Barça 4 – Málaga 1, as twenty-two beats one hundred

This review was supposed to be about the game. About how Lord Tito sent out eleven knights, namely Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Villa and Pedro to fend off the Andalusian invaders. About how we dismembered the enemy at our doorstep with three quick goals before they could even raise their swords. About how el Cerebro, P! and el Guaje combined to strike first, how Fábregas moved and grooved for the second and how Montoya swashbuckled in a third (and his first). About how tiki-taka was once more in full effect and making quality opponents look like practice cones. About how Ghostface buried the dagger in their heart to get the second half underway. About how Masche smashed anything that came into his path and how Pinto picked off the survivors.

But 1) I don’t want to talk about that and 2) I suspect you don’t want to read about that.

The first thing I want to talk about is one hundred points, an achievement fully deserving of capital letters, ONE HUNDRED POINTS. The last time we had such a good league campaign was never. In hindsights this is easy to say, but I knew we had it won after the 8th round, in which we climbed the rollercoaster at El Riazor and got off with three points despite conceding four goals. A merengue friend texted me after that game, “partidos así ganan titulos”. Games like that win titles, indeed. It was also the game that inspired me to write my first review.

After round 8 our lead over M*drid, against whom we had drawn at the Camp Nou a week earlier, was already significant. Strangely so, one might add, because while our rivals needlessly dropped points, we miraculously avoided doing the same. We had already escaped from Pamplona by way of Messi, slept through Granada before Xavi woke us up with ice water and who could forget the Houdini act we pulled off in Sevilla? We were on the way to our best start ever and we hadn’t even started playing well yet. I guess that’s the secret, and one that is actually not kept all that well. Winning games you are not supposed to is how leagues are conquered.

The thing that remains with me most of this season is the hunger we started with. Losing the league to M*drid seemed to have hurt our players even more than the fans. With the determination of a bloodthirsty ferret, they fought to take the title back right from the start, demoralizing our rivals to the point of giving up after nineteen games. The tears of last season were transformed to steel, as we found ways to win points that we would have lost a year ago to bring us back a league that in the end could not even be threatened by the potentially fatal diseases of our coach and our best defender. And in these last couple of games, even as the title was all ready and served, we still ate as if with empty stomachs. In the face of accusations of not wanting it enough after losing to Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League semis, let these one hundred points remind you of the hunger and resolve of this group of players, as amazing a group of players as we have been blessed with as fans of the most beautiful club in the world.

Visca Barça!

Thank you for the hundred points that brought us our 22nd league title. And don’t forget, if things seem too good to be true, it is probably because they are. Our 22nd title is dedicated to our no. 22, Eric Abidal. At first, even though I was very disappointed that the club did not renew his contract, I felt that the reactions of culés both here and elsewhere were too emotional. Then I watched the press conference and got emotional myself, so I slept on it. I still didn’t think the club has treated him as badly as some had made it out to be. I actually wished my employers would treat me as well as F.C. Barcelona has treated Abidal. I still do, but that’s besides the point.

The next day Tito Vilanova gave a press conference in which has left me perplexed:

“They (Rosell and Zubi) already explained it. The fact that he does not continue leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. We will not find a central defender and left back like him. It is a club decision, agreed by all. We sat down and talked about this a lot of times. People would not have liked any other decision we could have made either.”

Any other decision? So if the club had decided to give Eric Abidal, a central defender and left back of the likes our coach says we will not find elsewhere, a contract extension it would have been received badly (or literally no hubiera gustado – people would not have liked it). Who would not have liked it? The fans? The players? Eric Abidal? The coach? A contract extension that was ready since December and merely waiting to be signed after he played his first game, according to Josep Bartomeu…

So our board, whose president sure loved the word “transparency” while he was still campaigning, is proving to be anything but. Not to the public – why did Abidal’s contract not get renewed? How much did we pay for Neymar? Twenty million? Thirty million? Twice that amount? Not to the players – Muniesa was only the last in line of those who did not know if he would stay or go until last week. Hell, there hasn’t even been any transparency between the technical director and his staff as we now risk losing Thiago for only 18 million euros because of a clause in his contract that our coaches did not even know about. I guess that for some people transparency means that things are transparent for only them. For the rest of us it is like following a Ferrari through a storm without windshield wipers.

This was supposed to be a review. But sometimes the game is bigger than that. Just like Abidal’s send off, the one that should have taken place one or two years from now when he retires with our club, was bigger than anything else last week. Because right now, how I feel about things, 22 trumps 100.

Visca Barça! Visca nostre equip! Visca Abi!

And down with Rosell!

Merci Roi! Come back soon!
“I will always carry you in my heart” Eric Sylvain Abidal

 

NOTES:

I will possibly elaborate on my stance against Rosell in the future. For now let it suffice to say that it is my personal opinion and as such does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other members of our team. Almost a season ago, inspired by what, together with our demolition of Milan, remains my favorite game of the season, I wrote a review of how we beat Depor with five goals to four and sent it to Kevin as an audition. Had I known then how many more hours and hours of writing would follow, I might not have sent it in. Nevertheless it has been very rewarding. I want to thank Kevin, Isaiah, NZM, Blitzen, Euler, Calvin, Luke, Linda and SoMa (my dumb ass is probably missing a cherished BFB mod) for letting me be part of the team. I want to thank our readers and commenters for the feedback and discussions. Most of all I want to thank my favorite reader who never comments but follows the blog avidly, my loving and lovely girlfriend. She now shares me not only with Football Club de Barcelona but with Barcelona Football Blog as well.

 

 

 

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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...

219 Comments

  1. lea_terzi
    June 4, 2013

    Reading all the comments here gave me a new perspective on what’s happening to the club.
    The Bayern series showed we are a team in transition. The unprecedented success of the years past left the team (including the coaching staff and core players) mentally and physically exhausted (but not less hungry), while other clubs around Europe have been investing, catching up and catching on tactically. Changes in tactics and personnel are need to stay on top.
    The historical Liga run was really a blessing, extending the window Tito and Co have for an evolutionary (phasing some players out while trying out youngsters / new signings + tactical tweaks) rather than revolutionary (breaking up the team) change.
    Xavi, Puyol, Villa, Dani Alves, King Eric, Vitor Valdes, the cornerstones of our 2011 Champions League run, are leaving / becoming less influential (their situations are different, but our defense, midfield and attack are weaker and need adjustment as a result). Messi is played differently by defenses. The blueprint needs to change, because there will never be another Xavi or Puyol (or Pep), and it’s just impossible to find replacements for the best players in the world, have them adjust to the system / adjust the system around them and expect the same transcendent level of play during one or two or three seasons. Let’s not forget that we don’t have quite the same level of quality in La Masia, and less room for trial and error for the youngsters. The team will never be the same, but I think it is evolving and will still be great to watch for years to come.
    We all know how great Valdes Abidal Puyol Pique Alves Busquets Xavi Iniesta Villa Messi Pedro starting lineup was.
    The jury is our on Ter Stegen Alba Marquinhos Pique Montoya Busquets Thiago/Cesc/Iniesta Neymar Messi Alexis, or variations of it. What I find promising is that we got Alexis and Cesc in 2012 and gave them ample time to adjust. We got Alba and Song (who is a great player, but should’ve been a defender) the following year. Signed Neymar and are linked to a young defender and goalkeeper this year. Gave chances to Thiago, Tello and to a lesser extent Montoya and Bartra. We passed on Thiago Silva and several experienced strikers. The average age of our signings tells you that we’re not exactly in a win now mode, but building for the future.
    (FYI, I’m aware of all the failed signings, systematic overpaying and criminal inability to sign a defender through the years. I also get this nasty slimy feel from Rosell, he of the shady deals. But our transfer record under him has been, mostly, top young talent below market price.)
    It’s impossible to predict whether a signing will work out, how a youngster will develop, and what the future will bring. But I salute the direction this club is moving in and its ability to get me excited for every season. Barca is stubbornly sticking to its credo of style, flair, football IQ passing, attacking, sparkling game. And I cannot fault it.

  2. lyd
    June 4, 2013

    Thiago Silva, Martinez or Superman/Flash/Hulk were never going to solve our defensive problems dramatically this season.

    We need to address the relevant issues regarding how we used to play during ’08-’11, how the opponents adjusted to our game ’11-’13.

    It is generally accepted that no system is perfect but Pep’s Barca reached a near perfection during ’08-’10. During the ’11/’12 season, I recall many cules complained about the over use of rotation and formation/tactics, the everlasting obsession with possession resulting in the lack of verticality, which hence resulted in the dip of the away form in liga&Cl, especially liga. Many questioned the desire/hunger of the players who’ve won everything (concrete and the abstract from fans and professional footballers) that there was to win. We ended up with 91 points, 29 goals conceded only, way better than EE this time. lol!

    Now this season we dramatically improved things to win the liga by a record margin. But seriously guys, adding verticality with two full backs for e.g., were going to cost us defensively, right? You can’t expect a team, any team for that matter, to be defensively sound if they keep on losing possession and concede corners at regular intervals. So ask yourselves why are we losing possession often? (Hint: Pressing problems)

    Remember we started well vs Bayern, even though the center of pitch was flooded (intentionally?). Its only when we conceded those needless corners in succession, they smelled blood. And the fact that we made it seem like we were only playing for a draw, or Spain-esque 1-0 win with an injured Messi, didn’t help our cause. And the two wrongly allowed goals. Jeez!

    And the collective fitness, my goodness! What’s up with the fitness scheme, anyone? We generally peak in Nov/dec, and then go through Hlebuary to peak again for the last stages. What happened to all that? Although we did peak in March with that 4-0 Milan but I strongly feel the games vs Fra and Bol hampered things a way too much.

    Did the height, physique of Ramos, Pepe, Varane made EE invincible in set pieces this season? EE conceded 42 goals this time under a coach who is known for his defensive approach. Till March 20th, EE have had conceded 48 per cent of their goals from set-pieces (the second highest in La Liga) and 22 per cent from corners (the highest in the division).

    Yeah so coming back to the point, just buying world class defenders isn’t the solution unless we don’t address the points I stated at the beginning of this comment.

    Say if you catch a fever and immediately decide to take anti-biotics. Sure it would cure the fever immediately but at the cost of immunity. You don’t want to lose that, for the sake of continuity and the greater good!

    Additional thoughts: Call me crazy, but can’t we hire Bielsa (if Athletic don’t want him anymore) for a 1-2 month master class and advisor, to work with our pressing game? Maybe he and Tito might work well together! *wishful thinking*
    I also hope for Jurgen Klopp to come here around ’15/’16 when his contract expires at BVB. In that way we can have our very own “galacti-coach” era with Van Gaal > Rijkaard > Pep + Tito > Tito > Tito + Bielsa > Kloppo. 🙂

    • lea_terzi
      June 4, 2013

      Bielsa is known for building teams that press furiously and burn/fizzle out after a season. Do we really want that?

      • barca96
        June 4, 2013

        @ lea

        Did you come to that conclusion from his career or just from his time at Athletic. I. I’m not sure of his past so I would be curious to know.

      • lyd
        June 4, 2013

        lea, no. I didn’t imply that. btw Bielsa is known for many things. Good things. Saying that he burns teams off is just harsh.

        I’d hire him as a an analyst (short term, half a season perhaps at best) to address issues and suggest improvements and variations. Tito needs a talented assistant.

        Where is Oscar Garcia?

      • barca96
        June 4, 2013

        He left Israel. Don’t think that he or Lucho would like to be an assistant though as they left to be the no. 1. And I’m not sure they would even look up to Tito as they both were professionals unlike karanka and mourinho. Karanka must be mad at Mourinho for not taking him to London with him. Lol.

        Would love them to be the no. 2 though.

      • lyd
        June 4, 2013

        Barca needs a genuine no2 (who is ready to take over from Tito in due time) more than they need a CB! That’s my opinion (controversial, I know!)

        Lucho/Oscar G. would be great as no2! Worth having either of them for a season, as we are still unsure about Tito’s potential health.

        Whose Karanka again? 😛
        Moumou did something very different this time, you know. He broke up with Carval-ho. He’s off to Monaco, which means an end of an era for Mou-val-ho.

    • barca96
      June 4, 2013

      @ lyd

      When I read Superman = Dwight Howard. When I read Flash = Dwayne Wade. When I read Hulk = Hulk? Usually you give these names to marquee players but Hulk…Haha.

      • lyd
        June 4, 2013

        Hulk = Givanildo Vieira de Souza!

      • barca96
        June 4, 2013

        I know who Hulk is but he’s just not at that level where you give that type of nick names too, yet. You gotta earn it.

        I wish they never gave Messi the flea. Doesn’t sound super human at all lol.

      • lyd
        June 4, 2013

        They called him Hulk at Japan as he looks like one. haha! He earned it there. btw you don’t really want a superhero Hulk in a football team. Hulk loses temper, creates carnage. Really counter-productive!

        I love La Pulga/The Flea nick for Messi. Very appropriate with how he changes directions/accelerates in short space and time.

  3. barca96
    June 4, 2013

    Oh and the players at Athletic and Barca are of different caliber. Pep used the aggressive pressing method from 08 to 11.

    • lyd
      June 4, 2013

      Aggressive pressing is not the only type that there is. Great tacticians can adjust their game, introduce variations, with the set of players they are given with.

      Oh the Bielsa of Barca would be of a different caliber. Oh yes!

    • lyd
      June 4, 2013

      Scissors beats “New Pele”!

    • Rami
      June 5, 2013

      This is wrong, On so many levels.
      No wonder he’s a friend of dani.

  4. Archie
    June 4, 2013

    Buy Ter Stegen while price is depressed by unfortunate event.

  5. June 4, 2013

    Physio Emili Ricart is leaving the club. For those wondering who he is and why it isn’t the best news in the world, he brought back from injuries Villa, Iniesta, Abidal, Xavi, etc. It’s a weird one.

    • June 4, 2013

      The club is also not going to use the buy option on Luis Alberto, who is on loan from Sevilla. Apparently he has a very good offer from Liverpool on the table.

      Speaking of B, Eusebio still doesn’t know if he is staying or going.

      • June 4, 2013

        Luis Alberto is a fantastic player and has had a terrific season with the B team. I would have loved to have seen the club use the option to buy him & promote him to the first team. He’s not that expensive and would have had a lot to offer. But since we have spent an insane amount of money on Neymar, there was obviously no question of that happening. Sevilla may well opt to keep him rather than sell. Unai Emery came to see him play at the Mini Estadi and reportedly likes him very much. He will do well wherever he ends up.

  6. CuleToon
    June 5, 2013

    Something is rotten in the club…

    Some of the players —heavyweights— have already expressed their strong disagreement with the dismissal of Emili Ricart, his physical therapist, «physical recoverer» and «emotional shoulder». Apparently, his sin is that he came with Pep.

    Even the media supporting Rossell —specially RAC-1 sports programs— have criticized what they see as a heavy-handed interference in the locker room.

    Such manoeuvres don’t bode well…

    • Rami
      June 5, 2013

      The reports suggest that ‘Emili Ricart’ is going to bayern, The most likely explanation is that bayern offered him a better deal than he already has with us, And our club wasn’t willing to improve his contract.

      • CuleToon
        June 5, 2013

        I’m sorry I’ve talked of «dismissal», Rami: What the Catalan media —mainly pro-Rosell— say is that Rosell & Co don’t want to renew Ricart’s contract, not that Ricart doesn’t want to renew it, and the unease of the players in view of this decision seems to confirm this.

        What I don’t doubt, as you say, is that Ricart will end up with Pep at Bayern. The same will happen, it seems, with two Barça «scouts».

        Other related rumour (I’ve looked just a little for confirmation but found nothing so far) is that la Masia staff is being «renewed» (following the departure of Òscar Garcia last year and of couple of other Masia managers the year before).

        As a well respected sports journalist-analyst says (Martí Perarnau), Rosell’s takeover as a president has lasted three years, and now we’re beginning to see were he’s going to. One thing es clear, though: He wants to get rid of anything/anyone having to do with Laporta/Pep/Cruyff.

        Oh, and «El Mundo Deportivo», one of the most pro-Rosell papers (part of the Godó media group, together with RAC-1 radio and 8TV), has intensified recently its efforts in what seems a long-term strategy (until the next election) to discredit Pep.

        I’m sorry that I sound like a bird of ill omen with my last posts, but I fear the coming of a dark period in our Barça (and watching the «Red Wedding» last night hasn’t cheared me up!).

      • June 5, 2013

        I’m not disputing that the players are very unhappy about Ricart not being renewed, I’m sure they are, as many of them have a close relationship with him, but I haven’t seen any quotes from them talking about it. What are your sources?

      • Jim
        June 5, 2013

        Yeah, I follow most of the English speaking news about the club and something like this would be news but I haven’t seen it anywhere. I’d be keen to know who had said something and where. Doesn’t sound like something our first teamers would do openly.

      • Rami
        June 5, 2013

        I don’t think anyone should take any thing as true before hand, When it comes to media and papers, I like to deal with facts, The part where there is uneasiness with the players about this decision, Did that come from statement from the players themselves?, I don’t think so, The more we stick to facts and evidence, The better.
        About this Pep/Cruyff vs Rosell, Conspiracy thing, While it’s no doubt a hot topic between most cules for a while now, But unfortunately, It’s baseless, And without any real evidence, Apart from some good imagination, Here is a statement from pep himself saying he had a good relationship with rosell and laporta:
        http://www.europapress.es/deportes/futbol-00162/noticia-futbol-copa-guardiola-he-tenido-maravillosa-relacion-laporta-rosell-20120524230140.html

        And i emphasize again, This is directly from pep guardiola mouth, Not through a middle man journalist, Of course there is no reason why pep hadn’t lied about this, And there were serious problems with rosell, But there is no reason for me to believe that pep would lie, Unless there is a proof, Which there isn’t any, So i just have to take his words for it.
        By the way, Pep once had to also deny bad relationship ‘rumors’ with laporta, But most cules don’t second question pep words about laporta, But they do when it comes to rosell, And that doesn’t sound fair or logical.
        http://www.superdeporte.es/futbol/2010/01/22/guardiola-niega-mala-relacion-laporta/84788.html

      • barca96
        June 5, 2013

        @ Cule toon

        Can you give me examples of Rosell discrediting Pep? This sounds like another conspiracy theory to me.

        And you do know that Zubi was part of the Dream Team which included Pep… And about the staff leaving us to join Pep, it could be just because they prefer to work with Pep and perhaps they sensed that Bayern will have more success than us in the near future.

        There are many ways to look at it other than just pointing the finger to Rosell for everything that’s not rosy.

  7. K_legit in Oz
    June 5, 2013

    Anyone got links for the revista season review?

    • June 5, 2013

      Idle threat from a disgruntled third party whose pound of flesh wasn’t big enough. This is why these kinds of deals are skanky.

      If the club was stupid enough to do an advance in a way that ran afoul of FIFA dictates, they deserve whatever they get. But I’m guessing that our lawyers weren’t that silly, since the news/word of the 10m payment has been bounding hither and yon for months.

  8. June 5, 2013

    Ter Stegen says that he isn’t going anywhere this summer, and that’s all there is to say about that.

    • June 5, 2013

      And EMD says we aren’t signing Silva (cost), Marquinhos (height) or Luiz (batshit crazy). The Mathieu rumors are picking up steam, and you’d better believe any player who can, is trying their damndest to get out of Valencia.

      • BA
        June 5, 2013

        Mathieu is 29, and we have adequate cover for left-back. what on Earth would we possibly want him for?

        i’m looking around Europe and just not seeing anybody with the qualities we need in defense right now. it’d be nice (and i know the BFB staff has alot on their hands at present) to have a comprehensive post on some possible transfer targets, either via rumour or as fit for our squad.

        oh, and another BFB request: add Twitter handles to the About section for our contributors?

  9. CuleToon
    June 5, 2013

    blitzen, barça96: I’m sorry I can’t record-transcript the daily evening and night sports programs on RAC-1 («Primer toc», 19:00-21:00 BCN time, and «No ho diguis a ningú», 23:00-01:00 BCN time) and what their various «tertulianos» (regular guests-commentators) say. There are also Catalunya Ràdio sports programs, mainly «El club de la mitja nit» (23:00-01:00 BCN time) with some regular guests-commentators in common with RAC-1 and a lot of their own.

    Although they call themselves «sports» programs, 80-90 per cent of them are devoted to Barça. And they have a lot of air-time to fill: RAC-1 sports programs amount to 4 hours and 15 minutes every day of the week (more on weekends), and its morning and afternoon magazines talk A LOT about Barça as well (surprise! with some of the same guests-commentators). As for CAT Ràdio, it has to fill about 3 hours of sports programs every day (more during the weekends), and its morning and afternoon magazines also talk a lot about Barça.

    So, blitzen, I’ve heard those comments about the players and Ricart recently on those programs, specially on the night ones (I change stations on the fly). Of course, to believe me or not is up to you.

    Barça 96, I don’t recall Rosell discrediting Pep directly. He has no need to, having, as he has, the whole Godó group doing it for him; here’s just a sample, the last piece on Pep —that I’m aware of— from El Mundo Deportivo Director himself, Santi Nolla:

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130525/fc-barcelona/pep-no-ha-felicitado-al-barca_54374377635.html

    This same «theme» or message about «how nasty Pep has been with Tito» has been duly repeated several times these last weeks on the main RAC-1 (Godó group) sports programs, «Primer toc» and «No ho diguis a ningú».

    Anyway, seeing that two BFB respected veterans like you give Rosell the benefit of the doubt, maybe I’ll have to reconsider my stance towards him (Mmmm… on second thoughts, I think not; but it goes without saying that I respect absolutely both you and your opinions. This is BFB after all).

    • June 5, 2013

      That’s a pretty hostile response for such a simple question. I never said I didn’t believe you, just the opposite. But I would like to know who said what, so if you had a link to a newspaper article, for example, I would have liked to read it for myself.

    • June 5, 2013

      And I notice in your detailed response you still didn’t mention any specifics of players making statements about Ricart. They are mostly off with their NTs right now, not in Barcelona.

      • CuleToon
        June 5, 2013

        Blitzen, really, I didn’t mean to sound hostile! Please forgive me if I gave that impression to you (perhaps a couple of 🙂 here and there would have worked better).

        As for some player speaking publicly against the non-renewal of Ricart, I haven’t heard any, nor do I expect to hear one. I don’t expect that any player makes a public statement against such club decisions, and, frankly, I’m a little surprised that you do.

        What they do in such cases is speak through their friends-contacts in the press, which then pass it on in those mostly gossipy programs saying something like, «I’m told that some important players are very discontent with the non-renewal of Ricart’s contract». Then it’s up to us to give more or less credit to what they say according to their history and/or their perceived credibility. That’s all.

      • CuleToon
        June 5, 2013

        Oh, and since I don’t want to give links to Marca or As for obvious reasons, here’s a link to an article by Rut Vilar, a Catalan —and veteran, although young— journalist with strong links to Catalunya ràdio (but she puts the Blame of Ricart’s departure on Tito, go figure!).

        http://deportes.terra.com.ar/equipos/espana/barcelona/tito-borra-las-ultimas-huellas-del-guardiolismo,5ea47c06a631f310VgnVCM5000009ccceb0aRCRD.html

        Please note those words, «Fuentes del vestuario apuntan que…» (Sources inside the locker room comment that…). Very typical.

        Now, wether this people is to be believed or not, is another question. As I said, that depends on the credibility you give to them (in this case, and based on what I know of her, I’d give Rut a credibility of 7 in a scale of 10; just a way of saying, of course, since credibility is not something you can quantify).

      • June 5, 2013

        Interesting. She very specifically blames Tito for not wanting people close to Guardiola at the club.

      • CuleToon
        June 6, 2013

        Just this morning, at 7:58 am BCN time, in his daily comment on sports, the head of sports at Ràdio Barcelona-SER Catalunya (Cadena SER, which pertains to the same media group as Canal+ Spain, El Pais or As) has mentioned explicitly Andrés Iniesta as one of those heavyweight players really pissed off by the non-renewal of Ricart.

      • June 6, 2013

        Friend, I would like to thank you for all your comments and info you are giving here.
        I have had this feeling for long, ever since Rosell sued Laporta and took away that honorary position of Cruff, that Rossell would go to the extremes to erase the Cruff/Pep/Laporta legacy/style/hallmark/whatever they can, and bring upon his own legacy. Appointing Tito and signing Neymar for this big sum should be part of it. I, as a fan, hope Neymar is successful.

        It is easy to say all this is conspiracy theory and bla bla. But, Pep departure, Valdes announcement – wasnt there something like club denying him the coach he wanted or something like that, Keita, not signing Thiago Silva last season against Tito wish, Abidal, all these B players treated shabbily – eg. Muniesa etc, is differently a change in attitude. As Kxevin stated, we are hardly Mes que un club, under Rossell. What would be the end of all this.

        You seem to be another person, like Nzm, to give us info from Barcelona. Thank you friend.

      • CuleToon
        June 6, 2013

        Thank you for your words. The truth is that I wish as hard as anyone that our team keeps amazing us with its play and winning silver (and I also wish Neymar to be successful; I can’t wait seeing him and Messi in action!).

        But the thing is that, due to my own experience with things Barça (since the 70’s) I feel uneasy about all these recent symptoms. I’m not talking conspiracy theories here: I’m talking about the age-old struggle among political and economic powers in Catalonia to gain control of our club, because Barça is the main civil institution in our country.

        Many of us saw this coming —again— when, amidst all the manoeuvres against Laporta during the end of his term, this photograph began to appear in some underground media (although it ended appearing in mainstream papers); just scroll a little to see it:

        http://www.racocatala.cat/forums/fil/131044/conspiracio-dels-onze-artur-mas-participa-reunio-estrategica-aturar-lindependentisme?pag=1

        The caption talks about the meeting of the catalan powers-that-be with Sandro Rosell, prior to 2010 Barça election. Among them: Artur Mas, now president of the Catalan government; Enric Lacalle, a real power behind the throne and one of the heads of the Partido Popular (Spain’s right wing) branch in Catalonia; José Antich, one of the heads of Group Godó (strongest media group in Catalonia); Josep Cuní, the most important anchorman in Catalan TV, today at 8TV (Group Godó); Antoni Brufau, president of Repsol-YPF (the biggest spanish Oil Company), and Joan Maria Nin, CEO of La Caixa, today CaixaBank, the strongest bank in Catalonia and one of the top three in Spain.

        By the way, when questioned about the rumours on this meeting —before this photo was leaked— some of these people denied that it had taken place.

        Again, in the light of Barça recent history I feel very uneasy when I see the current symptoms. I fear that this dream we’ve been living ends up crumbling. As I said some days ago, I don’t accept all this «We lost our soul» shit. It just hurts to see that Rosell & Co do not cherish it, do not care about it.

      • June 6, 2013

        Thats more than interesting, isnt it. Thank you.

        I remember a long post by nzm, in which she explained how Rossell ignored the income out of some other means and went for the Qatar foundation deal. She also spoke about Rossell organising the board meeting somewhere out of the city, while all the austerity talks were going on.

        What do the general Catalan public and the socios think about all this now. Do they smell something wrotten, or they dont care? What do people talk about all this in Barcelona.

      • CuleToon
        June 6, 2013

        First, the hard facts: 1) President Rosell was elected by a vast majority of the voting socis, with the greatest number of votes and with the bigger diference, IIRC. 2) There’s a very deep cleft thas has divided Barça socis since the days of president Núñez, a cleft which still is very much alive.

        Now, some speculation:

        a) According to readers comments on sports web sites, it appears that the feeling against Rosell is a little —just a little— on the rise.

        b) It seems that Laporta is capitalizing on this with an eye to the next election (he just stated that Rosell must not call for early election, probably fearing that Rosell will capitalize on Neymar’s signing and will not wait, fearing an eventual loss of support).

        c) The Catalan political scene has changed A LOT since 2010; that photograph I directed you to was seen as an «antiindependence» alliance. But the festive and colorful demonstration of last 11 September for the independence of Catalonia, the greatest ever seen here, with about a million and a half persons —families with children and grandmas— caught Artur Mas and his party totally off guard, so, in order to stay on power, he had to climb on the bandwagon of Catalan independence… Go figure! That picture would not be exactly the same today from a political point of view.

        d) Rosell is still backed up by the powers that be through the powerful Godó media group; I do not doubt that, if due to the changing circumstances, they don’t have any more use for him, they will bring him down as easily as they brought him to power.

        e) Laporta never was backed by such powers and I’m sure he’ll never be; the only way for him —or his/Cruyffs people— to reach again the presidency of Barça is if Rosell & Co make a mess comparable to that of president Gaspart.

        And that’s enough for today!

  10. TITO
    June 5, 2013

    From another forum:

    Jose Mourinho in 2007 :”Ronaldo doesn’t show maturity and respect. Maybe a difficult childhood, no education, maybe it is the consequence of that.”

    Mourinho in 2011: “Ronaldo in the best professional I’ve ever come across. He’s a role model for young kids.”

    Mourinho in June 2013: “Ronaldo thinks that he knows it all, better than me, better than all coaches and that the coach could not help him become any better.”
    😀 😀 😀

  11. Jafri
    June 5, 2013

    The formation that’s tickling me the most is Neymar cutting in from the left, Messi cutting in from the right, Cesc bursting forward from the false 9, with Dani and Jordi providing width on both sides 😀

  12. Ultraculé
    June 5, 2013

    Agree 100% that unless we sort out the gaping tactical issues, buying this or that defender will not help one bit. Having said that, with Abidal given the boot and Puyol’s injuries, we need to sign some real defenders.

    There have been many names linked, But were it for me, I’d sign
    Eliaquim Mangala AND
    Neven Subotic (or) Marquinhos

    • Rami
      June 5, 2013

      So all the reasons pep publicly stated for his departure were nothing but lies, Stuff like he’s tired, Can’t add more to the team or motivate.
      When making such a statements, One should back it up with some sort of evidence, Or does laporta think we should just have ‘faith’ in what he says.
      The laughable thing, Is not only it’s baseless, It’s against logic, Weather someone is a president, A board member, Or anyone at an administrative job, Will always try to associate ‘success’ to his name, And laporta wasn’t any different when he was the man, And since this is a football club, Success will mostly be tied done to trophies, So when we’re supposed to believe that rosell and his gang ‘kicked’ out the most successful coach in FCB history, And jeopardize the club’s success, And his presidency period Yep, That’s as illogical as something possibly gets.
      I can’t imagine pep happy that his same is being used as a political attacking tool by laporta, Just to he can damage his nemesis.

      • Rami
        June 5, 2013

        I can’t imagine pep happy that his name* is being used as a political attacking tool by laporta, Just so* he can damage his nemesis.

      • June 5, 2013

        In the endless squabble between those two, anything will be said. Nothing makes enemies like former friends.

        Best would have been an intervening president, like that first relationship after a bad breakup. Instead, the back-to-back quality means that one will spend all his time crapping on the other. Then if Laporta runs and wins, he will spend all him time crapping on Rosell.

        Politics without pettiness is so, so rare.

      • Rami
        June 5, 2013

        With all the known dirtiness of politics, Yet cules allow themselves to drawn into it’s vortex.
        You can’t go into a forum, A blog or news site without reading heated political arguments between the fans regarding the club, Rosell this, Laporta that, And like all political arguments, It ends with no tangible outcome.
        I can’t help but to feel sad and even frustrated when you say the fans are more focused on the politics of their club than the sporting side, Because in the end all of us feel in love with the football of barca, Not a president, Not a sporing director, And not a coach.

      • June 5, 2013

        And the thing is, both of them are flawed. Laporta had great sporting success, by just writing checks. “Yeah, sheeeit, we’ll pay for it later! No worries!” Everybody likes a party, especially when the money, cava and trophies (not to mention bonuses) are all free-flowing.

        Presidents always take the blame for stuff. Recall the Oriol Giralt-led ouster movement, that found a rock to crawl under after Guardiola’s first season. The “victory” margin was uncomfortably snug for Laporta at that time, less a mandate and more of a “Watch yourself, now.”

        It’s like when a coach gets fired, even if the players perform like crap. Well, you were the coach, so ….

        I just hope that a viable alternative to the two presents when it’s time to stand for election. The truth is somewhere in the middle of those two.

  13. June 5, 2013

    So. MD says that we aren’t signing Marquinhos (too short); Luis (financial and sporting reasons) and Thiago Silva (financial reasons).

    Marquinhos is an inch taller than Puyol. And TWO inches taller than Mascherano.

    • Jim
      June 5, 2013

      And he’s only 19 so could still be growing ?

      • June 5, 2013

        Shush, blasphemer!

        Meanwhile, Mathieu’s name didn’t just come out of nowhere. His price is right, he’s skilled and can play CB (oh, that phrase again ….) and is 6’4″ tall.

        And you better believe he wants out of Valencia.

      • Jim
        June 6, 2013

        We need to be careful here. What we’re looking for is someone who compliments Piqué, not replicates him. For me, one of the major elements is that I want a puyol -like winner who will fire the team up.

        Don’t know enough about Matthieu but I’m not keen on the “price is right” phrase. I’d rather the skillset was what we focused on. No more than around 25 to grow into his prime in the team, quick, tall, an actual CB, decent but not outstanding with the ball at his feet and reasonably two footed. Can’t be that hard can it? 🙂

      • June 6, 2013

        Well actually aside from his age (29) Mathieu does tick pretty much all the boxes. He is tall, strong, fast and decent on the ball. He can also play both LB and CB and at 8-10M he is a steal.

        That being said I don’t see him as a starter but as a very capable bench player. We still need a starter to replace Puyol and I just cannot see Mathieu being that player.

        I think Thiago and Luis are out of the question and Hummels isn’t what we need. I definitely like what I have seen of Marquinos (although admitedly it isn’t much) and I have heard very good things about Inigo Martiniez.

        Who is this Eliaquim Mangala I keep hearing about? Apparently Mourinho really wants him at Chelsea. Never seen him play myself, anyone know if/how good he is?

      • BA
        June 6, 2013

        all this about Matheiu being tall, fast, whatever, there’s one problem you guys are all missing:

        HE’S NOT A CENTER-BACK. he is, at best, a left-back. and an attacking one at that. when was the last time he played with any effect in the center of Valencia’s defense?

        can anyone answer me that question?

        so i’ll repeat my question: why ON EARTH would we want to buy yet another player who has very little/no experience in the center of defense, to be a center-back?!

      • June 6, 2013

        Think most people stop growing quite a while before the age of 19. His height shouldn’t be a problem though.

    • June 5, 2013

      yeah, I scratched my head at the “too short” comment as well…

      As for Mathieu, apart from the fact that I would feel guilty about buying two left backs from Valencia in the space of 13 months, I would see him as a depth purchase rather than a definite upgrade over the starters we have already…

    • KEVINO17
      June 6, 2013

      I’ve read that Mathieu is pretty quick. He’s also tall, experience and cheap. Sounds like a great deal to me.

  14. Alexinho
    June 5, 2013

    Speaking of reporting by Sport, Sergi Roberto and Deulofeu are likely to leave this summer.

    Bummer, but didn’t Deulofeu just get a contract, or hasn’t he been in talks very recently?

    • Jim
      June 6, 2013

      I think they might mean on loan. No way Deulofeu leaves unless he wants to.

  15. June 6, 2013

    As requested, defenders post is up, including the very recent addition of Mangala, a name that makes many folks very happy.

  16. lyd
    June 6, 2013

    Mangala and Marquinhos – both should be targets, imo.

    Mangala (22) fits the King Eric profile (French as well) and would solve our priority defensive issues and secure the LCB/LB spot for years to come. He is athletic with superb ball skills plus possess neat aerial judgement. Both footed. Only negative thing I read is his occasional inconsistency with positional awareness but that shouldn’t be much of a worry. But, it’d be really, really tough to get him from Porto though, with the eye of moumou set on him.

    Marquinhos (19) is almost like Puyol+Mascherano rolled into one. Can be employed as a R/LCB + Sweeper. Extremely intelligent for his age, thus certainly makes up for the lack (?) of height. He is Brazilian so go get him RoSell!

    If we are buying one CB then I’d say get Mangala with 30M (buy out) or more and make a down payment (apparently illegal to do so!) on Marquinhos, so that we have the first option to buy him next season.

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