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And so it continues, aka “Who do we have to kill for just a moment’s peace?”

stag

Just a moment’s peace. Is that too much to ask?

I don’t presume to know, why, what and how. And I do know that politics, backbiting and infighting are part and parcel of life at and with FC Barcelona, where often the most virulent enemies come from within. But here’s the thing: when Fate herself is putting a boot in the club’s groin at every opportunity, why do others feel compelled to join in?

Today, mere minutes before a press conference that was simply supposed to be a dog and pony show aimed at keeping the nou Nou in everyone’s vision, TV3 broke the “news” that Tata Martino would be leaving Barça at the end of the season.

At the presser, board members were asked about it and they denied it, saying that ZubiZa and Martino had been consulted and both said no. But rumors abound, nasty, insidious crap about lost locker rooms, Martino not showing up to a planning meeting about next season, etc.

TV3 later said that Martino would be leaving at the end of this season to coach Argentina, which must be news to its current coach.

In the 2008-09 season, this club won a Treble. It went on to win three other trophies in what became known at the Year of Six Cups. Since then, it has been nothing but hell.

— Abidal’s cancer
— Guardiola leaves
— Abidal’s cancer is more serious
— Vilanova’s cancer
— An astounding run of injuries last season
— NeymarGate
— Messi injury
— Neymar injury
— Puyol hanging it up
— The sadness that the Iniestas are dealing with

This is all above and beyond any extraneous hooey that is flying around. The absence of leadership from the Barça boardroom has, for me, never been more eloquently demonstrated than at this moment in time. If Martino had their unquestioned support, this wouldn’t be an issue. The “Tata out” forces wouldn’t be having their day, conveniently blaming the coach for what is in part the failings of the players.

Martino wasn’t their man, but Rosell’s. He was also a surprise, South American and (shudder!) not Dutch or Catalan. The long knives have been out for him all season, so the catalyst of consecutive poor results was all that the baying hounds needed.

The club does something good, and crap flies its way from the Madrid-based media. The club does something bad, and crap flies its way from the Catalan media.

It would be one thing if that sporting press was a wholly unbiased, fair-thinking bastion of objectivity, but it isn’t. So is it really too much to expect for them to lay the hell off the club, for someone to say “You know, these guys have gone through enough. What say we give them just a little break.”

Is it being human, or being a homer who is suppressing real news in the service of Barça? Good question. In the context of the agenda-driven stuff that we have been seeing from both Sport and MD, my view hews toward the former rather than the latter. Just lay off. Let the players have a moment’s piece without some headline blaring at them the next day, some rumor eating away at the tranquility that comes after a well-played victory.

“The players are professionals, and should be able to play though all of this stuff.” Even those like me who aren’t fans of any player have abandoned that nonsense. Normal amounts of bollocks, you can play through and deal with. The stuff this club has had to deal with for year after year would affect anyone. Of course it affects the players. How can it not, the cumulative avalanche of crap and bad breaks that has cascaded down on this club in the past five seasons.

Frankly, it wouldn’t shock me if Martino left at the end of the season. Being a Barça coach is a job I have described as standing in a pit while people on all sides shovel shit into it. All you have is a pith helmet and a broken umbrella. “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it,” should be applied here, to be sure. Hopefully Martino went in with his eyes open. If he didn’t, he is a fool.

Did he think it would be as virulent, as nasty, as unsupportive as what he has been facing? Another good question, but only a cynical, concrete-hard heart would assume such a thing, until it started.

— Not following Barça principles
— Not the right lineup
— Doesn’t cherish the Barça Way
— Doesn’t know what he wants

Only at Barça can a 4-0 victory been seen as the equivalent of a loss, because the team lost the possession stats battle. Ask Rayo if they would rather have four goals, or 2 percent more possession. But Martino came under fire as nasty as I have seen in a while … and his team won the match.

But now, with two recent losses, it is worse than ever, as hipster coaches come out, fashionable names that culers want to replace Martino, who has committed the cardinal sin of doing an excellent job with a flawed squad. It boggles my mind to think that Martino is getting mostly the same treatment as David Moyes at Manchester United. Fair? No. Rational? Not even close. Expected? Even a cynic like me has to say no, that I didn’t expect it to come from all sides, from knee-jerk culers worshiping at the dead carcass of history to home media and their own layers of allegiance.

The board is squabbling, focused on a new stadium even as they have their own detractors, even as they run this club in an environment where it doesn’t feel like they have anything approximating a mandate or real authority. “Your president scuttled down the rat lines. Why are you people still there, club bylaw or no?” If rumors are to be believed, the board is even fighting among itself. To say that everything is a mess right now would be an understatement. And because chaos loves a vacuum, this damaged board and all of its governance complexities create a void of authority.

Worst of all is that all of this crap is squandering something magical. This is a once in a lifetime squad, a team that boasts a majority of players raised at home AND who are world class. It has earned the right to be counted among the best teams ever, and it keeps on trying even as people continue to saddle it with junk. Rumor, innuendo. Can the team be forgiven for thinking that everybody is against it, from fate and luck to its own media and board? And how would that line of thought be reflected in the team’s play?

So much has happened, and so much will happen. But I just don’t think it is at all unreasonable to ask for just a moment’s peace. The team just won 7-0 and people have already moved on to creating flaws in an excellent match. “Valdes had to make a save, by god! Fin de siecle!”

Enough, I say. It won’t matter what the hell I say, but if anybody is asking or wondering, I say enough.

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101 Responses to “And so it continues, aka “Who do we have to kill for just a moment’s peace?””

  1. sd says:

    You forgot a volcano exploding…

  2. Roger Evans says:

    Very eloquent cri de cœur! And damn right.

  3. Víctor says:

    That treble season, while wonderful… had the setback of making many barcelona’s fans demand trebles every -friggin- season… and if the team doesn’t win a treble again then it’s a failed season…

    look at barcelona team right now… quarter finals on CL, final on CDR and on the fight for winning la liga…

    those things are something most clubs desire… which club wouldn’t want to be on CLs quarterfinals, be finalist at their local cup and fighting for winning the domestic league… and all at the same season??

    but no… “tata out, let’s bring luis enrique”…

    • Again that depends on the kind of team you have got. I do agree that we take a lot for granted. But our team by accident or fate is still made up of some of the best players of this generation. So expectations are naturally going to be high. May be if we didn’t have Messi, Neymar, Iniesta etc a QF in UCL would be great! Expectations rises with potential, and we have a team of immense potential. So anything short of treble is a disaster season ;-)

    • blitzen says:

      Don’t be hating on Lucho. :evil:

    • G6O says:

      What you say is true, but it is also true we live in a different era from even 10 years ago. We live in the era of the superclubs when only a handful of teams can realistically compete for the trophies, thus each of them is expected to win a lot every season, and we are one of those clubs.

  4. Ultraculé says:

    Worst of all is that all of this crap is squandering something magical. This is a once in a lifetime squad, a team that boasts a majority of players raised at home AND who are world class. It has earned the right to be counted among the best teams ever, and it keeps on trying even as people continue to saddle it with junk. Rumor, innuendo. Can the team be forgiven for thinking that everybody is against it, from fate and luck to its own media and board?

    I feel you man. This is indeed the most frustrating part of all the crap that has rained down this crazy team the past 5 years. Some people may think that the team has over achieved during this time. Not me. I have always felt that the absurd amount of injuries and freak illnesses of Abidal and Vilanova and the shenanigans of Rosell and his board have only served to diminish the true shine of this team and its players. We are only left to wonder what might have been, had this not been the case.

    If I were Tata, I would leave too. I would win a trophy, shit on it and say thank you very much, but I’m outta here. The man deserves much more respect. Is it naive of me to think that a new board that comes in during the summer will acknowledge the good work Martino has done and choose to retain him in spite of him being Rosell’s appointment? I guess so. But I still garner that hope. Maybe some of the players can speak out and say enough is enough just as you have. That they have continued to play through all this crap at such a high level is only a testament to their quality and professionalism and love of the club. What if Messi and the seniors speak out in their unanimous support in a thinly veiled threat. Surely it doesn’t take a genius to see that constant changes in management only will slow down the continuity and growth and potential of this once in a lifetime group of players.
    Common sense please.

  5. Serena Andre says:

    I don’t know how the players still manage to function after all that’s happened to them in the past few years. It amazes me. I know I wouldn’t have the strength to do it.

    I truly hope Tata doesn’t decide to leave us at the end of the season like most papers seem to be suggesting all the time. He’s been doing a great job in my opinion. It boggles my mind why so many people seem to dislike him. Another thing is, I don’t just want Tata to stay because I like him and what he’s doing, but also because I really don’t want Barca to embark on a coaching roller-coaster. We’ve already has 3 coaches in the past 3 seasons. We need some stability and changing our coach every season is definitely not the way to achieve that.

  6. bhed says:

    A pith helmet? Luxury! The board must be getting soft. In my day…

  7. barca96 says:

    In the last post I got some replies re: Mascherano. I didn’t get to reply as by the time I am free, a new post is up.

    He tackles someone from the back in nearly every match. Most of the times he doesn’t even get a yellow card. Maybe that’s why many of you guys can’t remember it. On many occassions I comment on here during the match about his rash tackles. I called him out many times here so this issue is nothing new for me.

    Why I said Mascherano belongs in that category is because of the dirty play. No, he doesn’t stamp on people or fight but he does make unnecessary ugly challenges (from the back, nowhere near the ball, no way he was going for the ball). That is the dirty I was referring to.

    I really don’t mind going for tackles which he is excellent at btw but not necessary if he got his positioning right in the first place BUT he does commit one idiotic rash challenges from the back in nearly every single match. And usually they are nowhere near danger. Most of the times they are closer to the half way line that our goal!

    He also has a habit of making a meal out of the slightest of touches.

    And yes, we (and Madrid) do get more protections for our players from the referees and more favorable calls. If you still can’t realize that by now, then you will probably never will.

    • kosby says:

      well, I’d say its a difference of opinion, which is fine..because I also dont agree with this statement –> “He also has a habit of making a meal out of the slightest of touches.”

      In my opinion he plays hard which is a quality we need. A fowl on the half way line is much better than one near the box.

      And I am not saying he doesn’t make mistakes, he definitely does and he needs to improve. But I don’t agree that he makes cynical fouls like pepe and arbeloa. Agree to disagree, cheers !

      • barca96 says:

        How is a foul on the half way line better? He isn’t even supposed to be there lol. I actually think that he still thinks that he is a DM at times. Can’t help it. It’s his natural position.

        But he is endangering the team by making fouls (and should be a sure yellow card if not for favoritism in La Liga).

        I agree with you about the cynical fouls though.

        • PrinceYuvi says:

          Masch is not supposed to be at Half-line ?

          A burst of speed & he’s snuffing out loose balls with inch perfect tackles at half line.

          Just one another counter-attack killed in the cradle, thank you.

          That’s why Pep put him there in the first place.

          I wish pique could do that.

          Also, Our defenders spend half their time at Half-line.

          Haven’t you noticed ?

    • barca96 says:

      Unfortunately, I could only find 2 of his tackles uploaded onto YouTube;

      *http://youtu.be/Su_w5PezyI8?t=58m17s

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YDTDTQ3azo

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtLPHi8T63E

    • ciaran says:

      Just a couple of points…
      Firstly, there is a difference between being dirty and being tough.
      Pepe is a dirty player, he intentionally injures player, feigns injury himself to get people red carded and has physically assaulted players in a number of matches previously.
      Sergio Ramos is a tough player, he doesn’t pull out of tackles, he gives 100% and when he goes in for headers etc he makes sure he wins the ball every time.
      I kinda like watching Sergio Ramos play. He is what I’d call committed or tough, like Puyol.
      Mascherano makes tough tackles and makes sure that if there is a counter attack against us he uses tactical fouls to stop them. I’m guessing from your comparison that you don’t watch Italian football because that kind of defending is greatly appreciated there.

      In terms of making a meal out of the slightest contact, this again is tactical. It may be a difference of opinion, but once he has his free kick, he immediately gets up and gets on with it, and if he doesn’t it’s because he is genuinely hurt. This is something that Sergio Busquets does exceptionally well too. Being a defender/defensive player means that you have to stop attacks and this is a very effective way of doing it, even if you don’t like it.

      Tactical fouls are used against us constantly (holding Messi back in the first 2 seconds of a counter attack etc.) and Masch and Busquets are our only players that effectively do it.

      Finally, if you are to accuse one of our players of being dirty surely it must be Dani Alves. He feigns injury, dives & fouls people in retribution of earlier fouls. He is my least favourite Barca player of the past decade even if I do appreciate what he brings to the team.

      • Kxevin says:

        If I am picking a back line right now, I start with Mascherano. He goes in hard, but usually goes in fair. His tackle the last match was a horrorshow that deserved a red, but he doesn’t have very many of those tackles for the club.

        As for making a meal of the slightest contact, the team no longer has players who do that. Mascherano will, when the tactical advantage is to be gained, exaggerate the effect of contact. But find me a Barça player who doesn’t do that?

        Mascherano is a badass. Our back line needs a badass.

        • bhed says:

          Agree he is a badass, but also can be mistake prone (leaving his feet, questionable head clearances, etc.). I’ve been back and forth on him all year as a starter, and I’m still unconvinced either way. With a bit more seasoning, I’m leaning towards Bartra as a more reliable option.

          • Jim says:

            I’m not sure if Bartra at the moment is better than Masche but as long as Masche remains one of the two best CBs available we are vulnerable in terms of height, pace, positioning and staying on his feet. As Kxevin says, that tackle last week was a disgrace and could have been a straight red but just as important to me, unnecessary. What he did offer last week and does offer is some steel in the side which is important if the drawbacks aren’t too large.

          • Kxevin says:

            Of course bhed, you are also describing Pique, and Bartra, and just about any other defender I can think of. The expectation of perfection dooms any player to failure.

            Mascherano is the first CB name, on form, on my team sheet if I am Tata Martino.

          • bhed says:

            I respectfully disagree Kxev, on the bigger picture, if not on certain individual instances. If you are assuming I’ve wanted Masch to mess up in order to support a preconceived narrative, absolutely not. I started the year full of optimism and hope that his intelligence would help him overcome his weaknesses at CB. I thought he was fulfilling that promise, but post injury (this year), I’ve seen too many examples of poor positioning, rash tackles, poor clearances, etc. that I maintain have been both qualitatively and quantitatively different than similar mistakes on the part of Pique and Bartra. It’s not an expectation of perfection (straw man argument), but an acceptable level of risk/trade-off for the considerable skill set he does possess (badassery, best slide tackler in the game, etc.)

            Pique has gone through purple spells, should be more of a leader, etc., etc., but on form, even on current form, is asimply a better CB than Masch. Ask Del Bosque. Bartra…hard to say. I thought his performances when he had a steady run of games this year was above expectations, but he hasn’t had too many chances since.

  8. ciaran says:

    Arturo Vidal has been linked to us a couple of times in the last few weeks and today apparently said that he’d love to play with Alexis Sanchez (cheekily saying that maybe Alexis would join Juventus).
    He is the best all around footballer on the planet and if it wasn’t for the exorbitant price that Juventus will look for him he would be the perfect summer signing.

    If we were to sign 1 centre back and Vidal then out defence and midfield would be perfectly set up for next year.
    Mateo Musacchio still must be one of the top choices given his age, ability and free transfer status.

    Our squad doesn’t need an overhaul, just a little better depth in certain positions and we’ll be good.
    1 goalkeeper, 1 or 2 defenders, 1 midfielder & 1 forward.

    • BA says:

      Musacchio is surely at the top of our list for defenders, he’s looked increasingly assured every season, and if as i sincerely hope we add *two* central defenders a young, talented, free one makes that choice alot easier.

      Vidal would be a perfect buy, but he’d cost. i do agree we need more midfield depth, particularly if a couple of our current youngsters head out in the summer; and not just in players but in the TYPE of players we acquire. Vidal fits a bill we haven’t had filled since Deco: a starting, combative, hyper-energetic, skillful box-to-box player. our midfield is brilliant but has virtually no bite and the remedy idea of Busquets/Iniesta/Vidal is such an intriguing combination of silk and steel. would love to see him.

      if we manage to hold onto all the attacking players we currently have, i think our “need” for a 5th forward would be better served by simply utilizing Tello better. he’s disappointed on a couple of starts this season, but as an impact sub when defenses are stretched he’s brilliant, and his sheer straight-line pace is a weapon we don’t really have elsewhere. the idea that we need a big meaty hold-up CF is a fantasy, and while we’d all love to have the variability in our play it just doesn’t seem like the team is capable of doing that. c’est la vie à Barça.

      we’re looking at a possible 4-5 transfers, but likely our net spend will be far less than last summer’s spending on 1 player. wonder if the accounting types would consider that a win?

      • Jim says:

        I’m afraid that if we bring in four or five that are genuine Barca quality there is no way we’ll get much change out of a Neymar amount. Other clubs see us coming.

  9. Peter says:

    Kxevin, I have read your entire post, and before sharing my view, I would like to ask you a very serious question:

    Why do you hate FC Barcelona?

    In all seriousness, the wolves have been howling all season. The problem is that we didn’t hear them until Hlebuary.

    Here’s my theory: there are people, and forces which resent the fact that someone who is not Catalan is leading the club. In a way it’s a power grab, because Barcelona is mes que un club – there are people who consider it a lever towards establishing Catalonism. Lots of those people think that Barcelona is too big to fail. In other words, these players are so gifted, that they can win no matter who coaches. With that in mind, it would be much better if Barcelona/Catalan ex-players coach this mes que un club. Someone who can be relied to go Catalan, someone who knows and worships the 4-3-3. Barcelona don’t need no outsiders who don’t speak proper Catalan, and it definitely needs no Argentinians who squeeze out “our boys” in favor of South American mercenaries. I mean who can forget how Barcelona won its Champions League in Rome having eleven Catalans/Masia graduates in its starting team and being led by a Catalan coach and a Catalan President?(yes, Eto’o has been an honorary Catalan ever since he screamed “Madrid, cabron, saluda al campeon!”)

    In a previous post I quipped about Jesus Christ being booed out of the stadium due to not being Catalan/Dutch. I was only half-joking and it isn’t really that funny as it is disturbing.

    Looking back on the Rosell years, people, like lots of people, used to say the only thing Rosell had to do in order to get stonewall support was to proclaim his undying allegiance to Catalunya as president of FC Barcelona – and he didn’t.

    • Kxevin says:

      Really, the wolves have been howling since Guardiola left. Vilanova was never good enough for them.

      What’s interesting about Rosell is after running on a “more Catalan than thou” platform, he abandoned that. Except for adopting the Senyera for the away shirt, not much (aside from lip service) has really been done. In fact some suggest that the Catalan thing is being played down to enhance palatability to potential sponsors. Dunno.

      • BA says:

        Rosell simply did what all corporatist conservatives do, and used nationalism or religion as a campaign vehicle for the acquisition of money, money, money once in power. they can’t come out and say it during the election, of course, so they need an easy motivator for people to rally behind. they don’t have any real attachment to, or even intention to act on, the very tribal sorts of ideals they talk about; it’s just a convenient way of garnering votes so they can use the office for profit, theirs or their friends.

        it’s the exact same template as Bush/Cheney (and successive Republicans) here in the U.S..

      • Peter says:

        Well, as you pointed out during the elections, he played to the fears of the socis, while presenting a very nice carrot(frozen season ticket prices until 2016).

        If I have to be absolutely serious and blunt, for me the real “sacred cows” aren’t on the pitch, but in the stands. The same people who dare boo and whistle whenever this magnificent team doesn’t play up to the viewers’ impossibly high standards, the same who started chanting Valdes’ name when it finally got through them that he is actually leaving at the end of this season. The same guys who according to the polls prefer a “surname” to Camp Nou instead of paying a bit more for their season tickets(right now the cheapest of all of Europe’s biggest clubs).

        If you don’t play/pander to those voters, you don’t get elected. And if you don’t get elected, well, then you don’t get to make the decisions that you think will have to be made. Maybe it’s on a small scale, but it’s politics – and in politics and elections you can’t really appeal to logic and reason and the common sense of the voter.

        I know that you begrudge Rosell’s “our kids vs the non-catalan” kids speech, but from what I’ve seen since he was elected, none of that happened.
        Look at Barça B – Dongou, Bagnack, Ie, Babunski and Adama.
        Juvenil A have Godswill, Onana and Ondoa, Munir, Ebwele, Kaptoum, Enguene and El Ouriachi(Munir, Kaptoum, Enguene and Adama scored today vs Arsenal to qualify for the UEFA youth Champions League). Yeah, none of these have Catalan-sounding names, and yet, just as the Halilovic brothers, they are playing for Barcelona. But the voters couldn’t be told that maybe, just maybe, the current crop of Catalan kids are not the next Xavi, Iniesta or Busquets.

        This board, despite its lip service that the Catalan socis are the salt of the earth, and that the rest of the global culerbase are just tolerated merchandise purchasers, have done a lot to increase that base and the global appeal.
        Ye shall know them by their fruits. ;)

    • Messiah10 says:

      Peter, I’ve read most of your comments on here. I’ve respectfully disagreed with most of them. However, until now, I’ve never felt the need to comment on one. Your question to Kxevin is simply disgraceful, shameless, & agenda driven. We all know what side of the fence you sit on. You’re a Rosell supporter. In effect, a current board supporter. Kxevin had given you a platform to voice your opinions on countless occasions. That’s what this forum is for. He’s never openly questioned your feelings for the club. Why do you feel it appropriate to question his? I had a fair amount of respect for your knowledge & opinions, even if I disagree with them, before your ridiculous post here. I’ve now lost most of it. Let me ask you 1 question. What IS your agenda???

      • Peter says:

        My agenda is that I agree entirely with him. I believe Kxevin understood my “question” to be nothing but a probably poor attempt at channeling Stephen Colbert.

        I certainly hope Kxevin understood what I meant when I wrote that. Allow me to explain: There was a time when the USA invaded another country, and whenever someone voiced criticism of that action, the inevitable counter-question was “Why do you hate America?” Today that question is often used ironically, and often is used to state agreement with the original statement. It’s a little bit convoluted, to say the least, but the essence of my asking Kxevin “Why do you hate FC Barcelona?” is “you’re right”.

        My cardinal mistake is not reading Kxevin’s whole post. I understand why it may have seemed to you I took offence at Kxevin’s “blasting” of the board. Even though I don’t agree with him on matters of the board, for me Kxevin’s point is not “Rosell evul!!!”, but “ENOUGH WITH THE SQUABBLING, ALL OF YOU!!!” This is a sentiment I agree with all my heart, even though for other reasons. I believe in the maxim “innocent until proven guilty”, which is why I am still a current board supporter. That’s neither here nor there, however.

        There is something much more important: more than being a supporter of the current board, I am a firm supporter of the view that you don’t mount a mutiny in the middle of a storm. By all means, let us vent our grievances and discontent – when we are on the other side.

        My view, which I have expressed in other posts in this thread, is that there are forces at work, which are trying to destabilize the current board by any means necessary. Why am I pissed? It’s not because the target is the current board, believe it or not – it’s because for me those forces are using the club to further their own goals. This I cannot permit. I have seen that kind of politics far too often. It goes like this – if the club wins, culers are satisfied and less likely to vote against the current board. Ergo, if you want to force elections or a board resignation, so that you can be elected, you need for the culers to be pissed and very much the opposite of content.

        The fact is, I have only one other way to explain the recent “Tata wants to go!!!” string of articles published by various SPORT “journalists”,term used very loosely, in various media and languages: Tata is giving them the cold shoulder, which is why they want to get back at him.
        The problem with that interpretation is that it does not take into account the fact that whoever is the president come summer, he would have a declared 60m Euro signing budget. Whoever is the president will have a club that is by all accounts not just financially healthy, but also on the brink of becoming bank-debt free – and that’s huge. Whoever is president would be able to start talks with Nike for a new, much-improved deal, which would mean even more money in the coffers of the club – because the other current vehicle of Nike is Manchester United, and unless United pull a Chelsea, they will not be showing their Nike shirts in Europe next season, which would be another incentive for Nike to offer their much more consistent and older partner Barcelona a new, much better contract.

        The essence of my agenda is this: if you want a change, wait for summer/end of season, don’t try to put in jeopardy the sport success of the club as a way to force the change. If you are unhappy with the current board, by all means prepare the ground work to change them, but in a way that does not compromise the on-pitch performance.

        In the end, remember the line of the anthem:

        Tots unim fem força.

        end of rant/essay/rambling incoherent response.

  10. scribblez says:

    Thanks Kxevin for a great article once again . Your articles are joy to read.

    I wanted to comment because I am angry like many others around here. The big axes are out with a section of pundits and fan alike commenting how it would be great to have new coach in the coming season who will bring back the glory days. Yes let’s extend our warmest kindest welcome to Mr Franken Eriklop, who is actually Pep in disguise, and will help us to win 14 trophies in one season. Wait what?

    I wanted to put forward a brief comparison of six managers, who took charge of six big clubs this season.

    Ancelotti, Moyes, Pep Mou and Pellegrini were pre-appointed and involved in planning the season. Moyes bought Felliani and then Mata, Pellegrini brought Navas, Negredo, Fernandinho, Demi and Jovetic, Pep got Thiago and Goetze. Ancelloti got Bale (by default) and got Carvajal, Isco and Illara. Mourinho got Willian, schurlle and Eto’o.

    Martino was appointed almost at the end of the pre-season due to unfortunate turn of events. How many players did he get to buy. Zilch. Neymar doesn’t count because it seems he was sold to Barcelona the moment he was born.

    All of the other teams had to find their form and rhythm (Man U still haven’t) and they lost matches. Yet there is no rampant speculation about their futures on the web every other day. And the main reason I feel is because he is an outsider. Not only to Catalonia but to the Europian footballing fraternity in general.. And therefore, he is vague, without charisma or sense of direction and unable to handle the pressure (and presser).

    Wait at least till the end of the season to bring out the daggers and say tata to Tata. I feel like if Tata indeed leaves, the board is not only culpable but the players. If a coach has got enough support in the dressing room and is winning, I feel like he generally gets to fight on. However, a lack of support from the key figures in the dressing room with an unfavorable board is enough to push you over the edge.

    I rehashed a lot of things already been said. I just read an article, which “so cleverly” analyzed that the big match wins this season for Barca are due to players pulling it together rather than coaching tactics. And that Tata have no control over the players and it’s the collective leadership of the senior players that’s getting them through. And hence I erupted.

    • Kxevin says:

      Well as the old adage says, “Players win, coaches lose.”

      Moyes is close to being burned in effigy by United supporters.

      Ancelotti is in the clear because of the relationship the team has with its supporters. There is also no power uncertainty at the club, because Flo Flo rules with an iron hand.

      Mou Mou has Chelsea in first place, and he isn’t the successor of a deity, as Vilanova and Martino are. Pellegrini? City supporters are being patient, though there are rumblings.

      The problem at Barça is the factions and agenda-driven factions. To the “board sucks” demographic, the team needs a complete overhaul, starting with the board and including their coach.

      To the “Guardiola is God” crew, Martino is inadequate by virtue of not being Guardiola or playing like him.

      Everybody has an agenda. I just think folks need to calm down and let the season develop. It’s only March, and the baying hounds are in rare form because of their desire to shape the narrative.

      Look at the Neymar situation. People are honestly questioning why we bought the most exciting young attacker in the world. Yes, the price and method leave much to be desired, but you can’t argue with the player’s ability. But you can if he represents Rosell rather than Neymar. That’s just one element of an ongoing row.

      Politics, squabbling and infighting has always been Barça and always will be. But the amount of crap that Fate has flung at this team is staggering. It needs a break.

      • BA says:

        i honestly don’t think it’s Neymar’s potential that has people up in arms; most of us realize that he’s a supremely gifted young player and we’re glad we wrapped him in the blaugrana. the confusion, frustration and anger stems from the enormous price paid, the bald-faced lying by the club about said price, and the hypocrisy of that price in the face of this board’s “austerity” budget.

        if your wife tells you she’s broke but goes out and buys a Ferrari, then lies about how much it cost, then the dealership tells you that oh yeah they took out double the sticker price from your bank account, you’re going to be pissed off AND might just resent the speed machine in your driveway no matter how much you enjoy driving it.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          Your wife and Ferrari comparison is quite interesting. first I just laughed but when you re think, it kind of is the same thing..
          We just dont resent Neymar, thats the difference. He should be very good by next season.

      • Jim says:

        Tata, for me, has made mistakes but as we stand nothing is yet lost. He has us four points off an ideal position in all three trophies at the end of March. When was the last time we could say that? The time to appraise his performance is certainly no earlier than the end of the season and should probably in truth be the end of next season ( I know he’s unlikely to get – want? – that).

        The difference with Moyes is that I reckon he was left a lemon in that Man U team but SAF as usual squeezed every last ounce out of them then legged it . Hmm, sounds familiar.

        • kosby says:

          For me personally even if we dont win anything this year I’d still back Martino. My criteria is ‘has the new coach bettered us’ in any way. Name one player who compared to last season has regressed. I cant find any. Things have improved in defense immensely, with the same players that played last season…moreover Alexis, Pedro, Masch have improved beyond belief. But life isnt always fair.

          I cant even imagine what mental strength it takes to work for this club.

          • Serena Andre says:

            Tello maybe? He’s the only one I can think of. The rest of the squad has been brilliant. Alexis and Pedro especially. Those two have really exploded.

  11. icemel says:

    It’s posts like this that make me wish BFB had Catalan and Spanish version. This needs to be heard beyond these parts. Good on ya Kxevin.

  12. icemel says:

    Here is a moment’s peace:
    http://youtu.be/VuAnRPg944c
    No baying hounds or any commentary. Solamente juego bonito.
    I found it a good remedy yesterday when the bullshit started flying.

    …and for for those of you in the Mascherano debate check out the last second!

  13. Levon says:

    @Peter

    I think your “Catalan nationalism” theory might be a bit over the top. A coach does not have to speak Catalan to be respected by culers. Cruijff always speaks Spanish, for example, and other than Guardiola, I cannot think of any Catalan coach that socis wouls like to have as a coach (other than Lucho, maybe, who isn’t Catalan but bleeds the colors).

    I personally doubt you would find many people against Martino on the grounds of his nationality, but I could be wrong. It made him look extremely weak. Seeing that you expressed yourself quite strongly, is your theory a hunch based upon what you read on the internet or is it because you live in or know well Catalunya and its people? Either way, it would be very interesting to hear from people that know the region well (I’m looking at you nzm, culetoon)

    • Levon says:

      (Oops, scratch the “It made him look extremely weak” sentence from that comment, it was part of something else I deleted)

    • Peter says:

      It’s less about “nationality” and more about “not being one of us”.

      I am not saying ordinary people are against him. But what I am seeing now is a well-orchestrated media campaign to force him out.
      “SPORT” is going for broke – they are using every article, every oped to discredit Tata. Examples:

      Sport Director Joan Vehils yesterday:”Why don’t you clear it out, are you staying or going?”
      http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/joan-vehils/por-que-aclaras-una-vez-tata-3195619

      Sport article from two days ago: Tata is going away in summer
      http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/tata-martino-decidido-dejar-barca-3195052

      Sport article yesterday: “Is Tata finally going in summer? Rumors continue, Tata can’t even declare what are his intentions”
      http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/ira-tata-martino-del-barca-junio-3195350

      Sport caricature of yesterday “Tata reading Guardiola’s declarations that he left because he couldn’t motivate the players: ‘If I leave, it will be because I couldn’t motivate myself.'”
      http://www.sport.es/es/opinion/humor/20140319/futbolitis/58095.shtml

      Bleacher’s report article “Why Tata should leave”. When you click on the journalist’s bio, it says “based in Barcelona, works for Diario Sport
      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1996776-why-tata-martino-should-leave-barcelona-in-the-summer

      Did you know SPORT has a Qatar edition? The same edition that plastered across its pages “Tata Wants To Go”, written by Sam Marsden, another featured B/R columnist, only this one writes about Real Madrid and how awesome they are on B/R. I’ll give you two tries to guess where is he based and for which media he works.

      Like I said, for lots of people(I have lots of free time so I read the comments) it’s a pure power grab by a faction of the “entorno”. Just like the people behind Cases had no qualms to try behead the current board in order to plant themselves on the throne, it works in their favor if Barcelona is destabilized, so that if the team wins on Sunday it will be “motivated players’ victory, despite Tata” and if they lose/draw, it will be “incompetent board which didn’t sign players and instead signed a South American know-nothing yes-man”.

      The best outcome for this faction would be for Tata to decide he’s had enough bull, which can then be blamed on “incompetent board not protecting the club and the staff”. The worst outcome for that same faction would be Tata and the team defeating Real Madrid and winning the Triplete, in which case the knives can be stowed until autumn.

      Why? Because Barcelona is Mes Que Un Club, and after the next season there’s going to be a referendum on Catalan independence. And there are people, quite a few of them in positions of power, who would readily sacrifice Barcelona on the altar of Catalan independence. In the worst case Barcelona would have to play in the Catalan league – and overnight it would have to sell lots of its stars and/or liquidate assets. Barcelona is currently the second most valuable sports club in the world. If it’s put on fire sale do you have any idea how much it will cost and more importantly, how much can be hidden away in creative accounting?

    • Peter says:

      (Edited for duplication)

  14. Ultraculé says:

    Man, The Sunday game Cannot come soon enough.
    I know that Cesc and Neymar are bound to start, but I’d be a lot more comfortable with Pedro, Lexus and their workrate against EE. Besides they have totally earned it.

  15. Jim says:

    I’m not sure at all that Neymar will start although we’d be foolish not to go with the four mids.

  16. TITO says:

    Two moments from this week that are worth mentioning: Bartra extended his contract till 2017, and Rivaldo finally retired from active football.
    And, currently i’m watching THAT Valencia goal.

  17. ciaran says:

    Bartra’s renewal is good news. He is currently a good centre back but has immense potential which hopefully he’ll fulfil. If he gets the opportunity to progress under Tata then I believe he will become world class.

    We still more defensive balance in our team. Alba is a great player but let’s be honest, he’s better in the opponents half than his own.
    Alves is similar, and at 31 by next season you’d think that he’ll slow down even if he isn’t sold.
    Adriano and Montoya are both similar defensively and again, not the tallest.

    Our standard defensive 5 outfielders are Alves / Pique / Masch / Alba & Busquets; two of whom are over 6ft and in reality Busquets doesn’t attack the ball well in the air. If you add Xavi & Iniesta in midfield then it’s obvious that we struggle on set pieces.
    We need to add height in 1 of our fullback positions, have the option in midfield and at the second central defensive spot.

  18. PrinceYuvi says:

    Tata’s alleged wishlist :
    kun aguero,
    Klose,
    Arda turan,
    Gundogan,
    Felipe luis !! (atleti LB),
    Subotic !,
    Vergini !,
    Doria !

    • Laurentiu88 says:

      yeah.. i wonder if this is also not some avantgarde motivation for our players :)

      now that the news is out that pep left because our players were out of motivation how can we ask what the Man himself couldn’t achieve to other mere mortals like Tata!!

      • Peter says:

        Actually Pep said he left because he couldn’t motivate himself and the players. He felt burned out.

        You have to be careful not to trust the soundbites.

        The team was quite motivated in the next season – and had Messi not been injured, it’s quite likely there would’ve been a new points record in La Liga – and there was a new record, a new best-ever half-season result.

  19. raj says:

    Anyone up for prediction game? or is it too mainstream? Anyways, I think 2-1 to Barca, we will be the better team but real supporters will cry over some missed chances or referee. Safest prediction.

    • ooga aga says:

      I’d put money on our going home with the three points

    • I’d say 2-3 Barça.

      Also, I think Peter’s theory might be a bit forced, however, I also spent several years in Catalunya (and I married one!) and the nationalism can be particularly frustrating! Most people I’ve talked to like Martino, and Argentinians in general though. It’s not like he’s English – that would piss off everyone in the city I imagine. I think the anti-martini sentiment steams mostly from the press, and from that particular brand of internet based commentary, i.e., quick/reactionary/immature.

      As frustrating as games like Valladolid have been, I was much more annoyed last season when it seemed as though the only answer was to pass to Messi. This year the team is playing much better as a unit. If we had avoided last months blip, we would be having a very different conversation.

      • Peter says:

        My point is not that the culer-in-the-street wants Tata out, but that a part of the entorno, people with power, want him out in order to destabilize the current board. Tata is just collateral.

        Reading today’s articles in SPORT and the comments it seems that the culers are actually waking up and are actively defending Tata. Hell, there were comments from madridistas going “WTF, over, are you mental, SPORT?”

        The way I am looking at it, it’s a political move. The idea is to force a motion of censure in the summer, preferably in June. That way the ingoing board could take all the credit from signing new players and spending money – which is what the culers want. It could also take credit for successfully resolving “Neymargate”, for beginning to construct the stadium, finding a new much-better paying sponsors… And if it’s sufficiently Catalanista it will be even better.

        First rule of politics is “When the dust settles, it doesn’t matter who was right, but who is left standing.”
        There’s a saying that you can’t take/give back a beating and a f—ing. You can add election results to that. If you doubt me, ask ex-POTUS Al Gore. ;)

        • I’m with you. It’s very hard in Catalunya to know when you’re getting manipulated by nationalistic sentiment. What happens at the upper echelons of Barça is mimics the CiU, in other words, using an appeal to pathos on a large majority of people, who, with the crisis, are totally jodido. Cynics like myself are always wary of these appeals. I prefer to follow the money.

  20. ooga aga says:

    maybe i missed it, but i am surprised i didnt see mentioned here the public statement that Miguel Cardenal, spain’s secretary of sport in the madrid gov’t, made a couple weeks ago…

  21. Seyi38 says:

    Even though I’m optimistic about our chances of winning against EE, whatever the scoreline is, it’s a win-win for me. A win puts us back in contention for the league title, a draw or loss doesn’t and might condemn us to third but at the same time exposes the failures of this board even more. It’s obvious we need at least two CB’s this summer and I’ll go for an experienced one and a younger one (seems logical). We shouldn’t miss out on Mussacheo (being that he’ll be out of contract then), it also means that the second CB should be more experienced meaning that we’ll likely miss out on Balanta and my oh my, dude is something else. Remarkable strength and athleticsm for his age, a real aerial presence, a stinging left foot and can also play at LB. Personally, I might be tempted to sign those two but thankfully I’m not paid to make that decision. Board needs to critical and spot on with whatever decisions they make this summer as regards transfers and the future of the club.

  22. ooga aga says:

    barcelona
    bayern munich
    dortmund
    real mandril
    atletico
    manchester utd
    chelsea
    PSG

    draw on friday

  23. Ultraculé says:

    I remember a time when we were the most feared team in the CL and any time the players or the coach were asked what team they would like to face, that question was replied with a resounding “bring on anyone”.

    While I will have that attitude in this campaign as well, I really hope EE draw either one of Chelsea, Atleti or Bayern. Schalke was a walkover and its about time they had a proper test. I think chelsea / Bayern would come out on top if they were to face EE.

    And.. Dortmund Barca would be a good game to watch.

  24. kenny says:

    Chelsea Madrid
    Bayern PSG
    Atletico ManU
    Barca Dortmund

    Madrid Bayern
    Barca Atletico

    Barca Bayern

  25. My choice for the CL opponent would be Manchester United. Since we got the toughest pre-quarter fixture, I waould prefer an easier one this time.

    For the Clasico it would be better to start either one of Neymar or Cesc. I would have Neymar start instead of Cesc. I will have Neymar on the right, Messi as false-9 and Pedro on left. Iniesta, Xavi and Busq should be in midfield. Neymar on the right should pin Marcelo back and should prevent from linking with Ronaldo. I am still not able to chose between Adriano and Alba. Looking at Bale and Maria(if he play), I would ususally go for Adriano. But Alba has been brilliant in the last couple of matches.

    Regardless of Real Madrid’s excellent home record; we have a lot of advantage against them. First of all they will play a 4-3-3 like us with one holding midfielder, deep lying play maker(Modric) and may be Di Maria or Isco. A midfield of Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets should be able to deal with that easily. The worry is the pace on counter, hence control should be crucial.

  26. Ultraculé says:

    As far as the team for the El Clasic goes, it is worth starting with the non negotiable selections first, to arrive at the final team.
    I’d like to start with the most contentious one.
    For me, the first player on the team sheet against EE, apart from the obvious guys, considering what he did in the last clasic and the recent games, should be Alexis Sanchez. I am convinced he should start in our right. His muscle, hold up play, blistering form and work rate will all come in handy in the upcoming game. Tata, if you’re reading this (:D), please start our Lexus. Then the other players who are certain to start will be Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Messi. At LB, I am fine with whoever Tata places his trust on between Adriano and Alba.
    Essentially, it is only that LF slot which is up in the air and the team’s shape and formation will also rely on who plays there.
    If its iniesta, then we are going to see Cesc start with a 4 man midfield. If its Pedro / Neymar, then we are going to lose out on a little bit of control. Personally I am torn. For me, its between Cesc and Pedro. My heart says pedro, but mind says Cesc. Neymar should certainly be an impact sub, given his relative lack of match rhythm.
    Whatever the team is, Visca Barca. Hoping to lay a Manita on them bastids.

    • BA says:

      surely Alba at LB to deal with the speed of Bale. love Adriano and he might suffice, but Alba has been in good form and his speed in covering might be pivotal; none of our center-backs are going to catch Bale in a foot race.

  27. Kess says:

    Well, although our choices can not manipulate the draws, i would really like to bye-pass dortmund and manchester united and hopefully draw bayern. As we cannot ascertain which form or what injury we would accrue from playing lesser oppositions when it does matter. Bayern would also be my ideal draw as they would be too bossy to take the quatres seriously…i sincerely doubt beating a bayern side crazed by the stench of the big eared trophy at the semis…not undermining us though…so i want one of bayern or PSG…the one team i really wouldnt like to draw at this stage is atletico…you might not have noticed but they are the strongest group of individuals in the competition, others such as us rely on glamour while atletico hack the earth and burn tyre… Not much to be said about the pique/masche debate except for the fact that PIQUE is easily the worst central defender we have right now and bartra can not be thrown in the mix just yet as he has yet to earn proper experience points…last season aside from messi, masche was our most consistent player… Food for thought.

  28. Kess says:

    For the EE game…my prefered line up would be…

    Valdes…alves…pigue…masche…alba…busi…iniesta…messi…pedro…neymar…alexis.

    With directness the main strategy…concede possesion and watch them knock themselves out.

    • Jim says:

      Of all the games to leave Xavi out of this would be bottom of the list ….. imo. I doubt if we would see much of the ball at all.

    • scribblez says:

      The problem with directness is that we haven’t adapted very well to direct vertical football yet. Possession based play is still our best strength and something we are most comfortable at. Maybe if Tata continues, with time and tinkering, we may see proper verticalidad next season. In a big game like this, not playing Xavi is a big gamble. We might see some exciting fast paced football but if the rhythm is not right, things may go horribly wrong. It will be very interesting if Tata fields a lineup without Xavi.

      One of the key aspect of this game for me is the defensive organization, defense maintaining concentration and not being caught out of position. We have improved vastly in this area ( esp in big matches) compared to very late Pep era and Tito era.

      Also I would like to see Alexis/Neymar on the right to support Dani Alves against Marcelo+Di Maria+Ronaldo. Messi did an excellent job in this area last classico. Alexis is more hardworking and in form whereas Neymar is great one on one and has a very good understanding with Dani.

  29. PrinceYuvi says:

    How about,

    Mou vs Casillas

    Atleti vs Bayern

    Barca vs Dortmund

    PSG vs Man utd

    Need an interesting game & Lots of hype.

    Besides Lewandowski is out of first leg, second yellow.

  30. kosby says:

    wishful thinking but I want us to eliminate Chelsea (Mou) in quarters, EE in semis and Bayern in the final…

  31. ooga aga says:

    I just want real mandril to get worn out in UCL so they drop points in La liga.

  32. Kess says:

    It automatically becomes a stalemate if we play our tiki taka game as madrid now play possession based football with effective directness that boths dictates play and exploit defensive loop holes…this tie will be a 0-0 draw if xavi plays and cesc is kept on the bench…we need three forwards to keep their fullbacks in check and also provide cover for our fullbacks…playing xavi kills the tempo of the game and also allows madrid to drift to thier usual counter-attacking selves which leaves us less effective on the ball…

    • Jim says:

      They haven’t played us in full tika Taka mode with four mids. If we play our best they won’t be able to keep or get the ball as much after the first twenty minutes. Agreed though that this is a much sterner test than before. This RM is a team now. We can’t afford to let them have too much of it or their pace will kill us.

      • ooga aga says:

        after the osasuna match, tata said “i know exactly how i am going to play against madrid”. i just dont know why we wouldnt use xavi. i have seen just about every game we have played in the last 5 years and we are always a better team with xavi in the side. that is still the case today, and martino knows it very well. him and valdes are first on the sheet.

        • Jim says:

          For me, and it has taken him long enough, he has finally realised the role that Iniesta plays in this side. We are going to be under severe pressure in the midfield. An inform Xavi and Iniesta are our best chance of surviving it and if they do Messi gets his platform and he’ll not waste it.

  33. Laurentiu88 says:

    seems quite clear that the 11 that played city will be in madrid. they too are a good counter attacking team and our strategy worked there, thou’ a 2 leg affair might be different than one where we need a win!

    from my perspective there isnt much to loose in this classico. maybe some pride, but as long as the boys go out there are fight ….

    dont remember last time all 8 team in ucl were so close in class and name!! i jsut dont want rm to play mu… to get the easy ride yet again!

  34. Peter says:

    Guys, if a post has “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”, can it be seen?
    I’m talking about this post of mine:
    http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/22053/continues-aka-kill-moments-peace/#comment-164743

    is it visible?

    • teddy says:

      by default on how WordPress works, only you can see the message, once the comment is approved, it will be visible to other users

      • Peter says:

        Thanks. So basically the whole essay with the links to various articles that point to a SPORT campaign against Tata is invisible.

        That explains a lot. :(

        • Ryan says:

          One way to avoid waiting for moderation is to only have one link, or otherwise put a special character in front of the links so that WordPress doesn’t recognize them as such. At least that’s how I remember people used to show multiple links.

  35. Ultraculé says:

    I will donate 1000 Euros to BFB, if Real Madrid draw Bayern Munich today.

  36. Laurentiu88 says:

    :D then they will be drawn together!!!

    can’t stand to see figo there….

  37. teddy says:

    It’s Atletico then

  38. Laurentiu88 says:

    pfff.. atletico ..and bcb for them… not too great!!

  39. mazimi says:

    Athletico…

  40. Ultraculé says:

    Is this a good draw for us? I can’t tell.
    so far 3 games with Atleti and 3 draws.
    And they are certain to be physically exhausting.
    That we play 1st leg at home is also a disadvantage.
    Hoping we show our experience in the CL and prevail easily.

  41. justdoit94 says:

    am happy as long as we dont get bayern/madrid
    atletico will definitely be a tough draw and i am pretty sure away goals will be the difference in this tie

  42. Hilal says:

    Great, the one team I was really hoping to avoid and of course Madrid get one of the easiest draws with Lewandowski out of the first leg. They always get an easy ride to the semis!

    I know most people tend to talk about Madrid/Bayern but to be honest I would always rather face attacking teams than defensive ones. Simeone will make sure the Athletico players leave their skins on the pitch. This is going to be a very tough 2 legs, especially with the 2nd leg away from home.

  43. Peter says:

    Anyone surprised that Real and Bayern got the only two teams that lost one of their legs?

    Borussia will be without Lewandowski, Schmelzer, Gundogan, Subotic among others.

  44. Ultraculé says:

    So then, Bayern and EE are pretty much guaranteed semi finalists!
    This sucks.

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