Poor Tata. Called upon to replace an ailing Tito, he arrived in Barcelona with nothing but a crumpled suit and a backpack filled with pistachio polo shirts. Given a poorly balanced squad to which he could add no players he was told to smile, take a picture, and off to Bangkok for a summer tour through a smoldering South East Asia that couldn’t have been planned more poorly if they had left on a train. Looking back at it all it’s a surprise that the wheels did not come off earlier this season.
Has Tata made any mistakes? Yes, most definitely, and some were baffling. His line-up against Real Sociedad comes to mind, in which he prioritized the second leg of the Copa del Rey round by sending out his gala eleven just a few days before resting key players in a crucial league match-up against the same opponents. Question marks surround his insistence on playing an out of form Cesc in every big game in favor of Alexis and/or Pedro, especially for the last CL match and the Cup final. And he could have used the B-team players a bit more, or at least go see their games every now and then. Denis Suarez is supposed to be promoted next season but we have not seen him make a first team appearance yet.
On the other hand folks forget that he started with eight league wins and didn’t lose his first game until the end of November against Frank de Boer’s Ajax. They don’t remember that all of us applauded him for how well he managed Neymar’s integration into the squad. How Pedro and Alexis flourished during the first half of the season. How he beat Real M*drid twice after we had been owned by the blancos for most of the previous 18 months. How we went into the winter break on top of the league. How he did all that with Messi injured for two months and Sergi Roberto (!) playing significant minutes.
Poor Tata. He could have had the world at his feet if he had kept a good thing going. How, or more precisely, why he lost control is not clear. What we do know is that the media (read: the club) never quite supported him. And although I felt his “if I were Catalan or Dutch” comment was a huge gaffe, it might have been not that far off the mark. Journalists were almost waiting for the team to fail so that they could pounce on the outsider. Sometimes they attacked the coach even when his team had won 4-0, and when we finally did start losing, oh boy. Let’s just say the board has a convenient scapegoat that they can hide behind.
Come again? Complete? When for at least two summers in a row, the man in charge of building the squad neglects to buy a central defender we have been needing for three seasons running tells us that our squad is complete, you know we are in trouble. For a long time I felt Zubi was blamed unfairly for Barça’s troubles. After all, we can assume that Pep signed off on Cesc and Alexis. The next summer Tito was all about Thiago Silva and nobody else, until we ended up with Alexander Song. And with Rosell spending 97 million euros on Neymar, one can understand there was not any money left for further moves. Not much Zubi can do there, right?
In my opinion of the players Zubizaretta bought, only Fàbregas has truly disappointed, and honestly, who would have thought that Cesc, the best midfielder of the EPL, whose body was made up of Barça DNA, would fail at our club? Song was an obvious mistake, in light of the need for a defender, but has done better than some would like to admit. Alexis and Jordi Alba are simply among the best players in their position whom I think we have done well to sign. All in all it seemed that when taking into consideration the limitations he worked with, we may not have had the best technical director in the world, but certainly not the worst. Let’s not forget that Txiki bought us the highly successful Caceres, Henrique, Chigrynski and the man we owe for Hlebuary. Not to mention Ibrahimovic, for whom we only paid 50-something million euros plus Sammy Eto’o, before he almost kung fu kicked Pep across the nose just one year later.
There is nothing more cringe worthy than hearing Xavi Hernandez speak after a loss. His “only one team came to play football” and “the grass was long” are bad enough, but when he says “we only lost because of a couple of details” after being comprehensively outplayed for the majority of the match, that really gets my goat. These kind of excuses are for footballers that play for Arsène Wenger, not for the captain of F.C. Barcelona. Can you imagine even for one second Puyol spouting such crap? I much prefer hearing Andrès Iniesta talk about how it hurts to lose then Xavi about how it is not fair that we lost.
However, the “losing because of details” quote is worrying for other reasons as well. Especially because he said the same after we got our butts handed to us in the Calderón ten days ago. I take it the details he had in mind were not the ‘getting completely overrun and being saved by the post and crossbar up to three times’ part of that game. Or the ‘barely creating any chances of note while keeping sterile possession until M*drid kills us on the counter’ part of the Cup final.
Is our captain deluded, or are those quotes self-serving? Could there be truth to the rumor that Xavi “persuaded” our coach to stop the evolution of our tactics to a more vertical approach and revert to a complete possession-based game? Because after the meeting of Martino and the captains,
And this is not Dani Alves’ fault. Teams set up against us in a way that protects them against short passes through the middle and leave the flanks open knowing full well we can’t hurt them that way. And we can’t really blame Xavi Hernandez to resist the somewhat more vertical approach Tata brought to our game, because even if that is the way forward, our team is simply not built for that. We need different defenders for that, and perhaps it does not suit Sergio Busquets either. And maybe, just maybe, it does not bring the best out of Lionel Messi, although trying to play him as a 9 and sending him high crosses makes him look more useless than an eyeball in an armpit. And when he looks useless, the dumb and self-destructive side of planet Barça starts asking whether he ought be sold. And then
Of course not. Messi is the best in the world, possibly ever. A once in a lifetime talent. He’s like Maradona without a drug addiction, Master Yoda without the long green ears or Micheal Jackson without the creepy operations. He is our very own footballing Jesus and you want to nail him to a cross? Everybody is asking “what’s wrong with Leo”, “what’s wrong with Leo?”
I’ll tell you “what’s wrong with Leo…”
We’re wrong with Leo! Give the guy a break. He’s been the world’s best player for years, winning four straight balons d’or and deserving of every single one. We have gotten used to his brilliance so much that we act like it’s normal, but it’s not. It’s unprecedented. He is carrying the hopes and dreams of two nations on his shoulders, not to mention his fans that don’t support his club or country but still want him to be awesome every time he steps on the pitch. And the first season he does not live up to our expectation of him exceeding our expectations, we ask what’s wrong? He’s human is what’s wrong, or rather the fact that we have never seen another human like him and have so treated him like a god all these years. He’s not, so give the man a break before we break him. I wouldn’t even mind if it he didn’t play the last five games. Renew the Flea, send him to Rosario with his girlfriend and his son and let him prepare for the World Cup.
I don’t care about the rest of the season, I just want M*drid to lose. Send all of our players on vacation early, and smack the culers on the mouth who blame those who have given us so much more than we could have ever hoped for. Let’s think about what’s next. I know
Which, with all due respect, just ain’t gonna happen. Guardiola won’t come back until the current board has left, and even then only maybe, so don’t hold your breath. There are those who say that he loves the club so much he would coach us again under the right circumstances, but even if that’s true it won’t be any time soon.
So then who? Martino can’t stay. He seems like a very decent guy and he is certainly a capable coach, but he has lost both the control and the respect needed to lead this group of players. I see names being mentioned. Valverde, Martinez, Luis Enrique, De Boer and Klopp. To be honest I have no idea why the first two would be considered other than with this board you never know and they are having decent seasons right now. Lucho has not really done all that well at Roma and Celta. Klopp is in love with Dortmund, and although he has obvious qualities as both a human being and a football manager it is not sure whether he would fit well with our club culture. That leaves De Boer. The work that our former defender has done at Ajax is nothing short of amazing, but he is not coming to Barcelona this summer and he knows it. He is way too smart to make that move now and way too close to Cruijff to be considered by the snakes in power.
There is one coach who is strong and has authority. A coach who knows and understands our way of playing but has the tactical fortitude to shake it up a bit (but not too much). One that can command the respect of a group of players who have won it all and then some. One who has won it all and then some himself, at club level at least. One that knows Barça well, having both succeeded and failed here before, and will have learned from his failure. He’ll be available after the World Cup, and won’t be able to bring all of his former players to Barcelona this time around because they suck. The twisted advantage for this board of directors? Cruijff cannot stand him. If only they had the balls to call on this coach, but they don’t. And they won’t.
To be honest, something is very rotten in our team, and unless new elections are called, I can’t think of any coach who could steer our ship other than Louis Van Gaal. Things are so rotten, that
He didn’t pick up his silver medal at the Copa del Rey ceremony and reportedly called Martino a coward for not playing him. There are two ways of looking at this, but you gotta feel for the guy.
Of course he should have stood with his teammates at the ceremony. By not doing so, Alexis Sanchez disrespected his teammates, his opponents, the fans and the club. He disrespected his captain by not listening to Puyol (again, reportedly) when he tried to convince him to pick up the medal. Note that he is not the first Barcelona player to do just this over the last ten years. Leo Messi and Bojan Krkic have acted out in a similar fashion. Regardless of how you feel about yourself, you are part of a team and represent a club, and not just any team, or any old club. Grind your teeth if you have to, but pick up the damn medal.
As for calling Martino a coward, if true, he is hereby excused. Gerardo Martino was a coward for not starting him in the Calderón and for keeping him on the bench in the Mestalla. If Pedro had started it would be one thing, but after Cesc’s lame form as of late, there was simply no excuse. Lexus must feel especially betrayed because it was Martino who got the best out of him during the first half of the season, scoring and assisting at will. We are talking about a man who wanted to play for Barcelona to honor his dying father’s wishes, and his dream was finally coming true. After a second season which had the fans calling for his head, Alexis was consolidating his career at the club of his dreams. And then, like that, it all went up in smoke.
People like lists. Do you like lists? Let’s make a list.
- They stripped Cruijff of his honorary presidency.
- They cooked the books to make it look as if the club owed more than it did.
- They managed to get only 24M over three years for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
- They sold Chygrinski against the wishes of the best coach in the history of our club.
- They sold our shirt.
- They failed to create an environment in which Pep wanted to remain at the club.
- They lied about Qatar Airways.
- They lied to Eric Abidal.
- They let Thiago de Alcantara go.
- They neglected Victor Valdés to the point that our best goalkeeper ever wants to leave.
- With completely needless comments about his contract, they actually managed to get Lionel Messi to get mad at them in public.
- They lied about Neymar’s contract.
- They had their president step down, only for his cohorts who had worked with him all up to the decision-making processes that led to his demise, to remain in place.
- They neglected the sporting project, passing up opportunities to buy Javi Martinez, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos or any other central central defender. With any I mean any.
- In complete contradiction to the advice of all who watch them play, they have kept Eusebio in charge of the B-Team for consecutive seasons.
- They have made fools out of themselves and all of its supporters with what I will call Masíagate.
Quite the accomplishment in such a short time. Feel free to add to my list in the comments below. If we are not careful, they will push Messi out of the club also. So how come they are still there? Well,
How is it possible that 70% of socis approved of this board’s plans for an as of yet undefined stadium project that will cost at least 600 million euros? I’ll tell you why, through their cronies in the media and through mass indifference among club members. Of course to any thinking person this does not explain why. With so many problems, failures and scandals caused by this board of directors that people can make entire lists of them, the fact that they’re still standing is staggering. What the club needs is organization on a local level. Yes-voting socis do not live in isolation. They might not be on twitter, but they have family, friends, neighbors and strangers on the street who can talk to them about all that goes on at our club.
We need organization.
We need opposition.