Searching for Answers: Barça’s Greek Tragedy

[It’s been a bit since I wrote something of value for BFB. Time, you know. Not much of it. Still, sorry!]

As I stare at my laptop screen, I wonder how I should frame this post. Should I explore the blame route where the coach, players, the fandom are taken to task? Or should it be the sadness route where we relive the destruction of the sporting project that has seen an entire core of players either misused or sold? Maybe stroll down anger road and blast this useless board and their financial agenda? Perhaps make parallels between the fall of Cryuff’s Dream Team and the Sir Bobby Robson era, and Pep’s Dream Team and Tata Martino era?

The answer is: I don’t know. I really don’t.

Following Barca these days is a lot like seeing a Greek tragedy write itself before your eyes. You’re the unseen audience and no matter how hard you yell at the hapless protagonists to not do that stupid thing you’re about to do or bang on the window glass of the clueless voting populace to alert them of incoming stupidity, you’re still invisible, the observers without a voice.

It has all the tropes you could think of and all the plot twists and red herrings of popular media. Old foes clash in a battle of ideologues, priorities and wit. Betrayals and alliances. Naive Newcomer Tata Martino jumps into a snake pit of insidious media and skeptical fans to lead a jaded group to new glory; only he’s having a tough time as his incompetent bosses need to appease their non-existent shareholders and make a 30m profit for their dividends. Just when Villain Protagonist Sandro Rosell comes out with a signing of a brilliant rising star, Spanner in the Works Jordi Cases appears with a lawsuit. Oh, but another twist, Anti-Hero Martyr Rosell engineers a resignation so his more media-friendly number two takes the helm. And round and round we go.

There was a journalist on Twitter who quipped a few minutes after the loss to a Valladolid that’s only one four games previously, “By the way, Puyol’s been smart…’ To jump ship, went without saying. But has this Barca had a true exodus yet? On the one hand, you can say yes: Pep, Cryuff, Abidal, Thiago, Valdes, Puyol to name a few. But on the other hand, Messi, Iniesta, Busi, Neymar to name a few are still around to make up the core of the team. We know Xavi, complaints about pitches aside, will go down with this ship — if he has his way, which is still not guaranteed despite his record appearances for the club. And that’s part of it, isn’t it?

To say fans are ruled by their passion is to say Messi might be decent at this football business (or maybe that’s a bad comparison, seeing how people have been talking about him lately…) They demand excellence at all times; this has its pros and cons. It leaves the team with standards. If the local hero isn’t at that level, they’ll turn on him. In the heat of the moment, past glory means nothing. On the flip side, play well and you’re untouchable. When times are good, it’s freaking awesome. When it’s bad, it’s nightmarish.

But like a true tragedy it’s those ruled by their passion that fizzle out the hardest. Pep Guardiola left because he was burnt out. Mentally fatigued Valdes decided he needs to outsource his talents  to new employers after a pressure cooker career. Puyol’s body couldn’t take the punishment the soul it housed demanded it endure. And in the end, no one can change the mind of a passionate and principled individual (except their parents, maybe). That leaves the fans more inclined to thinking trying to make sense of the body of work, of what’s left. Where did it all go wrong? Nowhere or everywhere. Maybe it was a disaster, maybe it’s the natural progression of events. Maybe too much stuff happened off-screen that we’re not privy to.

In a moderately received post I made some time ago, there was a hastily made flow-chart of fan arguments in response to big games. Fans being fans, there is always a way to make any possible scenario turn into some kind of online victory when they are debating an ‘outsider.’

“No matter the outcome of the game, I still win the online battle.”

The cule reactions would be much shorter of course; Did we win? By how many goals? How well did we play? All of that satisfied? Ok, we’re the best in the world. Fail to reach any of those and we go, depending on the aforementioned conditions, from an underachieving, lazy band of dimming icons to the fungus underneath the dying hopes of an entire fandom.

As usual, the answer is somewhere in between. The team definitely has a lot of fat that needs to be trimmed, for those who like stock pundit phrases, it needs to be reinvigorated but more importantly it needs a good head on its shoulders to lead it. No, I don’t mean the coach; I mean the people up top. But that’s just one opinion. For some it’s the manager, others the gutless players.

At the end of a disappointing day, week, season, years, we’re left trying to analyse the work and find some answers. I don’t really know what to say, honestly. There will be an exodus at Barça, but will it be the board or the players? I just pray it doesn’t end in a real Greek tragedy.

Question of the Day: If you could change one thing at Barça on or off the pitch, what would it be?

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Good Read Kari, Thanks for the Post

    If I could change one thing at Barça on or off the pitch, what would it be?

    The Politics, The unneccesary politics that have put Barcelona in the Situation where it is now, … The Politics of Laporta, Rosell & Cruyff That made Fc Barcelona the Loser. !

    a house that is divided among itself cannot stand. !!!

    1. Well said!

      Unfortunately I think politics will always be part of the club, but it’s my hope that the incoming management keep Barça’s best interests in mind – and that means the sporting project.

      Thanks for reading, providence.

  2. For good or bad, I have chosen this team as mine. And now I am lost for words. I’m looking for someone to blame, myself for not completing my stupid pre-game ritual, not caring enough about the tie, the players for being tired or not being fit enough, but the truth is that all these seem as no more than excuses, even though they are true.

    Still, even though my greatest desire right now is to curl in bed, pull the blanket over my head and wake up thirteen hours earlier drenched in sweat and sighing in relief that this was just a dream, we have to face reality. The team was less than motivated. They looked jaded, exhausted, both mentally and physically. They lacked aggressiveness, will or drive. Maybe it has been too much, I don’t know.

    It had to come some day, you know. Barcelona could not be always on top. Yet, it’s not the defeat that shuts me down, it’s the fact that it looked as if the players were just going through the motions. There was no anger. I hate myself for thinking this, but the thoughts appeared by themselves – the players of Atletico and Real wouldn’t have looked so… meek.

    It’s not going to change my feelings for the club and the team, no sir/madam. But I wish I could see my grief mirrored by the team. Not just my grief, but my growling anger, the will to hit back at those proclaiming “fin de ciclo”, those who would do whatever is possible/necessary to bring the team and the club down. I want to see the motivation that Puyol imparts to the team, motivation that seems so needed right now. Can this team rise up to the occasion? Can it find the will and drive to claw its way back to the light?

    City on Wednesday.

    1. We’ve been through much worse. But this definitely feels like back in 2007-2008 – we lose because we just lack effort and energy and this is a sure sign that a major overhaul is due over the summer. The cycle is most likely indeed over at this point (note that I really really hope I will have to eat my words 2 months from now).

      BTW, this also shows the logic behind what Bayern (and Madrid, though to much less success, fortunately for us) are doing. People are wondering why they are buying all these players when they already have such a great squad. Well, they buy them first because they can, but second, and more importantly, because no matter how good players you have, you need to shake up things in order to avoid complacency setting in and standard slipping. It was possible for teams composed of largely the same players to dominate for a decade until about 40 years ago, but since then nobody has been able to last more than a few seasons and there is a reason for it. We bought Neymar but it seems that it wasn’t enough. The problem is that what was entirely predictable all this time is now going to come to bite us – by not spending on the squad for years, we will not have to spend big this summer on many players, and we will end up paying more than we would have had we addressed the obvious weaknesses in less desperate circumstances in the past 🙁

    2. I agree here. The problems are bigger than one game – we’re always a bit meh after the FIFA break anyway. It’s more of a cumulative thing of a bunch of decisions that could and should have been better.

      Re Madrid and Atleti – have to say I’ve seen them gutless a bunch of times, let’s not forget RM’s poor run of form in and around November IIRC. Still, between the usual Hlebruary/March stretch and FIFA break, there’s the addition of a mismanaged team like G6O mentioned.

      Barça can get out of this, they just need to make strengthening the squad a priority instead of a luxury

  3. If I could change something off the pitch, it would be the mentality of the club and its supporters. I wish we could be more of supporters, all of us, in the full definition of the word.

    1. Well, there is an inevitable trade-off here too. If you are going to play the most intellectual brand of football there is out there and also manage to instill a taste for it among your fans, you will naturally have some of the least outwardly passionate supporters – they will be watching the game and analyzing it instead of singing and chanting in support of the team.

  4. Actually, I thought we weren’t too bad. But that was a sensationally crap pitch. Amazing how it bobbled in the most dangerous areas and looked well manicured – but not well rolled. Every time barca looked threatening, the ball bobbled or a player lost a vital second.

    1. Technically I agree, the pitch wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t the reason we lost the midfield battle or couldn’t make any proper passing lanes for example. Barça were poor and thats where we need to take responsibility.

  5. This line in the post – “The answer is: I don’t know. I really don’t.” pretty much sums up what Ive been thinking the whole day.

    If we play the “barca way”, we struggle to break down the defence, if we attempt to play the “Martino way” (not sure if thats the right term), we struggle to string enough passes together to create chances…what is the solution ?!

    One of the issues is not only to find the solution, but to find the problem itself ? Like the author on this post says – is it the players ? the coach ? the board ? And my answer still is – I don’t know. I really don’t.

  6. The board and its idiotic austerity needs to go. Here are Barcelona’s transfers when Pep became in charge at the start of the ’08-’09 season:


    Dani Alves,
    Sergio Busquets promoted.

    Dos Santos,

    For 88m spent and 49.5m income Pep started with almost a completely new squad. It’s quite frankly ridiculous that Martino just had Neymar, and I’m fairly certain it was the board that played its part. I know he was a late signing because Tito stepped down late, but some coach at some point, Tito or Tata or Roura or whomever, must have asked for reinforcements, and yet here we are, having added one player while allowing six to leave.

    The situation is quite frankly untenable and it’s a wonder that we’ve gotten this far. Any titles at all in this season will be a bonus as far as I can see, but I really REALLY hope the board learns its lesson and we see some transfer activity in the Summer.

    1. Great points. I’ve never looked at it that way. Makes me wonder what Tata’s demands were at the beginning of the season.

      Looking at our situation, there are many parallels with the ManU squad this season. Obviously not nearly as bad, but it is very clear that a pretty massive squad refreshment is needed which will require a lot of money. With better management over the past 2 years we would not have been in this position.

    2. That’s an interesting comparison. Agreed. In a lot of ways that Man Utd squad was overachieving ,particularly when you look at the quality of their squad; they effectively won the league with a midfield for ex. Ferguson’s cult of personality (so to speak) was enough for teams to play more passive than they normally would.

      In any case with Moyes, he’s a bit clueless (Felliani lol) but it’s not entirely his fault

    3. Good stuff as per, Jafri!

      The lack of activity is what’s harming us badly, we’ve had needs we’ve ignored, superfluous wants we’ve indulged and we need to do right to both the players and the managers. That starts with this board waking up, but if a 7-0 can’t do it…..

  7. It is rather funny how Martino is shouldering the blame. The old adage is that players win, and coaches lose. Martino has made errors. One of his biggest for me, is when Xavi came rolling up with the “We aren’t playing our way,” stuff, Martino should have said, “Well maybe it will look better to you from the bench.”

    You can’t reason with people who are your charges. It’s been messy since that summit meeting.

    Guardiola had full and complete carte blanche. He also had the full support of his board. Martino does NOT have carte blanche, nor does he have the full support of his board, a cadre of desperate men trying to save their asses.

    Guardiola had a board who said to him, you tell us who you want and we will make it happen. Martino has a board who says, Puyol is your big signing. Now, we have a new stadium to build.

    Things are a mess right now. Only the players can fix it, but to fix it, they are going to have to work WITH their coach. Simple as that.

    1. Kev,

      I would like to ask, how much of a truth regarding the Xavi’s comment to Tata in the mid season? I think this is same trend with the last season of Tito’s in charge. We are kicking ass in the league, having to just draw Madrid, then after the break, everything changed. I wonder why, be it Xavi, Tito’s sickness or something else.

      Same thing happened again this year. We’d been shown a positive coaching during the start of the season. Rotation, alternative attacking play, Messi’s been subbed off and so on.

      Recently, when we are looking for the starting lineup, it seems that either Iniesta or Fabregas will be sacrificed for the midfield, not Xavi bar the game yesterday which Iniesta isn’t available.

      It’s a shame if the Xavi’s thing is a truth, since in my opinion, Tata has done well with whatever resources he has with the team. To think he’s only offered to manage a team near the start of the season, stuck with guys he probably didn’t want, he does a great job managing our team.

      And even if it is the truth that Xavi’s commenting out Tata regarding the team play, I don’t think it would be that simple for Tata to say “Well maybe it will look better to you from the bench.”. It will risk him upsetting the team harmony. Plus how many players are not onboard with Tata’s way, to be honest?

      Iirc, when Guardiola starting out back then, he singled out 3 players that he didn’t want, which are Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto’o, if I’m not mistaken. He can afford that luxury given his history with the club, but sadly Tata couldn’t.

      Now, back to yesterday match, on paper it should be one of the matches that I say can be put on a “Win” category. The lineup came as a bit of suprise to me, especially with the inclusion of Alves and Neymar, since both of them travel the farthest and play full minutes with their international team.

      There’s something wrong, but I’m not sure what.

    2. I think what’s wrong is that we are seeing the signs of the mental breakdown. This manifests itself in the erratic play, so they can focus for a match like City. It’s just difficult to maintain that focus.

      Back when I compared Guardiola to Helenio Herrera, there was a reason. Both had the same immersive, super high-intensity approach. It wins for a while, then brains and energy starts to break down. Without a system reset, so to speak, it becomes impossible to sustain. It burned out a coach, no reason to think it wouldn’t also burn out players.

      Vilanova got a damaged team, and handed Martino a broken one.

      I was musing earlier about the root cause, when things started to go bad. For me, it began when Rosell won. The club has been losing since then. No, it isn’t as simple as that, but in the drive to make Laporta look bad and pursue that vendetta, the austerity bogeyman was born. “We can’t even buy color toner cartridges, how are we going to buy a CB?”

      Now, many years hence, the reset button of new players, fresh blood to feed into the fire is lacking, and it shows.

      But the damage came even before that, when the Ibrahimovic experiment failed. The club went from a dangerous, diversified offense to putting all its eggs in the Messi basket. I think this was meant to be a short-term solution that became THE solution. Now, as Messi goes, so goes the team, and that’s a problem because one player, even a great one, is controllable and defensible.

      The club acquired Villa, who wasn’t really the necessary force required, and became The Messi Show. Now, sooner than I had hoped, things are a mess because one player can’t do all of that. Go to midfield, get the ball, bring it forward, make the run, make the right pass AND score goals? I’d vomit, too.

      The players have to play the games. But I think they are physically and psychologically tired. But the entire starting XI had international duty, right? So who starts and who sits? Without viable alternatives on the roster, Martino’s option is to put tired players out there against a side that has had nothing to do except prepare for Barça.

      Even at that, lucky bounces resulted in the Valladolid goal, and how in the hell Neymar missed that equalizer I have no idea. We had some excellent scoring chances that just didn’t go in. It happens. Problem is when there is zero margin for error, as there is now, when it happens it results in dropped points, particularly when a series of circumstances results in an opponent goal.

      Valladolid ran us off the pitch in that first half. We got some back in the second half, but just couldn’t score. One Messi run, he tried a right-footed shot instead of cutting back to Neymar for the tap in. This came just before the Neymar howler. If those two things happen it’s a 1-2 win, and the narrative is different, even if it really shouldn’t be.

      I know the perception by many is that I blame the board for everything. This isn’t true. But I can indeed suggest that they are culpable for having the wrong priorities. The sporting project is everything. What’s the point of a fancy new stadium if the spectacle is compromised?

      Guardiola came in with full support of the board. “You, you and you … out.” Martino came in as the hire of a distracted board, and without their full support. How else to explain how uncertain he sounds about his future?

      Guardiola had Laporta and Txiki B, who said to him “You tell us who you want, and we will try our best to get him.”

      Martino inherited a world in which Puyol was considered a “signing,” and he had to toe that party line. Purchases that should have been made were not made, while the board crowed about record profits. For me, if a football club is making record profits, something is suffering somewhere. And I think we are seeing the effects of that now.

      The players know when a manager doesn’t have full support. Guardiola had it, so they knew if they didn’t go his way, there would be the devil to pay. But now that they are icons, they know they are going to win any battle against any manager. And so it goes.

      What is wrong is that the game doesn’t look to be fun any longer. Years and years and years of incessant pressure do that to a team. Neymar arrived, brought some “Wheee!” Then he got injured, and all the contract crap blew up. Then he picked up a knock, and hasn’t been the same player since.

      People say that signing a CB is the answer. Not for me. It starts with a new board, one that is fully committed to the sporting project. Then it flows from there.

    3. Kev,

      Thanks for this. I wholeheartedly agree. It does make you wonder, how much influence does Tata have on this team. If the team is fixed to play one way, it’s useless even to hire the best coach in the world if the player refuse to follow.

    4. Yeah, it’s never a good sign when players are outspoken in that way, but at the same time perhaps Tata, like Rijkaard, has a different coaching style. With Pep, he liked players to keep the grievances in the locker room so to speak.

      I love Tata, I think he should stay and at the very least get a season when he’s not the short gap solution for someone else. But football is a cruel mistress and it’s looking like he might just end up as the usual fall guy, as you said. Sigh.

  8. To answer your question, Kari:
    If I could change one thing. ..

    It would be too have games with players looking like they’re having fun on the pitch again.

    Really, When was the last time it looked like they were actually having fun? Happy Barça players won a lot of silver.

    How to do that? I dunno. I’d start with the board and cut out all the extra crap the guys have to put up with.

    1. I’d second that … something is dragging them down

      For me it starts with Messi who often looks at the floor, rarely ever gives a thumbs up but certainly does not end with him.

  9. abi. tito. anna and ini.


    it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times….

    1. Yeah. It’s like getting repeatedly punched in the gut with no reprieve in sight 🙁

  10. To answer Kari’s question, the one thing I would change would be the board. As I note above it isn’t all their fault, but the neglect of the sporting project that began when they arrived is finding its flower in what we see now.

    If the players don’t feel supported, how are they going to give of their best, psychologically? You support a team by giving it what it needs. I can only speculate that the players have talked among themselves about what those record profits would buy in the CB market.

    Messi said this club needs governance that matches the quality of the players. Right now, it doesn’t have that governance.

    To be sure, there is the presumption of professionalism. The players are supposed to do their jobs. But when a job relies so heavily on the body, a frail, flawed piece of construction, it just ain’t that easy.

    Today, when Martino looked down the bench for a game changer, he saw Sanchez, Song, Sergi Roberto and Tello. Come on … really? That’s what years of feeding the austerity monster gets you. Sanchez is an excellent player, but he isn’t going to turn a match. Song is a fine squad player. Sergi Roberto and Tello are Masia legacy projects, cost-effective and safe because they are of the academy.

    So a match that needed changing found a coach with no tools to do it. Busquets was crap, but what’s the option? Start Bartra and move Mascherano into DM? Maybe. Sub Song for Busquets? That solves only one problem. There were still 5 or 6 other problems to be solved out there.

    Without players, it’s hard to win the matches necessary to win silver. I thought this team, this collection of great players, had one more series of good runs in it. Maybe without all of the off-pitch stuff and the attendant distractions, it does. But that’s another story for another day.

    1. Excellent comments above, Kevin.

      I agree completely, all this has to start with the board. A board, who put football in a lower priority and gave importance to austerity,transparency and profits. Football suffers heavily.
      As you said above, Messi’s words seems to have more depth now, may be the players too are demotivated by all this.

      There is an absolute lack of motivation in our game, anyways.

      I just have a worry though – why didnt ask for new players in the Jan window? He could have right?

    2. He could’ve asked but it may have fallen to deaf ears. In general I can’t really remember a Jan signing outside Ibi. Barça seem to save all their activity for the summer.

  11. Each and every one of these comments following on from the lead article by Kari have been wonderful, insightful, true. Thank you all, for helping in my own despair, our collective despondency.

    I propose the contentious critique that Martino has been the wrong man for manager from the very beginning, I think Xavi is correct in his comments about the team tactics, “we aren’t playing our way.” I think this blow-in Martino is out of his league, and the idea that the board picked the wrong man is palpable. I argue that in the appalling scenario that was today’s match against Valladolid, the chickens have come home to roost: an inappropriate coach for the job.
    The team carried us to xmas, and now the shortcomings of Martino, not the team’s, have come to the forefront.
    The basis of my argument is that this is a mismatch – a parochial coach for a transcontinental team.
    Of course I am no football or Barca expert, and it is quite a thing to step up here and make a proposal that goes against the giants of this site, all of you global people. “We aren’t playing our way,” maintains Xavi and it seems we need to take this onboard.

    And to respond to Kari’s acute question – I say a change the coach. A vote against Tata, and for a new manager, one who represents continuity, and for a ‘profundización’ of Barca philosophy.
    (and if only Xavi was ready to assume managerial responsibilities).

    1. Wow! What an insightful and courageous observation as well. I was afraid to express the very same thought for fear of castigation. I’m so glad you had the courage to put the thoughts of some clues who think and feel the same way. As much as I admire Tata for his level headedness, no drama and practical attitude, I think this job is way in over his head.

      But this whole debacle about our team doesn’t solely rely on the coach. There’s our players who seem to have lost their fire. These players are human and as I mused before there are some non-game factors that have affected the way they approach their games.

      As Kxevin pointed out, these are signs of mental breakdown. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them desire to end their season early and take a long holiday break.

    2. *weeks later. Thanks DumbOx. I thought I would sent to Coventry, castigated, forever from this site for that comment. Cheers, slàinte.

    3. The team carried us to xmas

      There were a number of times where Tata’s tactical plans before the match was genius and made great subs during the game. He was called a pragmatic manager.

      But since new year, that Tata is gone. Just like how it was with Tito last season. Exact same time frame.

    4. Those are some fair points, socrates. No castigation here!

      I quite like Tata, as I’ve said before, but there has been times when he got it wrong. Sometimes he’d fix it, sometimes the players bailed him out.

      But the same can be said for many managers. Tata’s learning on the job, by no means a finished product. But the potential is there. The question here, and for the board, is whether that potential is enough to keep him on board another season. For me, definitely. I’d like to Tata to get a season where he gets players he wants and can have time to plan it out.

      Should there be elections in June, which there should be imo, Tata will probably get the sack as the new board would bring in their own coach.

  12. I love this club to hell and back but I’m really gutted and heart broken at the same time. Who is to blame? The board? The team? Honestly I really don’t know. But of course each of those have a hand in this. The board for not predicting this and trying to strengthen the team, handle transition smoothly by spending money when the situations arised and were less desperate. The players for the kind of lack lustre display they put up last night. It’s easy to blame the board we so despise (not exonorating them) or the coach we are unsure of & seems set to change out style of play whilst defending the players we love forgetting that they are paid millions to be a ‘Puyol’ especially in times like this. Last night I saw 11 superstars on the pitch who are also stars of their NT and automatic starters with nothing to prove just playing it simple just to ensure they are in optimal condition for the WC as only lack of fitness and injuries can rule them out of the WC expecting to win against a very motivated team who are fighting for their lives and had everything to prove. I also saw a coach who in the face of defeat reacted more quickly unlike in previous defeats, knew the changes he had to make but lacked the players to make them so he had to improvise. Needed another type of player in midfield? Dropped Messi who looked like the only player to score deeper. Needed a CF? Brought on Sanchez. Xavi wasn’t playing well, Busquets looked tired from midweek and was complacent, Alves was having one of those days. Who on the bench do you replace those with? I’m sure in Martino’s mind he was cussing the board for bringing him halfway across the globe to look stupid and clueless. In the end after last nights’s result, it only gets better or gets a lot worse and mirrors into the other competitions but my only hope is that since the players choose the games they want to be motivated in, we can have a decent run the CL (more revenue) and maybe win the CDR. As for the league, if they don’t play their hearts out from now on and win EE and Athletico, we may end up in third place. I don’t want to imagine what the Spanish media will be like if that happens.

    1. Nice comment, Seyi38

      It was disappointing what we saw yesterday. Like Euler said on twitter, it was like we hopped on a time machine and went back to 2008.

      FIFA virus always hits Barça hard, doubly so if there are additional problems (mentally, physically) we can only speculate about.

      I don’t think Barça will win the CL (Liga is a toss up, but unlikely as well) but I hope they actually plan to sign players this summer. The way this board is, only a true embarrassment will cause them to really work. Then again I thought the 7-0 was the wake up call. Guess not

  13. Real quick.

    1. I missed the match but saw the extended highlights last night, which life dictated I could only watch with one eye. Messi had some nice runs but we didn’t score. That was basically all I saw. The goal we conceded looked a bit messy.

    2. I’d change the board. Like Kxevin says, not everything is their fault but the sporting project is suffering needlessly. Teams win and teams lose, and after as much winning as this team has done? Hey…

    The board’s priority, in my opinion, is to keep us proud of being fans (or members) of the most beautiful club in the world and this is somehting that their actions and attitude since Rosell was elected are in direct contrast with. From the way they treated Cruijff to the whole Neymar contract fiasco, this board’s behavior has been embarassing.

    Some of us are quick to forget, but I think it is a disgrace that they have not called for new elections after Rosell stepped down. How would America have felt had Bush been forced to resign one year into his term only for Cheney to take over for the next three years?

    1. Oops, I left out a sentence.

      I meant to write:

      But the sporting project is not everything. Teams win and teams lose, and after as much winning as this team has done? Hey…

    2. Nothing to add here, agreed. There is no doubt there has to be elections. If there’s not one in June…..

  14. The Barcelona team were verbally abused by their own fans after the shock 1-0 defeat to La Liga strugglers Valladolid and, according to Spanish radio station COPE, an object was thrown in the direction of defender Gerard Pique.

    According to reports, the Boixos Nois, Barcelona’s fanatical set of supporters, were responsible for the coin thrown at Pique which fortunately missed the former Manchester United man which instead hit a television camera filming the squad as they exited the stadium.

    An estimated 3,000 Barça fans were in Valladolid to see their side slump to their second defeat in five La Liga matches as the Catalans drift further away from the league title.

    The video footage of the incident is in possession of the local authorities who will aim to identify if any object was thrown, and detain the culprit.

    1. Wow. Such a change from the loss to Chelsea in the CL semis just a couple of years ago.

      Instead of booing the team, we should stand behind them and support them. I mean the fans in Barcelona of course.

  15. Quite abnormal to see the lack of rotation btw the ‘cushioned period’.
    To the editor/writer of this article:

    is the photo above real?
    not even an exact date on the photo.

    ii. Not quite familiar with the language used in the photo, a circumstance after a grand final?

    iii. and other engine-translated meanings , not for me to ‘analyse it’. Don’t need to explain this one to cause misunderstanding..

    iv. raised some good questions, but a bit hyperbole tbh.., anyway an alarm for the team.

    (a)Some issues/questions:

    Sthg is spotted on (for quite long already) for many ppl.
    Delaying the idea to sign a CB but pushing for a heavily invested new stadium..

    (b)The terrible heavily rotated match just before probably let the manager decided not to rotate. Someone already pointed out, the dual out of position in the deeper MF is the actual problem where history suggests gradual experimenting & changes/evolution in actual matches is usually safer.

    (c) as suggested, the spatial coordination and usage is terrible in both matches(where ppl shouldn’t criticize rotation, though a few(3-4) is usually made, unless some unforseen circumstances. diagnoal balls are not bad, absolute passing precision to the feet is good for tired players, but seriously decrease the player mobility and coz surprises for opponent. Trade-offs..When one is trying to blame wayward passes, why don’t think about the movement of the player who should be anticipating and chasing the ball? Ok. case by case..

    (d) Rotation,.. boring word. Cannot all blame the manager. The benched players, not the rotated ones also have to justify their probable 1st team place in certain matches by their performances in the pitch. Why did the manager play almost the same expected team even after a mid-week match?

    (e)A known fact the bench is quite scare when you compared it not with the blues and whites. even Juventus’ MF bench look more secure. The CB problem is not a problem anymore, it’s an open issue.

    (f)Someone suggests many long balls, high or low/mid-range. A huge diff btw. Those who watched and played the whole match can ans that..

    (g)Certain player(s) played more badly than the others,
    not a good vs, compare with their best performances..
    Help each other out on the pitch. Fatigue may be a ftr.
    off-pitch issues may be a ftr, but on the pitch just concentrate the players, ball, space,..Not the speculation and quarrelling where certain ppl enjoyed as soap operas. Certain ppl like to see a previous season RM, who would enjoy it? Certain mind gamers or certain colors.
    Legal matters leave it off the pitch, will be settled in court.
    if a piece of paper is not black, it’s not not matter what words are used to decribe it..unless

    (h) Need to mentally and physically refreshed..Somebody understands, you may think sthg is hard to swallow, but either you ko ‘sickness’ or swallowed by sadness.

    The present day some ppl are so ‘infested with’ brute force and ‘rashness’, but don’t let it contaminate the style, different tempo/sudden change in tempo x= brute and rash and conflicts with players’ attributes.

    Patience & swiftness..remained open-minded & ‘push the bar’ to prove against the ‘tides’

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, wind!

      The picture is from last season when we lost against Madrid. It wasn’t from yesterday.

      If it was a response to the one game yesterday, I’d agree with you that it’s a hyperbolic reaction. But at the same time this is more of a response to a culmination of things that started, arguably, since this new board was voted in. True, it’s not fair to blame everything on them but they’re a major factor. What we’re seeing us effectively mismanagement – prioritizing the financial aspects (the 30m profit a season target + austerity) rather than spend money to advance the sporting project which should have been the priority.

      The specific things you’ve noted – CBs, lack of options for rotation, physically and mentally fatigued squad – could be solved with proper management. Sign players they need to rest others, have options to properly play the formation they want, etc

      Like Messi said, they run it like a business. Best club should have the best management. That’s not said lightly.

  16. Huge questions and I (like everyone else here) don’t have any definitive answers, maybe because it is a genuine mix of circumstances. I do know I’m not buying the board take the rap theory.

    I agree with Kxevin that when you looked at the bench yesterday there was nothing that said we could alter the shape of the game but how did that come about ? Have the board actually refused to buy anyone the coaches asked for? Maybe Thiago Silva but I’m not aware of any others. What I remember is Pep declaring that a small squad was good – and it was but we all failed to think of the longer consequences of that and he legged it leaving the job undone. I remember Tata saying we didn’t need a. CB when he arrived. Again, I can see the sense in that as he’d want to look at the squad first.

    The next factor in the equation for me is the turning our noses up at making a profit. We want a bigger squad and pick on the colour copiers issue relentlessly yet we are competing for the players we want with clubs like City and PSG who can but who they like. We, on the other hand, have to cope with the increased hike in salaries which comes from our success and having at least six or seven of the best players in Europe and having to pay them accordingly. You can’t manage that and quibble about shirt names.

    How many here, for instance, have been touting the need for La Masia players to get a lot more time in the firsts. If I list Montoya, Cuenca, Muniesa, JDS, Tello, ( the list is quite literally almost endless), how many of them have come to anything approaching our level? Even Thiago, at least for me, failed to shine in his chances although he would have been worth persevering with. And this is not a new phenomenon that arrived with this board. I remember railing on the old Offside agains the prevalent view then that Bojan and GDS were the answer and ready for prime time. The fact is that we did have a golden generation ( unlike the English NT !) but by definition that only comes around once in a generation not whenever we need it. Who could say that even Deulofeu, whom I rate or Bartra whom I’m not sure about will make it.

    With regard to the Xavi situation, I’m not a great fan of players telling coaches what to do but we don’t know if that happened, and you know what, despite myself I agree with what Xavi “might have said”. If we want to go to a more vertical system we’d need to replace about six players at least and although I can’t claim to have any connection with em I have a feeling that the fans might not be too pleased with the spectacle. While we can’t do that we need to play to our strengths which are not opening games up for end to end play which kills all but the most physical midfield. Xavi didn’t suddenly become a bad player yesterday. The Xavi of the previous week spraying great passes about, moving the ball quickly and running the game toiled yesterday because he needs those around him to be on the same wavelength. He needs clever forward movement when HE needs it and others to be available and able to cope with the quick ball. Yesterday the pitch was awful – I spent the first 15 minutes calling Busi for everything and I do think he had a stinker but so did Cesc who seems completely unable to be a major force in controlling the midfield for us. What has happened to him or was he just never that good ? However, I do know what I saw which was that Xavi’s control was better than almost anyone else on the pitch, he was looking up for passes and he hot more frustrated as the game wore on.

    Finally, on Tata. I like the way he talks about the game, I appreciate that the squad has it’s problems but I’m not a great fan of how he has seen the relative merits of Iniesta and Fabregas. If you want the best out of Xavi, take the pressure off him by giving him Ini as well. Then you can control the midfield and with ensuring that we keep one FB in defence at all times we are still as good as anyone. Last stat I saw was that Xavi and Iniesta have played together in just 41% of our games this year. Sort that and if we still have problems I might be tempted to save the board.

    (Apologies, slow Sunday and a lot of frustration like the rest of us 🙂 )

    1. * sorry about the typos especially the last one :). Sack the board, of course…….

    2. To be fair the problem with the profit thing is they don’t spend it on anything! They don’t use it to compete because they’re always looking for the cheapest deals on players that don’t explicitly play for the position they’re signing for anyway(Song comes to mind)

      Thanks for the long thoughtful comment, Jim. Always nice to hear your thoughts.

    3. What Kari said. If they take those record profits, then say they are going to dump them into the transfer kitty, rock on. But to use them to cure a manipulated debt problem raises my hackles.

  17. The defeat was a long time coming. A number of things were pointing us this way but we somehow refused to believe what we were singing. There is no one thing that we can pin point to as the cause of what we saw yesterday.

    Players off form and uncommitted, better organised opponents who are more hungry. For me the biggest concern is how badly we have performed since Tata took over. Football is a result business and as long as they come you are shielded somehow. If you team wins and you are criticized it seems unfair; which is what happened at the beggining of the season. But honestly how many times this season have we really been proud of this team? How many times has it won and we have really felt that we won the Barca Way.

    I know it seems and feels ungrateful to question when we win but that tolerance of playing poorly but winning have brought us to this. Team has put less effort before and won so why would they put more effort yesterday when they presumed they would win.

    Under Tata we have regressed somehow on the things that define us. The players are caught in between two things. For the majority of them, the have been to play patient methodical football whereas Tata want verticalidad. Somehow they retain the old habits without having really mastered Tata’s way. The result is a match like yesterday’s where they lacked ideas.

    Where we go from now on we don’t really know. We wait until the season ends and see where the club goes from there. This club has caused us many a joyous nights that it we owe it and ourselves the sleepless nights and frustrations that will follow.

    Being a typical cule i am bracing myself for a winter that is surely coming.

    1. I’m hoping we can right the ship this summer. At the very least we should try to keep it together and play for the pride of the shirt. I’m sure the players from Rijkaard era have learned that – our 4 captains for sure.

      Thanks for the comment, lala!

  18. I really don’t get this TATA out thing. First of all, it’s least his fault for the way we are playing lately, and second, with who do we replace him????

    1. There is absolutely no need for him to leave in the first place.

      That said, it is not his fault that the players have not been performing but it is his fault for not identifying it and make changes.

      Only manager I would want IF, big IF, Tata has to go, is Jupp. We need a manager who is powerful, dares to make changes, strikes fear into the players.

    2. I’m not saying he should go at the end of this season, but he does have a lot to answer for.

      First – if the players are playing uninspired, who’s job exactly is it to inspire them?

      Second – that Levante lineup was a flat-out mistake. Even casual fans knew that away fixture was going to be very dangerous.

      Third – He should have yanked Busquets at halftime (or even earlier) yesterday and replaced him with Song. Would it have made a difference? Who knows, but Sergio had given away, what, 20 balls by halftime?

      Fourth – while he has rotated, it’s seemed haphazard to me. For example, Bartra should have gotten many more minutes by now. Mascherano, all his guts and heart notwithstanding, simply makes too many mistakes to take us all the way (although he had a relatively ok game yesterday compared to the everyone else’s woeful performances).

      Again, I’m not calling for his head immediately, but I think some of his defenders here are letting him off too easily. Hard to know if the first half of the season was him lifting the team, or the team carrying him.

    3. Me neither, I want him to stay. He’s made mistakes but he’s also made progress in a different way. Give him a proper summer to sort it out

  19. The players are humans too. Their heads might have not been 100% on the game. They had bad news about Iniesta just a day earlier, Puyol leaving a couple of days ago and international break.

    Yeah, we lost a lot of points in this year but for the match last night, I think those factors might have played a role in the performance. We can’t discount that possibility.

  20. Barcelona wins 2-0 against Manchester City in England… reaction: “horray!! this is the best club, thanks to the players, they are all awesome.”

    Barcelona loses 1-0 against Villarreal after an international match… reaction: “this is all Martino’s fault… he should leave the club… he shouldn’t have come anyway, tragedy!!”

    1. I don’t like that dichotomy either, honestly.

      I separate my critiques into two categories: situational (that’s analysis just based on the one game) and general (that’s overall/the bigger picture, the context of the season(s), past activity, etc)

      Generally, I think Barça are deficient in a couple of positions and have been for 3-4 seasons now. I think they’re in a strange limbo both on and off the pitch where they lack the proper squad to really compete on all fronts and a back room mess that has to be resolved. No matter what the result, I’d feel the same.

      In the specific game, I’ll judge Barça by what I see on the pitch, the tactics, how they played etc. the Man City game along with a couple of others, were games where I think Barça played well. Outside of what I feel generally, I can praise them when they do well but on the flip side I’d also criticize them when when they don’t.

      That’s just me, though. There are a lot of knee jerk reactions among Barça fans; that’s the truth.

    2. It was HOW they played. We were outplayed for most of 90 minutes by a relegation team. Also, this is not an isolated incident, and most of the critiques are addressing more than just this game. Time will tell, but the Man City game is looking more like the exception than the rule.

    3. I don’t think I’d accept that we were outplayed. They created virtually nothing, saw precious little of the ball and spent the ninety minutes chasing us. The game, for me, revolved around our inability to take our chances. Messi had four or five shots. He sinks a couple – game over. If they hadn’t benefitted from a double ricochet they weren’t scoring. However, you’re right in that we can’t keep saying we were unlucky. It’s up to us to find the answer with a Messi who is a little off ( no more than that for me) , a Neymar who is understandably given everything taking some time to blend in and an Iniesta who must look at the team and think what have I done wrong ?

      The good thing to hang onto in all of this is that it’s still all about us. We play to our ability and take our chances nobody lives with us.

    4. Players win, and coaches lose. There were two plays that really stood out for me, that I kept thinking about and replaying. One was the marvy Messi run that resulted in an easy save.

      It was really good to see him at full speed, outrunning defenders. But as he hurtled toward the goal, he rarely has someone who can keep pace with him. He does now, in Neymar. Curiously, the keeper didn’t even glance at Neymar. And if you look at Messi and his focus, it’s clear that he didn’t either, preferring to trust his right foot. A simple slide of a pass over to Neymar would have resulted in a tap-in.

      But maybe not, as somehow Neymar managed to sky a wide-open scoring chance, with the keeper at his mercy.

      If either of those two opportunities goes differently, it’s a 1-2 win, and people are talking about how Martino motivated a tired squad to pull out the kind of victory that makes championships.

      Together, those two moments occupied less than 5 seconds in time, but their repercussions ripple like a boulder dropped into a lake.

      I know that people want to blame Martino. It’s easy, it’s convenient and it absolves the players. I, for one, won’t do that. Yes, he should have made subs, for me Song for Busquets, or Bartra for Mascherano and move the latter to DM, anything to get a bumbling, ineffective Busquets off the pitch.

      Subbing Tello on broke open a Copa match, so why not try it here, as well? Can’t fault him for that one. It just didn’t work. At all.

      They worked their asses off. Customarily we capitalize on moments of weakness that such effort creates. But it takes movement to do that. The side was as lethargic as I have seen it.

      Is that Martino’s fault? Some say yes, that he should have provided the motivation that makes tired legs less so, etc, etc. I say no. Martino draws up the match plan, makes the lineup and rolls them out there. At that point, all he can do is trust in the professionals to do their jobs.

      It’s fascinating to me as well how only certain players come in for scorn. So Neymar had a crap match. But Busquets was far worse, and few people mention him. Their midfield pressure worked because players who should know better weren’t doing the right things, so mids had to hold the ball longer than they should have, which resulted in their pressure being more effective in clogging passing lanes and nipping the ball away.

      Is that Martino’s fault? Not for me. The players, who say they know how to play a certain way, weren’t playing that way. They were lagging, and relying on individual effort. That isn’t going to work against a side as disciplined as Valladolid.

    5. Last 10 league games: 5W, 2D, 3L

      If it was just one loss after an international match (which did play a major role in this, no doubt, but it’s not the only factor), the reaction would not have been the same.

      But instead it is yet another loss in an extended stretch of poor games

    6. I’m not saying that there aren’t things to fix and check. Neither I’m saying that Martino didn’t commit mistakes.

      However, I think that placing the entire blame on Martino is not the solution and well… it not fair.

      Sure, Barcelona is on third place in La Liga right now… but this season is just bonkers… Real Madrid and Atletico are playing an exceptional season… and the point difference is not that much… we have to fight until the end… even if Barcelona doesn’t win la Liga… we should make a cold analysis of what happened… the good things are more than the bad ones… (that’s not to say that the bad things should be ignored)

  21. Small thing: could we imitate the wise Kxevin and speak of the Barça fan as a “culer,” which is the is Catalan (i.e., Barcelona) term? It’s “culé,” in Spanish, i.e., in the language of Real Madrid. And “cule,” which I see above many times, is nothing in any language — looking as though it would be pronounced “cool.” So, if we’re really dedicated culers, let’s make the small effort to call ourselves by the Catalan word, not some nonword like “cule.”

    1. We may be dedicated Barca fans but not speaking any Catalan (and only a little Spanish) I try not to use any of the varieties. It’s an interesting topic though. I have the same objection to some of my friends who use Scots language version of words when they are lowland Scots who probably fought with the English against the Scottish clans.

      Sorry, probably nobody will understand the above. Make allowances for someone in the throes of a separatist referendum year 🙂

    2. Nah, being in Ottawa (that’s near Quebec, a province that always talks about separating from Canada) the media here follow the Scotland referendum.

      As for the culé/culer thing, I hadn’t thought that deeply about it. Sure, I’ve got no problems with that. Maybe I’ll just use Barça fan instead, in case I forget :mrgreen:

  22. Knee jerk reactions are generally reflective of extremely shocking results. While they are part and parcel of fandom it is incumbent on us as fans to be objective and unflinching in our assesment of what happens before us.

    It is imperative we are loyal as fans but loyalty should not blind us to some truths. The team has been underpar this year. It has not had the results to shield it. The team needs to find its mojo fast.

    I think it Tatas mandate to motivate the team, to lift its spirit and stoke those fires. At this present tym that part is amiss.

    We will see after the dust has settled

  23. Third place it is for our team. The Classic is a must-win, then still have to hope that someone does us a favor. I preferred it better when all we had to do was win out, but I’ll take this way, as well.

    P.S. No, I am not, and will never join those folks who insist that the Liga is lost. Win the Classic and it’s a one point lead for them and anything goes.

    1. Wow I didn’t expect you to read articles from a competitor blog. I’ve been going back there recently. They’ve always had good articles but now they seem to have even more writers.

      BarcaBlaugranes is another good one.

    2. The writer and I exchange ideas and debate things on Twitter. He sent me the link.

      I actually don’t view them as competition. They are doing something very different than we are. They have also improved very much as a site, from what I can see.

    1. i just watched the footage from the training today. iniesta was seen running with valdes while the rest of the team did “rondos”. so he had a modified training. at least he suited up and ran around.

    2. Indeed. I am sure the team showed its support for him in private. As a player, his value to the team was never more clear than in yesterday’s match. His role as the shuttle between back line and attack is invaluable.

  24. Grateful to Tata for introducing more direct play in the diagonal balls to the left & right backs. We had to introduce something to this team that would give us a more unpredictable pattern of play. To many times last year we were all screaming for a plan B. The Board is culpable for not reinforcing the defense. How many years have we been crying for a CB? Austerity is great, but it doesn’t win championships. I can’t think of any top club in the world who turns a profit? If there is one please correct me. IMO, we need 2-3 CB’s next season. There a a few in Brazil who’ve been impressing. Young and rough diamonds we could give time. We buy a seasoned vet to give us a stop gap when Bartra and the younger signing become 1st team regulars. My only question of Tata is why isn’t Bartra playing more minutes? I can only think of a couple of performances that were not above average in description. I agree with the critique on Busi’s game yesterday. He was poor. However, he also played an international friendly midweek and could have been rested. Was Song on international duty? I don’t think he was, but can’t say for certain. I appreciate all of the insightful and intelligent dialogue in this post. It’s been a great discussion. I definitely feel a revamp in the summer is needed. We know of the 2 impending exits. Who else? This may be blasphemous and I wouldn’t want to lose him, but Pedro seems the most logical player to sell. He doesn’t play on the right as well as the left. I definitely favor Lexus on the Right. Ney is our preferred Left, if not for the tranfer fee, but for his ability on the ball being greater than Pedro’s. I feel we could get $20-25 for Pedro. He’s a Spanish NT player and scoring loads of goals for them. He’s scored quite a few for us this year. We use that money to invest in the defense and maybe sell one or 2 more players to bring in a few more. Should we increase squad size?

    1. The BEST thing about the discussion in this post for me is that it brings back the old days of BFB, and The Offside. We can disagree (and do) on things, but it feels like a family or friends having a discussion. No name-calling, trolling or winding-up. Just respect for everyone’s opinion.

      It’s really cool.

    2. on your final question: i think we absolutely should increase our squad size. look at the options Martino had off the bench in this match, for example; Kxevin’s right that none of them are going to change a game on their own. also, i’d claim that it’s no surprise to me that Pique’s best seasons for us came when he had competition for the 2nd CB slot.

      while as many have noted the squad needs major rejuvenating, i think that should result in a net increase of players and therefore options for any new coach that comes in.

    3. Absolutely. Song, Sergi Roberto, Afellay, Tello, Cuenca, Dos Santos. Six roster spots. Granted, our XI contains a number of legends, but still.

      Bayern works in many ways because their roster is filled with talent of a similar caliber. Robben is a damn fine player, but not a legend. You can swap players around and not see that much performance dropoff. Swap Iniesta? For who? Same with Messi.

      When Ribery was out, Bayern kept on rolling, not as much because Ribery isn’t (again) a damn fine player. But I would challenge anyone who tells me that he is a legend.

      The quality of our XI is in many ways what limits transfer activity. Afellay could start for many a club. He can’t get a sniff of playing time for us. Cuenca? You bet. But again, not with us. Song started for Arsenal. He’s the butt of jokes for us. And so on.

      The challenge is how do you build a squad around great players? It’s either complementary players (Keita, Gudjohnsen, Hleb before he broke) or you break the bank and buy the kind of quality that can challenge those top players for a starting spot.

      This summer will be crucial for the club’s future, and the future of the incumbent players. On the one hand, the club could bring back Deulofeu and Rafinha, unveil Ter Stegen and call it a successful summer. On the other hand, those players would make the club deeper, but with the exception of Ter Stegen who is a direct replacement for Valdes, not appreciably BETTER.

      So then what? You have to get two CBs, a midfielder and an attacker (I don’t say 9, because I think that’s too limiting.) But when you are shopping for that attacker, it has to be someone who isn’t going to vex Messi, right, or people will get all up in arms. The right purchases add versatility. Two CBs mean that Bartra can play fullback, and Mascherano can spell Busquets (who looks to be physically breaking down) at DM. Another attacker lets you stack Neymar and Messi and not have to rely on fullbacks for attacking width. But the wrong purchases become a fiscal albatross.

      I’d hate to be our technical staff right now.

    4. Can Bartra play full back, though? He seems to have the skill set and I’d probably prefer him over Montoya. It certainly is an intriguing thought, and even more so because I don’t see him as all that compatible with Piqué for a central defense partnership.

    5. This is what I always believed. We cannot simply go to the market in order to add depth to the squad. Some of them are pretty irreplaceable. That’s why I always believed the emphasize should be to adjust the formation to make it work better with whatever talents available. Regardless of whether we are missing some of our great players, we play the same way. Yesterday’s game was a classic example, the opponents were trying to crowd us in the middle and without Iniesta (whose quick feet helps in such situation) we still played the same way. I was hoping Martino would realize that and push Alves to midfield and play a pure three man defense. We needed that one more man in the midfield. Under Tito we were doing the same mistakes. Watch the Madrid vs Barca matches from last season, we were getting killed in midfield because the opposition defense and midfield were dominating together there. It even happened in San Siro before we made that brilliant come back at Camp Nou. And how did we did that? Got that man advantage back in the midfield by pushing Alves up.

      With our tiny midfield we always need the one man advantage to dominate. Otherwise we will get killed. Now unless Busquets does not get himself sorted out we will struggle more. Xavi cannot play with a DM and if the DM performance is suspect, he will drop deeper in order to preserve possession.

      Above all this I think we have bigger problems than these now. The biggest would be a lack of identity. The team is virtually non-recognizable and I do believe the emphasize in adding more versatility in to the side could be the reason. We cannot have all you want in a team. We either be a possession based team or a direct team. A mixture of both would add more confusion as a slight increase in the one would definitely affect the other.

      We need to go back to our roots. Under Guardiola the entire identity of our style was based on control. We need to get that back. Nowadays even in matches where we score lots of goals, we hardly seems to be in control at times. Yes, that philosophy had failed against some big teams when they parked the bus. Then which one wouldn’t? There is no perfect style in the world. We should try to make the one we believed as perfect as we can rather that dilute it.

    6. I respectfully disagree with increasing squad size, but I do agree on the squad needs refreshing. I thought that our transitioning between new generation and old generation has been poor. Granted, the current XI is stuffs of legend, but I do think better transitioning could have been better.

      What’s more worrying is that, most of the names picked to leave the squad is the younger generation, with no emphasis of clear replacement.

      Amidst the rumor of striker and stuff, perhaps it is just me, but I do not see any problem with any of our attackers, I am perfectly fine with an attack of Messi, Pedro, Neymar, Alexis and soon Deulofeu. When the team turn it on, we are still the best in the world.

      I think the problem is more on mental and psychological. Valdes, Puyol is surely leaving. Sergi Roberto, Afellay, Tello, Cuenca, Dos Santos could probably leave in the summer as well thus reduce our squad to around 18 players.

      I think perhaps making sure every position is covered by two players is good enough, with exception of GK. Not sure how the future lies with Olazabal and Pinto. Plus it is hard competing on transfer market, and massive overhaul on the squad required lots of money. Plus the coach needs to strike balance of large squad with rotation and playing time. Sure enough we will find culer complaining how certain players not getting enough playing time if the squad is too big.

    7. The plan B does not need to come from a change of style. It also could come by correcting something which gets back our advantage which was a part of Plan A. The best way to describe that will be to watch the Milan match at Camp Nou.

  25. On the other notes, Man City is also coming to the 2nd leg with a loss, more over with Wigan Athletic.

  26. I’ve been a lurker on this blog for quite a while and this is my second post. To put things in perspective for Barca “fans”, the team is 4 pts off the top of the league; Liverpool are likewise albeit with a game in hand. However, one set of fans see this as all doom and gloom and that the league cannot be won – based on comments i’ve read- yet the other group, us Liverpudlians, are in high spirits and cant wait to stare down the league leaders! Seriously, a team consisting of arguably the best South Americans: Alves, Masch, Neymar, Alexis, Messi; the core of the WINNING Spanish national team: Cesc, Iniesta, Valdes, Busquets, Xavi, Pedro, and the legendary Puyol in addition to upcoming gems from the academy…and folks are still gloomy????? It’s depressing!

    Barca doesn’t have a divine right to any trophy but you lot are guaranteed virtually the semis of any cup competition with this team as well as at least second in the league almost all the time! I’ve never been to Barcelona to watch a game in person but watching on TV the local fans need to do better and sing their hearts out whether the team is winning or not. It seems as soon as there’s a goal conceded then the fans get quiet and for a neutral i can see the effect it has on the players. No wonder Alves says playing at the Nou Camp is like an away game. That never happens at Anfield. We back the team no matter what! On the pitch and off it as well…through the good and the bad. The last i saw my team win the league i had just began elementary school. Now we’re within touching distance of lifting it. Perhaps winning all the time makes it blase…

    Advice to all the so-called fans who come here: quit moaning, quit blaming player X or Y and above all support the team you love!

    Why do i even bother?

    1. Thanks for sharing. I’m always critical when there is a lack of support from supporters at any football stadium for any club.

      Now, while agree that we have a majestic team that we should and do appreciate, what’s being done at least on this forum is more along the lines of people constructively criticizing where the club is heading both on and off the field.

      The notion that many people have that we should support unconditionally is not sound at all IMO. At the stadium during the game absolutely yes. But on the internet in boards like this, discussing tactical deficiencies, speculating about team selections and transfer is not being supportive, its just part of the fun of being a football fan.

      So yeah… discussion and critical analysis of the club doesn’t equal moaning, non-support

    2. Now, while agree that we have a majestic team that we should and do appreciate, what’s being done at least on this forum is more along the lines of people constructively criticizing where the club is heading both on and off the field.

      The notion that many people have that we should support unconditionally is not sound at all IMO. At the stadium during the game absolutely yes. But on the internet in boards like this, discussing tactical deficiencies, speculating about team selections and transfer is not being supportive, its just part of the fun of being a football fan.

      So yeah… discussion and critical analysis of the club doesn’t equal moaning, non-support

      Yes yes and yes. I’ve said similar things a couple of times years back but of course in a broken, non-eloquent way, that just because I criticize the team doesn’t mean we’re ungrateful fans.

      And it’s not like the players will read our critical comments. When you’re in the stadium, that’s when you can show to the team that you support them.

      Why I used to say that is because some people will start to comment that we should be grateful to the team, armchair fans, etc. Fans discuss and complain after the match. It’s perfectly normal. Heck, we discuss it in the stadium itself but of course not booing and continue discussing right after leaving the stadium just like how we discuss here online after the match.

  27. Everybody has said everything already. But I was left wondering repeatedly during the game against Valladolid, where the joy in playing football and outsmarting the opponent with cheek and technical superiority had gone! things that the Barca players have oodles of in their arsenal. How did they allow themselves a result and a performance like this one? So many wayward passes and a complete lack of urgency and want. Cesc may say that the players know every match is like a final. But did they play like they knew it?

  28. In Scotland in winter (well from November to March we played on pitches which were either frozen solid or four or five inches dep in mud. Because of this, from then on the pitches usually remained rutted and hard as a brick. Not using this as an excuse for the woeful lack of technical ability in my country but I’d be foolish to say it wasn’t a pretty big element in it.

    How many here have played on pitches where a simple pass along the ground bobbles the whole way or even worse just as it gets to you? For me, not too bad as I’m poor enough to have to watch the ball all the way anyway but just imagine for Xavi, Busi and the rest in that last game. They play with their head up all the time. You just can’t do that and keep the same control. How many other teams regularly come across pitches which have been doctored specifically to counter your skills? ( Again, in Scotland against technical teams we used to bring the touchlines in as much as poss to cramp the game.) It’s not an argument to say it’s the same for both teams either when one team is trying to play a passing game on the ground and the other is just chasing and hoofing the ball for ninety minutes. Does anyone do this against Bayern or RM ? We’ve certainly seen how poor RM are at breaking a bus. Can’t speak about Bayern as I don’t watch them much. We have to cope with this EVERY week.

    Just sayin’ now that enough time has passed for it not to be the excuse it would have been. It doesn’t make up for the performance but it does add a bit of balance to my assessment of it – now that I’ve calmed down…..

    1. As someone who has played for most of his life on prefectly smooth artificial surfaces and was then forced to move to grass pitches that also double as track and field grass (just think what javelin, hammer, and disc throwing does to the surface) I am fully aware of the issue and I completely feel the pain of anyone in that situation.

      But that game was much more than that. As with most things in life, there isn’t just one factor that causes a system to collapse. The playing surface played a role. But it is also true we completely lacked energy and desire to play as well as we could given the circumstances. Valldolid scored because they were allowed to spend way too much time close to our box – any semi-decent team will score in that situation, and it will usually be due to some lucky combination of bounces. When we keep a clean sheet, it’s because we don’t let team ever get in a position to take advantage of a lucky bounce. There was absolutely no intensity and even a hint of pressing in our game.

    2. in Scotland against technical teams we used to bring the touchlines in as much as poss to cramp the game

      They did the same in the late 90’s vs Chelsea in CL QF. They widen the pitch to stretch the wings according to Cruyff. Not sure whos idea it was but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his. And it worked perfectly as we made an amazing comeback 4-1.

      As someone who has played for most of his life on perfectly smooth artificial surfaces

      How come you were able to always play on smooth artificial surfaces? We used to train on artificial pitch sometimes when the field is wet.It’s so nice but most of the people didn’t like it due to the danger of getting an injury. I love artificial pitch because it is always in a good condition.

    3. Concrete, indoors, and artificial turf – neighborhood school playgrounds mostly, in Europe. But then I moved to the US and where I am right the only places where people play are grass (and often double as track and field, as I said). And it’s horrible and I have never been able to adjust completely.

    4. They play with their head up all the time

      You’re absolutely right. It must’ve been difficult for them.

      Recently I played football on a horrible pitch. It is really difficult coming from an indoor pitch/court where I know the ball will arrive at my feet and at which speed. On a horrible outdoor pitch, you constantly have to look at the ball as it rolls over.
      A split second or two lost.

      So I think the same applies to the Barca players. That said, they should get used to it by now as they play the same number of matches away.

      Perhaps they should spoil one of their pitches at their training ground to prepare for away matches.

      I remember 2-3 seasons ago when we played Inter or Milan away, they purposely turned their pitch into a potato field and we had great discussions here. I think it was Kxevin who said something like, it’s their pitch so they have the right to make it whichever way to give them an advantage just like how Barca keeps its grass short and wet.

  29. You nailed it there, Momo.
    For a team that has dominated world football in the last decade, the ridiculous standard set makes it hard to accept anything else or less.
    Throw in the fact that you are up against fiery and unfriendly adversaries- Bayern, Madrid etc that have well equipped and fortified themselves to dominate as a leviathan force.
    I believe strongly that some of our predicaments and conundrum are preventable if only we weren’t complacent and cheeky.
    Nothing wrong with failure- it’s generally inevitable.
    But the worst type of failure is the one engineered by one.
    I really do hope we don’t self-destruct. That, my friend, is the most excrutiating part.

  30. Vilanova got a damaged team, and handed Martino a broken one.

    That is really a great quote Kxevin. You are spot on!

    The club acquired Villa, who wasn’t really the necessary force required, and became The Messi Show.

    Disagree. Villa was part of the feared trident of Messi-Pedro-Villa. Without Villa, we wouldn’t have been able to win as many trophies as we did with him on board.

    So who starts and who sits? Without viable alternatives on the roster, Martino’s option is to put tired players out there against a side that has had nothing to do except prepare for Barça.

    Tata could’ve played players like S. Roberto from the start who didn’t have to travel much and played hard.

    Song could’ve come on for Busi or any of the other midfielder to play CM.

    The midfielders looked like their legs were heavy. They were clearly tired. Sergi Roberto should’ve either started or come on earlier. I don’t rate him that much but he would’ve certainly helped the team with his box to box style and he attacks the box.

    For me, if a football club is making record profits, something is suffering somewhere. And I think we are seeing the effects of that now.

    But we are heavily in debt. I don’t think it is wrong to use up the profit to lower the debt. The current board has to fix the mistakes of the past boards.

    Pretty similar to what you said earlier but with different people, Rosell and co took over a broken or damaged board.

    People say that signing a CB is the answer. Not for me. It starts with a new board, one that is fully committed to the sporting project. Then it flows from there.

    CB would certainly help. In any case, I would’ve played Bartra more. Kid only had one bad game so far this season.

    Busquets was crap, but what’s the option? Start Bartra and move Mascherano into DM? Maybe. Sub Song for Busquets? That solves only one problem. There were still 5 or 6 other problems to be solved out there.

    He could’ve put Song on at halftime or somewhere early in the 2nd half, that’s a start.

    What I remember is Pep declaring that a small squad was good… I remember Tata saying we didn’t need a CB when he arrived. Again, I can see the sense in that as he’d want to look at the squad first.

    Correct. Pep always wanted a small squad which I don’t agree with. So who knows, Tito and Tata also preferred to have a small squad.

    If that is really true, I think they’re all wrong. Every team, no matter what field, needs a new face or two every year.

    I do know what I saw which was that Xavi’s control was better than almost anyone else on the pitch

    I’d kill to have his touch. How does he get such a good feel of his feet? I wish he would open an academy after his career just to teach how to receive, pass and move 🙂

    If they take those record profits, then say they are going to dump them into the transfer kitty, rock on. But to use them to cure a manipulated debt problem raises my hackles.

    It is not a manipulated debt. We do have a debt. Every person, company or club, everyone should try to minimize their debt. Only one way to do it, which is to record profits and use it to reduce the debt.

    Of course, some of the profits should go into the transfer budget. But we already have quite a high budget for every summer. It was 50-60 million if I’m not mistaken.

    But honestly how many times this season have we really been proud of this team? How many times has it won and we have really felt that we won the Barca Way.

    You are right but there has been at least a handful of times this season where they did play very well. But they have mostly been in the first half of the season.

    We were outplayed for most of 90 minutes by a relegation team.

    We were facing a bus with loads of gas. I don’t see how we were outplayed. And they defended really well for 90 mins.

    3-5 seasons ago, teams would’ve been tired of chasing the ball after 60-70 mins but that hasn’t been the case anymore for the past 2 seasons. Every player is fitter than ever.

    Robben is a damn fine player, but not a legend… When Ribery was out, Bayern kept on rolling, not as much because Ribery isn’t (again) a damn fine player. But I would challenge anyone who tells me that he is a legend.

    They might not be legends but they certainly have been playing better week in week out than our “legends” for more than a year and turned up when it matters most (CL).

    Song started for Arsenal. He’s the butt of jokes for us

    Check out


    They love to make fun of Song. I just found out about that site 2 weeks ago so I don’t know how and when the Song jokes started.

    That site is hilarious. Whenever I need a laugh, I’ll visit there. Footy Jokes or Troll are funny too but barcasstuff only cover barca related stuffs.

    Two CBs mean that Bartra can play fullback

    Why move him out of his natural and best position? And last year or 2 years ago, he was experimented at RB and it wasn’t pretty.

    Why not 2 new CB’s to complement Bartra and Pique? I’d buy an already established CB and a young superstar.

    Granted, the current XI is stuffs of legend

    They are legends but their past it in terms of week in week out doing legendary stuffs. Messi is the only legend that is able to produce it on a weekly basis.

    1. The size of the club’s debt is indeed manipulated, in a way that was well diagrammed by the neutral and very thorough Swiss Ramble. Yes, the club has debt. No, it doesn’t have the soul-crushing debt that this board claims, and use as their license to sell everything that isn’t nailed down. The process began with an effort to make Laporta look bad, and continues today. Laporta lied about HIS numbers. Every president does, in a way that facilitates their program.

      Even now, they manipulate information, as the club goes from doing great to doing poorly and still having cash flow and liquidity problems, depending on what is going on when a particular board member is speaking. It is just another reason I want them gone.

      I rather imagine that the next president will have an entirely different debt story, because that is how these things go. To deny that the club has debt would be incorrect. But it would also be incorrect to swallow completely the picture that this current group is presenting as regards our debt.

      Only a few have asked how an austerity club has the temerity to plan a 600m stadium project. FC Barcelona has plenty of money, as befits a club that accounts for more now, than a half-billion per season. Can a club in debt-riddled austerity still have 50-60m per summer to spend on transfers? Recall that we would have bought Neymar AND Thiago Silva last summer had the latter been available. That would have been (leaving out the extra stuff tacked onto the Neymar deal) a 100m summer for two players.

      Does that strike anyone as the actions of an austerity club?

      They should have been intelligently, and gradually replenishing the squad as well as servicing the debt. Because that didn’t happen, the result is that the club will need to go on a spending spree this summer if it hopes to make the changes necessary to keep the team at the very top.

      Laporta wanted silver, and was willing to be a fiscal loon to do it. This group wants monuments, reminding me of my hometown Chicago Bears. That team is crap. Glitzy, but crap. It makes the playoffs most years, then gets killed by a real playoff team. The team stays just good enough that fans don’t rebel, and the owners bank big profits.

      The stadium, which has recently been rehabbed, they now want to expand. Meanwhile, the spectacle on the field pulsates with adequacy. But every home game is a sellout, so why spend the serious money necessary to field a truly competitive team?

      Likewise, I don’t believe that a fully successful sporting project is the priority of this board. The new stadium is. And to my view, the sporting project comes above everything.

  31. Song started for Arsenal. He’s the butt of jokes for us

    via ;

    Here we go…. courtesey of Barcasstuff
    Enjoy 😆

    Alex Song with his 9th ballon d’Or

    Alex Song is just 91 goals short of equalling Messi’s goals in a calendar year record. He could reach it against Real Madrid. (MD)

    1. You miss my point. When I said that Song is the butt of jokes for us, I didn’t mean that was in any way, shape or form a positive thing.

    2. “Song is the butt of jokes for us” means that we, people on this blog, make fun of him right? Which I haven’t done but maybe others did that I must’ve missed. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  32. Some more victims;

    Cristiano’s favorite kind of tea is PenalTEA !!!

    Arbeloa:”Boss, I think I’ve got a good idea for strengthening the team.”

    Ancelotti:”Great! When are you leaving?”

    Bojan Krkic (13) has won more career trophies than Cristiano Ronaldo (12).

    Martino:”Halilovic? We’ve been following him since he was conceived. The club finally found enough pennies down the back of the sofa to pay”

    Okay, let’s get this out right away, how much did we pay Halilovic’s dad?

    FC Barcelona announce the signing of Alen Halilovic.

    Initial fee €5m, plus €3m when he joins first team, also €57.3m for Neymar’s auntie.

    Casillas and his dog saw Messi in the street yesterday. (MD)

    Infographic: Podolski will join Real Madrid after Ozil, Isco and Modric.

    culés after puyol announcing his departure *

    Actress Jennifer Lawrence and Pepe have one thing in common. Neither can stay on their feet.

    Ancelotti is looking to bring Jackie Chan to the club. He wants someone to partner Pepe who can act AND fight. [Marca]

    OFFICIAL: Diego Lopez is the only Real Madrid player who did not dive tonight vs Atletico. #respect

    Atleti denied a clear penalty! UEFALONA!

    Atleti channelling their inner Barça with that defending. 1-0 Real.

    Sergio Ramos is a Sunderland fan.(marca) (bad) *

    Gareth Bale in his natural habitat (quite bad)

    RT if you’ve won as many trophies as Gareth Bale

    Marca: “Police hunting for missing diver”
    I think you’ll find he signed for Real Madrid last summer.

    Madrid paid 95m for Bale? If I paid that amount of money for something that dives, it better be a submarine.

    Ancelotti: “Clásico? A lot of nerves. We were totally outplayed last time. We’re trying to stop Gareth doing his disappearing act again.”

    Looks like our YouTube sensation did rather well today. Can’t for him and Bale to face off in this summer’s World Cup. Oh wait…

    I can now see why madridistas say Bale > Neymar. Neymar unfortunately does not have the ability to turn invisible.

    Imagine if Neymar knew what team to pass to

    Alves, Neymar and Song did not train today. Too busy on instagram. (MD) #fcblive

    Official: Dos Santos is trying to find 4-5 pictures of him and Puyol together so he can make a collage and Instagram it. It’s difficult.

    BREAKING: Barcelona confirm they will not sign a CB to replace Puyol. They will instead convert Jonathan Dos Santos into one.

    note: Jonathan Dos Santos manages most of the players’ Instagram accounts because he has so much time on his hands

    Barcelona are looking to keep Dos Santos. Him leaving would mean they would approximately lose 80% of their Instagram followers. [rac1]

    Tw Dos Santos: “Almost crashed while I was updating my Instagram again LOL!” [@jona2santos]

    So we could be seeing a Piqué-David Luiz partnership next season. Some jokes write themselves.

    Messi shaking pitch invader’s hand

    Picture: Jordi Alba took a selfie while watching TV tonight (cute)

    Picture: Jordi Alba spotted in his new sportscar with his girlfriend (cute)

    Want to know the secret of Jordi Alba’s amazing speed?

    Fabregas out, Iniesta in. Cesc can’t wait to get his hands on his phone so he can tweet.

    Jan Vertonghen created more chances for Chelsea than any Barcelona player did for Barça today. (via @opta)

    Official: The city of Barcelona is reporting a shortage of alcohol after today’s game

    Barcelona are set to appeal against Demichelis’ red card. The club says they really need him. (UEFA)

    Roberto replaces Pique… Say hello to our new CB

    Isaac Cuenca is out for 4 weeks. Not that anyone realised he was ever back. Especially Tata. #fcblive

    Martino: “Cuenca out for 4 weeks? Um…Who? Is he the new cook?”

    Rodgers: “Players like Valdes should relish the chance to play with Kolo Toure, he defends much like Gerard Piqué.”

    Martino says he’ll leave the club this summer if they don’t sign Tom Cleverley. Bartomeu is trying to sign him at all costs. [faily mail]

    Why do madridistas call their attack BBC? Why would you want to be named after a company full of child pedophiles? Odd.

    “BBC” actually stands for “Bank Breaking Cheats”

    Alvaro Arbeloa paid this guy 900€ for this. Need cheap advertising? Contact:

    Song time

    Song was left out of the match squad to make it fair on Valladolid

    The only reason we are not winning is because Alex Song is not playing #TataOut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Predicted Barça lineup: Song; Song, Song, Song, Song; Song Song Song; Song, Song, Song. (MD) #fcblive

    Alex Song: “I declined many big teams’ offers and I decided to join Barcelona because it seemed like they needed me the most.”

    Alex Song: “What it feels like to be the best player in the world? Great! Messi is a close second. I like him very much.”

    Poll: “Do you want Alex Song as your new captain?” Yes 100% – No 0%

    Picture: Alex Song actually tried today at the training session

    Picture: Alex Song with a fan lol

    Picture: Alex Song with a group of fans

    Official: Alex Song has decided to go with this outfit tomorrow *

    Alex Song running away after being hoarded by fans in Madrid. One adoring fan however chose to chase him. (Marca) *

    Picture: Song with a fan

    Alex Song playing for Barcelona reserves (lmfao) *

    fact: Alex Song once just looked at a player and he got injured.

    OFFICIAL: Alexandre Song will sleep on the bench tonight. He is getting used to the bench more and more every season.

    Carles Puyol is the captain only because Song said he should be. #respect

    Imagine if your team’s board was stupid enough to buy Alex Song over Javi Martinez. Hahaha! As if anyone is that silly.

    Alex Song refused to play, He felt too good for Almeria. [AS]

    Ancelotti: “When Khedira got injured Barcelona offered us Song as replacement. We’re not that desperate to have Song in the team.” [as]

    Alex Song doing what we all should have done years ago

    I wonder if Song really threatened Pique. I wouldn’t be surprised if Puyol did the same to Pique a couple of times 😆

    1. Funny.

      CR7 made an incredible acting performance yesterday to get a Levante player send off. It would have been only an acceptable yellow if not for his award winning performance.
      The commentators would never talk about that in the next Madrid game though, even if the moment they see Busquets, they would start describing how Sergi is dirty and bla bla…

    2. See, I don’t find that stuff funny at all, but I remember when a guy named Pep ran the original FCBTransfers site. He functioned as a dedicated journalists, who cultivated sources within the club to disseminate Barça news and information. He even set up a dedicated election site, that continued the fine work of his original site.

      When he came to Twitter as @barcastuff, the excellence of his work remained. Then he, as many devoted bloggers do, ran into time constraints, and complexities with doing so much work for free. At that point he started taking on team members, before giving it all up and handing it over to them. It was downhill from there, to the point where I don’t even think that @barcastuff is worth a follow.

      It is little more than a rumor dissemination account, and worthless quizzes. @barcastuff went from breaking news, to posting “news” that is in effect rumors, often hours behind even sourceless plebes such as I. And to devote that much time to poking fun at our players, I just think is disgusting, and demonstrates just how far the account/site has fallen.

      They should be better than that.

    3. Kxevin, I might be mistaken but I think you are mistakenly took the tweet posted by barca96 is from the real Barcastuff account. It is indeed from a parody account with handle “Barcasstuff” (notice the double s).

      But can’t deny the quality of info from Barcastuff is not as the old days, guess it’s quite hard to keep up with quality and devoted your life too much for that.

    4. Ah! Thank you for that clarification, teddy.

      Your observations about quality and quality of life are sound. Heck, look at this space as an example of that. It’s really, really hard.

    5. Aha. You haven’t been reading properly. I’ve clearly said that it’s with double S in capital letters above and I’ve written barcasstuff out 3 times.

      Now that you know it’s a parody site, do you still think it’s not funny?

    6. No, I don’t. In part because I don’t think those jibes are funny, but I also don’t philosophically cotton to poking fun at the club in that way.

      I wish I could quantify why the satire of “Crackovia” works for me, however. Have to think about that.

  33. It’s been ages since I posted here due to a new job but I still come on every day to read the blogs & posts.

    Maybe it’s the time spent playing Football Manager in me but I love discussions on transfers and what needs to be changed.
    It’s going to be an interesting and difficult summer with in my opinion 4-5 new players needed.

    Valdes is leaving and we haven’t had to consider a goalkeeper purchase in a decade. For those with long memories like me I remember the carousel of goalkeepers we went through after Zubi with the likes of Vitor Baia, Rustu, Arnau, Hesp, Dutruel etc. until we settled on the not-so-impressive Victor Valdes with his slicked back hair.
    He made a load of errors but was a very good shot stopper and good with the ball at his feet. There were calls most of his early years with us to sign a world class goalkeeper but eventually he turned into one. Before the CL final v Arsenal he was more famous for gifting goals to David Villa than stopping them.
    Assuming ter Stegen gets signed then we’ll have to show the same patience with him as we did with Valdes because while he is also a great shot stopper and good with the ball, he is also capable of some calamities like the own goals he has scored through lack of concentration.

    Puyol is also leaving which has been coming for some time. He has one thing that was sorely missing at the weekend and often over the past few weeks… passion.
    He wants to win more than any player I’ve ever seen. There are few players with that drive and it makes them better players than many other more skillful ones. Steven Gerrard won the CL for Liverpool by sheer will to win and our team has lost it at the minute.

    Mateo Mussachio of Villarreal looks like the most obvious squad depth signing for me. He has been immense this season and at 23 has plenty of room for improvement. He’s also available as a free transfer in the summer.
    Who the ‘big’ signing in defense will be I don’t know. I get the feeling that it will be someone like Mats Hummels who I’d be more than happy with. Yes, he’s not the fastest in the world but his reading of the game is fantastic and he has the ability on the ball necessary.

    In midfield I think we’d be smartest to let Song go because we’ll still get good enough money for him from a Man Utd or someone.
    Sergi Roberto hasn’t been fully assessed in my opinion so he’ll probably stay for another year but we still need to bring someone in.
    If Toni Kroos isn’t happy with the contract situation at Bayern and is wanting out then he would be the perfect addition. He’s great on the ball, good in the air and physically very strong. He’d give us an extra dimension.
    Arturo Vidal would be perfect too but he would be so expensive I can’t see it happening. He will cost €40million at least and with the number of players I see us bringing in then I can’t see it.

    Up front we still need someone. Tello has went backwards this year and is taking up a roster slot that I’d be happier went to Deulofeu next year if he isn’t on loan again. I haven’t been overly impressed with Rafinha when I’ve watched Celta Vigo either so I’d definitely give him another season on loan.
    Figuring out who to bring in is even harder.
    Loads of rumours than RVP is unhappy at Man United. He is good enough and his injuries are certainly more under control than previous years.

    Here’s my wish list:
    In: ter Stegen, Mussachio, Hummels, Kroos, van Persie
    Out: Valdes, Puyol, Song, JDS, Tello, Afellay, Cuenca

    ter Stegen | Pinto
    Alves | Montoya
    Pique | Bartra | Hummels | Mussachio
    Alba | Adriano
    Busquests | Mascherano
    Cesc | Iniesta | Xavi | Sergi Roberto | Kroos
    Alexis | Pedro
    Messi | van Persie
    Neymar | Deulofeu

    1. Welcome back to the speaking part of being here, ciaran. Interesting stuff.

      I had forgotten about Musacchio being available on a free this summer. Can’t imagine there won’t be many suitors, but we would have to have the inside track. I also wonder if all the stuff about Hummels, Vertonghen, etc, is a smokescreen. Who knows?

      A few people have told me that Luiz is essentially a done deal. We will see about that one. I see the club buying two CBs this summer, and that should be done before anything else happens, frankly. It’s been a need that has become something of a crisis even as my views on the whole CB question and how it relates to why the team is conceding goals differs from many.

      Van Persie, I can’t see happening for many reasons. Attitude is one. I also don’t believe he would be fully compatible with Messi, which is something that always has to be considered even as I don’t believe it should be.

      For me, Rafinha is more ready to return than Deulofeu. Ideally, Rafinha would get a loan to a team at that next level up from Celta Vigo, but team needs and pressure to not have another Thiago will prevent that from happening. He comes home this summer, for sure.

      The biggest thing that I think the club needs to consider in any potential signing is work rate. If the Pedro rumors that are burbling up have a shard of credulity, the attack will lose a player who will run through a brick wall for his club, and keep running until he hits the next brick wall. For me, work rate and covering space is at the root of the club’s defensive complexities.

      It wasn’t that the team had a great back line during the Treble season, but rather that the ball so rarely even reached the back line. If the team is going to have a more traditional back line and eschew the press, that means rethinking pretty much everything. The club doesn’t have the money to do that, and its players are further preventing that comprehensive rethink.

      So the Barça Way, so to speak, will continue to argue for defenders who function more like DMs in terms of their skill set. Not sure how much you have seen of this rumored name Eder Balanta, but man. Impressive player. I watched a couple of full match videos (rather than highlights, which can deceive). He looks the business, and he would be less than 20m.

      One of the CB signings is definitely going to be a big name. The board is running for its life, and needs a shiny bauble to wave at supporters. This makes the Luiz thing make sense. “We stole him from Chelsea, who wanted to keep him.” Add to that the fact that Chelsea just nailed down a top-quality CB talent, and the Luiz rumors gain a bit more credence.

    2. I will beg for us to keep Pedro.

      I hope Rafinha will be with us. Hopefully his father will not create another Thiago like fiasco, we should not be surprised if something repeats

      Am also hoping Masche will be with us and will played in the DM position, when we have bought 2 CB’s.

  34. Despite all the recent disappointments (results), i think we should commend the team for still being alive in all three competitions even with all the attacks on the club, the board and the individual players. First Messi was accused of fraud, the accusations were false. Then Rosell was accused of the same thing which also turned out to be false, then the ‘Neymargate’ issue, Rosell’s resignation and the attack on the club’s image. if I’m not mistaken all these wear on the players psychology. Really unlucky for Tata to find himself at Barca at these times especially with the majority of the fans still in the past (Guardiola era). All the series of accusations against some key players, the board and the club are all not normal but nobody seems to care why all these attacks at once on one club at this time simply because they don’t mind as long as it affects their performance on the pitch. I’m really disgusted at the extent to which some humans will go to damage another human all in the name of football. BTW I’m not exonerating the board of their own ills, they’ve done the club harm but nothing close to what some external forces are looking to do.

  35. Hoeness accused of evading 18.5M Euros in taxes which he’s admitted but guess what? it doesn’t make as much headline as when Rosell was wrongly accused and recently NeymarGate.

    1. It depends on where you are in the world. I rather imagine it is quite a big deal with Bayern fans and in the German media, as it should be.

      As for NeymarGate, that was an onion that started being unpeeled when people started asking questions about things. There isn’t anything “wrong,” per se, with asking questions about a deal. Nor should we forget that had Freixa dealt with Jordi Cases like something other than a bug on his shoe, perhaps none of this would have happened.

    2. Key word “perhaps”.

      I continue to disagree with you about Cases, Kxev. When he and his band launched the censure motion there was nothing about Neymar in their agenda – it was about “Qatar Airways” and “having lost the trust of the socis”.

      Cases went to “Manos Limpios” after the judge demanded from “Manos Limpios” 45 000 Euro guarantee. Why did Cases, supposedly a big independista, meet with an ultra-right nationalistic(Spanish central nationalism) organization? Well, just coincidently, if Manos Limpios can get some disgruntled and angry soci sign for them and the judge agrees, they wouldn’t have to pay the aforementioned 45 000 Euro guarantee.
      Still interesting from where the struggling pharmacist has enough money to spend for press conferences and a lawyer.

      As a friend of mine says “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.”

      P.S. Don’t you think it’s high time we stopped pretending it was the snobby attitude of the directors alone who treat fellow socis as if they’re bug on the directors’ shoes, that caused the whole mess, and that had they acted with more humility it would’ve gone differently?

    3. I have never suggested that Cases was an innocent, or without an agenda. Past comments threads have made that clear. He is no more “clean” than Oriol Giralt was, with that well-organized campaign that successfully mounted a censure vote against Laporta.

      Cases is part of a group that was out for Rosell and the rest of the board, a bit of shrapnel from the failed censure motion. But I still think had the board dealt with him by answering his questions, things would have gone differently.

      Maybe, on the other hand, he would have gotten his answers, screamed “A-HA!” and publicized that data to the world. We’ll never know.

    4. Well, that makes you a firm believer in the better side of people. Normally I would subscribe to the idea myself.

      However, given his actions before, during and after the charging of Sandro Rosell and FC Barcelona with mismanagement of funds and tax fraud, it’s for all intents and purposes evident that socio Cases would have gone forward with the charges. Due to the confidentiality clause Barcelona could not give him all the data, so by default socio Cases would not have been given a complete answer – which would have meant he would’ve gone to the courts. Furthermore, he could always claim he had been withheld information, and gone to the courts.

      The reality of it is that if Cases wanted to sue Barcelona, he could. All it would have to take is a willing judge and a more than willing prosecutor, employees of the central government and based in (Real) Madrid.

      We could continue to hypothesize about what he would have done – however I think we could best judge his probable actions by his previous behavior. As in “Judge by his deeds, not by his words.” For me at least the final doubt disappeared when he went to Manos Limpios.

  36. Well, the worst-kept secret in the transfer world is out. The president of Borussia M’bach announced the transfer of Ter Stegen to a “foreign club” has been agreed.

    1. But he didn’t mention which club did he? Just say it out. It’s the worst kept secret yet they don’t want to spell it out and make it official.

  37. So, if Tata is let go at the end of this season, who do culers want to see take the position? My vote is for Klopp. I think it’d be a prime time to get him as the Dortmund cycle has definitely come to an end. Bayern are poaching their best players. They are more than 20 pts behind in the league. Same as last season. He seems like the type of coach to come in and fire up our squad. To rejuvenate it. I love his passion. He wouldn’t make drastic changes. He may entice Hummels and maybe one more to come with him. His energy and enthusiasm remind me of certain coach who took over in 08-09.

    1. I don’t think it’s a good time to discuss this yet as we’re still chasing all trophies. But since you brought it up 🙂

      Jupp is my no.1 choice followed by Klopp. Like you said, to fire the squad up. Only these 2 can from my list of candidates which also includes Lucho and Martinez.

      At this moment in time we need a hard man. I’d put Van Gaal in the bracket too but I know he’s hugely unpopular even though he brought us back to back titles when we were still the underdogs.

    2. Would Jupp coach again? I’m definitely not in favor of Van Gaal. The players would revolt. He’s despised by quite a few of the players, especially Xavi. He was the reason Xavi almost left. De Boer would be another one besides Klopp I’d be in favor of. I definitely don’t think Tata should go just yet, but the way the board hasn’t backed him(see above), and some players openly questioning him, gives me the idea he’s a dead duck come summer time.

    3. We weren’t really the underdogs under Van Gaal – we had the best squad and it was only natural to win the league. The decline started in his third season. Then he came back when things were a real disaster, but that was for a short period of time two years later

    4. All these doesn’t seem fair on Tata, he’s managed the team almost perfectly and don’t forget that the off-field crisis affects the players more than it affects the fans.

    5. I really hope we give Tata one more season, with a good two months in the summer to sort his squad out.

      But if at all we go for a new coach, I hope it is either Jepp or Klopp or Valvedre. Simione would be great too, but he will leave Atletico only for Argentina NT.

    6. Let’s get Jesus Christ to come down off the cross and coach the club. Can’t think of who else would get a rise out of our players.

      Because if Martino is in over his head, lacking leadership, blablabla, then who the hell brought the team to the level it is at now, looking to move through to the Champions League quarterfinals, in the final of the Copa and though in third place, still in the Liga running.

      If the players did it themselves, despite the bumbler who is assigned to lead them, then why aren’t they doing it now?

      Whomever you get in that job will have the exact same problems that Martino has: resistance to anything that isn’t deemed the Barça Way, and great players who play like great players only intermittently.

      The team lacks urgency. Good luck to whatever coach in instilling that quality in this group of players. And everyone will say “Why should they,” as they worship the ghosts of Treble Past.

    7. Jesus Christ would be booed out of the stadium by haf-season:

      1. Not aggressive enough
      2. Not Catalan/Dutch
      3. Doesn’t understand the Way of Barça(even though the way of the culer would probably make the art of kvetching pale in comparison and Jesus Christ probably knows a bit or two about kvetches. 😛 )
      4. Not a real independista
      5. “Holier than all thous put together” attitude

    8. Exactly. The team needs shake up at the squad level. The problem is radical reshufflings of squads are usually accompanied by change of the coach.

      You just have to feel bad for him – he did a remarkably good job in the Fall, but now it all unraveling for factors beyond his control…

  38. OT: From Ibra himself, on his official Twitter account:

    Zlatan is just a human. The same way a great white shark is just a fish.

    His ego is so massive that I actually find him over the top hilarious rather than irritating.

    1. Ibrahimovic has embraced self-parody of his own larger-than-life image. It’s hilarious. Man, I wish the player who is so mature and controlled now had come to Barça. Ah, well.

  39. I saw this on barcablaugrane and i thought i should post it here

    Targets, wishes and highlights
    I have dedicated my time to put forward a few videos of our targets’ highlights. I know highlights dont show everything but they give you an idea of what kind of player you can expect to have

    GK ter stegen, a done deal

    RB targets
    De sciglio.

    CB targets

    Bruno soriano
    Luiz gustavo

    Oliver torres

    Jackson martinez


  40. Somehow I get the feeling that the players are both tired (more mentally than physically) and they’re saving themselves for the world cup.

    Mental exhaustion numbs creativity wherein you just start going through the motions. They definitely still have the desire, heck even I want to win the champions league, but I suspect that they’re simply tired. Its been almost 4 – 5 yrs since they won everything. A lot of people mentioned the missing “fun” in the game. Could it be because they’re just too tired to have fun – especially with all the pressure and politics ? Everyone spoke about how Messi needed a clean break when he got injured a few months ago and how he needed to refresh himself…he looked good for a few games and now it seems that the joy has gone out again. Remember alongwith Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Pique, Alves and others too have been playing for as long without a proper break. Spain has had the same core players since Euro 2008 and those same players have been playing for us at the same time. Imagine the toll it takes on the mind to concentrate and break down defences.

    People talk about cycles in football. I do not want to accept this but everything seems to point to it – it seems our cycle of “greatness” is over. We;re still good – competing all competitions but we’re definitely not on the crest of the wave anymore. I really hope I’m wrong and we jump right back to the top.

    As for Neymar, Messi – they’re the darlings of their countries respectively and all hopes of winning the world cup lie on their shoulders. Imagine their horror if they get seriously injured and arent able to play in the World Cup. Maybe psychologically its just playing at the back of their minds…and they dont seem to be able to give their 100% at the moment.

  41. If you ask me it looks like this group of players, or at least the most influential players in the team, are simply not motivated enough to win the league. Or let me rephrase, to play at the level required EVERY game to win the league. They want to play the big games at 100% and scrape by in the other games. I think the world cup plays a huge part in this and I also think the team’s desire to redeem itself after last year’s CL failure is evident.

    Let’s see what happens, but I bet the team that shows up on Wed to the Nou Camp is miles apart from the team that played on Sat. Whether the players have consciously or unconsciously decided that the league is of lesser importance this year, I think that is playing a part in what we are seeing.

    All of this is of course on top of all the other issues people have been mentioning. The board is a mess, that needs to be sorted. Players need to be bought.

    On Martino, I hope he is not replaced. Very little of what is going on is his fault or in his control. Give him what he asks for this summer and another season and I bet he does a brilliant job. This season was always going to be a bit of a transition season so I wouldn’t go crazy if we didn’t end up with any trophies.

  42. in a comment above someone remarked how we will miss Puyol’s fighting spirit… and instantly i remembered how Messi was harassing opponents, how he would fight chase every ball…and how i said to myself that with such a player we are unstoppable.

    well, during a season there are those games where the team is down one maybe two goals and it needs that fighting spirit. it is when you see a comeback that you say in games like that you win the league, or lose it, i suppose. we did manage a fighting back at getafe. nothign in bilbao. not with valencia. not in bilbao again and not sunday. you would see it in every personal duel, concentration, determination, belief… i thought we had it in the beginning. we were ahead of RM, with so many points that they needed a weird Pepe episode to stay in the league. i have no way of knowing what caused all these bad games, maybe it was the institutional errors that came home to roost, maybe it was just chance, sheer unpredictably and unfortunate coincidences of diseases, bad fields and so on. unfortunately the harmony that existed in the beginning is gone now, internal feuds, pointless debates about barca style (remember how cesc responded to this after the city game) which seem so important now, renewals gone bad, unhappy players… and all this at a moment of the season when players were supposed to be at their peak, exited to achieve any title, with no injuries, … its almost inexplicable. and we would wish to know, to be shore there is something to point a finger to…

    i suppose one must find some form of stoicism a very good thing especially in such disappointments..

  43. I firmly believe that it is in the interest of the Club to keep both Rafinha and Deulofeu at Celta and Everton for one more season. They both did well. But what they need immediately would be more playing time, not sitting on the bench. If we send them for one more loan deal(to the same place), they would be competing for starting places a season after.

    1. Fully agree – neither is ready to be a starter nor do they look like they’re going to be ready in 6 months. More development is necessary

    2. Possible, although there is a big difference between the two, Rafinha is Celta’s best player, Deulofeu is barely playing. Think Raf is ready to start games next season, we need another mf and you’d have to pay a lot for someone better.

  44. Also we would never sort out transfer issues properly unless we boot Zubi out of the club. He is a total disaster. We need to sign at least two defenders, but trust me we will still continue our fantasy pursuits knowing clearly that other club’s understand our desperation. So Luiz and Silva will be chased like Mou and PSG is obliged to sell them to us. Those clubs knows we are in a spot of bother and will surely make it hell for us – especially Mourinho.

    1. I do not like these ideas of paying 30m+ for rejects, Luiz is not a starter for inferior Chelsea, yet is thought to start for us. BM Germans like kroos and müller are not indispensable for BM, they lack world class technique, yet supposedly they are good enough for our midfield? Commenting on some rumors.

    2. By this logic you mean we should be going for players who are the most important players for their clubs. In that sense
      We should go for thiago silva, ribery, ibrahimovic, varane, xabi alonso who dont want to leave their clubs, their clubs dont want to let them go,

      Mullet and kross lack world class technique. I wonder what that is?
      Because as far as i know muller is a starter for germany, the last world cup he was the top scorer and had one of the most assist numbers, he scored in UCL final, scored three goals vs us, and is a very valuable player

      Kroos is a 24 year old player with one of the best techniques around

      And if they are indispensable for bayern it is because bayern has so many excellent players like ribery, schweinsteiger, robben, javi martinez, gotze, thiago alcantara, mandzukic, shaqiri who offer depth!

    3. Here here! Kroos is going to be one of the most sought after talents this summer. He’s made it clear he wants a huge payday. Bayern may stump up the cash and he will stay put, but my $ is on Manchester United signing him for 35 million. I would love to have Kroos or Muller in our team. Kroos is a serious threat outside the box, which we need! Muller would mesh well w/our team. However, I would take neither if we signed to Center backs! Seriously, how much longer do we have to wait?

  45. All this casual talk of managers to replace Tata is fine, but on a more serious note, it’s important to reflect upon how quickly the tables are turning in our club with regards to stability and continuity.
    There was a time when the club – right from the top management to the staff to the players seemed as one, and as much as the capital tried to find some crack to try and unsettle the team, there was simply nothing to be found.
    Zoom out a little bit and you will see how recent events in Culerland are almost a scary mirror image of the EE circus. Captains Marginalised, a coach not entirely in control of his dressing room, unconvincing sporting results, off the pitch drama etc etc.
    The last thing Barcelona needs now is again a new coach to come in and the team to again spend a year or two of acclimatization. Whatever happened to continuity? Whatever happened to the unanimous feeling of Tata doing things right? Rotation, Benching messi, resting xavi, recovering the press, verticalidad and so on? Suddenly he is to be given the boot? This kind of knee jerk reaction is simply unacceptable and Martino needs to be given a proper year with the players he wants and then he can be judged fairly. So far he hasn’t put a foot wrong. Or perhaps the only mistake he has committed is in being too accessible, talking and listening to the players too much thereby leading to a dilution in terms of approach. I keep getting the feeling, that ever since the xavi and team meeting with Tata, we have only gone backwards. Yes, possession stats have increased, but results have clearly become poorer. This is no coincidence. The barca players may be very good at coaching themselves through most games, as they did, last year under Roura. But this guy is a proper coach and he must be allowed to do his job and given the authority to implement his ideas. If not, we are only going backwards. I understand why Tata Martino, coming from where he came from, to the kind of team and club he came to, adopted this sort of inclusive approach. And that’s fine for the first year. But if he is to be given a second year, the right expectations need to be set in terms of who the boss is and the legends and icons like Messi, xavi, pique, busquets, alves etc need to understand their role and simply have faith in the mister’s intelligence and experience. You can talk about klopp and jupp and de boer and christ, but I am convinced that the best chance of success Barca has in the near future lies in our present coach continuing with the team armed with the necessary tools.

    1. Give power to the coach! Yes i agree!
      Give him the players and the depth he wants and the authority.
      Xavi, messii, and etc as much legendary as they may be, they are players and the coach is boss, even if you have to be more direct, he knows what he is doing

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