Did you?!!

      On a serious note, I don’t think most have any problem with disagreement. Some may throw a plate in your face every once and while, but it happens to everyone. Do you want us to go back in time and see how often you were reticulated and how often it happened to -say- hm… ME! You just see it when it hits you.

      So I don’t think there is anything personal, Josep…

      If you want to be controversial, book a hospital bed on advance, just in case. That’s all I can advice:)

    2. Well, I know one of the two comments was personally directed at me without using my name so I guess I’m going places.

      I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The idea of Thiago at DM has always been thrown around, seeing as it’s really only a “DM” in positionally theory with Barcelona.

    1. Thanks for posting that article messifan. I’ve been a fan of StatZone on FourFourTwo’s blog for a couple years. There is so much insight to be gained from these stats. It’s surprising that football hasn’t evolved into a more stat friendly environment, but it’s getting there. I think this announcement will make clubs think about their guarded approach to stats and how releasing them can only help football as a whole.

    2. You’re welcome! I’m curious to see what they will publish. Maybe, we’ll get to see data on Song. City does have a really good media department. Their tunnel cam videos for match-days are amazing. Check those out on youtube, if you’re interested.

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