Barça 2 – Valladolid 1, as if we only had three midfielders

One down, two to go. Instead of enjoying our last games of football most fans, myself included, spend more time thinking/worrying/wondering/talking/arguing about how we need to improve our squad for next year. Never mind that in this new age, where draws are losses and what were previously called losses are better known as the end of the world, we are only two wins removed from equalling the awe-inspiring hundred-point record that was set by our rivals only last season.

Me no like rotation
Me no like rotation

To any unruly child begging for some Thiago, Tello or even a Bartra, frustated father Tito repeated over and over again: Victor Valdes, Jordi Alba, Mascherano, Piqué, Montoya, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Cesc and Pedro. There ain’t no rotation under this here roof, and if you don’t like it you can go. Well, let’s hope it won’t come to that, but what if it did? More on that later.

Control was the name of this game, as we allowed only one shot on goal from open play. It was also our Victorian Secret’s 500th match for Barcelona, an impressive milestone indeed, and the little work Real Valladolid gave him he did well. He passed the ball with confidence and earned a large round of applause when he caught a ball with his chest outside the penalty area before clearing it. The game had already been played by then, while hopeful culés in bars worldwide were waiting to see if we could add to the score somehow.

Not much happened in the first half, in which we attacked a lot but created little. Our opponents gifted us possession and their goalkeeper dived over a ball that was shot straight at him. 1-0. Just when Iniesta was about to get Messi on the defense, his shot got nudged over. Marc Valiente scored the second goal right before the break, albeit in his own net. 2-0.

The second half was a bit more fun to watch. Xavi, Montoya, Cesc, Villa and Pedro all got good looks but could not score. Jonathan Dos Santos managed to lower his transfer fee with 50% by needlessly losing the ball which resulted in a dangerous counterattack. Montoya did not add to his stock either by giving up a needless penalty, one that left Valdes without any chance of saving. 2-1, end of.

Pedro gol
With a little help from my friends

Now, the morning after, I am thinking… I would like for us to end the season with an exclamation point, but we won the league way too early for that. It looks like it will end with at best a whole lot of question marks, or at worse an ominous dot dot dot… This game in particular gave me a lot of questions. I slept on them and found answers to some.

Why don’t we let Cesc play in his natural position? Because the next best thing to a false nine is a false false nine.

Why do we insist on taking long corners when we have nobody who can head the ball towards the goal? Because eventually the other team will do it for us. 

Why did Pedro miss in front of an open net? Because without a goalkeeper he doesn’t have anything to aim at.

Why doesn’t Thiago get more minutes? Uhmmm….I don’t know. To piss off his dad? To run Xavi into the ground? This is becoming difficult.

What about Tello….? And Bartra…? Help. I’m running out of answers.

Here is what I do not understand. We started the league by rotating. Tello was a revelation in the opening game against Real Sociedad. Montoya played a lot. Thiago got his as soon as he came back from injury. Messi started on the bench when he came back from qualifiying his country for the World Cup. Bartra was carefully worked into the line-up. We did pretty well the first half of the season. We won the friggin’ league by rotating. So what changed?

As a reviewer, you might think it is my job to answer that question. Well I’m not telling, I’m asking.

Oh yeah, and one more thing… Visca Barça!

“You should celebrate every trophy intensely, never know when you’ll win again.” Javier Alejandro Mascherano
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selfie barça Written by:

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

158 Comments

  1. We won the friggin’ league by rotating. So what changed?

    1. Absence of Tito
    2. Absence of Tito might have caused a bit of lack of discipline/concentration from the younger lot – Montoya,Bartra etc, and the coaching staff couldnt reccommend them to Tito(in NYC) during their discussions, so as to keep alive the rotation plans.
    3. Absence of Tito might have caused the senior players to take in that extra responsibility to prove themselves and ended up getting tired and injured for the v.important games
    4. Absence of Tito after having a superlative first leg in the league bought in some complacency (until when Xavi watched a game on TV and realised it).
    5. Finally, Tito being absent/present – we had a problem with defence. We let in so many cheap goals. We tried more defensive pairs than any major team. Now it all looks like Villanova wanted Thiago Silva during the last summer, but the club didnt budge and hence he didnt opt for any other CB, and club gave him Song as an all inclusive alternate.
    6. And like all would say, we didnt press like normal. But I would say that, it is too much to ask for the same players to keep pressing for 4 seasons. Anybody will get tired. The performance would suffer, a la Pedro.

    However, I look into it, Tito’s absence played a big role. Too many players going for each and every international games, plus two of them playing at Bolivia, of which one’s injury was a huge blow.

    • selfie barça
      May 20, 2013

      I agree 100% that the absence of Tito changed things but he’s back, right? The league was won last week, so he could have chosen a different line-up.

  2. May 20, 2013

    Some have said the team had a stellar first half of the season, but my memory tells me otherwise. I thought we had quite a few close games. We leaked goals from the start and a few late goals to win games.

    Look at these fixture results and the number of late winning goals we had:
    http://espnfc.com/team/fixtures/_/id/83/barcelona?cc=5901

    Did we really have a great first half?

    • 55/57 points is definitely good first half. It was marred only by the draw with RM. winning matches last minute in tight games is not a bad things. that is part of a champion team, isnt it.
      Nobody now talk about the fact that – “in the ten games last season in which Madrid had to come back from 0-1, they received 8 penalties and in all 7 players of the opposing sides were sent off.” . the fact is RM won with record points and goals.
      For me, we had an excellent first half, except for those Celtic games in CL.

    • May 20, 2013

      We got good results without every really playing that well.

      Story of the season.

    • nzm
      May 20, 2013

      We got late goals because of the effectiveness of Tito’s substitutions, starting in the 60th minute.

      That’s what made the difference, and that’s how games can be won.

  3. barca96
    May 20, 2013

    I don’t want to repeat something that I’ve been saying many times. I know I know we won the league with Tito as the manager but there are some serious man management issues in the 2nd half of the season.

    And it has absolutely nothing to do with him being away for weeks. Just play the youngsters and fringe players to test them.

    What on earth can we get by getting 100 points?

    It won’t give us a 10 point advantage next season isn’t it??

    • May 20, 2013

      I think if you get 100 points the trophy changes colors and automatically fills with candy.

      Or maybe it becomes a portkey to Harry Potter land.

      But yes, wanting to get 100 points to stick it to Mourinho who is getting tossed out of Madrid seems to me a little… childish. Especially if that 100 points comes at the cost of playing time for some players who really need it.

  4. May 20, 2013

    Boy, I would hate to think of what people would be saying if Vilanova had NOT improved upon last season’s silver results. (shudder!)

    — Perez will be having a presser at 8 p.m. their time to announce that Mourinho will be leaving RM after the last game of the season.

    • bhed
      May 20, 2013

      Aren’t some of these criticism valid? I think the point about 100 pts vs. playing time for some is a great topic for discussion. Gotta go though, I’m at work!

    • selfie barça
      May 20, 2013

      “Boy, I would hate to think of what people would be saying if Vilanova had NOT improved upon last season’s silver results. (shudder!)”

      My guess is that most of us would be blaming the players for giving up an epic lead and NOT the coach who had to go to NY with cancer. Are you saying that because he won the league we are not allowed to criticize or ask questions?

      • May 20, 2013

        This level of criticism didn’t exist for Guardiola last season, the man who laid the groundwork for what we are seeing, then scuttled down the ratlines to his next job at a juggernaut. And I’m only partly being facetious.

        Mental and physical fatigue, Messidependencia, all those lay at the feet of Guardiola. He left Vilanova with a team that was hammered, frankly, mentally and physically, not just from his high-octane coaching style but from trying to maintain a level that was impossible to maintain, because where do you go after you win seven trophies in a calendar year? Down. Nowhere else to go.

        He has the presser, they announce Vilanova, who is really the only best candidate if there is any hope of the good stuff continuing. He takes a team that won the Copa the previous season, deals with cancer, injuries, every last opponent looking to make their season by beating Barcelona, a one-man offense, politics, back-room nonsense not to mention austerity, and wins the Liga, setting a record for wins, and now, with that same squad, going for a record number of points in the Liga.

        Where was this level of criticism and questioning last season, when Messi wasn’t injured during the semis, and a plague of locusts hadn’t been visited upon our back line?

        For me, Vilanova rocked it this year, in the face of absurd odds. But people want to somehow find fault because the club didn’t perform the impossible. It’s as if nobody realizes how jaw-droppingly absurd that Treble season was.

        That club was a boxer with a killer right hook. But after a while, people say “Look out for the right hook.” The boxer tries adapting, to get something other than a right hook, but the hook works just enough to get things there, until suddenly it doesn’t. A younger, bigger, fitter boxer comes in, dances around him and knocks him out. And people say “See, I knew it,” instead of realizing how remarkable that run of success was for that boxer.

        That boxer is Barça. And Vilanova kicked ass this season. Surprised the hell out of me.

        THAT is what I am saying. Are people allowed to question and criticize? Sure. Rock on. Fire him, bring in a “better” coach, do whatever. Fact of the matter is that without knowing what happened with players and in practices, it’s just bench racing. Yes, bench racing is fun. But that’s all that it is.

        • simple_barcafan
          May 20, 2013

          We support Tito..But the question which some are posing is..Why isn’t he rotating and if he values 100 points more than the value got by rotating. That is main issue I feel.

        • 86ed
          May 20, 2013

          Maybe Villanova would have done the club a favour by instituting wholesale changes to our personnel and our m.o., the way we play, whether we liked it not. Instead he kept close to the same team that had had much problems in Guardiola’s last season.
          I can understand why he did this. He wanted to keep his job and to do that he had to win the league. But precisely in doing so he sacrificed a year’s worth of rebuilding opportunity to win a league with tired and old players, instead of perhaps losing it with young and hungry ones. He squeezed dry the players he had and, when the going got tougher, he finally had to rely on rarely used players with low confidence.

          I guess that’s precisely what Guardiola did but with vastly more luck. And I may have misunderstood why they hired Villanova. I thought it was to implement the changes that Guardiola saw needed to be done but was either unwilling or unable to do. In retrospect I think he was promoted because the management thought he might bring continuation. But it wasn’t continuation we needed. It was a clean break and a fresh start. Maybe then Villanova, if he continues, can lay the groundwork for whoever follows him. To do that he needs better summer transfers and better rotation during the season.

          • Jim
            May 20, 2013

            And lose it is what they would have done. Our young ones aren’t as good as some think and certainly not capable of the number of points we currently have.
            Any other team would regard it as crazy to suggest breaking up a team which contains 10 or 11 current internationalists.

            Next year will be a better yardstick of Tito’s ability but I have a feeling that, health permitting, a few of his detractors here will be singing a different song come the end of next season.

        • nzm
          May 20, 2013

          Well said, Kevin.

          The demise in the team’s physical state at the end of last season, as well as the results, was camouflaged behind the hysteria created when Pep announced his departure.

          After that, nothing else mattered. The CdR win was touted as a fitting end to Pep’s tenure.

          If Pep had stayed, I think that there would have been questions raised. But he didn’t – he got out.

          The players were exhausted at the end of last season, and then all the Spanish players went to the Euros where they won, but came back with hardly any time off – especially when they had to fulfill their own private sponsorship obligations as well.

          That they achieved what they did in the first half of the season was remarkable – absolutely astounding.

          When it was announced that Tito had a relapse, the groundwork for winning the league had already been done – a record points haul was well on its way. The impetus was enough to keep the team ticking over during Tito’s absence, although towards the end it was showing cracks.

          Without that amazing start, I don’t believe that the team would have even won the Liga.

          We don’t know the reasons why there is no rotation.

          We have heard that the team is determined to get the 100 points – in interviews with Tito and some players.

          If that’s what they want, then we should be supporting that goal of theirs, and not what we think should be happening.

          100 or bust – that’s the motto!

          • selfie barça
            May 20, 2013

            “This level of criticism didn’t exist for Guardiola last season”

            Managers who have won everything there is to win in the three previous years tend to get the benefit of the doubt.

            Actually I am a big supporter of Tito, something I have made clear time upon time in both my posts and my comments. I agree with pretty much everything you say to defend our coach, but in the context of this thread, I honestly don’t see what or who you are defending him against.

            If it is against the questions I posed, I’d prefer your opinion over a passionate defense of a coach I myself support.

            Why do we take long corners? Without Puyol we have no-one to head them in the goal. Do you like Cesc at the striker position? Would you not rotate more – and if the answer is to get results then why did we get better results the first half of the season when we did rotate?

            “Without that amazing start, I don’t believe that the team would have even won the Liga.”

            It was the most amazing start ever, possibly unrivaled in European football. Tito deserves a lot of credit for that start, from getting the players hungry to making the game-changing substitute that won us some of the games we were losing.

          • bhed
            May 20, 2013

            You know I have mad respect for you NZM (tips hat), but at least in my mind, it wasn’t so much the strategic brilliance of Tito’s subs in the first half of the season that was helpful, but rather that he didn’t wait until the 80th minute to make them, unlike Pep. This also shows that Pep was never infallible on this blog. LOTS of posters complained about his too-late-to-make-a-difference substitutions, at least for the few times we didn’t win.

          • nzm
            May 20, 2013

            bhed – I didn’t say that they were strategically brilliant subs, I said that they were effective subs from the 60th minute until game’s end.

            Having said that though, tactically they were the right moves because the players had an impact on the pitch and game-winning goals were scored after their introductions onto the pitch. Tito got the timing right too.

        • bhed
          May 20, 2013

          I seem to remember a decent amount of criticism leveled at Pep during the second half of the season last year, both concerning rotation and tactics. Remember the cries of “Why is he playing Busi in defense again??!!!”, and “They’ll kill us if we come out with a 3 man defense!”, and “We need more width!”

        • garry
          May 20, 2013

          ^THIS!

          We won the league….and yet,in eyes of many fans, the season is a failure…totally beats me…

          Criticizing Vilanova is like criticising an 18 year old kid, who replaces Messi(on his retirement), for not being as good as Messi…..forget it, Messi, just like Pep’s team, is a once in a generation thing…..u can’t simply replicate them….

          Just look at other ‘big’ clubs across Europe….how many of them would have rated a league title winning season as success….except barca….probably everybody…

  5. Jim
    May 20, 2013

    I think from my point of view the disappointing thing is that it’s almost as if some posters are asking us to accept the premise that it hasn’t been a successful season. At the start of the season my overriding wish was to put Madrid in their place in the league. Boy, did we deliver on that!

    • 86ed
      May 20, 2013

      Ay we did, but credit must also be given to the civil war that went on at Real Madrid. This season, it seems to me, Mou-Mou could only inspire the team for when they faced us. They did score two goals or more on Valdes/Pinto every match whether at the Bernabeu or the Camp Nou. It does seem to mean that we played in a league without a serious opponent, and even then we never managed to beat them.
      I see nothing in that to be proud of, so, yes, count me in the club of disappointed.

  6. TITO
    May 20, 2013

    Same here. I found it strange and unpleasant to be labelled as someone who’s not pleased with anything if you do criticize the team.
    Personally i will criticize them every time that they under-perform when i know they can do better, because over the past 5-6 years or more they have shown us that they can do it.
    Are they tired? Of course they are. But here’s someone else to be pointed out as a blamer. Tito. Why he’s not rotating them?
    When Messi was reaching for that 93 goals barrier, even when he was showing clear signs of tiredness, some posters called for more rest for him because there’s no need for breaking records. The team above anything else. He must be kept fresh.
    Now the same posters are saying that Tito knows best and we should be happy with the title, regardless that he is starting more or less the same line-up for the second half of the season, and half of them are hardly running any more.

  7. simple_barcafan
    May 20, 2013

    I have a question to these journalists…I have seen them ask all sort of questions, but why don’t they question Tito about things that most of us are wondering like rotation, how does he view Bartra, Monty etc..

    • nzm
      May 20, 2013

      They do ask. Excerpts and summaries from his interviews appear on the club’s website.

      He says that they are doing well, and that ultimately he is the person to make the decisions as to whether they play.

      What else should he say?

      As for rotation, he admitted that there hasn’t been any recently, but he did not give any reasons – that’s an internal matter between him and the team.

      There’s a difference between what we’d like to know and what we have the right to know.

  8. bhed
    May 20, 2013

    On a lighter note – who are the REAL (as in genuine) Cules here? Specifically, who’s got the full Barca bedspread and pillowcase set I see advertised above the comments?

    • selfie barça
      May 20, 2013

      I’m probably a bit too old for the bedspread but I watch pretty much every game. I always wear a Barça shirt on matchday and sometimes on other days (like today) and on CL days when I am at work I wear a barça shirt underneath my workclothes even though I live in a tropical country and it is hot as f–k out here.

      For further culé credentials I am also of the opinion that M*drid – note how I cannot spell the complete name – anyway, that M*drid losing is as good as Barça winning and sometimes even better.

      • bhed
        May 20, 2013

        Sorry Lev, If you don’t rest your head upon the crest every night, your loyalty is in question 😉

        And no, I don’t actually own the bedroom set, but I sleep in my Barca ski hat every night, so I’m cool as far as that particular requirement goes.

        In all seriousness, I’m with you on the last one, but I’ve met some really cool M*dristas, so I try to separate the club (evil) from the fans (not necessarily evil, in fact, sometimes downright solid people).

        • selfie barça
          May 20, 2013

          Yeah I know some cool ones as well. I exchange txt messages about football with a M*dridista on daily basis, actually, and he has been pretty upset as of late, hehehe

  9. May 20, 2013

    People who know the club can do better should be making themselves available to join the FCB coaching staff. Omniscience is always in vogue.

    Meanwhile, in the world of reality, there are injuries, fatigue and players who maybe aren’t good enough for real rotation.

    People get their knickers in a bunch and equate people calling BS on slagging Vilanova with not supporting the side. Two different things. I am saying that this team deserves major props for winning the Liga against odds and logic. But cules are thinking “Hey, this club won the treble 4 years ago. Why isn’t it winning more now? Whose fault is it?” That arrogantly underestimates our opponents, who are constantly looking for ways to stop our domination. Constantly. They have just a little something to do with it.

    And with the blame that Vilanova is taking, I assume goes the credit to making subs and changes that helped this club to a record-setting first-half points haul? Mmmm, no. That was all Messi, right? That’s why it doesn’t make sense. Coaches get blame for failure, but rarely credit for success. Then it’s the players.

    Does anyone honestly think that if Montoya, Bartra etc were good enough, Vilanova still wouldn’t have used them? That is what I mean. Vilanova isn’t voluntarily not using players who can help the side. And how much rotation would it have taken to prevent that Bayern ass whipping? Would Puyol have blown out his knee? Mascherano? Or has he transformed into being good enough to play in our back line, now? Hard to keep track.

    The club had an excellent season. But people are too busy trying to figure out blame for us not winning another treble that they aren’t enjoying it.

    • selfie barça
      May 20, 2013

      I would say most managers of most football teams know more about football than we do. If that is the yard stick you are going to use, then let’s stop commenting altogether.

      EDIT: again, as far as this thread is concerned, you are defending Tito against ghosts. We did have an excellent season. I, for one, have been happy with our coach. Instead of addressing the questions asked, you are on a crusade which is making me and some other commenters (from what I can read in the comments above) uncomfortable.

      • Jim
        May 20, 2013

        Not sure why anyone would feel uncomfortable about someone else’s opinions.

        Kxevin obviously feels that some aren’t valuing the league win, especially considering the circumstances. I remember people saying at the start of last season that it was over as Pep was no longer with us. Have to say I share Kxevin’s opinion based on some comments in the last few posts.

        No big deal and doesn’t stop us asking questions about how we can do it better next year but disappointed in a season with an easy league win over Madrid ? That’s not reality. Lets not become so world weary that we can’t straight out enjoy regaining the league.

      • May 20, 2013

        To call it a “crusade” is bollocks. If anything, the crusade is to blame Vilanova and his player usage for the club not winning as much as it should have. Further, as I make it very clear above, nobody is equating a lack of support with calling out Vilanova. Read my comment above again. Anyone made uncomfortable by my words, it isn’t the fault of what I have written here or anywhere else.

        To say that I am tilting at imaginary windmills is absurd, particularly when the very tone of the above review suggests that Vilanova is at fault for not using his players properly. You ask above, aren’t we allowed to criticize and question? If that answer is yes, am I not allowed to rebut, or add my view to those criticisms?

        It would be easy for me to say “Yeah, Vilanova should have used his players better.” But you know what? I don’t know that, nor do I believe that. I know that he used the players that he used for the reasons that he used them. Crusade? Should I excerpt some of the comments to lend heft to my commentary?

        The problem isn’t me. The problem is me not going along with the flow, and that isn’t going to change. Not at long as people insist that Vilanova is the problem, without crediting the multitude of other factors that went into the results that this club got this season, including teams that just flat out played better than we did.

        Saint Guardiola had the likes of Pedro and Busquets to promote. Vilanova had people who were forced promotions as part of their contract, such as JDS, in addition to the likes of Montoya, Thiago, Tello and Bartra. Bartra and Thiago, by the by, both spent significant portions of time injured. So if he is going to rotate at crucial times and for crucial matches, where is that rotation going to come from? Does anyone here honestly want to advocate playing time in a big match for JDS or Montoya? And would Vilanova then get hammered for trusting such a big result to an unproven player?

        Playing Bartra against Getafe is a far cry from playing him against Bayern. Only so much prep that can happen there, really.

        When Vilanova and Rosell discuss getting down to 22 players, the presumption is 22 players who can ALL play at any time, rather than 14 players who can play, and the rest guys who can plug into holes at times when we might need them. This is the real problem, and it’s a problem that has existed since Anno Three of the era of Saintus Guardiolus. The question now is how does the club address it?

        That’s as clear as I can put it.

        • selfie barça
          May 20, 2013

          Well, you write what you feel, brother. Note that only in the last comments you addressed the rotation issue.

          Your first comment was a passionate defense of Tito which, were it not for the fact that I wonder who attacked him, I would have completely agreed with.

          I have consistentlty praised and defended Tito over the course of the last year’s worth of reviews and comments. No need to act as if I don’t value either our coach or what our team have achieved this season just because in one review I ask some questions about rotation, squad selection and match specific tactics (corners).

          Some of those still stand, but I guess we (you and I) prefer to argue than to actually discuss.

    • Jim
      May 20, 2013

      Agreed. What will help us more than anything is a bench we can trust to change a game, not youngsters we reluctantly throw on to get game time, defenders who aren’t defenders, mids who can’t keep the ball and forwards who can’t score.
      Judge Tito by next year’s bench. The first eleven isn’t going to change that much. And nor should it.

      • selfie barça
        May 20, 2013

        I think our bench was better this year than last season, Jim.
        The bench certainly helped Tito to change games in the first half of the season.

        Also since when is it Barça’s way to “reluctantly” throw on youngsters to get game time?

        • Jim
          May 20, 2013

          I suppose it is subjective, Lev, but I never really felt excited by anybody coming on late in the game. I do think we over value our youngsters to some extent. How often have we heard posters talk about the difference player A or B would make in the firsts? Yet who from our youth team has shone when moved on? Bojan? Cuenca? GDS? Fontas ? I think we can see from the lack of break through that Tito has question marks over most of them. Otherwise, as Kxevin says its a no brainer that he would have used them more.

          Bottom line is that we struggled when we took Xavi off, we’re clueless without Messi and most of our converted CBs are a liability. However, next season I have a feeling some hard decisions will have been made and the squad will be stronger.

          • May 20, 2013

            For me, the squad, at 22 players, should be 20 proven players and two developmental ones. Tello is proven for me.

          • selfie barça
            May 20, 2013

            Therein lies the dilemma. We sometimes struggle when we take Xavi off, so we play him so much that he becomes less effective over the course of the season. And by not giving the playing time to the players who have the talent to perhaps take over the mantle one day (Cesc, Thiago) we remain dependent on a player who might be too old/fatigued to play as much as he does.

    • TITO
      May 20, 2013

      While he played WE ALL thought that he did quite well, and we even asked for Dani to take his seat on the bench and wait for his chance.
      Another thing which i don’t get it why you keep talking about it, is the Bayern game/s as the only one in which we looked brainless and completely amateurish.
      That’s is absolutely untrue. We did looked like that in almost every game in which we faced a strong opponent (minus the 2nd game against Milan). So don’t judge the criticism that the team (all of them + the coaches) from most of us here based only on one game.
      I think everybody us entitled to make a comment and if he/she thinks is worth commenting about it, then he’s free to do it without feeling uncomfortable because some of the older posters don’t agree with it.
      Nobody is saying that Tito should go or that we don’t appreciate what he did. We are just questioning some decisions that he made, especially during he second half of the season.

      • May 20, 2013

        I would counter that “because one of the older posters,” who I assume is me, holds a view that is contrary, the allegation shouldn’t be that he is making anyone uncomfortable.

        In this space in which, as you say, all opinions are valid,wy isn’t mine being taken at face value instead of being loaded with context that isn’t there?

        • TITO
          May 20, 2013

          Because, you feel entitled to defend something when there’s no need to defend it it.
          Nobody is attacking Tito.
          People are just questioning some of his decisions.
          Show me a fan here who’s not happy with what we achieved. It’s extraordinary, out of this world. The only thing that leaves us in the shadow this season in Europe is the Bayern’s success.
          But that doesn’t deprive us from the right to criticize them when we feel that there’s a space for that.

        • bhed
          May 20, 2013

          Well, in fairness, a few posts back, you did imply that the Mods didn’t like the direction of the comments and were talking about “changes”, without elaborating. Some might have taken that to mean new registration requirements, or blocking, or something. Since this is by FAR the most intelligent space on the net to indulge our mutual obsession, I think that might have made some people a bit nervous, if not defensive.

          I personally like a bit of healthy back and forth if it doesn’t get personal, think that venting is understandable after a gut-wrenching loss, and well…vive le difference.

          I’ve only been commenting the past year, but I’ve read every article and almost every comment since Pep took over and shortly after you guys split from the Offsides. I don’t see a big difference in tone – I think you mentioned the Henri debates! It’s fandom – if it isn’t stirring up passions, you’re doing it wrong! (kidding, but you get the gist)

          PS – I miss your posts.

          • selfie barça
            May 20, 2013

            “Because, you feel entitled to defend something when there’s no need to defend it it.
            Nobody is attacking Tito.”

            ^This^ By defending someone who is not being attacked, rather than addressing the questions I raised in the review, you are loading the discussion with a context that was not there.

            And in all fairness,
            “PS – I miss your posts.”

            ^This^ also!

          • May 20, 2013

            Nonsense. The gist of the Vilanova talk in this thread is we would have done better had he rotated, and now he’s playing a silly lineup in a meaningless game.

            Excerpts, so that nobody thinks old cranky Kxevin is seeing things:

            Why doesn’t Thiago get more minutes? Uhmmm….I don’t know. To piss off his dad? To run Xavi into the ground? This is becoming difficult.

            What about Tello….? And Bartra…? Help. I’m running out of answers.

            –Here is what I do not understand. We started the league by rotating. … We won the friggin’ league by rotating. So what changed?

            –I know I know we won the league with Tito as the manager but there are some serious man management issues in the 2nd half of the season.

            –Are you saying that because he won the league we are not allowed to criticize or ask questions?

            –He wanted to keep his job and to do that he had to win the league. But precisely in doing so he sacrificed a year’s worth of rebuilding opportunity to win a league with tired and old players, instead of perhaps losing it with young and hungry ones.

            There are more, but that’s just a few. So if people can raise what they consider to be valid discussion points, why are my counters to those points tilting at windmills, and tackling straw dummies?

            No. People aren’t attacking Vilanova, nor am I defending Vilanova. I am, however, responding to the “he didn’t rotate, what’s his problem” skein that has cropped up here. And everyone is, instead of replying to my comments and discussing them, telling me that I am chasing phantoms.

            That doesn’t wash with me.

            P.S. Thanks for the kind words, but people don’t want to read posts from a contrarian. Hell, comments are bad enough.

  10. TITO
    May 20, 2013

    Actually, why we are playing a courthouse?
    Who’s the Judge here?

    • bhed
      May 20, 2013

      YOU’RE out of order!

      (kidding, obviously, but sometimes gets lost in translation)

  11. bedhead
    May 20, 2013

    Count me in as the underwhelmed. We got the job done, but its far from the best that I’ve ever seen from the team. From what I can gather Pep was in a league of his own running this team. He got them to perform in ways that I haven’t seen this season. We didn’t press like we used to, we didn’t play half touch tiki-taka at all this season, I can’t remember the last time we scored a goal where we passed the ball in the tightest of spaces that I had to rewind the dvr to catch it in slo-mo. We were slow and uninspired. For the sake of argument blame it on whatever, Tito, Pep runnung the team into the ground and then hightailing it, illness, injury. The point is that it wasn’t an inspiring season. We won la liga but lost too many games to competative rivals. First change is a larger squad, second is rotation. Pep was’t a fan of a large squad but he realized that meant rotation. If Tito is oppossed to a larger squad and rotation, don’t expect to win any trophies next year.

    • selfie barça
      May 20, 2013

      Word is they will bring the squad down to 22 players. If you had asked me last summer what if we won the league and the league only I would have replied that as long as M*drid doesn’t win their decima I would have been delighted.

      I am delighted.

  12. mic
    May 20, 2013

    For me this season something happened. Don’t know why is that but I don’t see the magic in our game that was there previous season in most matches.
    What I know is that it is not because we are not wining matches, because we are winning more matches and it is not because of the trophies because we did better this season.

    Anybody care to explain what is happening? Why we are not “clicking” anymore? Why we need luck and late goals to overcome weaker opponents and are clueless against strong opponents?

  13. simple_barcafan
    May 20, 2013

    I have a strong feeling that we wouldn’t have had such a lengthy discussion on if this season was really successful or not and whether Tito is good enough or not, if not for that Bayern debacle. A narrow loss to Bayern might not have lead to such negativity as we are facing now.

    That 7-0 has really hurt our pride I guess…

    • bedhead
      May 20, 2013

      The losses to Madrid, the loss at Milan, the losses to Bayern in total skewed the feeling that we were really the “best”. An aging xavi and puyol didn’t bring the magic this season. I can’t remember the ksdt time Pedro had a great game, Villa is a veteran and can no longer play at top level. We’ve gone round and round on all of this and what it boils down to is futbol is a young man’s game snd Barca is aging. If you don’t rest your older players by rotating the up and coming younger players you can’t be competitive in the highest levels. You may win La Liga vs a rival that was pretty much imploding but you’re not going to win against physically superior teams.
      Personally, Im more afraid of what madrid will be able to accomplish against us with a coach who can bring a team together.

  14. garry
    May 20, 2013

    I think if we look at it Tito’s perspective probably ‘the lack of rotation’ issue would become clearer….

    (I have a theory about it, even though it may be highly improbable, im still posting it….)

    1. Initially, Tito started the season with all the right intentions and so we got to see a lot of player rotations in the first half of the season.

    2 But then, cancer intervened, so Tito decided to drop rotations and seal the league as fast as possible, playing the best team every time.
    ( I think Tito said something to this effect somewhere…though am not really sure about it..)

    3. Now, we have won the league, Tito (and the players) want the 100 points record, so once again best team plays.
    (The record may not seem important to us fans, but apparently, the coach and the team seem to want it badly)

    So, lets wait till the next season to see if the guy really believes in rotation, giving minutes to younger players etc. or not.

    • garry
      May 20, 2013

      Probably, 2. was a factor in our team’s “dismal” performance in CL knockout stages.

    • May 20, 2013

      Agree fully, garry. We will know how serious this club is about a rotation policy that keeps its players fresh by the transfer window activity. I have a comment below that looks at our roster, and what or who could have rotated. It ain’t pretty.

  15. lyd
    May 20, 2013

    So I didn’t watch the game “live” as Cesc started. Well that’s me! Vowed to do the same in near future. If this makes me less of a Cule, then Im willing to be one!

    From what I get from the above comments, is that had Tito played Thiago for Xavi, Bartra for Pique/Masche and Alexis for Pedro/Cesc/Villa, things would have been all rosy. Purple roses for a change i guess, as you know we need to vary the color of roses in succession, according to the “divine” Philosophy of Rotation.

    So why no desired rotation this time?

    1. Surely we couldn’t train properly this week, due to obvious reasons. So perhaps Tito played the most experienced (strictly in terms of party, parade) line-up, ones that can pull an optimum performance while hungover?
    2. Thiago, Alexis, Bartra, Tello is being kept fresh for the upcoming derby? Away game that!
    3. Perhaps Tito has by now realized that Bartra and Pique are incompatible as a CB pair, until either one of the two evolves into a leader?
    4. Or, or… ummm.. perhaps its a sign that Cesc (hopefully), Villa, Pedro, Masche are all up for sale/loan? So by playing them, Barca is sort of advertising. Cesc, Masche (as DM), Villa (with less mental stress and sheer fun) and Pedro (to be in full form, ahead of Navas) needs to play regularly as the world cup is knocking. I would love to see Pedro and Masche loaned out for a season! And Cesc, well he needs to go somewhere where he finds his natural position (which doesn’t exist imho) or a natural System which lets him to play to his strengths and that allows him to develop basic techniques of close control, awareness of the third eye, leadership, etc. And seriously, Barca can no longer afford to be a rehab center for him in the upcoming season/s.

    • Chiu
      May 20, 2013

      I like your first point lyd, haha. too much party, eating out and those celebration could be a factor. 🙂

    • May 21, 2013

      1. Mascherano has only just come back from injury and surely has had the least training time of anybody, so this point doesn’t make sense.

      2. Possible.

      3. This may actually be a good point. I have always wanted to see Bartra play with Puyol but with injuries that hasn’t happened yet. I think those two would be a great pairing. I do agree that Pique/Masche is superior to Pique/Bartra, but I think they would have been fine in a game like this.

      4. Pedro and Masche are going nowhere, and I doubt very much if Cesc is either. Sorry.

      • lyd
        May 21, 2013

        Re 1. We had a parade. Team was expected to perform below par, collectively. One doesn’t simply throw in a youngster at a post party game. Mascherano being a veteran was expected to adjust to the general collective dissonance better than Bartra. Plus it’s better to field a recently healed player in the comforts of home. Hence Tito fielded the most experienced, familiar lineup sensing we’d be off. Makes sense?

        Re 4.

        Re Masche: Not saying we’d permanently let go of an excellent player like him. But think about it this way. A CB signing is on, right? Barca needs to improve their average height in defense as well. And assuming Abidal, Puyol, Pique, Bartra is there, plus the new signing, it makes 5 players for 2 spots. (Don’t think Tito would experiment with 3 CB soon.) And like I said before the world cup is impending. Now you do the math. Isn’t is better for all parties if Masche goes on a loan somewhere for A season, where he gets to play in DM, like he does for ARG? Don’t we want Bartra to get more minutes?

        Re Pedro: A great squad player even if he cant make it to the starting XI. An epitome of hard word and dedication. 5 seasons of wonderful service.
        So, Deulofeu got promoted and assuming Alexis and Tello stays whereas Villa leaves. Alexis has already almost matched Pedro in terms of work ethic and tactical awareness, so we cant say anymore that Pedro is indispensable, as he used to be in those departments. Plus Alexis is more creative. Now if a new forward comes, we’d have 6 + Pedro for 3 spots. Once again, don’t we want Tello, Deulofeu to get enough playing time? Wouldn’t it be sad if Pedro can’t make it to Brazil, due to lack of form caused by insufficient playing time?

        Re Cesc: If he stays, I hope he can miraculously transform into a giant fire breathing unicorn that i expect him to be, along with the other mythical creatures like Sergio, Iniesta and Xavi. His compatibility with the front line, especially with Messi in the final third is really cool (on average btw) but everywhere else in the pitch he is a counter productive entity. Even in games where he pulls off an 110% passing completion rate, I’d still find ways to criticize him. I am sorry.

  16. May 20, 2013

    And here’s the question for the rotation crowd: Who rotates where? For example, in looking at the starting XI, where does the rotation happen?

    Valdes (nobody there)
    Alves (Montoya a few steps down, Adriano broken)
    Pique (Bartra? Not ready, might not ever be.)
    Puyol/Mascherano (see Bartra)
    Alba (Adriano, when he isn’t broken)
    Busquets (Song, but many cules don’t think much of him)
    Xavi (nobody home)
    Iniesta (Thiago or Fabregas …. step down, but can do it)
    Pedro (Sanchez)
    Villa (Tello, though in a different way)
    Messi (nobody home)

    So. Who and how do we rotate, and what would the result have been of that rotation? The most fundamental issues facing the club were injuries. Because its transfer and promotions assured that there isn’t really a reliable rotation option that would make anyone comfortable, going into a big match. And that isn’t Vilanova’s fault. So like Guardiola, he used the players that he had to effect the result that he wanted, taking the risk that there wouldn’t be the wholesale injuries that there were, at key times. Would the Bayern tie have gone differently with our normal back line and a fit Messi? I still think we lose, but it wouldn’t have been 7-0.

    But the fundamental problem is that our club has the best players in the world at many positions? So who rotates in for those players?

    • barca96
      May 20, 2013

      Kxevin, it is not just about a step down. What is the point of having a 22-25 squad team when you use the same players bar injury?

      Montoya
      Why would you say that Montoya is a few steps down when many (not including me) were fine with selling Alves and let Montoya take his spot (you included)? After his impressive few matches, he hasn’t been used till last week.

      Alves was unnecessarily played for 11 straight matches when we had Montoya ready. Weren’t you one of those that preferred to have a balance at the back with the arrival of Alba? So there you go Alba-Montoya.

      Last week Montoya was not even in the match squad and both Alves & Adriano got injured. Not really a great plan by Tito.

      Bartra
      He was thrown into the Bayern match but yet isn’t good enough to start or play in La Liga fixture? He will never be good if we don’t play him. How did Pique come up? It was because of the injury that Marquez had and he rose up to the challenge and cemented his position. Same way goes to all the youngsters. They either take over the position or they wait for the #1 to get injured and then try to make it their own.

      Song
      Hmmm I know you haven’t been active for the past few weeks but many were praising him. I did not see anyone complaining about him. Yes, many were earlier in the season and it is justified. But he has been performing really well for the last couple of months and obviously not many criticize him. Don’t use those few matches earlier in the season and when he was played as CB as a measuring stick.

      Thiago
      Can either play for Xavi or Iniesta. We all know his qualities already. It’s just a case of being patience but it looks like he may need a few more years based on how it is going now. He has to wait for Xavi to retire it seems.

      Tello
      I like how he is used now. It will keep him hungrier for more.
      And he is increasing.

      Messi
      I would’ve taken him off in multiple games especially in January-April to keep him fresh for the CL KO matches. He is our match winner so we should’ve used him wisely so that he is close to full fitness for the business end of the season. Not use him as a flat track bully against poor La Liga teams.

      Mind you. My beef is not about rotation only. The other thing I dislike is related. Why not use this fringe squad players in La Liga matches when we’ve already won the league??!!

      Those players that played will still be there next season. We know what they are made of. Why not test the squad players to see whether they are capable of playing against La Liga teams or not. And this without pressure.

      And it’s not like I am asking for wholesale rotation. It won’t work. It has to be done in a balanced manner. You don’t throw all youngsters in. You need some experience in the team.

      And this season we had the luxury of Madrid giving up and us being double digit points away from Madrid. So when is a better time to rest 2-3 key players??

  17. bedhead
    May 20, 2013

    I dont think anyone is implying that a particular rotation, in if itself, would have won us more trophies. Instead that rotation is one of the tools in the box that needs to be used throughtout the season for a myriad of reasons, including but not limited to resting players both physically and mentally making fatigue and injury less likely, introducing young players in less important games so they can gel with the main team. A proper mix of competent backups to well rested sand healthy starting eleven. I dont think we saw enough of a properly executed squad rotation as a season long strategic tactic. Hence, when the injuries started to pile up, we didn’t have competent, confident backups because of lack of olaying time under their belts. Lack of squad depth added to the problem of enough cover for injured and or fatigued players.

    • selfie barça
      May 20, 2013

      I agree with you, bedhead.

      For example, in the review of Barça – Celta Da Vigo I wrote:

      “I personally felt that the technical staff could have sat Messi as well – not only to give our Pulga a well needed break after a vomit-inducing World Cup qualifier played in the heights of the Bolivian Andes…”

      A couple of days later Leo pulled his hamstring in Paris.

      He pulled his hamstring because he played a game that he should have rested against a team with a market value of 46M. Obviously we cannot rotate Leo with a player of similar quality, but our bench and reserve players are valued at around 100M (and that’s without counting Fabregas and either of Pedro or Alexis).

      We have a good enough squad to allow for rotation, including even our best players.

  18. barca96
    May 20, 2013

    People who know the club can do better should be making themselves available to join the FCB coaching staff

    Are we not allowed to point out some mistakes by Tito here? We are raising valid points. Nobody asked him to be sacked.

    Why are you being so defensive of Tito and so offensive to us readers? You really come off as arrogant here Kxevin. It’s not like you never thought some things could be done better.

    • nzm
      May 21, 2013

      Please don’t accuse someone of being arrogant, nor anything else for that matter.

      Discuss the topic, but don’t take it to the personal level.

      You can agree or disagree. Argue the points, not the person.

      • barca96
        May 21, 2013

        Sorry nzm. Sorry Kxevin.

        But take arrogant from my sentence and what do you think nzm?

        Kxevin to my understanding is dismissing everyone’s suggestions. Maybe the lack of my vocab I had no other choice of words but if you read my comment, I hope you understand what I was trying to say.

        • May 21, 2013

          What’s arrogant about any of my statements? The only thing that ANYONE in this space has done since I dared utter a contrary word is jump down my throat and accuse me of vendettas, arrogance, defending something that doesn’t need to be defended, etc, etc. And now, insults. Nobody, but NOBODY has refuted any of the points that I have raised. It’s just personal attacks and arguments.

          I can’t be the only contrary voice. But you certainly wonder why more contrary voices don’t speak up here. It’s really getting oppressive, and to my view it stifles discussion if any, every and any time someone says something that doesn’t fit in with the group think, they are attacked.

          It is absurd, and completely out of character with this space. In thinking about what the issue is here, for me it is that. Other views are almost dangerous. “Vilanova doesn’t rotate.” Once that becomes the theme, any dissenting voice is wrong. Period. No discussions. I can’t be the only one to have a problem with that.

          People spend time accusing me of being the problem. To my view, that is far, far from the case here. Discuss the points.

  19. barca96
    May 20, 2013

    I am fine with 2-3 goal margins in a match. I think the team can handle a 2-3 goal lead without having Messi to continuously play full matches especially before a CL match.

    We saw him tired last season (and I criticized Pep for that too btw) and now they are making the same mistakes again. Messi and other key players not being able to step up in big matches in Feb-April.

    There is no need to always go for a manita. Silly stuff for me. I rather win against big teams in CL matches rather than being a flat track bully.

    I also rather prepare for next season rather than getting 100 points and in turn, we are back to square 1 next season. We don’t know whether x player is able or ready to stand in.

  20. The__K__Man
    May 20, 2013

    Kxevin, just a quick question..weren’t you the one who was saying that our team should be able to beat PSG without Messi aka the greatest player of his generation? If yes then shouldn’t the same apply to Alves, Pique, Xavi..etc? Would we really have lost games against the Getafes, Mallorcas etc had Montoya played a few more games instead of Alves playing a gazillion consecutive games? Would we have lost vs Valladolid had Thiago started? Maybe, but in that case it wouldn’t have been his fault, it would have been collective failure.
    You for one were constantly asking for Messi to be rested and rotated, stating you didn’t care about his goalscoring records, why are you against people who are asking for more rotation all of a sudden?
    As for saying Montoya, Bartra etc are not good enough..I say bullshit. We all watched Montoya in the supercup clasico and how great he was and we all watched him again in the 2-2 league clasico where he almost scored a winner in the dying minutes. At this point in the season everyone was saying he should start for us especially that Alves was out of form. Again against Valladolid he was excellent. As for Bartra we’ve all seen how well he’s performed vs Bayern for someone in his position (young, inexperienced and not getting any playing time). If we want to have our next Xavis, Iniestas and Busis we have to trust those young guys more. None of the aforementioned were ‘Barça quality’ in their first few seasons but we stuck with them and reaped the benefits.

    • May 21, 2013

      ” If we want to have our next Xavis, Iniestas and Busis we have to trust those young guys more. None of the aforementioned were ‘Barça quality’ in their first few seasons but we stuck with them and reaped the benefits.”

      Yup, as simple as that. And in order to do so, we have to give them minutes, AT LEAST in the useless matches. If we can’t even do that then there’s no point in keeping them and wasting their development years. In that case, it’s better for both the player and the club to part ways.

      One of next season’s goals definitely has to be to ensure that the “responsibility” is gradually passed down to the junior players. What’s the point of playing on Xavi in every match? He hasn’t dominated a single match like he used to since the Euro final. He isn’t getting any younger. So shouldn’t we develop Thiago and co. ? Or should we wait until Xavi is injured in a semi final and throw all the youngsters in the frying pan and hope they do ok.

      Tito’s rotation has been more than questionable in the recent matches, and that doesn’t undermine his overall acheivement(s) this season, nor does it him sackable (for me), but the day you stop asking valid questions is the day the person being questioned starts to be comfortable and stops evolving. Xavi, with his 60 games a season comment, clearly shows that he needs competition, so that a) he improves his performances (which benefits the team), b) the younge player gets more experience (which will also benefit the team over the coming years) and c) keeps him fit for the more important matches. There’s nothing to lose, especially when you’ve already won the trophy which is your sole major acheivement.

      • May 21, 2013

        And Tito already knows all of this, yet he continues with the same players. *That’s* the issue here, nothing else. He hasn’t given any specific reason, and until we get answer, the questioning is likely to continue.

        • Jim
          May 21, 2013

          Sorry, don’t agree. Xavi dominates almost every game he plays. Leave him out and you quickly see the problem. His control of a game hides our other weaknesses.

          • May 21, 2013

            He wasn’t anything like dominant in the games against Bayern, though, was he?

          • Jim
            May 21, 2013

            That was exactly the point I was making. Not sure anything would have saved us against Bayern at this point but playing the stretched, more direct approach plus two CBs who dont know each other well enough to hold a high line means too many gaps in the midfield for them to run through.

      • Kimcelona
        May 23, 2013

        Useless matches huh? YOU tell that to the players and staff who are working for the 100 points.
        What I don’t get with cules on the internet is they think everything they think is what the players and staff want.

        For all this talk about rotation, Tito rotated more this season than Pep did in his last 2 seasons. Especially WHEN it mattered. When the league was still in play. Is it not a better thing that Tito rotated and trusted these youngsters in the first CRUCIAL part of the season, more than in these “useless matches” as you say?

  21. Judas Pissed
    May 21, 2013

    Cancer-stricken Tito chases Mou out of town! THAT is good enough for me this season…

    • barca96
      May 21, 2013

      When Pep left us, they all (Madrid and anti-Barca fans) claim that Mourinho ran him outta town.

  22. G6O
    May 21, 2013

    barcastuff is reporting that we have offered 18 million for Neymar. Surely, this must be some kind of a joke…

    • selfie barça
      May 21, 2013

      Well, if true that Neymar has told his club that he ONLY wants to play for Barça it leaves Santos at the short end of the negotiation table. He only has one year left on his contract.

      I personally think the aforementioned 60M is absurd.

      • May 21, 2013

        Hell, I’m as anti-Neymar as they come, and even I would buy him if we could get him for less than 20M! Although I suspect that number doesn’t include the rumoured “prepayment” of 10M that has been bandied about for the best part of two years.

        • selfie barça
          May 21, 2013

          It is also possible that we are offering Santos 20M because we need to pay the 3rd parties as well.

          Speaking of Neymar, I watched the 2nd leg of the Paulista final against Corinthians and it left me with mixed feelings. He showed flashes of real talent, but also a lot of petulant behavior.

          I am also less than impressed by the fact that he missed a couple of training sessions the days before the final because of commercial obligations in Rio de Janeiro and if I was a Santos supporter I would be livid that club and player chose to get into prolonged negotiations with Barcelona the week of the final also…

          Still, there is no denying the kid has got talent and if we can get him for a good price, wow!

          • May 21, 2013

            And people have been bashing me on twitter for having doubts about Neymar, swearing up and down that he has “matured” and will have “no ego” when he comes as he is a Messi fanboy. I will continue to reserve judgement.

          • May 21, 2013

            And yes, good point about the 3rd parties. Does someone have a complete breakdown on who owns which parts of Neymar? Could we maybe just buy his feet?

          • barca96
            May 21, 2013

            Players who are in their last year of their contract shouldn’t cost 60mill. Look at Ozil, 3M, etc.

            Can anyone with knowledge of South American football explain why there are many footballers from there that is owned by a 3rd party?

            I remember Tevez and sMasch having the same issues when they were in England.

          • selfie barça
            May 21, 2013

            “Could we maybe just buy his feet?”

            I think he cut his mohawk to shave the price 😉

          • G6O
            May 21, 2013

            I understood it as 18 million total.

            Based on what I’ve read, Santos owns about half of him. 40% is owned by investors, and then I wouldn’t be surprised if the family has a few percent of the rights too.

            If its 18 million for Santos, that puts him at around 35 million, which is a fair price IMO.

            Obviously, I am a Barca fan, but I would have uneasy feelings about us stealing him for 20 million or something – it’s just not fair to Santos.

        • Jim
          May 21, 2013

          Any chance of a bit of praise for Rosell for daring to play hardball on the price then?

          • May 21, 2013

            No. See my breakdown of the *actual* cost of Neymar further down the thread.

          • Jim
            May 21, 2013

            Sorry, but Neymar for only slightly more than Alexis ? 🙂

            Remember, no matter what we think or how unproven he is in Brazil any poll of football fans around the world is likely to come up with him as the next great thing.

            No brainer.

  23. TITO
    May 21, 2013

    The new home and away kit is out.
    I don’t know, but now the last year’s home kit looks better when i compare it with the new one.
    Though, the away kit looks muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch better than that yellow-orange from last year.

    • barca96
      May 21, 2013

      I concur. I prefer last season’s home too. So clean. Not messy.
      I wish our club colors were like PSG’s. So beautiful!!

    • G6O
      May 21, 2013

      I don’t like the home kit. But the away one is great

  24. selfie barça
    May 21, 2013

    “No. People aren’t attacking Vilanova, nor am I defending Vilanova. I am, however, responding to the “he didn’t rotate, what’s his problem” skein that has cropped up here.”

    Actually, in your first comments you weren’t responding to the rotation question at all. What you did was belittle other people’s questions.

    “And everyone is, instead of replying to my comments and discussing them, telling me that I am chasing phantoms.

    That doesn’t wash with me.”

    It goes both ways. I stand by the quotes you took from my review but I refuse to be painted into some kind of anti-Tito corner just because I don’t cheerlead his every decision. If you reply to what other people write and discuss the questioned asked, people won’t get all defensive and stuff.

    “P.S. Thanks for the kind words, but people don’t want to read posts from a contrarian. Hell, comments are bad enough.”
    Nonsense. Your posts rock. Most commenters you often end up in disagreement with on this blog love your posts and tell you so, as do I.

    • May 21, 2013

      Sorry, but the accusation that I would belittle anything about anyone’s opinion in this space is a detestable notion, and makes me regret that I ever commented in this space. It’s also a very mean thing to say. I worked my ass off to build this space into a space where EVERYONE would feel comfortable commenting here, no matter how out of kilter with the general worldview the voice was. For me, that feeling is gone. So much of the good feelings about this space are gone.

      And now, an outlier crops up, and is the enemy. Everyone jumps on him, and makes unfounded accusations about the tone and slant of his comments. And it does downhill. In all frankness, this isn’t a space that I feel at all comfortable in any longer, because it’s simply impossible to state a reasoned view if it runs contrary to general thought.

      I read, and re-read my initial thoughts on this matter, and I still struggle to find any way in which they could remotely be construed at belittling, arrogant, or any of the other accusations that have been leveled at them. The latest is that I am saying that people are anti-Vilanova. For the record, I don’t write around what I mean to say. If I believe someone or some thing is anti-anything, I will make that abundantly clear in a way that will not require reading between the lines, or finding hidden meanings in something.

      This space needs changes. I am clearly not the person to be able to do anything about those changes. I thought that discontinuing writing here would make things better for me. They haven’t. So I’m done here, until changes come. Folks can discuss among themselves what needs to happen, but things are seriously wrong here.

      Good luck to all.

      • mom4
        May 21, 2013

        General response, not intended for just Kxevin regardless of its place in the comments:

        I think everybody needs to take some large chill pills. There’s got to be a way to discuss things without upsetting people and there has got to be a way to handle discussion without being offended. Geez!

        If points are made, discuss them.

        If you have a disagreement, present a well thought out argument.

        If someone doesn’t agree with you, it’s not the end of the world. Agree to disagree and move on. Don’t be offended. Agreement is optional, respect is required.

        • Jim
          May 21, 2013

          I hunk part of the problem ( if there is one) stems from the fact that Kxevin is a journalist and is used to taking a stance on issues and his skill in writing leads to a very confident declaration of his point of view. He is , in effect, very good itch words. However, part of the downside of that is that he comes over at times as being dismissive of others views. Yet I could show you lots of times where someone posts something I think ridiculous and Kxevin takes time to explain in a very reasonable tone why it might not be right.

          The bottom line is that I have crossed swords with Kxevin on various occasions but have never (well, only once 🙂 ) taken it personally. If we want this space to continue we have to avoid the personalisation of discussions and also man up a little when others disagree with us.

          We have something great going here and it would leave a hole in my football life if I didn’t have this place.

          FWIW, I also think the mods need to get heir act together behind the scenes so we don’t have a falling out in public. Not saying this to hack anyone off but it might have been better if Kxevin and Lev emailed each other and agreed to put up a new post to move matters on. Just sayin’.

  25. Srini
    May 21, 2013

    I think the discussions here are missing the elephant in the room. While I do agree that Tito needs to trust his youngsters a bit more, as he did early season with Montoya for e.g., the issue here for Barca is that it has a structural squad problem.

    The Bayern ties tell me that even with Messi and Busquets playing and Barca playing their most healthy and best XI, they would still have come up short against Bayern, as the latter seemed to have the fullest measure of Barca’s A game and strengths.

    In other words, Barca has got to evolve quickly and I don’t think it will happen by rotation or squad management of this squad. There are too many structural weaknesses in the squad, plain and simple.

    Ramzi, earlier this year, pointed one out – the lack of a reference point striker to alter the game plan if it failed despite Messi at full strength.. i.e. when the 4-3-3 didn’t yield dividends. Also problematic was the misplaced location of players like Villa, Alexis and even Iniesta as wing players when they didn’t necessarily suit that system.

    The other is the serious problem with the defense, which was poorly structured the entire season.

    The solution is crystal clear; Barca need to shore up their defense with a strong, tall and pacy CB. They need a striker who can offer aerial strengths in the front line to go with layoff capabilities. And they need to get a genuine finisher who can play on the wing.

    Thus far, from media reports it looks like the only guy that Barca are yearning for is Neymar, who offers a solution to the third issue but is going to be severely overpriced in the market as well.

    Barca missed a trick last season by not getting Javi Martinez and they are now staring at the barrel of a difficult choice for CB. Bartra is only half-a-solution and Abidal, if healthy could also have been but that is a difficult question to answer. Puyol seems to be done and Masherano for all his strengths is still a stop gap option. Barca must lift some turnstiles in order to get someone of the calibre of a Thiago Silva or a suitable pacy, strong-on-the-ball CB alternative.

    It has to find a tall forward who can provide a B plan. I say why dont they try to pry Fernando Llorente?

    And I wish they win the Neymar stakes by being patient and negotiating with reason and hopefully with an assist from the player himself.

    Lastly, I think Montoya is ready to be the starting RB and that Dani Alves can be expendable, despite his strengths. Playing both Alves and Alba is creating structure issues for Barca and replacing Alves with Montoya should be ideal. I also think that selling Alves will help Barca shore up some money for their buying purposes as well.

    As for the midfield, I do believe that Tito has to trust Thiago more. He is a different player than Xavi, but I do believe that as of now, Thiago seems to be the most pertinent replacement for Xavi. A midfield of Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta (backed up by Cesc) and a frontline of Alexis, Messi, Neymar with Llorente, Cesc and Tello could do wonders and could even overcome Bayern. Provided their defense goes up a notch next season as well with the addition of a viable central defender to go along with Pique.

    And hopefully Valdes is persuaded to stay for one more season. There is no alternative to Valdes in the present.

    • barca96
      May 21, 2013

      How would Javi Martinez help us? CB? Or DM? He is not pacey mind you. And at DM, he has Busi to contend with. Look at Song, sMasch & Yaya? Busi owns that DM place, he is the undisputed king like Messi at 9 and Alves at 2 imo.

      Why doesn’t Ramzi post here anymore btw? I know he has footballmood but back then he still came here now and then.

      • Srini
        May 21, 2013

        I thought Martinez did fine as CB for Athletic’s better season when he was around and playing DM as well when needed. There was no need to sign Song (not that he was bad playing for Barca, but he didn’t necessarily add anything to the squad that it didnt’ have already).

        Busquets could have been rotated well with JM/ Mascherano at DM. Instead, Mascherano had to be CB all season even as that position was severely strained and when Busquets got injured, Song was just about adequate but was relatively toothless.

        • barca96
          May 21, 2013

          I like Javi Martinez but I just don’t think that he would’ve helped a great deal either. They should’ve simply signed a proper CB last season from the money they used on Song.

      • Jim
        May 21, 2013

        The problem won’t be solved by just a pact CB. We need a regular pairing at the back who know how to cover for each other and where to hold the line. The structural defect is our suicidal determination that both FBs push forward at the same time. Otherwise we don’t really need the pace.

        I think Ramzi fell out with us a while ago if I recall. He wasnt great at acknowledging there could be another view but personally I thought he talked a lot of sense.

    • BA
      May 21, 2013

      looking back over a few games from this season i think the real problem is that this is a team who’s been set up, and won trophies, with a system in the Guardiola mold that emphasizes concentrated, intense pressing coupled with prolonged possession. and we’re not doing that anymore.

      what Tito did tactically when he took over was “lengthen” the structure of our formation, making us more expansive and better on the counter. while that does result in alot of goals, and unnerved teams in the first part of the season who were used to the way we played over the last few years under Pep, it also crippled our ability to press and thus lowered the first, highest hurdle for opposing teams. i put that down as a major reason why we’ve leaked so many goals this season; the team is still adapting to Tito’s change not just of tactics but of style of play.

      i happen to think that Guardiola’s system, well-implemented, is objectively superior, and part of my concern about Tito is my lack of confidence in his ability to institute a system that works both offensively and defensively. and while certain players ARE needed (notably center-backs who can, ya know, defend), this isn’t a problem that can be solved by new/different players alone.

      • May 21, 2013

        Good points.

        I’ll argue that if we are going to play this more “lengthened” formation we need an extremely mobile forward who is able to press endlessly due to athleticism. Similar to what we had in Eto’o during Guardiola’s first season where the team played more direct than later seasons.

        • BA
          May 21, 2013

          i’d agree to a point, Calvin, but aren’t we compensating for that lack of a pressing central striker by ostensibly having our 2 outside forwards press harder (Alexis and Pedro, by common consensus, are both hard-working in that regard)*? granted, Messi doesn’t press as hard as he did under Guardiola, and i’d wager that’s on instruction from the coaching staff so as not to strain him; but i’d rather Messi press harder and be rotated more than play every game walking when the opposition is in possession.

          as for Tito’s system being “better” offensively, i’m not sure that’s the right word. just in the way we set up, it certainly is balanced far more TOWARDS offense than defense, which i think is another mistake. part of what i would claim is the superiority of Pep’s system is that when well executed it’s more balanced and cohesive team system, with clear instructions during both offensive and defensive phases.

          … but what is Tito’s defensive system? it’s not quick bursts of concentrated pressing, due to the limitations of his “lengthened” formation; and as we’ve seen it’s not a more classical “sitting back and creating 2 lines”, a method we simply don’t have the players to execute even if we wanted to do it (and i’d argue that we don’t). that also would seem to add to the confusion amongst our defense.

          Jim, that’s a well-taken point. the strength of our squad is our midfield; one of the best in history. the Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets triangle is without a doubt the best midfield in Europe. but the “lengthening” of our formation does seem to detract from the amount of control they can impose on games, as i think would be clearly shown from our possession stats in this season relative to last season AS WELL AS our leaking more goals. after all if the emphasis isn’t on our midfield, it’s going to have to move somewhere, and our defense doesn’t seem to be mentally or skill-fully capable of shouldering the burden.

          * and isn’t it interesting that during the Bayern tie it was Ribery and Robben, Bayern’s outside forwards, that were lauded for their defensive work tracking back?

      • mic
        May 21, 2013

        Nice analysis, but I am not sure Tito’s system was better offensively. For example this season in liga we have scored 109 goals so far but the last season it was 114 for the whole season.

        • Jim
          May 21, 2013

          Not much in that to be fair. I also don’t really like the “new” system as it doesn’t play to the strengths of our midfield. There is nobody in the world better at playing in a confined space than our mids. That also allows them to press. However, there is no denying they aren’t the quickest. So if we increase the space between the lines they are de-skilled to an extent.

    • Blau-Grenade
      May 21, 2013

      Srini, Agree with all your points. You read my mind.

      One a different note, Spain has not been doing well economically, with wide unrest in Catalonia and a feeling of disenfranchisement with Madrid, which is the exact opposite of how Germany as a country, and Munich as a city have been doing. All the squad changes, and coaching staff seem to have the common goal of saving every penny at Barca. At Bayern, this seems to be exact opposite. It seems that the economic circumstances at the country level are playing into the performance of sports teams.

      In addition to all the above there are several organizational problems at Barca at the current moment that I see.

      They tried to save money, and bought Song as a second option to Martinez. That is a problem this club has. The board and the sporting directors are running the club as a business, with checks and balances, and not as a sporting entity, with the right players or vision in mind.
      These things become clear when you notice the things that have been happening over the course of the time since Rosell took over. If you look at how he responded, or supported Pep, when Tito got poked in the eye, and during all the duels with Mourinho. He, unlike Laporta, is lacking in leadership qualities. And it percolates down in the sporting decisions the club makes, and the current squad. If Laporta would have been the president of the club, he would have gone on roof tops and already blown the horn that he will make enough transfers to make the squad competitive enough to win the champions league next season. I believe his lack of leadership and vision was one of the reasons that Pep got demotivated and left Barca.

      Second, as you mentioned, in both games against Bayern, how Tito lacked any ideas. Barca almost played their best 11 against Bayern. Bayern had Barca’s number in both games. Inspite of the debacle in the first game, Tito did nothing to change the tactics to face them in the second game against Bayern. On, top of that, Tito’s insistence that the squad does not need to be changed, and his insistence on not rotating the squad shows a stubbornness and lack of empathy towards the whole squad. It is sure to demotivate the bench when things like this happen. This points a leadership problem at the coaching level. Motivation and mood are contageous, and every player in the team needs to feel motivated if the squad has to be able to perform at the highest level. Also, as you mentioned, there is the issue of players not being played in their optimal position.

      Then there is the issue of playing an injured Messi, Xavi and Busquets in games, where there have been other healthy players on the bench. Messi’s recurring hamstring problem, and including him in games when he is not fit, or able to perform at a high level suggests that the medical staff have compromised.

      Another point, Barca has a team of two people who analyze opponents and create video’s for coaching staff so they can prepare the team for matches. This team left to work with Pep at Bayern. If I were living in Barcelona and was happy with my work there, why would I move to Bayern Munich. That these two decided to move, suggests that there seems to be issues between the coaching staff and the video review staff.

      The squad list, the squad rotation policy in games, and effective use of substitutes in the next season will suggest how the board and coaching staff have done. With Tito’s impending cancer treatment, I am not sure he is in a position to do an optimal job there.

  26. Srini
    May 21, 2013

    and by the way.. I do think that Xavi and Pedro will have roles to play next season, but hopefully Xavi’s burdens are reduced while Pedro’s strengths are maximised.

    • Tsivoman
      May 21, 2013

      If you don’t mind me asking? and i’m asking honestly by the way.

      What strengths of Pedro exactly needs to be maximized?

      • Srini
        May 21, 2013

        I do believe that Del Bosque has made better use of Pedro than Barca has. He has been made to play a strictly tactical role in Barca, nearly as that of a wingback and with limitations imposed upon, his participation in attack has been subdued in my opinion.

        I think as Barca expand their tactical template and structure next season beyond the somewhat sorted out “False 9” – maybe Messi as a 10 and Pedro and another forward upfront? – it will be able to maximise Pedro’s abilities better.

      • May 21, 2013

        I would describe Pedro’s main strengths as: tactical awareness, great pressing, and ability to thrive on the space created by other forwards.

        The last two seasons he has been asked to play a very tactical role where his main function is to maintain width and do a lot of pressing. This has taken him further away from the goal and no surprise, he has been scoring less.

        Remember his best years came in ’09-’10 and ’10-’11. In both of those years he thrived off a forward ahead of him pushing the defense back and creating space inside between the lines. Ibrahimovic and later Messi in these years were able to create space by drawing defenders and pushing the opposing defense back, creating little pockets of space that Pedro knows how to exploit (and score goals from).

        Last season Pedro was asked to play a very wide role to create width for Messi and Cesc to do damage in the middle. He played this role well but it took him out of his best area – away from the goal. This season he has been asked to play wide again – but more worryingly he hasn’t been able to exploit that space because the team isn’t creating that space around the box. With Messi dropping so deep the opposing defense has been pushing up and closing the space that Pedro once thrived in.

        I think the addition of a true forward would really help to create those spaces and would lead to Pedro having a resurgence of goal scoring form – which never really left him in the national team.

        • Jim
          May 21, 2013

          I think the key is “space created by other forwards”. To my mind, and I know I’ve said it before, we have wasted Villa’s season. We need someone to occupy the CBs to allow space for Messi and Pedro. It also provides someone for Tello to aim for with low cross balls. Villa’s strength is that he can spin off defenders both ways but we have steadfastly refused to play early balls to him or indeed play him along with Messi. If you leave only a hole up front you free the CBs as extra defenders and have an impossible job on your hands.

          • Jim
            May 21, 2013

            I’m not arguing for keeping him, Calvin. I think that boat has sailed although if we played to his strengths and with Messi he would still have enough to offer. However, his skills are very rare and most of the names i’ve seen mentioned would, i feel, struggle in our system.

  27. May 21, 2013

    OK, so after a little research and help from some friends on twitter, here are the numbers for the Neymar deal:

    Santos owns 55% of the player, DIS Esporte owns 40%, and TEISA the remaining 5%.

    If the 17.5M (allegedly) offered to Santos represents 55% of the total FCB will pay out, that means the club is really paying about $32M.

    This does not include the 10M already (allegedly) paid as a precontract, which would be a signing bonus of sorts.

    Therefore the total amount FCB would be paying to all parties would total around 42M.

  28. Ultraculé
    May 21, 2013

    For me, Tito has exactly matched expectations. Not below, Not surpassed, just met. What do you expect after replacing a Perfectionist and a prophet? Yes our play has been unconvincing, but another year is the perfect duration to gauge Vilanova. If, at the end of the season, the same mistakes are seen, then he should be given the boot. Until then, enjoy the league. One thing is certain, Tito needs to take a decision on how he wants us to evolve. If the press ain’t gonna be as intense, Fine. If we are going to get more direct, Fine. But the team will HAVE to have players who are COMFORTABLE in defense. In short, real defenders. And if we are going to be more direct, play a proper striker. Simple. Playing a striker is not some sin / betrayal to some deified philosophy, limitations actually enhance possibilities and creativity, not hinder them.

    On a lighter note I absolutely love the new kits. DAMN, If only that f***in sponsor wasn’t there ,I’d have bought 10! Love the Senyera kit. F**K you Rosell! #coldbloodedsellout

    • garry
      May 21, 2013

      Great points, Ultracule. Agree with all o’ them ( including the one about Rosell 😉

    • BA
      May 21, 2013

      all good points. Tito needs to make up his mind HOW the team is going to play. i think part of what many cules take for granted about Guardiola was not just his system but how CLEARLY he understood it and imposed it upon the players. his system was wildly different from Rijkaard’s (which was pretty much a classic Dutch 4-3-3), but because Pep knew exactly what he wanted the team to do he was able to shape them into his system quickly and with devastating effect.

      Tito doesn’t seem to have the vision, but at least has the summer (and a sustained transfer period) to come up with a decision on just what he wants the team to do. then, as you say, we’ll know.

      can’t help but add that yes, Rosell is truly a corporate stooge sellout.

  29. TITO
    May 21, 2013

    Somebody, somewhere made an analysis which states that RM during Perez 3rd term have spent almost 400 million euros in 18 signings.
    All they got in return are the 3 titles.
    Cause i’m lazy in researches, can somebody find a data when was the last time we signed a not so famous player for cheap who later became a player we expected to be?
    Because i read a story, in Sport i think it was, and it was funny because when we had a chance to buy T. Silva for 10 million euros, we opted for Henrique for the same money because we thought it’s going to be a better deal.

    • G6O
      May 21, 2013

      Well, to be fair, at the time T. Silva was not probably the best defender in the world as he is now.

      We saw more potential in Henrique, it didn’t work out. It happens

      • barca96
        May 21, 2013

        Pep should’ve given Henrique 1 season to prove himself. At least Chiggy had 6 months to prove himself but the likes of Keirrison and Henrique wasn’t given enough time.

  30. TITO
    May 21, 2013

    The last one that comes to mind is Figo.

  31. May 21, 2013

    @Jim (Re: Xavi)

    Sorry, don’t agree. Go watch our old matches and compare them to the recent ones and tell me he dominates like he used to.

    Sure he might still complete the insane number of passes and have the same success percentage, and the team still might be weak without him, but that reflects the team’s dependance on him, and hides his overall decline. He hasn’t exerted control on the midfield like he used to since the euro final.

    The sooner we act on this, the better for everyone.

    • Jim
      May 21, 2013

      Where he doesn’t have the same effect is in the last third because teams have wised up to us and are pressing harder further up the pitch. This forces him to take possession further back and everything becomes harder.

      It’s not much of a decline if one of the best teams in the world depends on you and you complete more passes than anyone in the top team competition 🙂

      We aren’t facing the same situation as we did in Pep’s early years. We have to give others credit for sussing us out so well and implementing a pretty effective plan. I happen to think that with a steady CB pairing that can hold a high line and a forward line with a genuine skilled back to goal CF along with a fit Messi there is still nobody better than us at breaking down a bus. You can see what happened to RM this year as teams started parking against them. They had no ability to break them down.

      The one area where I would “criticise” Xavi ( and Iniesta) is that for players who constantly play with their heads up they don’t hit the early through ball to Villa etc very much at all. I’d like to see a bit of mix occasionally.

      More controversially, I’d say that were Pedro and Alexis able to create danger on their own rather than merely pass the ball back and wait for one of the better players to create the chance the midfield would perhaps be more willing to risk through balls. However, Neymar should alleviate that.

      • G6O
        May 21, 2013

        It’s not easy to hit the through ball when there is no space in which to thread it.

        in the first two seasons of the Guardiola era, Xavi made more insane defense splitting passes than anyone before that (Messi has taken that title since then). You think we suddenly forgot how to do that? No, you don’t forget these things, quite the opposite, you only get better at them with age as field vision is the one thing that does not deteriorate with time.

        The difference is that there were players to pass it to.

        And you can see that very well now too – the reason Messi has been the one playing the through balls is that when he gets the ball the defense collapses on him, which leaves space for others to run into and then he can release the pass. While these days when Xavi has the ball, all he see in front of him is defenders marking everyone and nobody to receive a through ball. And that’s because due a combination of the off-the-ball movement and pressing that created that space not being there anymore and defenses adjusting to our game.

        • Jim
          May 21, 2013

          Absolutely agree with most of this. I’m Xavi’s biggest fan. There have been occasions this season though when Villa has made runs and we have been reluctant to pull the trigger.

  32. Jim
    May 21, 2013

    Way to go, Ramon!

    Just watched Calderon laying into Mourinho and Perez on Revista. WELL worth a watch. He doesn’t miss his target. Old Madrid speaks…

  33. Dani_el
    May 21, 2013

    Seeing that this discussion originated by how the coaches managed the squad’s minutes I want to share with you guys this article written by Guillermo Ortiz in the Perarnau Magazine. It talks about the team’s rotation with specific details and statistics. It is quite long, but it is truly an interesting read. There are parts I didn’t translate, that refered to an analysis of previous seasons because of time, but if it is required, I’ll do it later.

    Did Tito managed worts the squad’s minutes? An analysis year by year
    by GUILLERMO ORTIZ May the 15th, 2013 • 10:35

    Barcelona’s latest results, the second round of the league in particular, and the horrific knockout stage of the Cup and Champions League have left many doubts among experts: Is it a problem of attitude, fitness, tactics …? It’s very difficult to decouple an aspect from the other for a very simple reason: Guardiola’s Barcelona differed from Rijkaard’s, and even from Cruyff’s in its defensive rigor, demanding a defensive physical effort to retrieve the ball as soon as possible and that this wourld require the three mentioned qualities (attitude, fitness, tactics).
    If Victor Valdes won four consecutive Zamoras, it was because the team recovered the ball sooner, and in turn it was because the team was always well placed on the field, impressively well placed. In this positioning we would had to add a great desire and a commitment to do go pressing, that could only be effective if all the team partook in said pressing, each performing his own function. For this, obviously, it was necessary for the team to be able to do it physically. To reach half a second later to a position at a cross, or to help mark somebody, means the difference between being an unbeatable team and a broken team.
    This year we have seen more of the latter (a broken team) than the former (an unbeatable team) and, as I say, there can be many reasons for this: the team is less united on the field , and undertakes some impressive runs, up and down the field to which his players are not used to. The amount of balls lost and not recovered has increased alarmingly and that makes the team vulnerable and our pressing, ineffective. In part, and this has been said many times, Barcelona has begun to defend bad at the moment in which it has begun to attack bad without the necessary passes before each play, or rather, with poorly made passes, in unsuitable positions, without a clear sense that had always been present: that passes are made to reach the goal and not just defend with possession.
    The almost generalized reached conclusion in the last few days, is that the squad has been poorly managed on the distribution of minutes. That some of the players have reached the late season burned out – tactics aside, just look at the players on the field to know that they are tired – because Vilanova and Roura have failed to rotate them and have abused the same eleven with few variations. Well, we’ll do an analysis of the last five years to see if this thinking is accurate and to what extent it would be. Consider this analysis little more than a game, because football is much more than a lot of statistics, but we will sure raise interesting questions in this analysis.
    I chose to analyze data only of league games per season since it seemed to me the most reliable source and these numbers never change: every year they play the same minutes, but obviously we will take into account each year’s circumstances according to each season.
    2008/09
    • Main Starting eleven: Valdés; Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Abidal; Yaya Touré, Xavi, Iniesta; Henry, Eto´o, Messi.
    • Minutes played by the starting eleven: 27.177
    • Players part of a constant rotation (minutes played): Márquez (1.990), Busquets (1.534), Keita (1.528), Gudjohnsen (1.028)
    • Players with a clear but limited contribution: Sylvinho (879), Cáceres (778), Bojan (722), Hleb (712)
    • Players with a very limited contribution: Pedro (365), Víctor Sánchez (248), Xavi Torres (180), Pinto (180)
    • Other players that had some minutes: Oier, Jeffrén, Abraham, Botía, Thiago, Muniesa
    • Total minutes played by subs: 10.351
    (…)
    2009/10
    • Main Starting eleven: Valdés; Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Maxwell; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Messi
    • Minutes played by the starting eleven: 27.476
    • Players part of a constant rotation (minutes played): Keita (2.093), Yaya Touré (1.489), Abidal (1.408), Henry (1.227), Bojan (992)
    • Players with a clear but limited contribution: Chigrinsky (840), G. Milito (785), Márquez (774), Jeffrén (402)
    • Players with a very limited contribution –
    • Other players that had some minutes: Jonathan Dos Santos, Fontàs, Thiago, Bartra
    • Total minutes played by subs: 10.143
    (…)
    2010/11
    • Main Starting eleven: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Abidal, Maxwell; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Villa, Pedro, Messi
    • Minutes played by the starting eleven: 27.580
    • Players part of a constant rotation (minutes played): Keita (1.542), Mascherano (1.538), Puyol (1.383), Adriano (945), Bojan (936)
    • Players with a clear but limited contribution: Thiago (662), Afellay (661), G. Milito (648), Pinto (540), Fontàs (459),
    • Players with a very limited contribution : Jeffrén (302), Bartra (180)
    • Other players that had some minutes: Sergi Roberto, Jonathan Dos Santos, Nolito, Montoya, Oriol Romeu
    • Total minutes played by subs: 10.005
    (…)
    2011/2012
    • Main Starting eleven: Valdés; Alves, Mascherano, Puyol; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago; Cesc, Messi, Alexis
    • Minutes played by the starting eleven: 23.705
    • Players part of a constant rotation (minutes played): Abidal (1.764), Adriano (1.726), Pedro (1.626), Piqué (1.472), Keita (1.340), Cuenca (1.074), Villa (893)
    • Players with a clear but limited contribution:: Tello (446), Maxwell (424), Montoya (371), Pinto (270)
    • Other players that had some minutes: Afellay, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Fontàs, Deulofeu, Bartra, Muniesa
    • Total minutes played by subs:: 12.192
    (…)
    2012/13
    • Main Starting eleven: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Cesc
    • Minutes played by the starting eleven: 22.857 (proyección a 38 partidos: 25.546)
    • Players part of a constant rotation (minutes played): Alexis (1.515), Song (1.386), Adriano (1.374), Thiago (1.256), Villa (1.150), Puyol (968), Montoya (968)
    • Players with a clear but limited contribution: Pinto (450), Bartra (345)
    • Other players that had some minutes: Abidal, Deulofeu, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto
    • Total minutes played by subs: 9.695 (proyección: 10.835)

    We have to recognize that the season planning has been completely different. It is true that at the time of this research, we have three games left and, therefore, the figures are not fully comparable to those of the previous four seasons. However, there are things that are pretty obvious: Like last year, it can’t be said that there is an eleven-type team. So far, no player reaches 30 complete games for the first time in these five years. Valdes has 29 but is injured.
    (…)
    If I had to sum this up, and lettting everyone to make up their minds about this, I would say that the problem is not that Tito did not want to rotate, but that he had nowhere to find players that deserved said minutes. He has focused his confidence in 18 players, which is an acceptable number, but did not take a risk at all with the rest of the players, and I do not know if I should blame him because the level has gone down every year in Barça’s wardrobe (subs). Yes, he could have appealed to the cantera, but the cantera is not in his prime moment and the main objective was to secure the league as soon as possible.
    If there has been a problem managing the squad it has not been for using-up 11 dudes and making them play always but the problem could have originated by forgetting to give minutes to subs that simply don’t get enough minutes (especially on the latter part of the season). Even so, it does not seem like reason enough to explain this downturn. The team has been rotated. In a different way, but it has been rotated. It was the second season with less burden to the main 11 and with more minutes for subs. (…)Would we have liked to see more of Deulofeu and Sergi Roberto? It’s possible. What about Bartra? Certainly. But the deciding aspects are little details, too small to be considered as the main reason of the team’s physical decomposition in recent months. We will have to look elsewhere. Perhaps, after all, Barcelona does not need a revolution with more stars, but it may be enough to have more Keitas, Bojans, Maxwells or even Cuencas.

    http://www.martiperarnau.com/articulos-de-futbol/infomes/%C2%BFgestiono-peor-tito-los-minutos-de-la-plantilla-un-analisis-ano-a-ano/

    • May 21, 2013

      Would love to see the first and second half of the season split, as many are arguing there was a stark difference between the before and after Tito’s departure from treatment

      • Dani_el
        May 21, 2013

        I would like to see those stats as well. I think they would be enlightening to compare if the coaches staff really didn’t rotate as much as the last part of the season. I agree with his argument that they really wanted to win the liga. But I just don’t understand why they didn’t give more minutes to Thiago, Bartra and Montoya on the last games. They are more than ready to be starters against most Liga clubs.

    • May 21, 2013

      Also would be interesting to see CL and CdR data included, as I think these competitions were prime offenders this year.

      Thiago for example only started 1 CL match and came on as a sub in one other match.

  34. bedhead
    May 21, 2013

    A few changes and a commitment to rotation, REAL rotation has this club right back at the top of everything.

    I would rater imagine when he (Tito) looks in the mirror, he asks himself what would have happened if he committed to real rotation.

    If anything I would suggest we need more attacking diversity and rotation more than anything else.

    – Kxevin 5.2.13

    • barca96
      May 21, 2013

      Yes, that’s why I asked him above why he’s acting as if he has never suggested what Tito should’ve done. He has contradicted him many times before. I don’t mind that because everyone can have a change of heart but I can’t understand why he asked us readers by suggesting us to join the coaching staff.

  35. bedhead
    May 21, 2013

    Yep. I would be rotating the hell out of everything that isn’t Champions League. And I would use a lot of B teamers for the away Clasico, just to flip them the burd in their own house. The only important match that should get our best line up is Milan.

    La Liga lead gives comfort in being able to rotate and not worry about dropping points.

    Rotation, rotation, rotation. I would do rotation for Granada, try to destroy Milan and see how my players felt before the Sevillla match.

    After that I would evaluate things for the Copa match, with an eye on keeping them fresh and injury free for the stretch. Think of the value fresh players would have been in the Chelsea tie.

    Kxevin 2.10.13

    • Jim
      May 22, 2013

      Not sure if I’m on my own here but I’m starting to feel uncomfortable at the inability of some people to leave something alone. Kxevin’s viewpoint as I understood it was that everyone would have loved rotation to save Messi, Xavi etc. but there must have been a reason why Tito felt he couldn’t. He explained this at length and whether we agree or disagree its obvious he felt got at. That’s the time ( as I tell the kids at school ) when you drop it and move on or things get out of hand.

      However, in this case there seems a reluctance to do so and because of that Kxevin has decided to move on. Bedhead, not sure if you’re new here or not but I’d rather hear your own thoughts than keeping poking at this one. Kxevin is one of the people who made this space possible. I value it and him and the place is the worse without his participation. He made the point that this space has changed. I didn’t agree with him then and said so but I have to admit that the comments in this post continually picking at one person have me uneasy.

      Time for a new post ? Do we have anyone left? 🙂

      • May 22, 2013

        Thank you, Jim, well said. Can we all move on, please?

        We’ll try and get a new post up soon.

        Are there any particular topics people would be interested in seeing covered?

        • Dani_el
          May 22, 2013

          Maybe a new post about the real price of Neymar?
          Because of your research I found out that our first offer of 18M + friendly is actually quite reasonable.
          Or maybe a post showing a tactical review of the whole season?
          About Kxevin’s arguments, I may not agree on the way they were expressed, but he was mostly right. The translation of the article in Perarnau’s magazine proves that though our technical staff didn’t rotate that much on the second part of the season, and we rotated different, the rotation hasn’t been that different from other seasons, and that may have a lot to do with us not having enough quality players on the subs like Keita or Abidal. I would have wanted to see more of Thiago, Montoya and Bartra these last few games though. About Kxevin, he and you guys, mods and readers alike, created the only space where I can talk about my love for this team, and I’m a native spanish speaker! I love his writing, though he may be controversial, and I don’t agree with how he describes Messi sometimes, he’s brilliant and committed to this club. I hope he comes back with a post soon…

        • May 22, 2013

          A post on why Blitzen doesn’t want Neymar. (You haven’t really explained why).

  36. K_legit in Oz
    May 22, 2013

    To Rotate or not to Rotate?
    To Revolve maybe?
    Or Evolve?

  37. Dani_el
    May 22, 2013

    Barça stuff: Barcelona have made Santos a new offer of 20M for the 55% of the economic rights they have on Brazilian forward Neymar (21). [md]

  38. selfie barça
    May 22, 2013

    I love this website, and I have loved it since way before I came on as a contributor. Kxevin and Isaiah deserve a lot of respect for creating BfB and turning it into the best Barcelona blog on the internet.

    You should enjoy this place without our drama. It should be about Barça, and not about mods fighting. The argument in this comment thread is an embarrassment, and I would like to apologize to all of you.

    I am taking a break, and I hope it will be a short one. Yesterday I was part of the problem. I would like to be part of the solution.

    • Ultraculé
      May 22, 2013

      I don’t know why you think i called you out. I did say modS and referred to more than one person who is a fan of declaring self imposed exiles. I do enjoy it, but sometimes the drama is hard to avoid and brings a pretty sad vibe into what is, a most awesome space. I don’t think you should go anywhere. Nor should Kxevin. Or Ramzi or whoever. Let us pick this blog back up. I think BFB is a good reflection of Barca too currently. Both needs to go back to basics and pick itself back up to be the force it once was.

      Peace

  39. Jim
    May 22, 2013

    Hope it will be a short one too 🙂

    Thanks for this.

      • Jim
        May 23, 2013

        Don’t know if Kxevin’s still tuning in but if he is it’d be good to think that he’ll respond to Lev’s acknowledgement, even if just privately for now.

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