The malleability of absolution, aka “If one is responsible, then everyone is”

"D-oh!"
“D-oh!”

So. Barça ended a 3-match losing skid with something that wasn’t as much a comeback as a bit of common sense rearing its head.

“Hey, what say we stop hitting the ball directly AT the keeper.”

Messi scored a goal so all is right in the culer world again, but for me something more interesting happened — not for the first time, but for the first time a confluence of happy events conspired — two players who are objects of scorn had the temerity to have very good matches. Song and Mascherano.

For me yesterday’s match was different because I didn’t watch it live, instead choosing to take advantage of a picture-postcard Chicago day to log 60 miles on the bicycle. This gave me the rather extreme pleasure of being able to watch the match, and scroll through my social mad-ia timeline as things transpired and quite frankly, laugh.

The sound of silence

Quips are often made about the sound of crickets denoting the absence of sound, but in fact they are loud little critters, who more correctly have a knack of filling IN the silence at times when it is most still. “What a lovely night. So quiet, so still. Listen …”

Cricket! Cricket!

So perhaps the sound of silence is the best way to describe the “room” as unfavored players have good matches, which makes it no less heelarious. Song was quite good yesterday, whereupon we heard … nothing. Then late in the match, he unleashed a beauty of a pass that dropped right onto Tello’s boot, and I was able to look at my Twitter timeline to see that one person commented on it. One.

And I got to thinking about errors and absolution, bouquets, silence and brickbats and a comment that got this post rolling.

songath

When ciaran returned to these pages it’s a safe bet that being inspirational wasn’t part of the plan. And yet the comment in Levon’s previous post crystallized a lot of what I have been thinking about players and how they are discussed:

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 incredibly 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.

And there it is, the malleability of absolution. When things aren’t going well, it’s generally unfavored players who get stick. In looking at the arc of that scorn, since everyone has their own unfavorite, what is usually evident is that pretty much everyone is a culprit except for, usually, a chosen few.

The blame game

You see this most often when the team concedes a goal. “Whose fault was it!?” One of my favorite writers on the game, Richard Whittall, penned something and analyzed a goal with this question in mind: what REALLY happened?

As he notes, mistakes were made, but let’s not forget that the player who scored the goal is pretty damned good. Look at the Bale goal that sealed the Copa victory for RM. “Pinto could have done more.” “Mascherano could have done more.” “Where was Alves?” “Why didn’t Bartra just take the yellow and put him on his butt?”

But in the blizzard of butterfly wing flapping things that have to happen to score a goal, Bale just pulled one out of his butt. Neutrals fell off their chairs. Culers said “Our defense sucks.” The versatility of a worldview. “Why doesn’t Pedro play more often! He is a textbook clinical finisher.” Until he isn’t. Then he is, and everything is right again. Whew!

"Hit it over there! Over there!"
“Hit it over there! Over there!”

The board is another example. I don’t like them even as I acknowledge that they have done many good things to help their view of the sound fiscal future of this club. They aren’t responsible for everything from bathtub ring to trench mouth, even as only a blinkered maniac wouldn’t concede that the board has made significant, verging-on-shameful errors as regards the sporting side and club governance in general. “Our squad is fine.” Sure, if everybody stays fit, if that squad plays one match per week with no mental stresses. Otherwise, the squad is NOT fine.

That said, that our high-priced team couldn’t put even one goal past Granada or Valladolid isn’t the fault of the board, even as the board created the conditions that led to mentally fried players out there shambling about.

You stink! Not him. YOU!

As ciaran points out above, we can’t beat on Fabregas then give other folks a pass. Fabregas gets slagged for falling short on the attacking end of things, but without knowing what his mission on the pitch is we can’t really assess whether he is failing. It is evident that he does tons of donkey work, necessary while Iniesta is off sprinkling fairy dust and Xavi is trying not to be a turnstile when we cede possession.

But Fabregas is an unfavored player. He cost too much, always tanks from mid-season on and doesn’t show up against big teams, goes the narrative. And then there is Messi. “Don’t you question Messi. He has done so much for us in the past.”

History is past. He has also been good to extraordinary at times this season. Few give Xavi a pass for what he has done in the past. “He’s past it, has to go.” “If that old man had retired, we would still have Thiago!”

Neymar injures his foot for 4 weeks and some think it’s a plot to prepare for the World Cup and screw Barça. Messi took 8 weeks to heal a hamstring. Other players form is discussed, and whether they should start in matches. Not Messi, which makes sense, or does it? Because of his talent and match-changing potential, you HAVE to start Messi. The wonder of the past defines potential of the present. But Messi is, arguably, just as mentally and physically busted as the rest of the team. Anyone who blames Messi is wrong. Completely.

But by the same token to absolve Messi of any examination is equally erroneous. He walks, at times stands there. Some very respected journalists including Graham Hunter suggested that maybe, just maybe, the reason for Messi’s desultory effort against Atleti in the CL was that he was pouting. A few of us noticed. Probably others as well. But can’t say anything, because … well … look at what he has done for us in the past. True or false, there wasn’t even discussion.

“How DARE you question Messi, you ingrate?! You’re either for us, or against us!” But asking questions doesn’t mean a lack of support, or that you value the player any less. You can’t blame Messi any more than you can blame anyone else for anything in this everything all at once season. But you can ask questions, even as you acknowledge that no coach alive is going to sit Messi. Why? Look at yesterday’s free kick.

messiath

Either, or, neither, never

The board screwed up. “Song was purchased instead of a CB. Damn him!” But in the absence of Keita, the value of a similar type of player is of value. “He isn’t Keita.” That isn’t the point. So you buy that player AND a CB. Ditto for Neymar. Instead the failings of the board lead to supporters defining a player as the alternative. Song is defined as a crappy CB, even though he is no more a crappy CB than Busquets. Both are midfielders being played out of position.

It was said that Song COULD play CB, which is different from “Song IS our CB.” People will raise questions about Song’s quality of play, which isn’t the issue here. We as supporters have to step back and take an objective look at things. Would the team purchase a player whose NT coach and most recent professional coach believe is best in attack, and say “Voila! Our new CB!”

That would make the people who did that so stupid it’s a wonder they are capable of walking erect. There is other stuff that makes up the picture, then as now.

Other factors

Iniesta has been brilliant this season as he has adapted to the new role that Martino wants him to play, usually as that shuttle between midfield and the attackers. He has even added a bit of goalscoring danger that is more than welcome, since a player who has the ball in as many danger spots as he does really should be banging in some goals.

But there is a general absence of goals from our midfield. In the Treble season, Xavi had 9 goals. The year we last won the CL, Xavi had 14 in all competitions. This season, he has 4. Iniesta has 3 this season, in all competitions.

What this means for me is that the two players who have the ball the MOST, are the ones least likely to score. That is something else to look at this season, when we are looking for reasons things are the way they are. Is it happenstance, or another sign of a busted system, a Way that needs a rethink in a season where tika taka has most been like catenaccio. Why Martino chose to make that adaptation is in his head, and in the heads of the players to whom he imparted that information.

Some speculate that verticalidad wasn’t sustainable over the course of a season. Others say that he threw up his hands in the face of all the “That isn’t our Way” talk and said “Here’s your Way. Now choke on it.” As with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

This season has been a collection of chickens coming home to roost, from neglect of the sporting project by a board distracted by other things to a blizzard of external complexities that rip at the fabric of this team’s cohesiveness. But I look at the collection of talent on our roster, see how long they have played together, how the way Barça plays has been instilled in them almost since birth and I wonder … as a blasphemer, I wonder. Because it seems to me that even coached by a gibbering chimpanzee, this team should be able to knock a goal or two past Valladolid and Granada.

And then I wonder what else is going on. “The board didn’t buy a CB.” Okay. So does that explain why they couldn’t score against two teams in the bottom of the table? Look at the chances that were missed in the first half against Athletic. Pedro scuffed some weak shots at the keeper. Messi spurned a couple. Sanchez probably hit the bar on a dare. “I BET you can’t miss from 6 feet away!” “Hmph! Bet I can!” Certainly concentration is some of it. So is doubt, which makes a player start wondering how he is going to fail rather than how he is going to succeed, that snakebit, “What NOW” feeling.

I wrote in a previous piece that an employee isn’t going to give of his best for a management that he thinks doesn’t have his best interests at heart. It’s also clear that our players are, again as I previously noted, mentally hammered.

So in the rush to judgment that finds only unfavored things and people culpable, I suggest a different tack, that it is everything, a collection of crap dragging a team of excellent players down. Because if it is this player or that player, this coach or that coach then it is also the totems, the sacred players who nobody wants to criticize. We can’t have it both ways.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

223 Comments

  1. simple_barcafan
    April 23, 2014

    Pep’s first defeat in the Bernabeu?

    • April 23, 2014

      Yes, it is. And it could have been more comprehensive, by reports. Apparently Ronaldo and Ramos missed gimmes.

  2. simple_barcafan
    April 23, 2014

    Ironically, Pep is facing a similar(well, almost..) situation as Tata in Bayern. Taking over a team that had a different philosophy and which was hugely successful and fans expecting him to continue with the trophies.

    Pep chose to introduce “tika-taka” into Bayern.( I still don’t agree with the notion that it is tika-take. The Barca 08-09, with pressing and telepathic passing in tight spaces, now that is tika-taka, but that is a different matter altogether) There was initial resistance, as fans started wondering why the hell would you change a working formation. But he did and it worked. the fans were happy. Now, results are not going his way, and grumblings about Pep and his tactics.*cough*similarity with Tata’s situation? *cough*..

    Lets see if Pep persists with his methods or gives in to pressure and reverts (like Tata) to Jupp’s formation. If only Tata has stood firm on his tactics. If only the board had supported him and his tactics, like BM did for Pep and his new tactics.. If only..

  3. Inamess
    April 23, 2014

    I haven’t watch Bayern that much this year, but what I saw today from Bayern did not look like Tiki Taka. It just seemed to be possession based-offensively minded football. Whether it ends up working for Bayern and Pep in the end is for us to see. If it doesn’t then the conclusion that could be drawn is that it is just not a great system to win the Champions League.

    As a club, Barcelona has been forced to play tiki taka because it was the only style that suited our players. Even though we were one of the best teams ever, let’s not forget the times we were defeated or almost defeated in the Champions League by significantly inferior opponents who played a defensive style and looked to hit back on the counter: Inter Milan in 2010, Chelsea in 2012, and Milan in 2013.

    Why a strong defense will usually trump a strong offense in Champions League ties I’ll leave for those more school in football tactics. One of the reasons I suppose is the quality of defense at the top level and the leeway teams are given to play very physically and not get penalized for it. Barcelona’s critics were right in that we sometimes did get calls in our favor against physical teams, but now with the team’s decline those calls are not going to happen anymore. We are out of favor and FIFA/UEFA don’t really see the success of the club or its style in their interest because we will no longer generate the interest and fan base that we once had until we can fix our problems and reinvent ourselves.

    • Peter
      April 24, 2014

      Here’s my theory on why defensive football works in the Champions League, but more importantly in the elimination stage:

      Not conceding goals gives better rewards than scoring goals: If you don’t concede goals and score one, you win. If you don’t concede and don’t score, you go to penalties, and that’s down to chance. That’s basically how Chelsea won their Champions League and if things repeat themselves in the second leg, it will go down to penalties as well.

  4. KEVINO17
    April 23, 2014

    If anything, today’s game showed the limitations of a traditional CF when trying to break down the bus. Mandzukic is fairly tall and good in the air. But if the centre-backs form a tight shell and don’t give him much oxygen, it’s very hard for him to get a good clean header on target.

    • April 24, 2014

      Especially when one of the best teams in the world goes out and plays this tactic. For me it is unfathomable that you would have half a billion euros worth of players park the bus in your own house. If we would do that the handkerchiefs would come out sooner than you can say snot boogie. I can only think that Pep’s Barça has damaged the merengue’s collective psyche so hard that they accept their team to play like that.

      • Peter
        April 24, 2014

        Not just the merengue psyche, Lev.

        PSG last season, Milan both last and this, Bayern, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Atletico… take any top team in Europe or any team that considers itself top. They have all tried to fight Barcelona and have left with their asses gift-wrapped. Then they played defensively and in quite a few cases won. Fans like good football, but they prefer to see their team winning.

        Barcelona’s aficionados/hinchas(the word supporter doesn’t really fit) are the only fans that when faced with the dilemma of good football or winning choose “Both or I’ll throw a tantrum!”.

      • April 24, 2014

        And yet the “Barça need a 9 to bus break” myth persists. Costa and Mandzukic, both different types of 9 but still definitely 9s, came up against a parked bus and failed.

        Then it’s “but with Messi running around …”

        It’s still a bus, and when world class defenders park a bus, you are pretty much reduced to luck, or a stunning moment of individual brilliance to crack things, like the Iniesta goal vs Chelsea.

        At some point, or maybe not, the idea that Barça “needs” a 9 to compete against buses will die. Barça needs its players to move the ball AND their asses as quickly as possible, to find gaps. On form there is no team on the planet better equipped to break buses than us.

      • Peter
        April 24, 2014

        Well Mourinho certainly has found a way to break a bus for the moment – hit it with a bigger bus. 😀

      • April 24, 2014

        @Peter
        Well, the point about the merengues is that it used to be that culers weren’t the only ones throwing tantrums over bad football, regardless of trophies. Just ask Capello.

        @Kxevin
        You are right of course, a 9 does not necessarily break buses. But I wonder what Barça would look like with a 9 supported by Messi at 10.

      • Peter
        April 24, 2014

        Up until the 2008-2009 season Real had the luxury to berate their team if it didn’t win by playing beautifully. After that the stormtroopers had two behavior-changing experiences, namely the 2-6 and “The handful”. These two made them go from “win beautifully, damn your coiffed hair!!!” to “just win, dammit! I don’t care how, just win!!!”

        Barcelona’s fans’ case is one of too much honey for too long. When they have it, it doesn’t taste as sweet as it used to. When it’s gone, it’s a full-blown withdrawal syndrome.

      • April 24, 2014

        Oh, Peter, a very elegant way of putting it. So, so right. A win isn’t just a win any longer, is it?

      • April 24, 2014

        My point exactly. We broke them.

  5. barca96
    April 23, 2014

    If Sanchez or Pedro don’t have confidence, there isn’t a thing a manager can do for them.

    Of course the manager needs to try and help give the players confidence. The manager is the reason why the players can have a drop in confidence.

    You’ve been watching football long enough to know that confidence is important especially for forwards.

    If the forwards continue getting overlooked even though their performance and stats says otherwise, their confidence will drop and their goal scoring instinct will drop.

    • April 24, 2014

      You approach your game with a presumption of professionalism, and as a professional. You work hard in practice, you prepare for the match and you keep yourself ready to play, when and where the coach needs you. Period.

      A high-level pro athlete has confidence. If he has an ego, if anything not playing should sharpen his focus through ire. “I’ll show them.”

      The efforts to make managers responsible for the failings of players doesn’t wash with me. Mourinho is excellent in that regard. He says, “If you WANT to play for me, you will.” The Mata situation was funny. It was “evil Mou damaging a delicate flower.” No. Mourinho said as coach, I will play who gives me the best chance of success in that particular match, or based on what I want. Mata wasn’t, so he didn’t play. Simple.

      Sanchez and Pedro are professionals. They should understand by now that you don’t always play, even when you are on form. They aren’t children in a game of kickabout.

      • barca96
        April 24, 2014

        The thing is both Pedro and Alexis played better than Neymar but they were continuously overlooked for Neymar. That will shatter their confidence slowly but surely. They’re humans, they will feel it and their productivity will drop.

      • April 24, 2014

        Actually, you mean “Pedro and Alexis played better than Messi.” Because on form, this is true, particularly on the defensive end of the pitch.

        But they don’t start over Messi for the same reason they don’t start over Neymar: the coach opts for the possibility of individual brilliance over their hard-working devotion to the collective.

        If they are going to be discouraged and lose confidence because a better player starts ahead of them, they should request a transfer to a team where that isn’t a possibility.

  6. April 24, 2014

    Have to agree with barca96. Some players thrive on the confidence their managers give them, and forwards especially need to feel that it’s okay for them to miss every now and then.

    Then again, Lexus went out to the media and called himself a jugadorazo when last season he was missing sitters, squatters, layers, hangers…

  7. SemperFi786
    April 24, 2014

    Tiki taka – quick pinball action, 1 touch slick passes.
    Possession football ala this Bayern – 2 touch – receive, pass – it holds up play because of the extra touch & defenders get more time to adjust. Its too slow advancing forward compared to 1 touch ping pong. Add to that, Real’s back was the most solid I’v seen them last night. I’v been saying forever that u cant teach the tiki taka system & it just gets grasped & suddenly there’s a new Barca. Even when I never saw 1 Bayern match under Pep, I refused to believ it. Masia teaches the system to kids for a reason; so that its 2nd nature to them by the time they’r allegable to play for the 1st team. With all the problems this season, Barca still plays the best football. U don’t just replicate somethin in a matter of months at another team that takes yrs to develop at ur old 1. Anybody can play possession football. But possession/tiki-taka is a different beast altogether. Bayern doesnt get pressed relentlessly, or face up to a bus like u find with wat happens to Barca every wk in la Liga. Always thought that it’d b interesting to see how they deal with it when it comes around. A lot of smaller liga teams hav picked up on the pressing style left by Pep after he left, & used it against Barca, & only them. It was easier for Pep to make little tweaks when he was here, becaus of the understanding. He was 1 of them, they were 1 with him. & he kept them moving the ball so quickly that u hardly noticed any differences in certain approaches, shape etc. They could almost move like ghosts because of the pace & intricacy of their play. Teams got caught/found wanting in their rapid movement & suddenly found a player pop up in an area like a puff of smoke – ping! – goal.
    Atletico is the most together team out of all thats left in this CL. They should win it. There’s a Barca air about them. They’r a fantastic group. Sore losers will hate to see RM achieve their obsession & make the decima. Atleti’s my favourite to scoop this season’s CL. If either Bayern or RM do it, then its just as significant for them as for Atleti. For it’l b a back-to-back for Bayern, that elusive 10th for RM, & that first for Atletico. If either Bayern or RM win it, so b it. Just don’t want that ultra defensive Chelsea to win it. They had insane luck in 2012. Don’t wanna see a repeat

    • Inamess
      April 24, 2014

      I completely agree. Barcelona played tiki taka as a matter of necessity. It was the only way they could win or compete against a Real team that year after year spent ridiculous money to bring the best players in the world to their team. At the same time we had just the right players to do it who were trained for years to play just this way. The only other team that also had to play this way is the Japanese national women’s team.

      Bayern didn’t need to play Pep’s way to win another Champions League. They could still win it, but if they don’t then their will be a huge backlash against Pep. It may not be fair, but that’s how ruthless and unforgiving fans are these days.

  8. Peter
    April 24, 2014

    So apparently the wrap-up from the Champions first leg is this:

    Chelsea giving whatever it takes in order not to pass the center circle.

    Atletico facing a bus of their own and don’t really like it.

    Reigning champions’ defense not facing better than Barcelona when playing attacking football and being hit on the counter. Own medicine no taste good. 😛

    Europe’s richest club, Europe’s most expensive squad plays defensively in its own stadium, gets less than 30% possession.

    The general talk is that while Atletico can get away with playing defensively and looking for the break due to their limited means, the rest of the teams have disappointed. Faced with the alternative, people are already missing the presence of Barcelona and its “boring football”, because they have seen what real boring football looks like. 😀

    • Inamess
      April 24, 2014

      That just about sums it up and not just on this forum. The new joke on the internet is that in the next Athleti-Chelsea match both teams will park the bus in their own area and the ball will remain untouched in the center for 90 minutes. Kind of like trench warfare. The only good news is that while WWI lasted for years, the Champions League will be over in a few weeks.

  9. stefan2k
    April 24, 2014

    Thanks for the wrap-up 😀

    Although I wanted Atletico to win I couldn’t stop thinking ‘now you know what its like!’. Also thought that our matches against Chelsea in Peps last season were way better than what we saw on Tuesday.

  10. psalmuel
    April 24, 2014

    Seems the park-a-bus tactic and hit on the counter is becoming a trend and is winning the war against attacking football(tiki-taka and possession football). Now its almost a question of who will park the bus and who will take the attacking onus. At the calderon it was Mou,’Señor Simeone after you please’ and at the santiago it was Carletto,’ Señor Pep after you please’. I see this tactic making grounds in the world cup and next season

    • barca96
      April 24, 2014

      I hope this World Cup will be an open affair especially since it’s in Brazil, home of beautiful football.

      Just watched some old World Cup commercials. Hopefully Nike will come up with a classic for Brazil.

  11. psalmuel
    April 24, 2014

    I think the barca technical staff should embark on a research on how to break a bus

    • Peter
      April 24, 2014

      There’s no need for researches, it’s simple and logical.

      Hit it with a tank.

    • April 24, 2014

      I think that instead of breaking it you should lure it out a little bit. Of course, our problem is that we have not handled extreme pressing all that well either.

      • April 24, 2014

        And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Every bus can be broken down, given enough time. But when our opponents combine parking a bus with pressing hard for the ball, our midfielders don’t have time to formulate an attack. They end up passing backwards to regain control, and have to start all over. Atleti worked this strategy to perfection against us, and we had no answer for it.

      • April 24, 2014

        Sheeeeeet Atletico did not park the bus as much as drove it at us full speed and smashed it into the cross bar a couple of times…

      • G6O
        April 24, 2014

        That’s true regarding that game – at our best (not necessarily the best of this squad, but in times past, certainly) this would have been suicidal strategy as we would have been able to get the ball past the press and into the space behind it. But that was with Valdes in goal, quicker midfielders, a 4-3-3 formation with quick wingers and an in-form Messi.

  12. April 24, 2014

    Federico Fazio
    Eder Alvarez Balanta
    Mateo Musacchio
    Aymeric Laporte
    Jeremy Mathieu
    Eliaquim Mangala
    Mats Hummels
    David Luiz
    Santiago Vergini
    Mehdi Benatia

    Really really hope we get to see atleast two players from this list signing for Barcelona this summer. Imperative that the necessary signings (GK & 2 defenders) are done and dusted soon enough.

    • April 24, 2014

      Buzz is that we have a personal agreement with Hummels already. Forget about Mangala. Porto, and third-party stuff, plus he’s expensive, and already rumored to be done for City or Chelsea, I forget which.

      Laporte? We wouldn’t spend 40m for Javi Martinez, so I doubt we’ll spend 36 for Laporte. As we know. Athletic is as tough a negotiation as Porto. They would rather see a player leave on a free than not get their price. Crazy, but principled.

      Mathieu would make me verrrry happy. Could play CB and LB, has size and pace. I was on that bandwagon last season, when he and Rami were rumored to be coming as a tandem.

      Got the chance to watch Vergini a good bit in Sunderland matches, and um … hmmmm …

      Luiz has the stuff to play as a Barça CB, I think. Mourinho likes to play him in front of the defense for the very qualities that would make him a damn good Barça CB.

      From what I have seen of Balanta, the potential is immense. The price is also right, if you are going to go for an established European CB. Puyolesque.

      I haven’t seen enough of Benatia to be able to say anything cogent on him.

      It makes me woozy with rapture that Musacchio is available on a free. I see no reason that we haven’t already signed him, frankly.

      One part of me wants to go nuts in the market. The other part of me wants to grab one dude, then say to Ie and Bagnack, “There is one spot. You want it? Fight for it in preseason.”

      • April 24, 2014

        I too would be quite happy with a Mathieu capture. He has impressed me every time I’ve seen him.
        Why have you left out Fazio? Do you not rate him? The guy’s a beast and fast and I think would fit in quite well just like all the other defenders we have bought from Sevilla – Alves, Adriano, and to an extent Keita.

      • April 24, 2014

        Haven’t seen enough of him to say. Lots of people like him, though. Basically we are going to be linked to every defender who isn’t Thiago Silva (and probably even him) this summer. Hopefully the team will make some moves early, rather than late, though with World Cup, it will either have to be early or late.

      • Kd
        April 25, 2014

        Laporte looks fantastic and I agree that Musachhio should just be brought in, without any delay. Free transfer et al.
        And btw according to insidespanishfootball.com Laporte can play left back and a left centre back with equal aplomb. Why not pay some crazy money and get him. basically Musachio and Laporte together for a total of 36 mil and then of course Bagnack to fight them for the spot. Plus we have Pique and Bartra.

    • ciaran
      April 24, 2014

      I’d love Hummels and Musacchio.

      Depending on the progress of Bartra, one to the central defenders we sign could end up being fourth choice so getting Musacchio on a free makes even more sense.

      Hummels as I have said many times is world class and fits our requirements perfectly. He made a few errors last season due to concentration but really stepped us this season again.

      If he can’t be signed then the only others I’d consider for an immediate starting place would be Benatia and Ezequiel Garay of Benfica. Benatia has more pace than most on that list and is good with the ball. Garay has developed into the player everyone thought he would before the Real Madrid move. The only negative about Garay is that some of the fee would go to Madrid.

      Fazio I would rate at the level of Musacchio but isn’t free. If for some reason Musacchio wouldn’t accept the transfer then I’d snap Fazio up but I wouldn’t rate him as an immediate starter ahead of the others.

      Balanta is only proven in Argentina and while that is a good indicator, it certainly isn’t the same as having European experience. Not for the money talked about in my opinion.

      Laporte… as Kxevin & I have both said, €36m for a youngster is too high.

      Mathieu is a good alternative to Musacchio again but not an immediate starter.

      Mangala too expensive and if you are looking for another excuse he is probably not good enough in possession.

      David Luiz is not my cup of tea, better footballer than defender and makes too many mistakes for me to consider him world class.

      Vergini has done nothing for Sunderland to make me think he has the quality to play for us.

  13. barca96
    April 24, 2014

    There is a Cadete A player by the name of Oriol Busquets. I hope he will be the kind of player with the mix of Oriol’s physique and Busquets’ brains.

  14. TITO
    April 24, 2014

    What about this Ozil rumor? Do we need something like that or…?
    Our front line should look like this:
    Iniesta – Ney – Messi – Pedro – Alexis – ?
    If Alexis stays with us the next season.
    If not, than 2 forwards are a must.
    I would love us to sign someone of Lewandovski’s caliber. Can’t think of any.

    • April 24, 2014

      The Ozil rumor is hooey.

  15. April 24, 2014

    Marca is rumoring that the board wants Martino to stay, and that ZubiZa has asked him to stay. Nothing in MD or Sport, though.

    • April 24, 2014

      MD has been quite explicit that he is leaving. I would trust MD on this over Marca due to the Vilarrubi connection. IMO.

      • April 24, 2014

        Yes, but nothing on this latest buzz from Marca. I fear he is gone as well, which means more “getting to know you” this summer, complete with, if we believe the board, 5-7 new players. Yay!

  16. April 24, 2014

    In my ideal world, here is how the transfer business works:

    — Coach assesses needs of his squad, based on who he has and how he would like to play

    — Coach goes to technical staff and says, “These guys would rock.”

    — Technical staff says “We’ll see what we can do.”

    — Negotiations, transfers, based on the needs of the coach.

    Instead we could, in theory, be making transfers without knowing who the coach is going to be, or how he is going to want to play. Sure, any coach would look at the collection of talent that we have, clap his hands together and exclaim “Oh, boy!”

    But if Martino is a lame-duck coach, then who is making the decisions on what players the team needs, and are they the right person (people)? I mean in theory I know who’s making the decisions, so the query is more rhetorical than anything else.

  17. April 24, 2014

    There was a Tweet that Tito Vilanova has been admitted to hospital, emergency room. Nothing more. So until we know that he hasn’t cut a finger in a household accident or sprained an ankle working out …

    • ooga aga
      April 24, 2014

      yikes, ihope it’s nothing

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 24, 2014

      Anims.

  18. April 24, 2014

    What we know right now is that Tito Vilanova was admitted to hospital, and an emergency procedure was performed. This is confirmed.

    What is not known is what procedure, if it is related to his ongoing cancer battle or any prognosis.

  19. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2014

    If the bus-parkers continue to predominate in world football, FIFA will tweak the rules. However, they won’t do it in time for this generation of Barca players.
    Is the feeling that Tata wants to stay or wants to leave? Has he had enough?

    • ooga aga
      April 24, 2014

      a lot of comments on the page are claiming it is BS. let’s wait for official news, but this looks not good..

      • April 24, 2014

        It benefits nobody to present speculation and rumor. If we stick to what is known, I just think it’s better.

      • barca96
        April 24, 2014

        Yeah. I translated the page into English and like you said many claim it’s BS so I searched for other sources but there’s nothing. So that’s good news for the moment.

      • barca96
        April 24, 2014

        I can’t believe why someone would spread a rumor about somebodys death for clicks. Geez.

  20. psalmuel
    April 25, 2014

    EE footballblog going on and on about Ancelloti’s tactical genuis in the copa del rey and against bayern. That copa del rey was one neymar post away from ending into different hands. I am optimistic that once we have taken care of our defensive frailties and play our custom 4-3-3 with Messi in ‘annihilation mode’, their 4-4-2 with banks of 4 will look like sheeeet!

    • Valdemar II
      April 25, 2014

      They deserved to win both games I suppose, superior in chances, but the tactics were nothing special, they reverted to the moaninho football of the past couple seasons, breaking the ‘gentlemens’ agreement’ of attacking football means they get chances for free against defensively frail teams. What has been unimpressive in our approach is the way we give the ball away when attacking, by some futile cross or misplaced pass. Perhaps it is selective memory, but didn’t we use to pass the ball around forever without losing it, when facing a defensive wall? That strategy worked, you don’t concede many chances and carefully pick your spot for a through ball.

      The future is bright, with just one signing past summer we were the best team in the world for half a season, imagine how good we could be with proper purchases.

  21. kosby
    April 25, 2014

    Un-negotiable style

    Iniesta added that “we have gone through some very abnormal circumstances this season and it does grind you down … But once the season is over we’ll analyse things and talk about what we have to do … Our style is not be negotiated, but apart from that, Barça cannot close its doors to any players.”

    from – http://www.fcbarcelona.com/football/first-team/detail/article/iniesta-says-fc-barcelona-will-never-have-another-messi

    I’m not sure if I like this too much. Maybe its not just Xavi…

    • Peter
      April 25, 2014

      Barcelona will continue to be an attacking team. that’s what Barca style is for me. Barcelona are a ball-playing team, but this is different from a possession-playing team.

      I still maintain, with proper rest and a proper pre-season and proper planning of the season, this team can both play possession, press and counter-press, defend en masse and counter-attack.

      That’s not counter-attack football or bus-parking football or defensive football. That is the football of Barcelona, otherwise known as

      Total Football

      • April 25, 2014

        Spot on, Peter. Tika taka is a tactic. Barça’s style is attacking football that flows from the midfield. So Iniesta is correct in that regard, even as Iniesta isn’t the coach, so in saying that any style is “not to be negotiated,” he is misguided.

    • Gekko64
      April 25, 2014

      brilliant piece 😀

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 25, 2014

      It’s Gold. Who wrote that ?

    • Ryan
      April 25, 2014

      Very nice by Brian Phillips. You can’t argue with those 0-10 ratings. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

    • April 25, 2014

      Agree. Absolutely gutted by the news. His ties to the club and its players ran so deep, from La Masia to finally coaching them, only to have that time cut short.

    • stefan2k
      April 25, 2014

      RIP Tito! 🙁

      So sorry for his family

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 25, 2014

      In Retrospect, his last season was a superhuman feat.
      Just tragic.
      Could we get a small, separate article about tito plz ?

    • Ryan
      April 25, 2014

      Rest in peace/descansa en paz Tito 🙁

  22. Jim
    April 25, 2014

    Not entirely unexpected but the fact that I’ve been dreading checking this blog all day at work speaks volumes about the affection he engendered in me. Don’t know why – he was only with us as coach for a short while but always, always carried himself well and made me proud of the club. In a sense it’s good that we are out of everything so we and the players can take the time to appreciate his contribution properly.

  23. April 25, 2014

    New post is up.

  24. ooga aga
    April 25, 2014

    descansa en paz tito gracias por todo

Comments are closed.