I want one of those, and two of those, and a chicken, aka “Transfer talk rocks”

silva

What if dating was like silly season?

Newly single Biff Majestic is in the market. Rumor is that he has a pre-contract with the barista at the town coffee shop but when pressed for details, Mr. Majestic said no comment. The barista has been scouted by Majestic’s mother, who has glowing reports of her calmness under pressure and ability to “Bang out a perfect latte in 3 minutes.”

Majestic linked to co-worker! The previously reported barista signing is still a possibility, but there have been new developments. Majestic was spotted at lunch with an assistant vice president at his firm. Sources say there were smiles, and the VP was spotted at the coffee shop that Majestic is said to favor. Majestic’s Mom says, “We can’t say anything at this time, but I can report that Biff and I love our lattes.”

There are few things in football more irrational than transfer talk, where people are idiots not because of what they do, but because they won’t do what supporters WANT them to.

And yet it’s so seductive precisely because of its irrationality. Year after year, fans talk players — ones they would like to come, ones they would like to go — with the idea of buying the team exactly what it needs, even as they have absolutely zero idea what that team truly needs.

Supporters champion certain players above others, bandwagons form, a certain player becomes a must-have or the board/technical staff are a bunch of incompetents. Arguments ensue.

Here’s how it works:

“Sign somebody, dammit!”
“No, not him! He’s terrible! Somebody else.”
“THAT player??!! Crikey, really! Our sporting staff is stupid!”
“We didn’t sign a player. Our board sucks!”

This year’s Answer

Remember Ilkay Gundogan, aka “The Answer?”

gundo

Gundogan, for those who have been living under a rock, is a midfielder for Dortmund. He is a player that Barça is said to have have meetings with. Or more correctly with his representatives. Is there interest? Is it real interest? Gibber gibber, jabber jabber and suddenly Gundogan is the perfect player, the answer to all of our problems and prayers. And people start talking about him, pros … all pros. No cons. Do unicorns have flaws? Silence, blasphemer. Now that his back injury has removed him from transfer deification status, Marco Reus is The Answer, and off it goes again.

People who tell you to believe nothing believe any rumor, and get worked up about it. We Tweet, rant, debate about missives from sporting publications that we shouldn’t trust to take out the trash. Part of that is because transfer season needs for everyone to be stupid except for us, who know better than a sporting staff tasked with the job of staffing a world-class football team.

If Barça was to actually sign every player that the club was rumored to have an agreement, pre-agreement or whatever with, we couldn’t afford a takeaway sandwich, much less a new stadium and all that fun stuff.

So who knows?

I watch a lot of football. I have no fewer than 6 options, not counting Telemundo and that network family, that can sate my football needs. But if you were to give me keys to the castle for a day, I’ll be damned if I would know what to do. As strange as it sounds, I think that we have to trust the people in charge of making those decisions.

Only a fool would suggest that our technical staff is perfect, a bastion of knowledge and competence. And I ain’t no fool. Even saying they know more than I do isn’t giving them all that much credit, because when it comes to making the kind of decision that would consign tens of millions of Euros of my club’s money to acquiring a player, I know about as much as I do about splitting an atom. “Hey, he runs fast. What’s he doing for the next four years.”

I exaggerate, but only slightly. Despite the popular view, we do have scouts and they are working. We have a technical director who is either a gibbering loon, a genius-in-waiting who has been overruled by the then Rosell-led board, or somewhere in between. I don’t know enough to know, and don’t trust any rumors to the contrary irrespective of the vehemence with which they are presented. What I can do is look at what that technical staff has done, and what it hasn’t done. Here’s what it has done:

Adriano, Alba, Mascherano, Neymar, Song, Sanchez, Fabregas, Ter Stegen, Halilovic, Denis Suarez

Here’s what it has NOT done:

A center back, ANY center back … lord be, is THAT too much to ask?

It’s very difficult to look at that list of transfers and conclude that our technical staff doesn’t know what it is doing, even as you can look at that non-transfer list and accuse them of various things, including neglect that verges on criminal. Whether that makes them incompetent or simply in the thrall of different masters is a debate for another time. Prima facie, they haven’t made bad signings. No Henriques, Cacereses or Keirrisons in the group. Not defending their neglect, just trying to add a bit of perspective.

Who the hell SHOULD we buy?

As bonkers as the incessant blizzard of rumors is, the value of any and all of the names is to my admittedly ignorant view, depth, competition and focus for the starters. No CB name that I have heard, for example, would sub for a focused, fit Pique. That list of names would also have a tough fight with Mascherano, as well. But Pique needs a goad to have that full-on, match in and match out focus, which is probably much of what’s behind his “We don’t need a CB signing” talk.

A deep, world-beating team has more than 2 functional CBs and some dudes “who can play CB in a pinch.” Mascherano is a DM who benefits from a system in which CBs function a lot like DMs. But our CBs are Pique and Bartra. Compare that to Manchester City with 4 CBs, or most other top-level teams.

Because of that desperate need we are being linked with any breathing CB on the planet from Javi Martinez, who we didn’t want to pay for at first asking, to Daniel Agger, who was discarded as an option in the past if you believe the Barça-centric sporting dailies, which read at times as though they are being penned by crack-addled squirrels. Hummels, Luiz, Mangala, Laporte, Balanta, Musacchio, Mathieu … you name the CB and we have been linked to him. To what end, apart from social media arguments and elevated blood pressure?

If you look at our roster, there isn’t a name being bandied about that I would prefer to see than the starters we have, but focused and with their shit together. Valdes (gone), Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba (well ..), Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi (on way out), Messi, Sanchez, Neymar.

So do we need transfers? Absolutely. The challenge will be buying the right players, as always, because every transfer is a crap shoot.

Everybody outta the pool!

Six to Seven players, goeth the rumors. X number of starters are leaving as the team gets an overhaul and we spend like drunken sailors on shore leave.

As Silly Season progresses people chase names and qualities that don’t exist, ready to discard what we already have. We see an attacker running hither and yon, frolicking in space. Put him in a phone booth and see how he does. For all we know he might be brilliant in the space-compressed world in which our offense forced to work in match after match. Sanchez came to us from Udinese, where he had room to run. At Barça he is mostly reduced to a square of space on the right wing. It’s no coincidence that many of Sanchez’s most memorable moments at Barça have come when he is on the run in space.

Depth is a crucial need on any championship contending team. Adding real depth to a starting XI comprised of top-class players brings a host of problems, most notably money and playing time. A player of the quality sufficient to give our established starters pause isn’t going to be happy sitting. So now what?

It’s easy to look at this player or that player as being the one who will make everything right. But to my dimwitted view when I look at what the club needs, absolutely needs, it starts with just a single day or week without some crap going on. Then it continues with a coach who has a mandate to kick ass and take names, then 2 CBs and a starting keeper who is almost certainly Ter Stegen.

Then the club has to jettison the players who aren’t getting time, like Afellay, Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos (who deserves a good long look before he is sold). If you can’t play for the club in a Champions League knockout tie, be gone. This means that Song and Tello probably shouldn’t buy green bananas for their Barcelona abodes.

From there on it gets a lot more nebulous. We have Rafinha definitely coming home, and while general consensus for some time was that Suarez will be going on loan next season, every time I watch him play for Barça B I think “He’s going on loan because …” Also in the pipeline is Sergi Samper, Adama, Deulofeu, maybe Dongou, and defenders such as Grimaldo, Ie and Bagnack. So I look at midfielders who people are salivating over and think, “After an apprenticeship under Xavi, what of Rafinha or Suarez?” Dunno.

So much will be rumored, speculated about and “confirmed” in this pre Silly Season, during the World Cup and in the actual Silly Season. It’s all nonsense, until it isn’t. My biggest ask would be that people look at who we have before deciding that someone else might be wonderful. Do that, and the answer might just surprise you.

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123 Responses to “I want one of those, and two of those, and a chicken, aka “Transfer talk rocks””

  1. Dreamteam says:

    “No Henriques, Cacereses or Keirrisons in the group. Not defending their neglect, just trying to add a bit of perspective.”

    We’ve needed a defender since 2010. We bought SONG to use as a CB. Horrendous decision. The waste of prime years of Iniesta, Messi, Sergio, et al when everyone in the world saw we needed a reinforced defense is an equal if not worse sin than any “Henrique…” etc. It’s shameful.

    Rumors swirl about 30m+ bids for Luiz (LOL) and Cuadrado a WINGER to replace Alves at RB. I’m sorry but all your quasi board apologizing ( I think that’s what it was, you shift back and forth between opinions so often here, more so than usual) is falling on deaf ears.

    There are plenty of names I’d rather see than Masch and his constantly losing headers, rendering us essentially playing with 10 on set plays.

    JDS doesn’t deserve a thing, 28 appearances in five seasons ( yes I know he was injured this season) ? Foolish to have never gone out on loan, reeks of stubbornness. If anyone needs the look it’s Sergi Roberto, we’ve never gotten a sense of his potential. Same with Montoya.

    Thanks for all your usage of La Masia Tata! Good riddance.

    • ciaran says:

      I wouldn’t say that Kxevin is apologizing on behalf of the board not signing a defender. If we look at things objectively, in 2010 when this board took over we sold/loaned Marquez, Chygrynskiy, Henrique & Caceres. We needed a defender as you say but under Pep we let 4 go in one summer. Now, Marquez was 31 at the time but by no means finished, Chygrynskiy only played a terrible 12 matches in his season with us and has played 30 or so games in 4 years since, Henrique was not deemed good enough and Caceres has made a name for himself at one of the best defensive teams in Europe but wasn’t given chances under Pep.

      Now, I blame the board for Chygrynskiy’s departure but he was awful and it was the right decision. The rest were all Pep’s decisions.

      Back to the current summer, Cuadrado is more than capable of replacing Dani Alves. Alves has been in decline for a few seasons and the list of world class right backs is a very very short one. If you weren’t aware, Dani used to play right back for Sevilla but when Sergio Ramos was playing with their first team Dani often started at ring wing as he has done for the Brazilian national team and ourselves on occasion. Cuadrado is a wing back. A very talented wing back who gets played further forward because of his attacking talent. I can’t think of anyone who would be a better fit.

      In terms of Mascherano, I fully agree with you. I like him but he is not good enough at the highest level for reasons beyond his control… he’s not going to grow. Saying that, we need a guaranteed starting centre back to replace Puyol in the squad and would need to replace Masch too. It will be expensive, and signing a better player than Mascherano and asking him to be a 4th choice centre back will make it even harder. Maybe you’d get a Daniel Agger or Jeremy Mathieu that could fill in at left back too to get some extra minutes but they are not exactly world class.

      Any ideas?

  2. Inamess says:

    Since it is silly season and the club has not given me any more significant things to look forward to other than some emails about how our 12 year old team won some useless European competition, then I feel I have the right to rant too.

    I have to say that I almost completely agree with Dreamteam. We do not sit in on the transfer meetings at the board so we can only judge it by its actions since nobody can certify their intent. I also don’t have access to Zubi’s diary so I do not know the real intention behind the Mascherano and Song purchases.

    The truth is the club either bought 2 gifted DMs (who don’t play the this position all that well for Barcelona) to back up Sergio Busquets or their was also an intent that each might be able to play CB for Barcelona. The club took a risk and it has not paid off. Masch did as good a job as he could and Song was found wanting at CB. Both are good players and any team should be proud to have them in their squad but they were not the right purchases.

    I think that Pep and Tito viewed the CB position at Barcelona as a combination CB/DM and that a traditional CB was not necessarily needed particularly since we already had Pique and thought we would get a few more years out of Puyol. It was only after Puyol’s injury crises and Pique’s lack of fitness that the club was forced to play both at CB in important games before each was able to even get a chance to get adjusted to being in the side. Call it one of Pep and Tito’s experiments gone wrong, but that is the only way I can make sense of it.

    The club could have bought Javi Martinez to do the same thing but he was viewed as too expensive and ironically Pep now has this player and from what I have heard and saw in the Semi-Finals does not fancy him that much at either DM or CB now. Perhaps Pep can do us a solid and sell Martinez to us since his club is not to fond of him now anyway, and I am sure Spanish imports are not prized too highly at the moment in Bayern.

    Also to echo DreamTeam, we have to stop the myth that a La Masia product can make the transition from the B team to an immediate impact player on the 1st team. This is a Fairy tale, and I feel sorry for all the young players who have posters of Messi and Busquets on their dorm room walls because the odds of this happening are as good as me coming home from Vegas a millionaire next week.

    Our best products need to go out on loan and brought back when they have a realistic chance to feature in the side. Those who are judged not good enough by 23 or so should be sold or leave on a free so that they can make the best careers for themselves as possible.

    Finally, the club must make amends to the now infamous Alcantara family by doing anything in its power to make sure Rafinha becomes a viable player for Barca. How dare they take their son Thaigo somewhere else after he was told how he was the jewel of La Masia and Xavi’s replacement, and then the club bought back Fabergas for publicity and sentimentality and to get back at Arsene Wenger for poaching our youth products in the past.

    I am sure the Alcantaras were affectionately waiting for Cesc at the airport to welcome him with open arms when his flight came in from London.

  3. Levon says:

    Eh? The season hasn’t even ended and we are already in silly season? The truth is they have been overlapping for more than a year now, since culers, myself included, could not keep our traps shut over all that went wrong last silly season, merrily yapping on about who we still need in our squad.

    I only know one thing for sure:

    We need to either sell and replace or renew Dani Alves now, because if he leaves at the end of his contract next year we risk having to give the starting spot to Montoya (shudder) due to the transfer ban.

    @dreamteam Sergi Roberto si not good enough for Barça. Tata gave him plenty of minutes to prove himself, which he didn’t. We got Rafinha coming back who needs plenty of minutes himself.

    @ciaran I’d be very happy with David Luiz and Balanta.

    @Inamess I don’t think Martinez is going anywhere and definitely not for cheap.

  4. ciaran says:

    Is a clean sheet too much to ask? The last clean sheet we had was the Celta match that Valdes got injured in. Pinto hasn’t kept a full clean sheet in the 9 matches since.

  5. psalmuel says:

    Wasn’t there a foul on that Getafe goal?

  6. psalmuel says:

    Pinto is a disaster waiting to happen. Can’t wait for this season to be over

  7. ciaran says:

    I’d like to see Tello & Cesc for Pedro & Xavi to be more direct. It’s a pretty poor match. We’ve had loads of shots from range but little penetration.

    • ciaran says:

      Well Fabregas on for Masch so Xavi to DM and Busquets to CB

      • ciaran says:

        And instantly a goal from Cesc’s run…

        • Gekko64 says:

          not much to be said there… when he plays in his MF role he’s better than nowadays’ Xavi.

          • Jim says:

            I like Cesc’s ability to get ahead of the forwards but what about Xav’s beautifully weighted ball to Alves so good that without breaking step he was able to hit it first time to Messi who scored? That’s what happens when our forwards create space for the ball to be played into. Not happened enough this year.

  8. ciaran says:

    I can’t say that I’m surprised. At home if you can’t score more than a couple of goals against a relegation candidate there’s something wrong.
    Dani Alves gives away a stupid free kick at the halfway line for no reason whatsoever.

    • Dreamteam says:

      We lost the second he moved Busquets to CB, and took Xavi out for SONG. LOL Tata . Oh and people want to replace Alves with a RIGHT WINGER who defends even worse!? Sheer madness, idk what people are watching sometimes.

      • ciaran says:

        It would be very hard to find a player that defends worse than Dani. He gives away an incredible amount of stupid free kicks and they are often costly. The only time he is capable of having a good match is when he is playing a team that forces him to defend all the time.
        He is a liability. The sooner we can get a buyer for him the better in my opinion. Yes he got the assist for the first goal but he is a defender and getting assists should be secondary to defending well.

        • Dreamteam says:

          Well yes but Cuadrado is not the answer there, and surely not for the rumored 30mil…

          • ciaran says:

            There isn’t any alternatives really. Danilo of Porto is similar and physically bigger and stronger but again not the best defensively.
            At least Cuadrado will run a lot more, give away a lot less free kicks and is better going forward.

            Let’s not forget that Dani cost very similar money and he had some great years for us.

            Pinto, Masch, Song, Alves, JDS, Cuenca, Afellay, Tello & Sergi all need to find new homes this window. It’s going to be a long summer.

          • barca96 says:

            A member here that I know keep talking up a player called de Sciglio from Milan. I still haven’t found the time to look him up on YouTube, let alone a proper match.

            Anyone here familiar with said player?

            That said, I do prefer to give Montoya 1-2 years to prove himself first and if he doesn’t work out only then look for another RB.

  9. Hilal says:

    This season cannot end soon enough

  10. G6O says:

    That goal sums up the season. And it wasn’t even because we lack size – there were 3 (!) Getafe players in our own box, completely free, in the last minute, with the score 2-1…

  11. BA says:

    I’m in Hilal’s boat, i can’t wait for this season to be over and neither, it seems, can our players.

    that was dire, dire defending and you have to say that Getafe earned themselves a point by coming forward in such numbers late on. Martino played that totally wrong, and surely now has to go in the summer. my only wish now for our season is that we don’t take the title away from Atleti on the last game of the season and gift it to the Evil Empire, as Simeone & Co. have totally earned it.

    • ciaran says:

      I don’t think that we are capable of beating Atletico…

    • Hilal says:

      “my only wish now for our season is that we don’t take the title away from Atleti”

      Haha. I wouldnt worry about that. We have not been able to beat them ONCE this season when the games actually counted, do not even want to think what will happen when the game doesnt even matter. I am sure they will win.

      Best thing now is to give all the players some rest ahead of the world cup. I would literally rest them all for the last two games and just play B-teamers. Give them some experience in the big leagues, check out some prospects for next season. That MIGHT actually be interesting to watch. What won’t be interesting is a repeat of today, players who clearly know the season is over, just basically going through the motions.

      As for Martino, he started the season so well and has regressed so much. It is so sad. People can say that he was not allowed to put his mark on this team, but I call crap on that. A great coach would not allow himself to be bullied by the players, press, board, or whatever other influences might try and sway him. The coach of Barcelona needs to have the personality to stick to his guns and do what HE feels is best for the team. Martino did not do that. He started and then midway through the season basically gave up and said OK, press isnt happy, Xavi is complaining, lets go back to the status quo. That is not a manager that is EVER going to command the respect of the players. Can you see Simeone, Mourinho or Pep ever doing something like that? The manager to take charge of these players has to TAKE COMMAND of the dressing room, it is not just going to be given to him. Not sure who that is to be honest, but lets see how it plays out.

      • ciaran says:

        I can’t understand anyone’s wish for Tata to stay on next season. He practically fell apart in the second half of the season. He did this without any experimentation or blooding young players. He went out every single match with what he felt was the strongest XI and had no positive tactical impact on any game since the turn of the year. Yes we beat Madrid but that was more individual skill that anything he done.

        I am incredibly disappointed in how he has turned out. He started with promise but now I just can’t wait for the announcement that he is being replaced in the summer.

        Bring on Lucho…

  12. Inamess says:

    Oh well, back to silly season. Has anyone looked into this:

    The Curse of Henry

    In June 2007, Thierry Henry transferred from Arsenal to FC Barcelona, with the La Liga giants taking the London club’s most honored player and centerpiece of the Immortals to the Catalonian side. Later that year, Arsene Wenger seeing the coming trend visited a London witchdoctor who then placed a curse so that any player who transferred from Arsenal would have their move out of the Emirates backfire against the player and the clubs who stole their players. So far the innocent victims of the curse have included Van Persie, Adebayor, Nasri and even Henry himself, who left Barcelona after featuring in only 14 La Liga games in 2010 .

    Unfortunately, the major victim of the curse has been the unknowing FC Barcelona who since Henry’s transfer have also stolen Helb, Fabergas, and Song from the London club. In fall 2014, none of these players will likely feature for the Catalonian side, with the last 2 returning to the EPL and Helb spotted honing his skills in northern Kazakhstan. The message: don’t mess with Arsenal, and more importantly don’t mess with Arsene.

    • ciaran says:

      Leaving Arsenal is the best thing for everyone’s career. Since Arsenal last won a title, the FA Cup 05, 23 ex-Arsenal players have won 56 major trophies.

      Fabregas has won 6 trophies with us in three years after going 6 years without anything with Arsenal.

      Henry won the treble in his first season with us.
      RVP won the league with Man Utd last year.

      I can’t say I agree with your comment although it is a funny notion. Maybe Wenger should have focussed more on his own success?

      • Dreamteam says:

        Yea , plus even Song has won trophies. Lol

      • Inamess says:

        To me the answer to the Curse of Henry is simple: buy players from Sevilla. All of our transfers from them have been excellent: Alves, Keita, & Adriano.

        Now as to how we remove the curse, I’ll leave up to others, as it is above my paygrade.

      • Gekko64 says:

        maybe you’re right trophy wise, but I argue Cesc would have had a much much better career if he had stayed in London. He had to sacrifice himself a lot to play in Barça, which stunted his potential growth as a player imo.

  13. barca96 says:

    Bye bye La Liga. I slid down the sofa as the cross was released as we were outnumbered. Midfielders didn’t bother to track back.

    It felt like 2006/07 all over again. Conceding a goal in injury time in the Camp Nou.

    Why did the players take foot off the gas? Are they really that arrogant? Or is it laziness? I just don’t understand. The title was on the line.

  14. TITO says:

    It was so predictable that they will score in that last attack.
    And it’s quite embarrassing and funny in the same time.
    There were more Getafe players in the box trying to score than our players trying to defend.

  15. barca96 says:

    Now I really want to see more B team players. This is the best opportunity to play them. They are our future.

    Denis Suarez, Adama, Dongo’u, Ie, Bagnack, Espinosa and Samper must be given priority.

    Younger ones like El Haddadi, Grimaldo, etc should be given chances too.

    This is to give them a chance to prove themselves and the coaching staff can decide who to select for pre season training and a chance for the club to show them that they shouldn’t leave the club.

    Also a chance to show the younger ones that they will have a chance to reach the first team.

    Alves, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta and Busi should rest for the remainder of the season. They’ve been playing way too much. Messi should still play some part but not 90 mins.

    Montoya (should be starter next season) , Song, Roberto, Tello, dos Santos, Cuenca, 3M Affelay and Oier should play a lot too. This is to see if they are a dead weight or if they have what it takes to play a role in the squad for next season.

    Give the keys to Cesc to run the midfield and throw in at least 3 youngsters from the B team at any given time.

    • bhed says:

      What on earth has Montoya done all season to even earn a spot on the first team, much less a starting position? I just don’t understand that sentiment at all.

  16. justdoit94 says:

    Well, i honestly had just a glimmer of hope that both atleti and rm would slip up but both teams are on sky high morale having booked their CL final. So much for that..
    I really hope that zubi makes the correct calls and brings players that are actually needed rather than big names that hardly fit our “SYSTEM”.
    Also, i really wish tata the best. The man really tried adding his own touch to the team but he just faced constant whining from everyone including his own players..
    I just wish that he would be given another season on his own terms and choose whoever he sees fit to stay/leave.. I really think he could do wonders with this barca team

  17. Inamess says:

    I say the best plan for next year is to kidnap Simeone, Coutois, and Costa when they come to Camp Nou in two weeks.

  18. psalmuel says:

    We need a manager with ‘balls’, not one that can be bullied by Xavi.

    • Jim says:

      Where exactly is your evidence for the anti-Xavi sentiment ? I don’t understand the folk that are getting on his back. Despite his chronic injuries he has played a full season having to stay on in games much longer than he should have because we can’t get a cushion, he has run more in some games than anyone else in the team, he never loses the ball and if you think back over the last few games he has created lots of chances with through balls.

      Jeez, what do we expect ? We”re playing with only one defender out of four in the back line, no height and have a look at Cesc’s contribution in the winning goal. Both he and Song allow the scorer to trot past them to the back post. They looked out on their feet and they’d only just come on. I like Cesc, I wanted him to come but Im no longer sure he can cope with being pressed hard and having to move quickly in midfield. None of this is Tata’s fault. I’m not 100% convinced by him either but if players are allowed to be crap in their first season on the grounds of settling in does he not deserve the same ? What I would hope is that if he has decided to go he tells us quickly. If we’ve decided to chop him I hope we’re not going to wait till after the WC to appoint the new man and whoever he is he’ll be starting with players that have been chosen for him. Not great.

      I don’t like it but I’ve accepted that this is the season from hell and we just need to get it right for next. Not too much point in getting upset over this game. Too much would have to happen for us to have a chance in the league anyway. We could give the fringe players time but do we really think any of them are worth it and capable of playing in the first team of one of the best clubs in the world ?

      Btw, I only watched the highlights – thanks Sky- but from what I saw I thought Alves had a pretty good game attacking wise. Haven’t said that often recently .

      • Jim says:

        Btw, this guy has balls as far as I’m concerned.

        From Barcastuff: Martino: “I’m to blame for this season. Sometimes you feel you don’t have to ask for a second chance because you don’t deserve it. I’ll see”

      • ciaran says:

        I agree with your assessment of the anti-Xavi sentiment but then you seem to have your own anti-Cesc sentiment in the following paragraph. I’m not sure what you saw in the equalizer as Cesc was blocking the cut back at the front post.
        Alex Song is a DM and was further back and didn’t influence the play at all. Iniesta was just trotting around 30 yards from our goal when we are supposed to be defending a lead and he was playing as the left central midfielder so he should have been in or around the back post. I think he certainly deserves more blame than Cesc does.
        Mascherano is our central defender so should be heading away stuff like that but never does.

        For me though, that blame for the goal falls at Dani Alves’ feet due to his absolutely pointless giving away a freekick when he had the attacker on the halfway line facing his own goal with no way of starting an attack. He does it constantly and then looks at the referee as if he has made a bad call.

        • Jim says:

          You can’t really blame Dani for the actual goal – we had 10 players goal side and a complete shambles in defence. Fine if we say he shouldn’t have given away the free kick. I agree with that sentiment. He does do that rather a lot.

          . There were three men round the free kick. I’ve no problem with Iniesta’s positioning. He’s not playing anything like left side. The whole play he is pressing on the right side and Cesc is playing the left ( 90.58). Also, just watch Cesc’s reaction to the whistle for the free kick. Is that what we’re looking for?

          With regard to Cesc I’m not really sure whether he or Song should have gone with the scorer but one of them should have. Poor Adriano was left with four men to mark at the back post. I think it’s kind to say he was covering a cut back. I suppose his other alternative would have been to go with the guy who received the free kick as he was the nearest man to him but he didn’t do that either. The scorer passed within a couple of yards of both and both completely ignored him. For me, both were just ball watching. I’ve never liked Song’s positioning as DM but that’s for another day. Remember they were brought on as fresh players. At least run around for goodness’ sake.

          You’ll know I’m not Masche’s biggest fan but I’m not sure how he can be blamed if he’s sitting on the bench.

  19. Artur says:

    I never would’ve thought I’d say this especially early in this season.. our B team is doing better than our A team.

    Guess it goes to show you that anything can happen in football

  20. kenny says:

    we came out with a draw because of lack of leadership on the field. fabregas and song were blindly skipping back as they watched the cross go over their heads. tello didn’t pick up any of the four getafe players running to goal.

    i miss puyol. we need him to yell at players when they lose focus or seem out of the game. we need a leader on the field and given the current squad i dont know if any of them have it in them. we need someone not afraid to yell at fabregas, messi, busquets, and so on because this CAN NOT happen next season.

  21. ciaran says:

    I really feel sorry for Fabregas. He gets blamed for everything wrong with our season. He has more than twice as many goals as Iniesta in the league this season and more than four times as many as Xavi.

    Iniesta can’t do anything wrong according to pretty much everyone in the world but in less games last season he had 16 assists and this season he has 7.
    Xavi last season had 5 goals and 8 assists but this season he has only 3 goals and 2 assists.
    Cesc has 8 goals and 13 assists to his 11 of each last season and has been played out of position or as a substitute in 20 of his 43 matches this season yet he is the one that is apparently under performing.

    It is ridiculous and he doesn’t deserve it. He would be revered in every other team in the world but because his name isn’t Iniesta or Xavi he is hated here. I would love if he got a new contract and made the centre of our midfield. People keep worrying about his ability to replace Xavi but for the past three seasons we have been at our most dangerous with him in our team.

    Xavi has a 93% passing success rate which is absolutely amazing; but he doesn’t take risks with his passing any more. He is the safest player on the planet because practically every one of his 90+ passes per match are sideways.

    The talk of selling Cesc is crazy. He is part of the core of our future and I hope they give him a new contract in the next couple of weeks to end all the talk of a move back to the EPL.

    • Jim says:

      Just to be clear I’m not advocating selling Cesc and he is the best of our mids at getting ahead of the forwards which is one of the things we need but I do wonder what his position in the team will be , even once Xavi goes. Assuming Busi retains the DM, Cesc can’t control a game so that duty will probably fall to Iniesta . I’d say the third place in our midfield will probably go to a yet unspecified much more pacy, physical player but then I suppose none of us really know what the shape of the side will be.

      • ciaran says:

        That wasn’t aimed at you at all Jim. It was aimed at the press and everything surrounding the club.
        If he was given control of our midfield I don’t believe it would be a bad thing at all. Iniesta is just not consistent enough. He destroys the big teams at times but goes missing for stretches.

        I’d love if we signed someone like Arturo Vidal or Paul Pogba capable of playing in multiple positions within the three-man midfield. Physical enough that when we want to play a more controlled midfield we would have their defensive ability.

        For next season I don’t think Xavi should be starting. I don’t know if our new manager is going to believe that or have the bravery to bench him but when a match is won he should be substituted in to close it out with greater position. We are way too easy to defend when he plays though because he is almost no goal threat.

        Ivan Rakitic of Sevilla would be another possibility depending on who we signed for our 4th centreback position. Rakitic plays deep for Sevilla at times and still influences play. He is physical and different to our other midfielders.

  22. bhed says:

    Can I just say that I agree with Ciaran on pretty much every comment, for the last several months. I come here expecting to comment, and realize Ciaran has already expressed what I wanted to say, only better. :-)

  23. bhed says:

    Oh, and for all those who have been making excuses for Tata (but not on this thread today!), I think Simeone has definitely shown the power of a truly great manager who is the right fit for their team.

    • ciaran says:

      I was really positive about Tata earlier in the season. I like to give anyone involved with the club a fair chance and he was changing things for the better early in the season. At some stage he just stopped though. He stopped taking risks, he stopped resting players, he stopped rotating and he stopped picking his teams based on form or tactics and just picked the tan that got the least resistance from the media.

      Messi was no longer getting substituted. The lessons learned from the Rayo match were long forgotten about and we reverted back to the Jordi Roura days of a complete lack of ideas.

      He played Neymar out of position, dropped Alexis when he was in the form of his life and gave virtually no opportunities to the young players in the squad so the likes of Bartra, Montoya, Sergi and Tello didn’t get the chance to progress and make a name for themselves.

      Now, after a season of turmoil of the pitch and a lack of direction on it we are faced with having our 4th manager in 4 seasons. For me, there’s only two choices: Luis Enrique or Frank de Boer and it’s looking like Lucho will get the nod. Celta have performed admirably this season without really over performing, although it is a weak squad. Ajax have wrapped up their 4th straight league. Both have done it in the Barca/Ajax way and both with Barca loan players.

      Whoever gets the job, I really hope they know already and have a say in the signings. I accept ter Stegen’s arrival as he has been easily one of the best keepers in Europe this season. The rest should really be made to the wishes of the man in charge.

  24. Inamess says:

    In all sincerity, and I hope I speak for some of the fans on this site, the reason we finished 3rd in La Liga and didn’t make the Champions League SF is that our team is just not that good. We have declined while other teams have figured us out and have gotten better. Without Pique and Valdes, we are probably no better than the fifth best team in La Liga and have only been saved from a total crisis by a Villarreal team that gifted us a victory on a special night when the players and fans really needed it.

    It’s not a cute joke anymore: we are too small and we are not athletic enough. We are also living on a legacy that was great but has been romanticized way too much. Pep is human, he made his fair share of mistakes especially with transfers, and as we saw last week, may not be the greatest tactician to ever coach a side.

    My suggestions: don’t hire Enrique, he seems like a Pep-light to me, although I would like to see Puyol as part of the coaching staff if the new coach wants him. Also, the club should look to redefine itself even if it means abandoning many of our legacy players who must move on for the sake of the club:

    Pedro is a quality player who could score 25 goals a season if he moved to the right team that has a lot of chances to score in open space. Barcelona, unfortunately, is not that team. He can be relied upon to get hat tricks against weak Copa sides, but other than that whatever talent he has is being wasted.

    Other players whom I am eternally grateful to but would also like to move on: Xavi, Alves, Mascherano, and Song.

    And yes, we do need a few more folks with some height, who can get scrappy goals, and score and defend on set pieces. Getafe’s first goal was an insulting attempt to mock our team and our ineptitude in the air, particularly in the absence of Pique.

    The Math doesn’t add up: we can’t concede dozens of goals on crosses and set pieces while getting very few of these ourselves. For this reason, the era of short corners must go away, even if it means: (dare I say it) we may sometimes concede possession.

    If we add the right players, we also might score our fair share of goals in less than breathtaking ways like other teams do. For me, I would even like Tello to stay if only for the reason that he likes to simply score sometimes rather than deferring to Messi or trying to create a goal with a degree of difficulty worthy of Olympic gold.

    I don’t pretend to know all the secrets for revitalizing the club or all the right people to bring in, but I do know that if Barcelona don’t fix its problems this summer, we will become the new Arsenal, with buzzards all around mocking us and supporters forced to tell our grandchildren of a once great Barca-mandias.

  25. 86ed says:

    The league was lost vs Granada and Valladolid so this isn’t that upsetting.

  26. Kxevin says:

    Blablabla, we all gon’ die, it’s the end of the world, we can’t defend, this player sucks, that player sucks, blablabla.

    This season is a simple confluence of everything all at once, from top to bottom, legal dramas to personal tragedies to death. It’s funny to watch a match with a couple of socis from Girona as I did today, for a very different, interesting and to many folks here, blasphemous perspective.

    Everyone says that Martino did this differently, but nobody asked why. Is it as simple as him punking out? Maybe. But something happened and he lost his nerve. On top of that, a mentally fried bunch of players is not COLLECTIVELY executing.

    Does Martino deserve another year? If he is going to punk out, no. But whenever someone says that he was pretty much dumped into a situation with someone else’s players and sacred philosophy and asked to work magic and almost did, they get screamed at and labeled an apologist.

    What if he had his transfers, and full backing of the board? Again, to ask that very rational question is to be branded a Martino apologist by the “Tata out!” brigade. If you dump Martino and put the next coach in the exact same situation, the results aren’t going to be one damned bit different because there is too much shit associated with coaching this club for anyone who doesn’t have a full, absolute mandate to do whatever he wants, isn’t going to get very far. Guardiola had it, and look what he did. Subsequent coaches? Nope.

    Vilanova is shit for having the temerity to have cancer, not being able to his absolute best and not naming a second in command who is of head coach quality. Martino is shit for getting a damaged, short team to within a few matches of being in for a shout with a Treble. The next coach, be he Luis Enrique, Van Gaal or Christ down off the cross, is going to have a hell of job coaching in shit valley.

    Culers dump in it, the press dumps in it, the board stand idly by while other dump in it, and the coach just sits in the valley, wondering how he is going to breathe with all the shit piling up around his ears.

    ciaran has saved me a lot of words, so I will say just go and read his comments to get a feel for what I might have said. But I will say this: culers need to grow the hell up, and fast. Winning isn’t a birthright, or even an expectation. It’s a gift. We have been lucky to have had such a gift for lo, these many years.

    I won’t waste replying to the new voice in the room, Dreamteam, who accuses me of being a board apologist. My words in this very space for anyone who wants to go back and read, speak for themselves.

    But if this is how culers lose, it’s pretty disheartening, and definitely disgusting.

    • Peter says:

      Well hello fellow Board/Tata apologist! How is the Dark Side treating you? Is your helmet functioning properly? :P

    • Dreamteam says:

      Is this how you often reply to people you disagree with? Yikes. The breath over Tata is wasted. He is a lame duck coach, he is DONE.

      • Peter says:

        His reply is understandable, since you are calling “board apologist” a someone who is on record bashing the current board and its original president, young grasshopper. Not just once or twice and not just now, but apparently even before this board was elected, back when Yaya Toure was still wearing blue and red – and his convictions have not changed.

        Looking at your name, it would be similar to calling you a Nuñez apologist.

        So yeah, his reaction is more than understandable.

    • Dreamteam says:

      It is not about winning. It is the SAME mistakes all season. It is Tata’s tactical errors all season, his ignoring La Masia, benching Alexis, playing Busi at CB, and on and on.
      “Everyone says that Martino did this differently, but nobody asked why. Is it as simple as him punking out? Maybe. But something happened and he lost his nerve.”
      And this type of personality should be given another year at the biggest club in the world because…?

      • Dreamteam says:

        But I do apologize if I have offended in tone, it has just become very grating trying to get some people to not jump down my throat and tell me to ” look at the big picture” when I say I want Tata out. I look at it everyday. We all know the mess at the top, and can guess about what’s in the hearts and minds of the players (Tito, players leaving, Board scandal).

        It is hard for me to pity a coach who knew the mess he would be getting into and STILL took the job. For me he hasn’t demonstrated enough of anything that suggests he get another year, let alone be put in charge of new signings.

        People act as if I WANTED him to fail or single him ALONE out for all our ills. Nope, I just don’t see him as our Puto Amo for this new era that has to come, simple.

        Again, this discussion is pointless because he is done as coach of FCB very soon.

    • Inamess says:

      Kxevin is one the most thoughtful and entertaining writers in America and I respect his opinions highly, but the fact is that we are writing about a game. It’s a game we all take very seriously and enriches our lives, but it is a game nonetheless. If we as fans want to vent after we feel disappointed in our team, then I think that is also our right. The players on the team we love are human and they went through some tragedies this year, but so do we all. Even those of us who don’t have our pictures in the newspapers or make millions of dollars each year.

      So yes, I think that we should all try to be respectful and keep this the most thoughtful football blog on the internet, but not everyone has to hold the same opinions and we should respect any contribution that is given within the bounds of decency or not a deliberate attempt to troll.

      Peace.

      • Kxevin says:

        Over the years at The Offside and here, I have been (I’m sure I will forget some)

        – An Henry lover
        – An Abidal lover
        – A Messi hater
        – An Iniesta hater
        – A Guardiola hater
        – A Yaya hater
        – A Busquets hater
        – One who is irrational is his dislike of Rosell and the board
        – Too focused on results and not on how results are gained
        – A (shudder!) pragmatist
        – A Vilanova defender
        – A Thiago hater
        – A Sanchez defender
        – A Song defender
        – A Martino apologist
        – Still a Messi hater
        – And now, a board apologist

        I don’t know how I find the time for it all, frankly.

        What I am is a culer who loves the club, and thinks about it in the same way that I go about my daily job as a journalist. Every story has two sides. In this space as well as on Twitter, people take words and don’t see the words that don’t reinforce their worldview. So a piece that makes someone accuse me of being a board defender, contains these very words, cut and pasted from above:

        It’s very difficult to look at that list of transfers and conclude that our technical staff doesn’t know what it is doing, even as you can look at that non-transfer list and accuse them of various things, including neglect that verges on criminal.

        Which makes me a board defender how, particularly since the board doesn’t find its way into the piece, only the technical staff.

        I think that disagreements can sharpen and refine an argument. Name-calling “Martino apologist/defender,” “board apologist” effectively ends a debate because it makes matters personal, and the accused (me, in this case) instead of discussing a piece about transfer rumors and the attendant hysteria. has to spend time discussing an accusation with absolutely no basis in reality.

        This is, as Inamess put it, a game in which millionaires kick an inflated sphere around. It arouses passion, and it should. But the one thing it should always also arouse, in this space particularly as the one that I am most concerned about, is fairness.

        On Twitter, I suggested that the next Barça coach have full and absolute authority, to do anything up to and including benching Messi. Now the benching Messi example was simply the most unthinkable thing as an example of the absolute power that the next coach would need. Yet I heard from many, many people … “You have always hated Messi,” “Messi carried this team, you fool,” “Benching Messi isn’t the problem,” etc, etc.

        The words that were there weren’t the words that people saw, because everything is so inflamed that I just don’t think people are stepping back and looking at things as a whole.

        This piece was an effort to step back, and look at transfer rumors. The first comment was an attack on me that essentially defined the debate. Now this comments space, rays of light notwithstanding, is something of a negative mess that didn’t have to happen.

        I have been writing for this space for a very long time, and have been attacked by so many people for so many things. I lose count. But what I try to do, and will always try to do is apply balance to my discussions of this club. The piece above is no exception.

        • Inamess says:

          Kxevin, following a football team is a irrational act and it brings out the best and the worst in people as all things that arouse our passions. You are simply too good a writer and what you have created is too important to let some fan’s moment of irrationality get you down.

          Keep up the fight, we all immensely value what you do, and don’t let us cules get you down. We are a neurotic and particularly spoiled bunch.

  27. Peter says:

    This is the promised second part, and apparently it has a lot in common both with Kxevin’s post and the current sentiments in the comment section. I haven’t watched the whole game, just for a few minutes while waiting in a bar for coffee and sandwiches when the result was 2-1. I probably got too relaxed and assumed it would end like that. Anyway, here it goes. As always comments and opinions and lively debate is appreciated:

    We left at the conclusion that winning is actually more important than playing beautifully. First because the simple fact of winning shows determination (winning at all costs), guts, or sheer dumb luck, apart from skill – and people appreciate them. Second, winning is profitable for everybody – players get bonuses and grounds for higher salaries, the sponsors get sales, the club gets tournament financial rewards and can negotiate for better sponsorship deals, etc. Third, and this is quite important when we speak about beautiful football, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. In recent examples we have seen magnificent inspired and inspiring defensive performances followed by lightning-speed counters, dashing direct football played by both teams, open, flowing passing football and gritty, tooth-and-nail spectacles by inferior teams that just won’t quit – and all those are beautiful because they appeal to someone.

    Taking into account the risk to bore you, I found an interesting statistic today when I was looking for stats on the supposed new signings of players and how they compare to the players that are currently on the blaugrana roster. Barcelona is the team that has the lowest average of won aerial duels in the whole of La Liga. The season is almost over, and even mathematically relegated Real Betis have a better average. This is an Achilles heel of Barcelona, which of course everybody knows, and it looks it will be finally rectified – hopefully and only somewhat because the CBs and GK certainly will get taller on average, but the laterals(wingbacks) won’t be growing taller any time soon. That’s first.

    Second, if we take into account Newton’s third law, for every action there is an equal reaction. Barcelona is a team that has been reinforcing its attack and midfield for the past seasons. The midfielders are drilled into ball retention and passing the ball. Strikers are best in playing with their feet, dribbling past their marker and close shots. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise (But it does!!!) that opposing teams would increasingly train in defensive effort, playing without the ball, ball recovery and pass interceptions, double- and triple-marking strikers, as well as counter-attacks and high balls.

    For me it’s clear that what Barcelona should not do is reinforce its forward and attacking/creative midfield area. To do so would create more even more forwards pressure, resulting in even greater defensive effort from opponents, which even at this point is suffocating for Barcelona. Like a sword that is sharpened too much or tempered too much, it would become brittle.

    Instead, I believe the approach should be to recover not the “lost edge”, but the solid back and base of the sword. That can be achieved by a few obvious means, which are interconnected and must be applied in complex, not just by picking and choosing:

    First, somewhat against the logic, I believe that increased penetration of the last third can be achieved by not attacking that much. As Newton’s law stipulates, the lower the forward force, the lower the reacting backward push. Nobody wants to be pressed in his own half, especially in his own stadium, and given the choice most teams would rather go forward. This also relieves the work of the defense, because the laterals(wingbacks) are closer to their normal positions. Remember the first Clasico, when around the 60th minute Barcelona just after the entrance of Illaramendi started not doing that good, losing the ball and those minutes were marked by increased penetration by Real? Real suddenly found less pressure in the back and started throwing bodies forward in an effort to find an equalizer, subbed Bale for Benzema and Di Maria for Jese, Barcelona had to respond to that challenge by taking off Iniesta of all people and sending in Song; it coincided with the best minutes of Real throughout the whole game, Barcelona suddenly appeared against the ropes and then a high ball was recovered, sent forward to Neymar who found the starting Alexis Sanchez who controlled and chipped the ball above 2-m low Diego Lopez. Madrid’s players were probably wondering “Where did that come from?” For me it was an exemplary interpretation for another of Sun Tzu’s ideas: Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance. Feign disorder and crush him. At the moment when Barcelona intercepted that high ball from the back, ten of the eleven Blaugranas were in their own half, and Messi was just beyond the center line, occupying both Varane and Pepe. These three were also the only outfield players in the Madrid half, because Marcelo had followed Alexis in the Barcelona half and Carvajal was hovering in Neymar’s vicinity. How do you spell “huge tracts of empty land in front” in Barcelonian? (it’s G. O. L. followed by excessive usage of exclamation marks). Of course, this “tactical retreat” is closely connected by…

    Striker and midfield work. As Kxevin brilliantly showed with his previous post, the return of the work rate of the strikers and midfielders is vital. Barcelona’s striker team and creative midfielders aren’t growing any taller, so their defensive effort is pressing the opposition ball-carrier and his conduits. It forces the opponent to take a gamble, since lots of times that opponent has intercepted a pass and together with a couple of fellow teammates he is out of the defensive matrix, with the intention of either mounting a counter or sending a high forward pass to the sprinting CF followed by a couple of onrushing guys for support. Pressing the opponent ball carrier achieves two things – it forces him to make a hasty decision and leaves him little time to “raise his head”, judge the relative positions and send an accurate pass. Second, the rush towards the ball carrier from multiple directions is intimidating for him, but what it also achieves is change the tune of Barcelona’s midfield’s mental state from Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQVeaIHWWck) to the Foreskins’ “Murder Train” (*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tagGuuVYx9g). While tiring physically, this also vents some of the frustration and actually helps the player to focus afterwards. This pressing also alleviates the job of the Barcelona defense because a hasty pass is more likely to be wayward and could be intercepted faster, or the opponent’s CF would need more time and space in order to control it, allowing the defenders to close down and herd him or straight away deal with him. This pressing, whether done in the opponent’s area or in the center third also shows the defense that the midfield is doing its job, all of its job. This simple act increases the camaraderie of the team. The knowledge that you’re not alone, that your colleagues are trying to help you boosts the confidence and furthermore it obliges the defender to show his best, so that when he has to act, he acts giving everything he has, no holds barred. This is how absolute unity is forged; this is how inspired defenders stop a shot that has already beaten the keeper off the goal-line with a foot, but more often with their head and heart. This is what makes a stadium explode in full-throated support and gives wings to the whole team, because forget not, never forget, those on the pitch are human beings. Just like us, they are influenced by what they see, hear and feel on the pitch. It motivates them – or not. It fires them up – or smothers their spark. Knowing that everybody is pushing makes pushing easier. And yes, even Messi, and especially Messi. That pressing, especially after a slow period, can surprise an opponent by switching to second gear and accelerating through the just-opened holes.

    What makes the task of the defense easier, apart from the strikers and midfield pressing, is height. I cannot stress this enough. It is beyond vital. It controls the whole scenario in a very simple way. All stats of conceded goals, stats of practically every aerial duel of any given game show the same thing – Barcelona don’t fare well in the air. This is what gives confidence to the opposing team, this is what makes them surrender the wide approaches towards their box, defend narrowly and pour forward for every corner and set piece. They know that they can score from those; they know that when they send a high forward ball towards the waiting strikers the odds are that the player will be able to claim it and either bring it down to a teammate, follow it forward or just drill it towards the goal. They know that they can deal with corners and could create opportunities out of those – because Barcelona sucks in the air. This is why Barcelona often registers more than ten corners, all without any real threat to the opposing keeper. This state brings confidence in the opponent, because during the most difficult moments, when Barcelona’s magicians are finding seemingly impossible routes to send the ball and combine and control it in the space of a handkerchief, back in the mind of the opponents is “wait till we get a corner/set piece in your box!” This is what goads them not to surrender the defense and to pour forward for each set piece. The fact that Barcelona can’t threaten in the air makes it the easiest thing to concede a corner. A corner means a stopped ball, precious seconds in which to relax, rearrange the defense, motivate the fellow defenders and refocus, and hopefully have a chance to send a ball forward. On the other hand for Barcelona a corner means that a there are a few seconds less in which to win the game. Can that be changed? Well, it must be changed, because with that single change the whole field of play is changed. If Barcelona does not suck in the air in its own box – and by this I mean not just 1v1 aerial duels, but actual collective defense during set pieces and corners, then opposing teams would have to find another way to win. The confidence is brought down, because if Barcelona manage to even the odds in corners, this not only means less opportunities for scoring goals against Barcelona, this also means that corners in the own box are a threat. The mental push to stay focused not just when the ball is in play, but when it is out of play, that mental exhaustion is the fertile ground in which mistakes are made.

    Furthermore, when corners become a threat and a tool for Barcelona to win the tie, teams would have to honor that threat. It would not be possible to play narrow and crowd the center. The opponents would have to stretch, stop the wide strikers before they launch a cross, before they start a run which would have to be stopped at the price of a corner. From there it’s a short but logical step that a defense that is stretched cannot maintain a solid front in which to stop the incursions of Messi and Friends towards the box. This regains the initiative, boosts the confidence of Barcelona’s Own and shifts the mental balance. The opponent would have to react, because Barcelona would have another venue of approach. Then it won’t be a question of “Stay together and we’ll kill them on the break” but “Can we hold on for the whole 90 minutes?” If the opponents come on the pitch knowing, just knowing that Barcelona will score and will probably not concede, then those opponents would be half-defeated already. Another of Sun Tzu’s quotes: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. It’s a question of winning first and then fighting, a fight that would then have to be repeated over 60 games.

    All these are words, and words are cheap. How to fix the problems of Barcelona? If you have managed to avoid going comatose after reading all this, the time is now come for the sweet debate of “who do we sign?”

    Personally I would start by signing not one but probably two tall-ish defenders. When I say “sign” I mean both “transfer” and “promote” if possible. Those signings would have to be made with quite a bit of forethought, because for me Bartra is a real prospect and the worst possible signing would be to sign a genuine established World Class defender who will deny him the possibility for growth. For me what Bartra and the Defense need is someone younger who would compete with both Bartra and Pique. Those three would have to be the core of the defense, rotating, competing with each other and bringing the best of each other. I would also promote/sign a fourth CB, preferably someone dependable who could play in the least important matches, but who can train with the best and absorb and imbue the knowledge(and perhaps take up mental coaching like Bartra did :D ).

    Second, I would stop playing Mascherano out of position. Barcelona has a genuine world-class disruptive defensive midfielder about whom Xabi Alonso said “Tackling is not a skill, it’s a last-ditch effort… unless Masche does it.” Barcelona has this monster and plays him out of position. Can he be equal of Busquets? No, but for me no single midfielder in the world can. The problem is realizing that, and then acting upon it. What may be needed is a second pivote, or at least a creative midfielder with lots of pace who could assume some of the duties of Busquets, while Mascherano assumes the purely defensive duties. What would this also force is rotation for the other spots in midfield, because combined with a returned pressing, this would require that the whole of the midfield assumes some of Busquets’s functions – and that for me does not mean Xavi unless it’s every seven days or more. It may mean Cesc and Iniesta, but it would also have to mean Rafinha, as well as Song or in case he is sold, a genuine box-to-box mid who would have to go mostly forward and increase the aerial threat in the opposition box. This would also mean that Barcelona would have a defender who knows exactly how to play in Barcelona, and have him available for emergencies and for defense in midfield, where he would not be the last line of defense and would have a smaller zone to cover – and from what I’ve seen of him, he would excel in that.

    Third, I would think hard about finding a tall wide right striker whose sole responsibility would be to act as a power sub and whenever it’s necessary provide a scare coming from the right. Those functions would be to occupy the CBs, as well as nodding down balls to the others, while at the same time stretching the space between the lines, thus giving Messi more space. That same wide player would have to assume defensive duties, thus strengthening the defense during corners. Would those two-four transfers/promotions be possible? Hopefully yes. Would they be expensive? You can bet your behind. However, finding homes and minutes for Cuenca, Tello, Affelay and maybe even Sergi Roberto and/or Dos Santos(both of whom would be very good offense-defensive mid material due to their youth) would offset those expenses quite nicely.

    Anyway, fellow culers, to sum up my feelings for today’s game, what I saw on the highlights manifests the entirety of the season. So if I had the possibility, I would’ve put a Barcelona flag on the side of my car as I came back from work. Not because of joy, not because of sarcasm – I’m just one of those, who when the team is put against the ropes, they start singing Cant del Barça. Someone needs to.

    Someone must.

    • barca96 says:

      Cmon mods. This should be put up as a post. And the first part too.

    • Kxevin says:

      Have you any names in mind, Peter? The mind boggles at the depth and complexity of the problem. I don’t envy our next coach, nor do I envy the technical staff, who has to know the extent of the problem created by the neglect of this team that has gone on for too long.

      Now we have to try to fix three years’ worth of problems in one transfer window, before the FIFA hammer comes down (my speculation).

      P.S. Keep this up and we might have to make you a mod here.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      ^Just brilliant and poetic.

  28. Rivaldo says:

    Visça Barça!!!
    Mad props Peter.

    ” So if I had the possibility, I would’ve put a Barcelona flag on the side of my car as I came back from work. Not because of joy, not because of sarcasm – I’m just one of those, who when the team is put against the ropes, they start singing Cant del Barça. Someone needs to.

    Someone must.”
    …. you should win an award for this.
    Barça Barça Barça

    • Levon says:

      Yeah… I was one of the very few people in the stadium cheering the team on when Getafe scored, and I didn’t even particularly care about the result. I just think that this team and these players deserve my support.

  29. senyera7 says:

    Hey guys. I’ve been following this blog ever since its inception in 2009 and I followed the offside before that. Yet I somehow never made an account. The thing tat I’ve found with the culers who star supporting the team during the pep era is that they believe ‘winning’ is a birthright. It IS NOT. That’s why they automatically go into panic mode when something goes wrong. And make no mistake, the team needs plenty of work. Point is, all the modern culers have trouble dealing with a team that suddenly isn’t perfect. They don’t seem to understand that what we witnessed under pep was something that happens once in a generation. Perfect team, perfect coach, perfect time. No one could have expected it to go on forever. We should be happy with what we saw and support the team no matter what.

    • Kxevin says:

      Better late than never, senyera7. Welcome, and your thoughts are spot on.

      • Dreamteam says:

        Reading your twitter you seem very quick
        To tell people to ” unfollow” when they disagree with you, not even responding to clear, coherent points they make as a rebuttal to your views. Instead you often just make broad, sweeping statements about how awful ” culers” are for this or that reason. It’s ok to say x player was bad or needs to go, or that our coach has been found wanting you know. Idk there is just a sense of all-knowingness that you seem to have, especially with

        “@kevvwill: People will again blame their unfavored ones. Alves, Pedro, Song somehow, Martino. But that goal is just typical of the season.”

        Yea that’s teal deep analysis there. Which you followed up by saying ”
        Have less coffee”. I mean really? That’s no better than the “culers” you rally against.

        There needs to be a deal less self-righteous, smugness about discussions
        In here from people. It’s absurd to pull the ” well I’ve been a fan since ‘x’ ” ” I disliked x since” and on and on. It’s so petty.

        • Kxevin says:

          But again, you misread that Tweet, whose point was this:

          “Everyone is quick to jump on an unfavored player in a search for blame, in a result that typifies this snakebit, unfocussed season. There is no single person to blame, when everything is to blame.”

          Many people took it as precisely that. Others took it as a personal attack on their dislike of a particular player.

          As for my suggestion that people unfollow me, it is sincere. I, and they, don’t need the stress. As you know, I interact with people on Twitter. Debate and discussion is good. When people start attacking, with name-calling and resolute insistence that I am wrong, what’s the point? It’s easier for the both of us if they keep clear of my blathering. Then they don’t have to waste time yelling at me, and I don’t have to have my mentions filling up with it.

          Debate is good. Shouting matches aren’t.

          As for seeming “all knowing,” I hope not, since I, compared to many others, don’t know squat. I do state my points clearly, which might account for some of that sense. But I have opinions, just as others do. I state them without equivocation. That isn’t going to change.

          The beauty of Twitter is that it’s a forum. It loses its value when a “member” starts caring about followers. I don’t really care if anyone follows me, and have no idea of how many followers I have. It’s a forum to disseminate opinion and initiate reasoned discussion, just as this one is.

          But when it turns into anti-social media, I just don’t see the value in it.

        • Jafri says:

          Dude, are you here to talk about Barcelona or to pick fights with Kxevin?

        • PrinceYuvi says:

          No personal attacks, please. Thank you.

    • barca96 says:

      Welcome Senyera.

      This is really not taking a dig at you because this has been happening countless times where a newcomer comes in and says basically the same thing, that new fans don’t know how to lose, should appreciate this team, etc etc.

      I don’t really feel it cause I’ve been around since 1996 but if I were one of the new fans which started to watch Barca between 2008-12, I would get offended. Are you trying to assert a superiority? Everyone is different. Doesn’t matter new or old fans, there are many ways in dealing with a loss. There is no need to come in and be all cool.

      Perhaps that is not what you were trying to do which I can imagine but it’s a trend for someone to come after a loss to say the exact same thing. So I hope you understand how it looks after seeing it countless times. The newer fans gets poked again and again, by different people.

      • senyera7 says:

        Nope, not an assertion of superiority as such. I know several’ new’ fans who are dedicated fans. Its just that after the losses to Atletico and the evil empire they almost went into shock. They couldn’t imagine the prospect of a *gasp* trophyless season. All I mean to say is that these people have never experienced a trophyless season and so are losing it now that we are probably going to experience one. Hence kneejerk reactions to sell the whole team.

        • barca96 says:

          Didn’t see anyone mention close to the whole team here. Perhaps a handful of dead weights and a couple of underperforming players. That’s it.

          I think you mistaken the folks here with the commentors elsewhere. People here are not like that.

          • senyera7 says:

            Not here. Most of the people here are rational and the banter is superb. I’m talking about people on other forums, and people I personally know

  30. Kxevin says:

    This is a really good read on the “death of tika taka,” that an RM supporter wrote and shared with me via Twitter:

    http://atamaster123.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/the-death-of-tiki-taka/

  31. Inamess says:

    Great comments Peter! I think you have expressed many of my hopes for the team more cogently than I could. As I look at this team that I love and its fans today there is one thing that I hate to see and it is something that as a fan I have been guilty of myself since I jumped on the bandwagon after I saw the beauty of a team play in a way I never thought possible and in a sport that I didn’t know well.

    That thing is ARROGANCE. Arrogance is a feeling and an attitude and it is something that all successful teams must have. Its the idea that we will win when we step on the field. It’s the idea that I will follow this team on Saturday and see another team submit to our beauty and superiority.

    I can remember an early game in the fall of 2011 when Pep played 5 midfielders including Thiago, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquet, as well as our new signings Fab and Alexis. We won 5-0, completely decimating our opponents and I can remember thinking about our side: this is amazing, this is perfection, we will never lose a game except by some weird fluke or act of fate. That feeling was amazingly great and I think many Barca fans like me were almost gloating. Our team was wonderful in fact we somehow transcended football itself, the representation of all that was right in the world: we were were “More than a Club”.

    It was beautiful, but it was also naive and yes arrogant. Football has a long history that I am slowly beginning to learn about and the way we were playing was a way that was completely antithetical to most of the sport’s history. We simply should not be able to win playing that style and with the players we had with their physical limitations. It was too pure, too idealistic, too impractical. But the fact is that we continued to win.

    Critics and the best football minds set about reverse engineering our team and learned more about our limitations. So they set to work coming up with schemes to beat us and by and large we still kept winning. But our opponents knew what many of our fans, and board, and even players arrogantly seemed to ignore. That opponent is something that defeats any team, any sports dynasty and that is TIME. Our key players got older, other teams got stronger, knew our style a little better and we unfortunately reached a crossroads that all great teams must reach–we were no longer the default best team in the world.

    There is no shame in that as all things change, tactics evolve, and life just happens. Players get older and get injured, coaches get sick, teams get burned out. However, as a Barca fan today I am disappointed. Not only because my team loses more these days. Tito said that great teams must learn how to lose. I am disappointed that we did not also change enough to give this side the best chance to keep winning even if we may never reach the heights we spoiledly came to expect.

    Peter’s recommendations are great. The way we play football and the some of the players we need to do that with have to change. The club must reinspire itself and get smarter, the team and board must do what is best for the club to remain successful. We must be less petty, less provincial, and not put our heads in the sand and ignore our now obvious weaknesses. We have to respect everyone associated with the team whatever his or her nationality or background, whether it is a new transfer or coach who has never played with the side, a youth product, an established player whose best years with the side may unfortunately be at an end, or even just a relatively new fan who does not speak the language most of these great players speak and lives in a country far away from Camp Nou.

    • barca96 says:

      Which game were you referring to? I would like to download it. Need to watch a close to perfection football match again. It has been a long time.

      The match that came to my mind was Santos because it was one of the best matches under the guidance of Pep and in that match we played with 5 midfielders (Thiago at LW which should’ve been done more) but it was 4-0, not a manita as you claimed.

      • Rivaldo says:

        Probably meant Villarael game… first game of the season…. 5-0 was the score. Alexis scored off a thiago pass with which the broke the offside trap. Thiago scored. Etc

    • BA says:

      the game you’re referring to was against Villarreal, and we played a 3-1-3-3. it was such a beautiful performance that i always wondered why Pep didn’t utilize that formation more.

      the team, if i recall, looked like this:

      Mascherano-Busquets-Abidal
      Keita
      Thiago-Iniesta-Cesc
      Alexis-Messi-Pedro

      it really was a very memorable performance, not just for the 5-0 but the WAY in which we were playing (against a really slick Villarreal side, too), with Cesc and Alexis still integrating into the team, was quick and fluid and you think “hey, this is the future”. but it never happened again. interesting that someone else had the same impression.

      • Inamess says:

        Yes, that was the game! Sorry, I did get some of the line-up wrong. But that is what memory and romanticization does.

        • Inamess says:

          Thanks for the link! What other people might remember also is that our next game may in hindsight have been one of our most costly —a 2-2 draw at Real Sociedad. Alexis got injured and some may argue that because of that injury he may never have been able to become the player for Barca that he might have been.

          Also, Villa panicked and made a really bad pass back to Valdes that was intercepted and cost us the game. I still think about that game today as something that created a lot of bad karma and maybe even made Villa doubt himself for the rest of his career with the side.

          I guess it is just not good for our team to go to San Sebastián given the terrible toll of our 3-1 lost to Real Sociedad this year too.

  32. Víctor says:

    You people are totally right when you say that many Barcelona fans act like if winning is a birthright. However, you will realize that they aren’t true Barcelona fans, just fans of the “cool team of the moment”… Barcelona will end this season with no silverware. And many of those “fans” will forget Barcelona.

    On Tata Martino:

    One argument I see constantly is that “he has no balls”, “if he could be bullied by Xavi then he doesn’t have the personality to coach the team. I understand what you are saying, however, what if Martino actually challengued Xavi’s words and said “ok, I’m the coach here and things are done my way now”… what would those people’s reaction be, my guesses are:

    1.- “what? so he is a dictator now? a player can’t express his disagreement on the way he manages things? what the hell?”

    2.- “sorry Martino, but Xavi has won every trophy with this team, he is a legend here and you… are a nobody… learn to respect”

    3.- “woa, he now wants to impose his ideas on this epic team? what arrogance… who does he think he is?”

    and so on…

    granted, perhaps that issue could be handled better… but, then again, he doesn’t seem to have the full support of the board and that is totally necessary…

    • Levon says:

      This is all hypothetical, because nobody knows if this is what actually happened. However, it should have been his job to convince his captains of the need to continue with the changes he had been implementing during the first half of the season. For whatever reasons, that hasn’t happened.

  33. ciaran says:

    Some great comments above.
    Peter, I agree with you in total. Trying to get the players that are compatible with our current players as well as diverse enough to evolve into a more balanced one will be difficult.

    I believe that we need to identify the untouchable elements of our side and then evolve the rest to make the most of them. We also need a tighter squad but with more quality and diversity. For the most part, we are not getting the most out of the best player in history either, we need to evolve to make the most out of his considerable talents.

    Valdes’ ability to play the ball with his feet was one of the major forces behind our success, along with his concentration and abilities in one-on-one situations. The deficiencies of Pinto have been really highlighted recently. It’s not that he is terrible, it’s just that he isn’t Valdes. On top of that, he has none of Valdes’ abilities.
    ter Stegen seems perfect. He is great with his feet, great reflexes and solid in one-on-ones with loads of potential.
    Pepe Reina should be the second choice keeper if possible. He’s like Valdes-light. Similar skill-set but not at the same level. He would also be a good influence on ter Stegen’s integration.

    Sergio Busquets has been vital in our success too. His ability to read the game, put out fires and keep our paasing game going while being the most important player in our pressing game is impossible to replace… just ask Alex Song. The only player able to play the game in the same way is Daley Blind of Ajax. Blind can play as centre back or left back but has made his name as a defensive midfielder under de Boer. His ability to fill in at left back and centre back could be the key to keeping him happy in terms of playing time too. In terms of abilities, he is great in possession, good in the air, strong in the tackle and has boundless energy.

    Carles Puyol’s defensive abilities have not been replaced. Mascherano has the temperament but not the same abilities. He isn’t good in the air, he makes stupid errors and has the instincts of a defensive midfielder rather than a defender. The talk of buying Javi Martinez doesn’t particularly sit well with me. He is a world class midfielder, and a pretty good defender but he still isn’t a natural defender. In one-on-one situations he is very good but in terms of organizing a defense I have yet to see it.
    Mats Hummels and Mehdi Benatia are the two that I like most. Both have great reading of the game & very good in the air. Hummels has better distribution and leadership while Benatia is better in terms of pace and in one-on-ones. Both score goals from set pieces too which is a necessary addition.

    Messi’s move to a central position was a tactical change that brought about a couple of Champions Leagues, numerous other trophies and multiple records. His ability to link with the midfield and burst into the box added to his finishing and passing were responsible for our success going forward. He was given space by defenders drawn to our wide forwards who were a huge goal threat. Opposition defenders didn’t know who to mark so followed Messi into midfield and runners got goals from the space left behind and opposing midfielders tried to keep Xavi & Iniesta at bay and got dragged around the pitch chasing shadows.
    Now however opposition leave our wide players alone out on the wings, pass Messi onto the double pivot in midfield and guard the space rather than the man. Xavi & Iniesta play passes to each other and through numbers and physicality our game gets stuffed out, at least some of the time.

    In some of our successes, we have played Alexis ahead of Messi in the Clasico 2011, Villa vs Milan last season etc. Now I believe we need to play Messi as the no.10 that he was always going to be. I don’t believe signing Fernando LLorente and throwing balls into the box is going to be the answer. We are not, have not and hopefully will never be that team. A natural, central striker who can play with his back to goal and score some scrappy goals.
    I honestly believe that if it was possible to get Robin van Persie, that he would be the perfect choice even given his rather sketchy injury record when he is asked to play 2 games a week. Nearly 30, he shouldn’t wait for Man Utd to get out of the rut they are in and without any European football he should come cheaply.

    Dani Alves has been part of our most successful teams in history but now is the time to part ways. He is not the player he was and more and more he s caught up field when it matters. My preference would be to buy an Abidal-type for the right hand side for better defensive balance but there’s no one around with his abilities. Someone here mentioned the possibility of moving Bartra to right back which might work in particular matches but I think Bartra will turn out to be a top class central defender.
    Juan Cuadrado looks like he’ll be the one trusted to fill Dani’s boots and it isn’t a bad choice in my opinion as I’ve said before. Great in possession and an engine to rival Dani’s. He also gives us the versatility to play him as a right winger to give us more solidity in big matches if needed.

    Lastly, I believe that we’ve never replaced Seydou Keita. A quiet worker who got around the pitch making interceptions before the were even an attack and arriving in the box to get a few goals, he was a vital component under Pep. He played a lot of matches for a player who was never given the recognition he deserved; even by me. As they say, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
    Arturo Vidal or Paul Pogba have the box-to-box style and either would be a phenomenal purchase but both would cost huge money and demand big playing time.
    The reason I would advocate spending such big money on either would be that we are buying for two summers in one and next season is probably Xavi’s last season with us. Rafinha is a really great talent with loads of potential but he is still a better player playing further forward. I think he’ll be more of a no.10 that a midfielder.
    Pogba has said that he dreamed of playing for us and I think he could be convinced while Arturo Vidal is a better player currently but is older.

    Whatever happens, this will be an interesting and expensive summer but I have faith in this board and Zubi to do what’s necessary.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      ‘guard the space rather than the man’ Exactly.

      Apart from messi, opponents don’t regard our other guys as huge goal threats.
      But they do fear Neymar, he’s anarchic.
      He might be tiny, but he’s a pest, that’s why he gets fouled so often.

      Once we inject some steel in our backline, neymessi won’t have to worry about a counter every other minute & they could really express themselves.
      Besides, stray passes in final third are not that bad, they draw opponents out.

    • BA says:

      in total agreement here, and particularly with the idea of trying to bring back Pepe Reina as 2nd keeper (or possibly first). a Barcelona player, a solid goalkeeper in his own right but also well known and well liked by most of out squad already; he’d be a brilliant signing for us.

      i think a player LIKE Vidal or Pogba is essential, as we’ve really lacked bite and drive through the midfield since Keita parted with us, but the template for me is Deco: an energetic, skillful, box-to-box (i guess that’s what they call players who can do just about everything nowadays) midfielder who also doesn’t shy from a tackle or the physical aspect of the game. i think there’s a strong case to be made for including an “Abidal for the right” sort of player to replace Dani Alves, as we have Jordi Alba for the left and Adriano capable of deputizinf should we need both attacking fullbacks upfield anyway.

      good post.

  34. PrinceYuvi says:

    Cheap gems :
    1. Edin Dzeko , 24 M (a monster of super sub)
    2. Mathieu , 9 M
    3. Fazio, 6 M
    4. Benatia, 18 M

  35. Jafri says:

    The previous article from the one posted above, this one analyses Atletico, with special emphasis on their matches vs us and EE.

    http://atamaster123.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/can-atletico-madrid-actually-win-the-champions-league/

    The tactical depth on this blog is astounding. When they played us they had us figured out before the sides even took to the pitch, and they had us in their pocket all game – and the why and how of it all is explained here.

  36. Ultraculé says:

    Nice post Kevin.
    I actually didn’t care much about the draw yesterday as we had already lost the league long before. First at Valladolid and then in spite of being given a lifeline miraculously, again at Granada. This season is basically an all out tragedy and one senses that it can’t get really worse. Good times await us.

    I’ve made my opinions on Masch, Lexus, Alves and other un favored players on this board extremely clear. In my mind, the squad needs only the following additions to become the unstoppable force they once were.

    2 GKs, 2 defenders, 1 combative MF and 1 CF/RW.
    GKs: Ter stegen & even a Willy caballero / casilla could work.
    2 defenders : any two of Hummels, Mathieu, fazio, musacchio, balanta, laporte, benatia. my pick would be hummels + fazio/musacchio.
    1 MF : someone in the mould of a pogba, vidal or gundogan. Attributes reqd – physical, technical, good engine, combative, attack minded but defensively solid.
    1 CF : someone like a dzeko, jackson, lewandowski. someone who can hold up play, attack crosses, yet is mobile enough and can play off our other forwards.

    Dos santos, Afellay, cuenca, S. Roberto need to be sold, sold, sold and loaned out respectively. And if the CF is coming in, then cash in on Tello too.

    If the above signings are made and we recover our forward press and defensive solidity, we are very quickly back to being the best. In that, there is no doubt.

  37. ciaran says:

    6 minutes in and Atletico are 1-0 down to Levante. I really do hope they win the league and CL.

  38. barca96 says:

    Shit! If only the players didn’t screw up last night.

    • barca96 says:

      I take my comment from last night back. Liga still on.

      • ciaran says:

        We are now relying on Real Madrid losing a match then us beating Atletico in the last game. It shows how important some of our stupid results were

      • Gekko64 says:

        the funny thing is that winning yesterday wouldn’t really have changed anything unless I’m mistaken. we’d still have to win vs Atletico, which would win us the Liga if we end up with the same points. very exciting tournament this year.

        • ciaran says:

          It would make a difference in what we would need from Real Madrid. If they drop points then we would have been in a position to take advantage. Now we need them to lose 1 of their 4 matches and win ours.
          It was a big result last night

          • Kxevin says:

            This game that we love so, is absolutely bonkers. Both Chelsea (home draw to Norwich) and Atleti suffered after their CL exertions. If RM wasn’t at home, I would have similar expectations of them.

          • Gekko64 says:

            you’re right, I forgot about the evil empire. this doesn’t bode well :/

  39. There isn’t really much to add. Kxevin, Ciaran, Peter, &c, have written some excellent posts in this section.

    As long as EE does not win the treble, then I am surprising happy with this season. I think it was about time for us to be humbled. This should both invigorate as well as get rid of some of the stress (through expectation).

    I would also like to reiterate the tone of Kxevin’s narrative, namely that the mistakes this season are everyone’s fault:

    - the board: defender?

    - martino: a few poor line-ups and lack of motivation (although I do really like him)

    - the players: lack of passion (with some)

    - the fans: acting like spoilt children with the expectation of ALWAYS winning

    Some other important general philosophical tenants:

    - generalizations are never without exceptions

    - change is the only constant

  40. senyera7 says:

    I’m not sure if this has already been mentioned somewhere or not, but I think part of the reason for problems this season is the squad’s own confusion with its identity. Tata spent the first half of the season transforming the team into a counterattacking beast side, and the second half of the season almost undoing all he had done. I don’t know why he went back on his earlier ideology but it may have confused some of the squad.

  41. Inamess says:

    Great comments above! I am really looking forward to our transfer window since it is obviously the most important summer and transition for our team since Pep was appointed manager in ’08.

    There are somethings that seem obvious to me and some things I still do not understand about transfers that I hope others will help me out with.

    You go with the best player for the team and that should be it, but:

    How does a player’s age figure into the equation? To me, the perfect age to get a player is around 24. By this time a player should have already proved himself so you know what you are getting but also have that player’s best years ahead of him. For this reason two things don’t make sense to me:

    Why should a 19 year old be worth 36 million? This player may be promising but still has to prove himself. Isn’t this just a gamble that our best expectations for that player will somehow work out. If it doesn’t, then in a few years that same player may be worth only 10 million.

    Similarly, for an older player. If you buy a player at 30 for 36 million, he may still be one the best in the world. But aren’t we almost by definition buying a player whose best years are behind him and within a few years will certainly be worth only a fraction of his cost.

    For me, other considerations aside, I never really understood the Villa transfer. I was excited to get him, but weren’t we also assuredly buying a player in decline even if he never was unfortunate enough to break his leg?

    The possibility of bringing in someone like Thiago Silva seems like another Villa like purchase. It may be worth it if he brings you a championship, but to me there is too much downside.

    The other consideration, which many on this site have noted, is that we do not have to get the best player at every position. The difference in skill between the best CB or RB available for the transfer window and say the third may not be that much, and yet the difference in fee might be huge, particularly in a World Cup year and one in which every team in the world now knows that we are desperate to get in new players.

    That’s why I would like to see the club bring in a least one quality player that will surprise all of us. There are many talented football players that may fit in extremely well in our team, not just the usual suspects.

    Atleti showed the world that team chemistry, smart purchases of undervalued players, and intangibles can sometimes trump everything else. You can actually sell Falcao and in the next year win La Liga and go to the Champions League Finals. There may be players out there that can bring other qualities to Barca that are just undervalued in today’s irrational transfer market.

    With all these considerations above, I would love to know about some players that just might be undervalued and thus may be really great transfer possibilities.

  42. Kxevin says:

    Okay … that was bonkers. But if RM lose (or draws two) of its last 4 and we win out, our defeat of Atleti would give us the championship, at home, in front of our fans.

    And I’m pretty sure that it would also kill me.

    • ooga aga says:

      It WILL happen! Mark my words! This season is ours!

      VISCA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Love this team. Valdes and Puyol to lift the trophy, or alternatively, Tito’s children! Woooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Kxevin says:

    Just looking back at when Guardiola arrived for the last time a manager had a real transfer budget and the full backing of the board.

    OUT: Ronaldinho, Deco, Zambrotta, Dos Santos, Edmilson, Thuram, Oleguer, Ezquerro, Crosas

    IN: Alves, Keita, Caceres, Pique, Hleb, Henrique, promoted Busquets, Pedro, Jeffren

    I recall being so stunned by the Guardiola appointment that we weren’t fully able to wrap our minds around the personnel moves, other than to be teased by Arsenal fans about Hleb.

  44. bhed says:

    Three thoughts…

    Forgive me if it seems like piling on, but how much money does Tata make a year? Managing Barcelona is one of the most difficult jobs in all world sports, with huge responsibility (and a fittingly huge salary). Tata knew this going in. There is simply no room for errors at this level. For all of us who work our tails off on a daily basis for a microscopic fraction of that reward, it’s hard to muster much sympathy.

    Also, blaming critical fans is the ultimate cop-out. You can blame Cules (with voting rights) for approving the new stadium deal, and maybe for not jumping on the recall train when given the chance, but critical fans do not get to buy players, do not choose the lineup, do not get the chance to motivate players in practice, do not set the tactics, and certainly don’t get to execute the game plan on the field.

    If I agreed with some of the posters who claim we’re just not good enough, I could see some of this criticism directed at fans being warranted. But I don’t believe that. Our roster is still the envy of world football. If Athletico and Liverpool can do what they’ve done with their players, I think it’s safe to say with the players we have, we’ve under-performed this year, at least in the second half of the season. It was never going to be easy, but we definitely had the talent.

    As far as bandwagon jumping – I still wear the crest on my hat, still have the banners and scarves in my classroom (to the chagrin of some of my students), and still watch every game. I’ll still pay an outrageous amount for Direct TV next year so I can continue to watch every game – and for the year after that, and the year after that. And I’ll still spend more than I can afford making a pilgrimage to the magic city next year, if the LFP and my spring break schedule cooperate.

    That is all.

    • Inamess says:

      Great Comments!

    • Peter says:

      I have to jump in here, the question is not whether the supporters can be critical or not. It’s about being objective. Look at City, United, Chelsea, look at Real. These are teams that invest huge sums of money every year and pay outrageous salaries to their players, but they don’t take losing the league or failing to qualify for the final of the Champions as a sign of the sky falling down. United are practically out of European competition this year – any European competition, and still there was an open letter from the supporters/members accusing not the coach, but the Glazers. Palpatino Perez has been promising La Decima for 12 years, buying and selling so many players you could probably make a mini-Champions from the teams – and he is President for Life unless the courts overrule his changes of the statutes. Real’s fans last year celebrated the won Clasicos as if they were trophies, and the Copa del Rey as if it was a Treble.

      If Barcelona don’t win La Liga this year it will be the first time since 2008 when Barcelona hasn’t won a major trophy – and at no point in that period did the team suffer so many key players injured, especially the defense. At no point during those years there has been such a concentration of scandals, both real and created, tragedies both personal and institutional, injuries both short and long term. It was the first time since Nuñez when an elected president resigned, and it took a combination of an unprecedented action and threats both personal and against his immediate and extended family to bring him down.

      The bashing of fans is because these same fans that claim the right to be critical must also be objective – and must have celebrated every victory, not just the ones against the blood enemies. And that hasn’t happened. When there is lack of objectivity, criticism becomes, well, whining and tantrums normally seen in spoiled children.

      Why is it that when say Atletico lose 0-3 against Osasuna or Chelsea draw against West Ham or Real lose against Granada(own goal by Ronaldo, remember?) or have to come from behind to draw against Osasuna it’s not the end of the world, but when Barcelona’s battered and makeshift defense concedes and the strikers cannot break the bus or the superhuman-for-100-minutes keeper it’s time to bring out the knives, pitchforks and torches? It’s not that Barcelona are invincible, there’s no such thing as invincible.

      I have often had to repeat this, but you might want to look back on the 2009-10 Barcelona year. Barcelona won the title on the last day, by three points after they had been leading Real Madrid by just one after the penultimate matchday. That was a team which had Pep, Tito, Messi firing on all cylinders, The Zlatan, Henry, Puyol, Pique, Maxwell, Chygrynskiy, Abidal, Yaya, Pedro… This was the year when at the away game vs Zaragoza(fighting relegation) Messi scored a hattrick, Zaragoza scored two in the space of four minutes and in extra time Zlatan scored a penalty worked out by Messi. It was during that game when local supporters behind the bench told Guardiola that Messi is from another world, prompting a reply from Pep “If it wasn’t for him, I’d be coaching in Tercera”.(For those not in the know, Tercera Division is the fourth tier of Spanish football).

      So please, moar objectivity! :D

  45. Peter says:

    This is to answer Kxevin and everybody else. Thanks for the kind words, but I´ve been reading some real gems here and would like to answer to some of them a bit later.

    The question “Who do we sign?” is a very complex one and may have more than one right, as well as many more wrong answers.
    For me personally, and speaking from a position of pitiful ignorance (I barely have time to watch a few games per week), I can’t really talk about names, but requirements.
    For starters, I´d sign a fast left-footed tall CB. Laporte from Athletic seems a good fit for me, because he is young and can learn a lot. The fact that he is the junior player in the CB trio would mean fewer expectations and more of a learning role, at least for the first months. He shouldn’t be thrown in the deep end immediately. Second, he would be able to compete with Bartra and this competition would hopefully bring out the best out of them both. None of the two would be guaranteed a spot, but both would be available and eager to prove themselves.

    While I’m not so sure about him, I’ve started to warm up towards David Luis and it’s all Kxevin’s fault. I’m not so sure about him as a CB signing, because that would mean Bartra immediately becomes the omega in the participation department and for me that would be a disaster, because during this year he has grown a lot, both in experience, mentality, responsibility and also physically. Anyway, David Luis can play as left back as well, can play as a DM and CB and if Song is to leave, then I’d buy Luis in his stead. There is certainly a potential disaster looming when a player is played out of position, but David Luis from what I have seen from him can play as a DM(as a matter of fact he is put in that position in Chelsea) and his stature should allow him to help during set pieces in both boxes. Of course, I am speaking in ignorance, because I haven’t seen him play often. He certainly seems fast to me, if only for managing to run half the pitch in order to stop Pedro’s shot at the goal-line during the Confederations Cup last summer. His concentration can go at times but he can mature. In any case, I would have him, because he can be a versatile player. He’s also a player for whom playing in the Barcelona system would be almost a blessing, because he would be allowed to go forward with the ball as well as staying back. My only problem with him would be the fact that he is not Puyol. Barcelona need not just a defender, Barcelona really need a leader, someone who would fight for victory, someone to lead by example and the authority to demand it from the rest. That’s one reason why I would retain Mascherano and probably also give him the captaincy – because at this point Messi has the authority but is not leading by example, Xavi and Iniesta as well, and Pique himself often needs someone to tell him to focus. The rest are too young.

    From there the coach can have multiple combinations. Play Mascherano and David Luis as pivotes, Xavi/Fabregas on the right and Iniesta/Rafinha as false-LW, play a 4-4-2 with two pivotes, play a sort of lopsided diamond 4-4-2 with Xavi in his normal position, Busquets and Mascherano playing side by side, Messi as the point of the diamond and two wide strikers, a normal 4-3-3, a normal 4-3-3 with David Luis as left lateral. Versatility and height without compromising the attacking potential, this is what should be the objective for me. Of course, all that would need lots and lots of training, especially set-piece defense and offense. But once the team starts sweating their shirts from running up and down the pitch (like they did in the first Clasico, and it was f*cking marvelous) cohesion would build up, understanding and hopefully the flood of injuries would stop.

    Training, lots of training, absolutely no money tours, absolute authority from the coach, unity from the board and the bloody fans. In other words everything that Tata did not have when he started – and that can be a good start.

    P.S. Apparently after today Barcelona should also sign Keylor Navas (and his coach!) and use him side by side with Ter Stegen(and then sell Keylor once Masip is ready). However, Levante’s President has declared that it would cost 10 million to transfer Keylor Navas(5 millions if you want to shake his hand). :D

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