Everyone, calm down. Here’s some stuff to think about:
— The bias of the Barça-centric media is well documented. MD even has a story that suggests Thiago’s limited playing time was part of a nefarious plot to activate his buyout clause and send him to Bayern. The demonization process has begun in full force, and it is absurd.
— In this very space, someone has spoken of losing what little respect they had left for Guardiola. I can respect all opinions, but if you look at what that man has done for our club, and frankly, what he did for its future with that broadside aimed at Rosell and the board in almost ensuring they will NOT be re-elected, I find such views unfathomable, in full honesty.
Guardiola, as a coach, led this club to its greatest period of sporting success, ever. Period. Full stop. He instituted a new style of play that also enlivened the Spanish NT, and made tika taka a global star, along with its wee maestros. Did he have issues? You bet. But none of those would serve to diminish my respect for him and his accomplishments even as, now that he is at Bayern, I hope that he and his team roast in hell.
— Thiago. I am one of the minority that doesn’t believe he was ready to run our club. I have been called a fool for that belief, and I am okay with that. His talent is immense, as is his quality, when it reaches full maturity. But at present, in a big match, I’m still tapping Xavi on the shoulder. Feel free to get mad at me for that. And while you are getting mad, add Thiago to that list. Why?
The buyout clause was from him. The decision to leave the club is his. Where he eventually lands will be up to him.
There isn’t a Svengali guiding his mind. You can’t get mad at Vilanova for not playing him enough to activate a clause that would have golden handcuffed a want-away player. No. Blame the right individuals. I find it distressing that hero worship is such that when a player decides to leave a club, it is never the player’s fault. It is always the player’s fault and decision.
“Vilanova didn’t play him in big matches, and Guardiola trusts him more.” That is a fair assessment. It is still the player’s decision not to stay and show Vilanova he was a fool. Look at Jonathan Dos Santos. No matter how you slice it, it’s the player’s decision. Today at the farewell presser, newest RM acquisition Illarramendi got all weepy at leaving Real. That was the emotion of a player leaving the club that he grew up in. Don’t mistake it for regret or remorse. It was his decision, and a business decision. Better job, more money. Done.
— When you are finished being mad at Thiago for having the temerity to seek a better job as we all have done or will do at some point in our lives, get mad at ZubiZa and his negotiating team. He has a whole TEAM that screwed up that negotiation by allowing that clause to be inserted. Better to have called the player’s bluff and said “If you want that clause in there, and the option is to include it or have to leave, best of luck at your new club.” Because this is the result.
When ZubiZa tendered his resignation and it wasn’t accepted, it was to save a member of his team. The board caved because of how it would look the club’s sporting director had resigned. And that’s that. But it was a terrible negotiation for a valuable player to the club.
— This club has a metric shit ton of talent. People are acting as if when Thiago leaves, he will be the last man out and relegation will be beckoning. Did Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Sanchez, Neymar, Pedro, Pique, etc all die in a plane crash? Thiago leaves, and it will be up to the club to find his replacement, when the time is necessary. There will be time available, and Xavi is no longer a full-season player. Buzz was that Song and Sergi Roberto would be called upon. People are already saying that is crazy, that both of them put together, their DNA combined with that of Gigantor and the god Mercury, still wouldn’t hold a candle to Thiago. That, my friends, is misguided.
— Consider the terror. The club has irons in the fire for various centerbacks, most notably Thiago Silva. The terror I reference is in the form of Joan Laporta, who has declared that he will stand for the presidency in 2016. That, coupled with sporting and political setbacks, atop which is the Guardiola blast, has the board and our president terrified. They have to do something. That something will be to sign a high-profile CB, a player that Rosell can stand next to, grinning, and say “Looky what I done for y’all!” Right thing for wrong reasons? I’ll still take it.
But you know what? We might not buy a CB. And what if we don’t? Then our coach will have one hell of a job on his hands, relying on talent, luck with injuries and (probably) re-instilling the press to help the back line get its job done. And we will go from there, because that is what we are supposed to do, just like we did last season in the wake of a series of injuries and other maladies that would have had a weaker club in a corner, rolled up in a blanky and sucking its thumb. We won the Liga, and made the CL semis until we took the ass-whipping that in hindsight, shouldn’t have been surprising, even as at the time it was stunning.
— Austerity is silly. No such thing exists, other than as a sap to keep whacking the ghost of a bygone president upside the head. This club makes almost a half-billion in revenue each season. Look for that number to rise when the Neymar marketing machine kicks in. Messi is also just hitting his considerable stride as a global marketing colossus. This club has plenty of money. That it hasn’t used for certain things is, for this observer, solely attributable to misguided stupidity, hiding behind the guise of austerity. Is RM in any more or less debt than we are? No. Are they just whistling past the fiscal graveyard as they have collected their latest signing today, paying 38mm to La Real for Illarramendi? Nope. They are strengthening their club in a way that brings to mind Laporta. “How much? Cool. Check okay?”
For me, the thing behind austerity is ego, and the willful attempt to destroy the legacy of a man who led this club to extraordinary levels of success by saddling said legacy with the burden of “austerity.” “See what we have to do because of him? We have to sell the shirt, and we can’t buy the players you all would love for us to buy.” That is all nonsense.
— This is business. Understand that. Bayern or any or club would be crazy not to grab Thiago for 18m. If we did such a thing, there would be lots of cule chest bumping about what a great deal we snagged. It isn’t wrong when someone does it to us. It’s business, smart business capitalizing on stupid business. It isn’t wrong for Vilanova to play the players he wanted, for one player to seek a better job, any of it. It is all business. Yes, sport permeates our souls, as does the love for a club. But this stuff is business, and big business at that. Understand that. Business is heartless. As vexing as it is for the club to have treated Abidal the way that it did, and sold Villa for a seeming pittance, those were business decisions supportable by bottom-line performance, by a club that suddenly values such things. The morality of that value is a completely different question. But at issue, it is business.
— The president is not the club. Question Rosell all you like. Just be sure that you question the right stuff, and understand that FCB is eternal. Rosell and his board are temporary. We have survived worse, and will survive this. Support your team, and its coach.