Barça Be Like


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.

After all, when the question was raised to our technical director, Zubizarreta1

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.

But to tell us the squad is complete? That sounds just as unrealistic as whenXavi

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, dani-alves-3

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 Messi

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.

Will he be back next season? Again, who knows. I hope so, but do you know what I really hope for? Elections! But Barto

People like lists. Do you like lists? Let’s make a list.

  1. They stripped Cruijff of his honorary presidency.
  2. They cooked the books to make it look as if the club owed more than it did.
  3. They managed to get only 24M over three years for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
  4. They sold Chygrinski against the wishes of the best coach in the history of our club.
  5. They sold our shirt.
  6. They failed to create an environment in which Pep wanted to remain at the club.
  7. They lied about Qatar Airways.
  8. They lied to Eric Abidal.
  9. They let Thiago de Alcantara go.
  10. They neglected Victor Valdés to the point that our best goalkeeper ever wants to leave.
  11. With completely needless comments about his contract, they actually managed to get Lionel Messi to get mad at them in public.
  12. They lied about Neymar’s contract.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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, old soci

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.

And in the meantimeLaporta

Categorized as Barcelona

By Levon

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...


  1. And momma be like
    Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

    And thanks for the laugh (& the truth bombs), Lev!

  2. Let’s not forget that Txiki bought us the highly successful Caceres, Henrique, Chigrynski and the man we owe for Hlebuary.

    You left one player out. A Brazilian striker who never even made an appearance here. His name is Keirrison or more fondly known here as K9. Most likely a Laporta/Txiki signing but hey, nobody wants to remember that. Many Barca fans only remember the good things that Laporta and jump on the current administration. I know it’s fashionable for human to attack and loathe those in power.

    I see many fans blaming Zubi for not signing players. The manager has to give a list of options and if the manager insists on one player only *Thiag Silva*, what can Zubi do? Tata had options too last summer but he declined. But Rosell and Zubi get the blame too for that.

    You made a good point on the money part too. But I think we should have some money over last summer after the Neymar signing from the 2012 summer.

    1. Yes, I was going to mention Keirison, but then I forgot. Good catch! While true that when we look at all the lemons, Zubi has a better track record, at least under Laporta/Txiki we never went consecutive summers without filling a hole in the squad.

      I think Zubi’s “we’re complete” comment was not only absurd but also completely self-serving and utterly classless towards our coach who, at the moment it was said, had three out of four central defenders injured.

      As a fan I feel betrayed because it makes me believe our sporting director has put his own interests before the club’s.

    2. Keirison wasn’t even a lemon – the only time he made anywhere near the stadium was when he signed. Other than that it was quite obvious to everyone (most of all the coaching staff) he did not have the quality to be a Barca player. That was a completely mystifying purchase that one is well justified to suspect there is something nefarious behind.

      But then we are not the only ones who made such mistakes – the next year United bought Bebe and Bebe had never even scored 20 goals in the Campeonato Brasileiro…

  3. 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.

    All the points where you disagreed with Tata listed above were the same with me. Add late subs to them as well. But it’s strange. In the first half of the season Tata made early subs.

    My biggest gripe with Tata is probably the lack of introduction of B players especially in 2nd leg Copa matches. I want the club to promote youngsters or at least try them out. Tata doesn’t seem to understand that we have La Masia.

    Xavi is deluded and arrogant as well. They should serve him a gag order not to let him go anywhere near the microphone especially after a loss. It’s so embarrassing.

    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

    Alves doesn’t need to cross. He can always pass sideways or try to do a 1-2 with a player in the box to pull 1 or 2 defender out instead of keeping trying to cross.

    And why is it that only Alves crosses the ball out of the people? Why not Xavi? Or crosses from the left. In any case, whether it’s Tata’s tactics or not, he should have ordered them to stop crossing by now because we only have a 10% chance of connecting with the ball and they can’t even put it on target.

    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.

    Exactly. I too don’t think we would’ve last the whole season playing that way. Our players would’ve run out of steam.

    Eyeball in an armpit??!! How did you come up with that? 😆

    1. “Add late subs to them as well. But it’s strange. In the first half of the season Tata made early subs.”

      What is stranger is that the same can be said of Tito as well. We were all impressed by his early subs at the start of last season but later on we were screaming for him for his refusal to sub players when a match wasn’t going well.

      Eyeball in an armpit??!! How did you come up with that?
      Well I thought of an eyeball in another part of the body, but then I figured I am already the least sophisticated contributor on our BFB all star team, so…

  4. ^Fantastic.
    Hope they don’t crucify leo & chuck him out in the sea.
    But After Abi, I’m not so sure…

    1. Yes. Coming from the same club that sold Ronaldo after a 47 goal season and sold Figo to Real M*drid, you never know.

  5. And the first season he does not live up to our expectation of him exceeding our expectations, we ask what’s wrong?

    That’s what I said too. I don’t mind it at all if he has an off game for a few games or even the season. But at least try harder. His performance vs. Atletico is not acceptable.

    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.

    Nah I wouldn’t go to that extent. I want him to perform well in the WC but I want him to play for us till the remainder of the season. He is Barca’s player first and foremost. And he is not injured so he doesn’t need rest.

    When it really becomes mathematically impossible to catch up to win the title, then I would like Tata to experiment with the youngsters as much as possible. They are our future. B team is safe now so no excuses.

    Montoya and Bartra definitely has to play the remainder of our games if they are fit. They should’ve had way more games under their belt this season. Montoya is the worst victim, can’t even make the bench when Alves continues to perform below par. What kind of message is Tata sending out to the other players? It’s ok to play bad, you’ll still be chosen. It’s more or less like last season when the players were selected on name rather than form.

    1. I think he has managed Bartra and Montoya well. Marc has gotten a lot more minutes than Tito, and Montoya is simply not good enough to be a regular starter for this club. His only good game this season was the loss at Granada last week.

      A lot of people love to hate Dani Alves, but at least he plays like he gives a damn and he is still one of the world’s best players for his position.

  6. Lucho might not have been successful elsewhere but I think he’s tailormade for Barca just like other La Masia kids who didn’t make the grade wouldn’t be able to succeed elsewhere.

    Martinez has a good track record at Wigan and especially now at Everton but this is not the right time for him. He wouldn’t be able to handle this squad. I would love him to come once the core of this team is gone though when the next batch of youngsters are coming up. Maybe 3-5 years later.

    I love Klopp but I doubt he’s coming. He has a big project going on there and he is loved by everyone there. Why would he risk it by coming here?

    Levon, last season I too named Van Gaal as a successor but was shot down by many. I named van Gaal because he is a tough manager, we needed someone like him last season and especially now. Very unpopular choice but the players will listen to him! And look at Bayern. He’s the one who brought them back on the right track. But it’s not going to happen and he will most likely end up at Tottenham. Doesn’t suit him imo.

    If he does come here, I’d reckon Cruyff will cut off all ties with Barca 😆

    1. Lucho would probably be my second choice right now. The main reason for not hiring would be that I don’t think it wise to put yet another unproven coach in charge of this team for the third season in a row.

      We need somebody with experience and a track record and his name should not rhyme with Smolari. The more I think about it, Van Gaal would be perfect. To my surprise various people here in BCN agree with me (I usually start the idea with “you might think I am absolutely crazy, but…”)

    2. I think it’s funny that you blame the club for selling Ronaldo and then suggest that we bring back Van Gaal.
      If you weren’t aware Van Gaal was the sole reason that Ronaldo left.

      Ronaldo was the best striker in the world and had the potential to be the best player ever but the board brought in Van Gaal even after a good season under Bobby Robson and moved Robson upstairs. Ronaldo loved Robson and when Van Gaal was brought in Ronaldo and him had a falling out and Ronaldo said him or me and the rest is history.

      Van Gaal took over a good side and won trophies but when he came back the second time it was not successful.

      In my opinion it would be a terrible decision to bring him back.

    3. Where did you get that from?

      Ronaldo might have loved Robson because he let him do whatever he wanted like going to Rio for Carnaval in February, but the Englishman was not a very good coach. One anecdote tells of his PSV players letting him give the pre-game speech but decide on the tactics amongst themselves in Dutch. Anyway. Ronaldo (or rather, his advisors) started negotiating with other clubs way before the season was over and was more out than in by the time Van Gaal arrived.

      On the flipside, Van Gaal has often been harsh with his star players, especially if he feels they don’t put the team first. I think he is no longer as extreme as in his early years, though, if judged from the on-the-pitch freedom he gave Arjen Robben during his time at Bayern.

    4. The Barcelona of 96-97 was the most entertaining Barca in history in my opinion. The football was unbelievable and the squad was incredible with the likes of Guardiola, Enrique, de la Pena, Figo & Giovanni supporting Ronaldo although I know I’m only talking about midfielders & forwards.
      That team missed out on the league by 2 points but were the top scoring team in league history if memory serves me correctly. Van Gaal’s winning the league the following season as much to do with the Real Madrid’s poor showing and focus on the CL than his own methods.

      Whatever methods Robson used were very successful considering he won the Uefa Cup with Ipswich Town and won leagues in a few different countries.
      He was named European Manager of the Year for 1996-97 while our manager for that season.

      When van Gaal came back in 2002-03 it was our worst season in the 20+ years I’ve followed Barca and he was fired shortly after the turn of the year.

      I don’t want him back regardless of the lack of options.

    5. Just as it is not proper to give him all the credit for the two season between 1997 and 1999, I would blame Van Gaal for the 2002-2003 fiasco, that teams was a mess that nobody would have been able to fix.

      The Ronaldo sale is one of those mysteries I have always wanted to learn more about but has not really been covered in depth anywhere. And there wasn’t the same internet coverage of everything back then.

      In addition to him falling out with people within the club, I always suspected that the club also figured out he was going to go get seriously injured very soon – because it was kind of obvious that there was a mismatch between the power his muscle could generate and his frame plus he was the most fouled player of the 90s because he would try (often very successfully) to dribble past the whole defense almost every time he got the ball. So they might have decided to cash in while it was time. The subsequent two titles and him getting the first knee injury within 24 months made it look like a good decision. And it is true that we got Rivaldo to replace him, but I still dreamed what would it have been if we had both of those plus Figo in the same team for a few years….

  7. 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 would like to also add, how on earth can’t they come up with 15% opposition?! They could barely get 5%. I guess the socis in Barcelona really are satisfied with Rosell and co. And maybe they want the club to be run that way.

    Really strange for me considering the many mistakes this board has committed but what can we do?

    If this was pre-Internet days, I would understand that maybe the socis aren’t up to date and Rosell and co. have a strong propaganda team but we’re in 2014. They can find all the latest news on the internet.

    Culetoon and nzm are in Barcelona, I would like to ask them how the situation is over there on the ground. Are the people really happy with the current administration, are they really ok with the many mistakes made, etc.

    1. Since I arrived here five weeks ago, roughly half of the culers I speak to tell me that they hate the board. Of the other half a large part are simply indifferent, they neither like nor dislike them. Some socis just want to watch the games and don’t care about the politics at all. Others think the board is crap but that any alternative is also crap and that in fact all of them have always been crap.

      For me it is also very hard to accept the idea that we would not be able to raise those 15%. Like I wrote above, the yes-voters don’t live in isolation, and if those who oppose the board organize themselves, common sense should prevail.

    2. Oh ya, I forgot you moved there. Laporta is the only notable candidate right? Do they think that he’s crap too? He’s the lesser devil imo.

      How about the Espai? Do they think they need to spend so much?

  8. I noticed you don’t rate Montoya. But I do think that he is solid. Good enough to be a 1st choice if Alves leaves. He’s not outstanding but he is decent enough to be a 1st team player.

    In any case, Tata should’ve used him more to rest Alves.

    Bartra has been used too little. Even though he’s played more compared to last season but Bartra is getting older and better thus more minutes. He should be a 1st choice ahead of Mascherano by now but because of the lack of trust from Tito and Tata, he’s still a 3rd or 4th choice CB.

    I know the argument is that he’s similar to Pique but it’s not that big of a deal for me. Until when are we going to use that excuse? It’s not easy finding a pacey ball playing CB.

    How many teams try to sign a defender to complement the 1st choice CB? And what if the 1st choice CB gets injured? Then they’ll have to find a matching partner all over again.

    Just play Bartra with Pique and let them learn to play with each other. And sign one CB in the summer. Mascherano as back up. I doubt he will ever play at DM for Barca.

    1. Reply to Levon. I don’t understand why when I’m replying on mobile phone (Android+Opera Mini) it will go down no matter what.

  9. Just to interrupt your dialogue :D, no way in hell do i want VG back to Barca, in no circumstances. I still remember his press conference when he said that we were nothing before he came. I just dislike too much.
    For Cesc, how is he a failure? It’s not his fault that he doesn’t give what he’s capable of, because the coaches ask him to play the role that he isn’t suited to play.
    We have seen this with the others as well, when they are not in their natural play position. He belongs with us.
    And, i like the idea for Laudrup, but good luck to anyone who will have the guts to stand against “we know which” players.

    1. I know what you mean. I dislike him, too, but I think he has mellowed out (a little bit) over the years.

      As for Cesc, everybody was like, he will fit right in. Well, he hasn’t, although you are not completely wrong when you talk about him being played out of position. At this point, if he stays I will support him, but if we sell him for a good price I think I can live with that.

  10. Great piece, great laundry list – i think the pre-season was such an important screw-up that it merits inclusion in the list just as much as in the text.

    It seems to me that the crux of this season was the infantile reaction of some the press and some culers to the Rayo Vallecano win. Even that wouldn’t bother me so much if i didn’t feel that it’s the same folks who wanted possession more than victory who are now disgusted at having possession and losing competitions (of course, i might be making a straw-man at that).

  11. Been thinking about something somebody ( was it Kxevin ?) said a while ago about while re watching Bale’s goal. Possibly giving Bartra a run at RB. Assuming the staff are working at giving Puyol one last match in a Barca shirt – they’d better be – it’d be good to give Bartra a no blame shot at RB with the same remit as Dani just to see if he has the feet and composure to measure a whipped cross ball. Can’t harm at this stage of the season and the lad must be feeling he’s about to move one back in the pecking order with the signing of a new CB. It also gives him more experience as well as adding extra height to the team. Could be worth a go.

    1. While we’re at it why not in the same game give Masche a shot at DM? Kinda need to know if he has the ball retention and quick passing skills for that before next season.

    2. Nah, I wouldn’t put Bartra at RB. He just doesn’t suit to be a RB. He is a natural CB so just play him in the remainder of the season and Montoya at RB.

      You want to try Masch out at DM and Bartra at RB. Who’s going to play CB? song?! You forgot that we lack CB’s atm don’t you 🙂

    3. I think he means the season is pretty much over anyhow. It is funny how we (and notice how I include myself) have given up on the season already, even the ones amongst us who should remember the two league titles our dream team won on the last day.

      Not winning any trophies would be more than worth it as long as it led to early elections. You would read no complaints from me if we tried Masche out as a DM.

    4. The season is not over for me until it’s mathematically over. But even if it’s over, I would stick Bartra at CB. He needs minutes there. We have Montoya who could play RB or Adriano. I actually prefer Adriano on the right.

      Why do you think that there will be early elections? Seems unlikely to me. For there to be an election, it has to be called by Bertomeu right? Why would he do that when their mandate ends in 2016. And there is no opposition.

    5. I don’t think there will be early elections. (See my “Barto be like…. you’ll have your elections” in the above article)

    6. I’m more thinking of next year. I don’t see Bartra getting many more minutes at CB if we bring in an expensive CB. If that’s the case, and if Bartra’s worth bothering about it might be an idea to give him some minutes that way to keep him happy and continue his first team education, plus As I said all of a sudden we’d have a tall defence !

  12. Levon – great article. Just a few quibbles.
    Think the more vertical approach is much more suitable to a gang of midgets (except Xavi “Let’s stop this counter-attack now because I want to make a dozen sideways passes” Hernandez). Every barca forward is a grey-hound. They were born to play a more vertical game. But letting the defence consolidate and having to whip in crosses is definitely unsuitable.

    1. I think Xavi could make a few more forward passes if there were more movement in front of him. And there hasn’t been.

      I find the Xavi ruined all of Tata’s plans rhetoric just about as tiresome as the Messi’s not caring any more nonsense. That kind of talk was picked up from the same rags that are calling for Messi’s sale. MD and Sport can’t be trusted.

    2. Yeah, it would be great for our forwards but we lack the correct personnel in the midfield and the defense.

      Also, it is a big mistake to think that Martino somehow tried to turn us into a counter attack team. All he tried to do was incorporate some elements of counter attacking into our style. He was looking for an evolution and not a revolution.

  13. I think you just underestimate the socis. Laporta was brought to a vote of no confidence with the team playing like sh*t, giving an honor guard to Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu and finishing at third place, 18 points below Real Madrid. This managed to rouse about 10% of the then number of socis and there was a vote. Mind you, Barcelona that year had won absolutely nothing and hadn’t achieved nothing. Coach was wondering around, star players couldn’t even be bothered to attend training sessions – and the signatures that were gathered in order to start the vote were slightly above the minimum levels required (5% at that time).

  14. The club is in such disarray, it is so disheartening to witness.
    The board has screwed up in more ways than one, and they have single handedly cut short the potential of a once in a generation group of players by refusing to address glaring sporting needs. But it’s also true that the constant winning and consistently stupefying levels of performance have ingrained some unrealistic expectations from fans. Yes, we imploded, but given the kind of crap this team have had to endure the past few seasons, it is nothing short of remarkable that our much lauded ‘era’ lasted soo long. Yes, now it IS over and we can certainly close that chapter and start looking ahead.

    I’d just like to touch upon my views on some of the points / players that have been raised in this post and the last one on Neymar that I only just read and couldn’t comment on earlier.

    I was one of the loudest voices here against his signing last summer. I believed then and I believe the same now, that his acquisition was more about marketing and self serving moves rather than a real sporting need of the team. Yea yea, the arguments on how Messi’s burden needs to be lightened etc make sense, but still does not point to a need in signing this guy specially, with the position he plays and the moolah he costs. BUT having said all that, I must say that he has impressed me this year. I would go as far to say that were he not in the team, we would have not been in the privileged position we found ourselves a couple of weeks ago – alive in all competitions. He won us the supercup, saved our asses against espanyol, Real madrid twice and performed exceedingly well in tough games showing us a glimmer of his potential and magic, which I wrongly thought was over rated. He is a special talent and we are lucky to have got him. Now we need to make it work and that’s the key goal. we must take care to not do an Ibra on him. I also share Kxevin’s self admitted greed and optimism in the wanting to believe that neymar and messi can work in the same team, and also do so brilliantly. Sporting and skill sets wise there is nothing to suggest that they cannot. Only Egos, mismanagement and off the field drama pose a threat to this dream marriage. And that threat is very real which can only be killed with a real leader at the helm.

    I was, once again the loudest voices against his signing, because once again they were for the wrong reasons and his purchase once again led to a neglect of more vital improvements to the squad. Lets see, he was bought for big money, the fact that he was Catalan, for a position we already had great depth in, which also drove the talented Thiago away since he now was further down the pecking order, in order to accommodate a player who ditched the club at 16. His stats may be above average, but his performances and impact have been anything but. He is slower than my grandma and does not really add anything to the squad from a sporting standpoint that other midfielders can, except to say that he grew up and saw messi, pique in their underwear. This guy is a marketable MF we can see good money for. But then, I fear that he is here for a long while. I would sell Cesc much much sooner before I even think of selling Pedro, song, alexis, alves, mascherano etc.

    Ta ta Tata
    Martino made all the right moves and said all the right things. Why he lost control is unfortunate, but I really liked the guy. Still do. We will never know if his insistence on playing that shite lineup repeatedly during the decisive games was his call alone, or was influenced, but he would have done better to go out making his OWN mistakes rather than some one else’s. That he made Alexis the beast we actually bought then chose to chain him later really boils my blood and I am convinced that he would have made a difference in those games against Atleti, Madrid and the league games. That I am unable to forgive him for. Even now, the best option for Barca seems to be to give him another season with proper authority and resources. But that will not happen, will it, and it looks like Barca will have to go through a fourth season under a fourth manager and begin, yet again, a period of acclimatization.

    Your views on the amount of slack we need to cut the Flea in this article are interesting Levon, and while it is certainly one perspective, I am afraid I don’t quite share it. I love Messi and I believe that he may be the best ever footballer. But I have also always believed that Barca is such a perfect platform for him, to really shine and showcase his talents, in the gazillion touches he normally gets when Barca’s style is on song. I believe that Barca has given him as much as he has given the club. I wrote at great lengths, that it was not goals and successful dribbles that I wanted to see from Messi. Only a little want and desire. You wrote in this article that Alves infuriates fans constantly with his crosses which are as pointless as a breast without nipples, but that he is still a top right back and actually plays like he gives a shit. And I couldn’t agree more. We only ask Messi the same. In huge decisive games, the best player in the world simply cannot disappear like that. He does not wear a Suit, trainers and a cap together.

    Alex is San Chez
    I am a big fan. Always been. And always supported him when BFBers were calling for his head when he missed sitters my grandma would have scored. Why? Because. Like Mascherano, he always plays like he gives a shit. And he has good technique to complement it too. Against teams like Atleti and EE, his workrate, muscle, movement and goal scoring form would have come so much in handy. Yes, no player is bigger than the team, But I will take his side if he indeed expressed his displeasure of having been left out repeatedly when the results were clear to see. He has always worked his butt off and proven his humility. I would be pissed too, If I weren’t valued. It would be a colossal loss to our team if our Lexus is sold. Same for Mascherano.

    The board
    !@@###$#@$!@# !@#@!#%^&&*^% !!#$#@%^$^ #@$#%$^%$^
    !@#^%&&*(*&^* *^%&$@$@@#@$ @!@$$%^%^* )(*&^&%
    Levon, I could give you serious competition for being the least sophisticated contributor to BFB 😀

    Cheers, nice article and sorry for the long post.

    1. Great comment.

      Note that I am in favor of sending ALL our internationals on early vacation, not just Messi (I don’t think we can, though).

    2. I like your comment but can’t agree with all of it.

      For the same reasons you like Masch, Alexis & Alves and want to cut them slack you don’t see the need to do the same to Cesc. He puts as much effort in as any player in our squad, has made himself the fittest he has been in his career and covers more ground on average than Iniesta does. He can’t make himself a faster player, just like Mascherano can’t make himself a taller one.

      As for not adding anything from a sporting standpoint, I disagree. He is out of form, and generally doesn’t play well against incredible fit, physical teams but he still gets lots of goals and assists in a sport that is won by goals, not possession.

      Playing to his strengths, like we did in the first half of the season, made us a better team and we abandoned it. He can’t be blamed for that just like we couldn’t blame Messi if we became a route one team and asked him to win aerial balls.

    1. Mexico for the last week – spotty wifi at best. Missed Granada & CDR final, will miss Athletico today too 🙁 I’ll jump in tomorrow from home. 🙂

    1. Good chances on both sides – I’m also liking our movement. If only Alexis had done a chip for the chance he had when he hit the post!

  15. Really funny, and true. Nice job, and thank you for calling Xavi on his bs. “They didn’t let us play our football” is one of his standard complaints. Hey, dummy, that’s their JOB. You expect them to make it easy for you? Not gonna happen.

    Last night I watched the “Manita” from November of 2010. What fun, but what a different team from today’s. So much quicker, and bolder, and the players were clearly much fitter then. Back then they had the crazy idea that you can attack the other team’s goal by running behind the defenders and passing the ball to those runners. Silly Barca! So much simpler to take four touches and then play square to Dani Alves, or just play into Messi’s feet and let him work a miracle. Or let Iniesta do something brilliant. That often works well.

    It’s a good thing they have blown it in the Champions and Copa, and will blow it in La Liga, too. No one would admit it’s horribly broken if they walked away with silverware this season.

  16. So we conceded again from bad defending again by most of the defense. Song misses a header, Bartra pulls back from a challenge and losses the ball, then Dani buys the dummy. Pinto for once isn’t really at fault. Masch was no where near to cover either but I suppose you don’t expect the rest to screw up.

    Two minutes later we give away another goal but at least that is disallowed for offside

  17. I had a really bad feeling after the first half. These missed chances are always a bad sign. You know you’re screwed when messi and Pedro are missing these sitters.

    Man it would be really painful to lose today..

  18. Object lesson on how not to defend from us in the first 15 of the second half. Mind you we’re also creating chances and missing them. Can’t blame Tata for that.

    Still I would be tempted to leave the subs for now.

    1. Cristian Tello deserves a try. He can’t be any worse than Pedro with the space he is getting on the left.

      Maybe Cesc might change something

  19. After a horrible few games it feels nice celebrating goals and a win.
    It was nervy but we got there.

    Great saving block from Masch at the end to save the win

  20. Certainly can’t fault the team’s effort tonight. Also created a huge number of chances against a pretty good defence. Still the problem of losing first goal. You could just feel the anxiety.

  21. I feel we had a good game, dozens of chances, but the ball just didn’t wanted to get in. Some great plays, but as usual, we are not Barca if we don’t let one of those silly goals. It has become our trademark.
    Something else infuriates me as hell. When you can pass the ball, pass it!!!!! I know Masch wants a goal, Tello also, but hell, pass it!!!

    1. Those 2 chances in the end, when Tello had an open Messi on his right but he opted to dribble and he messed it up, and just before that Masch made a great run till their box but he decided to take a shot though he had free Messi and Pedro on both sides with much better chance to score.
      Immediately after that they had the chance to even the score, but it was just a pure luck that Masch’s chest confronted the ball.
      So instead of making it 3-1 to us, the scoreline would have easy been 2-2.

    2. not really. it was masch, messi,and pedro with two defenders. masch ran as long as he could waiting for a defender to commit to a tackle but it never came. the defenders would have intercepted the ball had he passed to either. to me, masch made the right decision however his shot let him down. decent try tho.

    3. Totally correct, the defender decided to peel off and guard Messi. Mascherano had to shoot.

    4. And think how many players in that situation would have taken the easy political option and passed to Messi. Not Masch. He took the right football option.

    5. Pure luck? If that was Puyol everyone would praise his lion spirite and never-die attitude. But since it’s masche, yeah it has to be luck.

      The fact is, mascherano is the closest thing we’ll get to Puyol when it comes to giving it their absolute best for every challenge.

  22. – Song proved he should have been starting from the beginning of the season. Heresy I know, but I would have benched Busquets. Any team that picks him up in the off-season for less than 20mill euros has a total bargain.
    – Really got the impression from this game that Messi’s problem recently has been his role in the team (or more precisely, Neymar’s role in the team). With Pedro and Alexis there was so much more movement off the ball. He seemed to have so much more space and options. Alexis really does give the team a fourth midfielder anyway when he drops into the centrer. Time to sell Neymar? I would seriously consider it.
    – Does Pedro ever stop running. Really does have Olympic middle-distance endurance.
    – Alexis – can’t believe the club will let him go after today’s performance. Outstanding.

    1. I think Cryuff was spot on with Neymar signing. It is very difficult for Messi and Neymar to work together. They could link really well. Theoretically they play in different positions and should complement each other. But we may be over looking the most important factor for them – being the focal point of the team. I don’t think this is gonna work that well. It is easy for us to say that they should play as a team. But then we average guys are not taking the ego of these exceptionally talented guys in to account. We may have to make a choice this summer – Messi or Neymar?

      Fun part is Messi may fetch you 200 Million, not Neymar. But Messi has been the proven star too. So whom would you let go.

  23. While I still contend that Barcelona had a decent chance at all three competitions before the Valdes and Pique injuries, one event in hindsight has proved disastrous for the club. I speak here of the now controversial signing of Alex Song. I do not claim to be an expert on his days at Arsenal, but I am ready to agree that he was excellent there and promising as a Barca prospect. While some now content that he was bought merely as Keita’s replacement, I think if we went back to the days of his sighing and the first few months under Tito, Song was looked at as both a defensive midfielder and centerback. It was only after his failure with Masch at the back that we realized that he was not right at CB for Barcelona. The alternative that summer was Javi Martinez, who could have fulfilled both duties but was perceived to have too high a cost. Many at the time I think did view Song as a fiscally responsible alternative to Martinez at both positions.

    If we move to this season, I think Tata thought about giving Song a new opportunity in the team in the disastrous 3-1 defeat at Sociedad. This game, maybe the most important of the season, established two things. One was that neither fans, the club or the media would tolerate any experimentation on Tata’s part, and that Song was looked at from then on, perhaps unfairly, as not a viable player for the side. Tata received the word loud and clear that he did not have the authority to experiment or impose his will on the side. Instead he would run the expected 11 into the ground since he no longer wanted to be second guessed.

    From then on he gave the fans what they wanted–line ups with the most popular/valued players whether it made sense for a particular game or not. I still believe that in the back of his mind from the 3-1 defeat on it was no longer Tata knew it was no longer his team and made up his mind to leave at the end of the year. He probably thought: if everyone is going to give me grief for choosing the lineup or style that I want, then let them coach the team. The casualties in the end were Alexis and Song, who rightfully now have the most grudges against the side. Could it have been possible to somehow have made Song a viable player and reunite him with Cesc in midfield and give Busquet or Xavi an occasional rest. Perhaps. But now the chances of seeing those two work together at Barcelona as another adaptation or alternative are nil.

    1. I think a lot of wrong conclusions were drawn from the Sociedad game and one was that Song can’t play CM. He really should be taking over from Xavi next year. Otherwise, barca will have to bring in a CM who will take a couple of years to acclimatise (and waste the chemistry Song has built up with the other players). At the same time, Song can also alternate with Busquets at holding middie. Nuts to lose him. But if he goes, watch how many teams will want him. He would be perfect for a team like ManU who need a tough creative midfielder.

  24. The funniest part of the match for me today was watching on delay (wasn’t going to waste a gorgeous day in Chicago, so spent 4 hours on my bike) and then catching up with social “mad”ia.

    Mascherano and Song, quite possibly the two most reviled players on this current roster, both had excellent matches. Only one person on my Twitter TL mentioned the Song pass for Tello. Imagine the orgasmic glee that would have greeted that pass had Iniesta or Xavi made it.

    Hee, hee! Awesome.

    As someone notes above on the Mascherano block, some attribute it to luck, but again as the commenter said, imagine if Puyol had blocked that one. “Captain Caveman to the rescue,” “Lion Heart,” etc, etc.

    I understand why things are that way though.

    Fun match today, even if I would have pulled all my hair out, if I didn’t shave my head. That Alves run. Holy crap. Then Sanchez gave Pedro a chance that he couldn’t fluff. The Messi FK was delightful. The wall was right, not quite sure why Iraizoz wasn’t covering better, but I’ll take it.

    Then Mascherano saves the win. What a day, what a match. Only 57k at the Camp today. Interesting. Also note Pinto being whistled during the match, which I didn’t get, and the handkerchiefs that came out. Of course, they put them away when the two goals were scored. So much for conviction.

    Then there was that rather animated discussion between Xavi and Martino, who cracked me up by saying that Sanchez joked to him that they had a falling out, and Martino didn’t know what he was talking about. The Mister slays me.

    Anyhow, more tomorrow, including a post that nobody will like, so there’s that to look forward to. Night, folks.

    1. Did Alexis scuff his shot, or pass it? I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was a pass, because Alexis is one of the few players in football who could actually make that instinctive decision.

    2. I still haven’t watched the match so I really cannot comment except for this: Mascherano and Song, as well as to a certain extent Alves make for convenient scapegoats. Song even more so, because first he isn’t a local boy Busquets, second he isn’t as good as Busquets(nobody is) and third he wasn’t signed by San Pep. Song also makes for a nice “argument” to bash the board with.

      The more I watch the reactions of fans and Catalan mad-ia(nice term 😀 ) the more I think the real mental clean-up should be in the stands, not the pitch or the bench.

      Looking forward to your post! 🙂

    3. It was disgusting to hear the whistles to the players. They even whistled Messi after another miss.

      After Bilbao scored the 1st goal, the white handkerchiefs came out. Thankfully it was a minority and they were soon drowned out by real fans. I really appreciate them.

  25. When Pedro and Lexus play with Messi, there is much and better movement up-front. Lexus always trying to make a diagonal run behind the defence. This is exactly what we needed in the big games not a four-man midfield with no movement up-front. I hope someone has learnt a thing or two from previous losses. Isn’t it wiser to play 4mids after you are a goal or two up after the hour mark or so?

    1. That! And he was everywhere! It was like ‘thats whom you benched the last 4 games!’ *in your face* 🙂

  26. Lovely 2nd goal by Barca B. Scored by El Haddadi. Beautiful combination with shaggy boy Samper and Suarez.

  27. Inamessi and Kexvin, you guys echoed my thoughts to a large degree.
    I could recall majority of the times when Puyol (before the fitness quagmire) and Masche played together; they really looked solid, secure and assured save for height. Point here is, a Masch would perform a bit better and benefitted more if he had someone who is quite exemplary defensively. Same way Pique benefitted. I would take his commitment, passion and rambunctious presence any day.
    In certain games, have we ever considered parterning Busquets in midfield? Same way Pep did with Toure and Keita back then?
    That had solidity and strength written over it.
    Busquests’ lack of pace will ensure that he’ll always be bypassed when beaten for speed and with the other two midfielders not around to assist, the rest is always history.
    And Jim is a bit right with Bartra at RB in Alves’ absence. He played there once against atletico some years back- albeit we got engorged 4-3 or 3-2 with Aguero the star that day. He looks a bit secure than Montoya there coupled with height.
    And one major thought that quite troubles me: Tello is one story i wish has a stupendous ending but currently not looking like one.
    I could remember his performance vs L’hospitalet in copa del ray.
    A talent with devastating pace, self-confidence (one of which is a disregard for Messi’s presence) and a ferocious shot.
    But a combination of insufficient personal improvement (his one-trick-pony a recurring decimal), limited playing time, inadequate management (in terms of honing a player’s talent like Mourinho and some coaches do) by our coaches amongst others.
    I remember one convo i had with a commenter on Totalbarca back then, and he opined that my comparison of him with CR7 was an insult to Tello; with Tello becoming a bigger star. Or so it seemed.

  28. I find myself more and more thinking about next season and almost dismissing any thoughts of us coming back and winning the league on the last day. For some reason, I don’t see the Madrid clubs slipping up even though it’s very possible.

    It’s disappointing really considering that this is an almost identical squad to the one that got 100 points last season.

    More and more I’m looking at other clubs’ players and wondering about their suitability to us and our system. Quality players that are out of form or up and coming young players.

    Would X be able to change his game to suit us? Would Y club really sell their star player? With the right manager/conditions would Z current player once again be the player he was?

    I caught a glimpse of Zubi when we were 1-0 down last night and boy did he look stressed. Not only is he a fan of the club and dedicated years of his life to it, he is entrusted with spending hundreds of millions of our money and hoping that thousands of conditions fall just right for those acquisitions to work out.

    On top of that, even if the players do work out, how will the current players form pan out next season and will a potential new manager get the best out of them? The biggest club in the world expects. And not just a league trophy, even we fail in any competition then questions are asked about anyone.

    Zubi isn’t even in contention of any accolades or recognition. The say players win and managers lose, but even with Guardiola’s success Txiki barely got noticed for his work. Heck, Rosell was the guy who signed Ronaldinho who changed the fortunes of this club and people act like he was Satan himself.

    With the best summer possible, a new manager, 6/7 new players and a bucket load of trophies next season when reflecting on it, surely it’ll those players and that manager who will get the credit and Zubi will just be the guy who finally done what he should have 3 years previously.

    For me it was fairly clear that for the past 2 summers the only defender that our coaches wanted was Thiago Silva and whatever talk of buying a back up to him were not followed through by anyone in our club. We were out bid on Marquinhos who was not and will never be worth €35m. David Luiz isn’t world class, well at least not in central defense.

    If Zubi had signed Javi Martinez for €40m and Puyol stayed fit, how would you keep him happy?

    My father always says that there’s no pleasing some people. I don’t think he was talking about Barcelona fans but I think we must be the hardest fans in the world to please.

    We get the watch the best players in the world play twice a week. Have the best youth system in the world. Are at the business end of the Champions League every season and have beaten our eternal rivals in nearly everything for the past decade.

    As someone who has followed this team through thick and very very thin, it’s not a bad situation to be in to be within a couple of results of winning the league again.

    For the record, my father has been a Liverpool fan for over 50 years so after a 24 year wait them looking like winning the league puts things in perspective…

    1. Yes. It’s funny how when a word of perspective is added, it becomes “You’re defending the board!” when nothing of the kind is the case, just making an effort to try to make it make sense.

      Very eloquent. Thank you.

    2. I have no problem saluting our players for giving us a chance in all three competitions this year. As Barca fans we just have to come to terms that we were following one the greatest clubs in history and were under the delusion that success would continue indefinitely with a new La Magia product ready to step into place to fill another legend’s shoes.
      Now with the FIFA ban the whole la Magia system has taken a huge hit because pending a legal battle we may not have access to the best youngsters in the world to groom at the academy to one day fit into the team. Also, it was simply not fair to assume that the new generation of La Mesia would follow the course of its legends including Valdes, Iniesta, Messi, Xavi, Pique, and Pujol. Some of the new products may become very good given time, but it is unreasonable to put those kinds of exceptions on them.

      Furthermore, transfers to Barcelona have been largely unsuccessful and no one knows beforehand how each will pan out. This has been partly due to the difficulties of a new player integrating himself into the team with a particular skill set and style of play. In fact. the only transfer that has unquestionably worked for us is Alves. Most of the others have filled limited back up positions, had mixed results, or have been flops. The Barcelona team from 2009-2014 has been the product of a unique group of once in a lifetime La Mesia players who were groomed under the force and will of a driven and obsessive coach who did not accept anything less than the impossible from his players. We have all been lucky to have followed such a team that has added so much beauty, excitement, and drama to our lives.

      That team did have one more shot this year and were a goalie and a CB injury short of possibly bringing that magic to us one more time. So yes this is a low time for the club, and yes we did learn that the club and board was made up of flawed, sometimes petty, or even incompetent individuals. The magic was that for 5 years we have been given a glimpse of a team thriving and making us believe even against all our better judgement that something close to perfection was possible–a small techniquely gifted generation took on the world and won.

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