Rex quondam rexque futurus, XXXII

knight“When I left Vagon,” began the commander-in-chief, “Something happened to me which was outside my own plans.”

“What was the accident?”

“It was not an accident really. It was the first stroke of a correction which I have had, and for which I am thankful. Do you know, I shall be talking about God a great deal, and this is a word which offends unholy people just as badly as words like ‘damn’ and so on offend the holy ones. What shall we have to do about it?”

“Just assume that we are the holy ones,” said the King, “and go on about your accident.”


“I was riding with Sir Percivale, when we came across my son. He unhorsed me at the first tilt – my son did.”

“A surprise attack,” said Arthur quickly.

“It was a fair tilt.”

“Naturally you would not want to beat your son.”

“I did want to beat him.”

Guenever said: “Everybody has to be unlucky sometimes.”

“I rode at Galahad with all the skill I could manage, and he gave me the finest fall I ever had. Indeed,” added Lancelot, with one of his gaping grins, “I might say that he gave me one of the only falls I ever had. The first thing I can remember feeling, when I was lying on the ground, was pure astonishment. It was only later that it turned to something else.”

“What did you do?”

“I was lying on the ground, and Galahad was standing his horse beside me without saying a word, when a woman came up who was a recluse in a hermitage where we had been fighting.

She made a curtsy and said: ‘God be with thee, best knight of the world’.”

Lancelot looked on the table, and moved his hand in a gesture to stroke the cloth. Then he cleared his throat and said: “I looked up, to see who was talking to me.”

The King and Queen waited.

“And so?” ‘

“Well, the lady was not talking to me.”

They digested the position in silence, watching a flutter which had developed on the right side of his mouth.


“Yes,” said Sir Lancelot. “The lady was looking past me at my son Galahad, and he cantered away as soon as she had spoken. Soon afterwards the lady went away as well.”

“What a disgusting thing to say!” exclaimed the King. “What a dirty, deliberate outrage! She ought to have been whipped.”

“It was true.”


“But to come and say it in front of you on purpose!” cried Guenever. “Besides, after a single fall – ”

“She said what God told her to say. You see, she was a holy woman. But I couldn’t understand it at the time –

“I am much holier now,” he added apologetically, “but at the time I couldn’t bear it. I felt as if my prop had been taken from me, and I knew that she only said the simple truth. I felt as if she had broken the last piece of my heart. I rode to a chapel eventually, feeling as if I might be going mad again.

“The funny thing was that the chapel had no door. I don’t know whether it was my sins, or my resentment at being broken, but I couldn’t get in. I slept on my shield outside, and there was a dream of a knight who came and took away my helm and my sword and my horse. I tried to wake up, but I couldn’t. All my knightly things were being taken away from me, but I could not wake, because my heart was full of bitter thoughts.

“Arthur, if I don’t make you understand about that night, you will never understand the rest. I had spent all my childhood, when I might have been chasing butterflies, learning to be your best knight. Afterwards I was wicked, but I had one thing. I used to feel so proud, inside myself, because I knew that I was supposed to be top of the averages. It was a base feeling, I know. But I had nothing else to be proud of. When I woke up and found that my arms were taken, I walked about in agony. It was disgusting, but I cried and cursed. That was the time when they began to break me.”

“My poor Lance.”guenever

“It was the best thing that ever happened. In the morning, do you know, I heard the little fowls singing – and that cheered me up. Funny to be comforted by a lot of birds. I never had time for bird’s-nesting when I was small. You would have known what kind of birds they were, Arthur –  but I couldn’t tell. There was one very small one, which cocked its tail in the air and looked at me.

“The thing which these birds made me see, because my black heart could not see it alone, was that if I was to be punished, it was because of my own nature. What happened to the birds was according to the nature of birds. They made me see that the world was beautiful if you were beautiful, and that you couldn’t get unless you gave. And you had to give without wanting to get. So I accepted that beating from Galahad, and the taking away of my armour; and in a blessed moment, I went to find a confessor so that I would not be wicked any more.”


“All the knights,” said Arthur, “who got to the Grail had the sense to be confessed first.”

“I had always made bad confessions before that. I have lived nearly all my life in mortal sin. But this time I confessed everything.”

“Everything?” asked the Queen.

“Everything. You see, Arthur, I have had a sin on my conscience all my life, which I thought I could not tell to people, because – ”

Lancelot looked with sudden misery from one to the other, and clenched his fists. All three stopped breathing.

“I confessed, then,” he said eventually, and they breathed again – but his voice was leaden. “I was given a penance, to wear the hair shirt of a certain dead religious,” he went on. “I was to take no meat or wine, and to hear Mass daily. So I left the priest’s house after three days, and rode back to a cross near the place where I had lost my arms. The priest had loaned me some to go on with. Well, I slept at the cross that night, and had another dream – and in the morning, the knight who had stolen my armour came back. I jousted with him and retrieved the armour. Wasn’t that strange?”

“I suppose you were in a state of grace now, after your good confession, so you could be trusted with your might.”

“That was what I thought, but you will see about it presently. I thought, now that I had got my sin off my chest, I would be allowed to be the best knight in the world once more. I rode away very happy, trying to sing a bit, until I came to a fair plain with a castle and pavilions and everything – and there was a tournament of five hundred knights in black and white. The white knights were winning, so I thought I would join with the black. I thought I would do a great exploit of rescue for the weaker party, now that I was forgiven.”


He stopped, and closed his eyes. “But the white knights,” he added, opening them, “took me prisoner quite soon.”

“You mean you were beaten again?”

“I was beaten and disgraced. I thought I was more sinful than ever. When they had set me loose, I rode and cursed just as I had done on the first evening, and, when the night came, I lay down under an apple tree and actually cried myself to sleep.”

“But this is heresy,” exclaimed the Queen, who was a good theologian, like most women. “If you were clean confessed, and had done penance and been absolved – ”

“I had done penance for one sin,” said Lancelot. “But I had forgotten about another one. Jenny, I have all my life been in another sin, the worst of all. It was pride that made me try to be the best knight in the world. Pride made me show off and help the weaker party of the tournament. You could call it vainglory.”

“So you were beaten.”

“Yes, I was beaten. And next morning I went to another hermit to be confessed again. This time I made a thorough job of it. I was told that it was not enough, in the Quest for the Grail, to be continent and to refrain from killing people. All boasting and pride of the world had to be left behind, for God did not like such deeds in his Quest. I had to renounce all earthly glory. And I did renounce it, and was absolved.”


“What happened next?”

“I rode to the water of Mortoise, where a black knight came to joust with me. He knocked me down as well.”

“A third defeat!”

Guenever cried: “But if you really were absolved this time!”

Lancelot put his hand over hers, and smiled.

“If a boy steals sweets,” he said, “and his parents punish him, he may be very sorry and good afterwards. But that doesn’t entitle him to steal more sweets, does it? Nor does it mean that he must be given sweets. God was not punishing me by letting the black knight knock me down – he was only withholding the special gift of victory which it had always been within his power to bestow.”

“But, my poor Lance, to have given up your glory and not to get anything back! When you were a sinful man you were always victorious, so why should you always be beaten when you were heavenly? And why are you always hurt by the things you love? What did you do?”

“I knelt down in the water of Mortoise, Jenny, where he had knocked me – and I thanked God for the adventure.”



Edited from: White, T(erence) H(andbury). The Once and Future King. ePub Bud. Internet. May 18, 2014.

Categorized as Barcelona

By SoccerMom

SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. Is there a more literate Barca poster anywhere than SoccerMom? Is there a more literate blog?

    Thank God for the adventure, and for BFB.

  2. Great Parable for us all.

    Should be translated into Catalan and published in Mundo Deportivo.

    The Adventure continues!

  3. Barça anthem :

    The whole stadium loudly cheers, we’re the blue and claret supporters.
    It matters not where we hail from,
    whether it’s the south or north. Now we all agree,
    we all agree,
    one flag unites in brotherhood. Blue and claret blowing in the wind,
    One valiant cry,
    We’ve got a name that everybody knows : Barça Barça Baaarça.

    Players, supporters,
    we united are strong.
    We’ve achieved much over the years,
    we’ve shouted many goals.
    And we’ve shown,
    we’ve shown,
    that no one ever can break us.
    Blue and claret blowing in the wind,
    One valiant cry,
    We’ve got a name that everybody knows, Barça Barça Baaarça.

  4. Shoes are dropping in the “poorly kept secrets” department:

    — Ter Stegen confirmed
    — Luis Enrique confirmed
    — Rafinha and Deulofeu will be returning from loan
    — Eusebio renews as Barça B coach
    — Amor replaced by Roura at La Masia
    — Pinto is leaving

    This is all stuff that was widely known, so confirmations are simply a question of when. Nice to have it all be official.

    Now for all of the other stuff …

    1. I fear the Deulofeu news may be confirmation of what most of us expect. Sanchez to Juve. Serves us right!

      Electic Sanchez leaves with the golazo of our season. A goal that if not for some bad defending of a set piece would have been remembered just as fondly as the Miracle at Stanford Bridge.

      Who wouldn’t want to leave like this?:

    2. I will advise calm. The other part of that Deulofeu rumor is that Enrique wants to take a look at him in pre-season. If he doesn’t impress, he goes out for another loan spell.

      So his presence doesn’t necessarily mean that Sanchez is leaving. Remember why Silly Season is correctly named.

    3. Sanchez really has his fans here doesn’t he.

      I continue to say he was the wrong pick in ’11 and would welcome his potential departure (along with many others, to be fair to him). He would fit well at Juve. Might be happier too in a team not expected to win the CL. Who knows. May well stay. I can’t imagine why he would. One OK season a great player does not make.

    4. Sanchez has been getting better every season with us and has been very productive. He has scored against Real Madrid and Atletico this season.
      I love the man, he works harder than anyone and produced the goods in big matches but wasn’t given the opportunity in other big matches.

      I’d rather sell Pedro for half the money than sell Alexis

    5. This is a compilation of Sanchez from 2014:

      86ed, it isn’t that Sanchez has his fans here. I think that implies that he hasn’t earned consideration with his hard work and tireless efforts, as demonstrated in this video.

      Sanchez has had one clunky season, and began coming to life at the end of that season. He took off like a rocket this season, before the wheels fell off the bus. He was also very good in his first season. I liken Sanchez to the new Henry, a player who was much better than a lot of supporters give him credit for.

    6. Sanchez was a disaster last year for three quarters of the season. Do we not remember that he scored something like two goals in all competitions up to February/March?–, how he was missing chances I could have scored?
      He scored when the league was all wrapped up and Bayern had already worked on us.

      I admire his work ethic, sure. Guy burst a lung each game; it’s more than you can say for Messi. But it strikes me as someone who’s running at full speed with his head down without really knowing where he’s going.

      I generally don’t watch nor trust highlights. You can make a highlight of Messi this year and get the impressing he was BdO candidate, when in reality he won’t even make the top five.

      We’ll see where we are after the World Cup. Maybe he’ll stay. I think it would be a mistake for all parties if he did.

    7. Have to agree w/Ciaran & Kxevin. Selling Sanchez wld be a huge mistake. If he is the one pushing through the transfer request then I understand, but I can’t imagine now the Enrique is boss, that he’ll want to part w/Electric Sanchez. The guy is tireless work horse who has added that bit of class to his game-ice in his veins. His finishes this year have had the calmness & coolness he didn’t have in the past. I still rated him highly then, but now he’s an my 2nd name on the team sheet behind Messi.

    8. I find it very hard to believe that Enrique thinks that Delofeu is a suitable replacement for Sanchez. He’s got none of Sanchez’s range of skills: passing, playing back to goal, heading, pressing. Surely Enrique would see him as a fourth (or fifth) forward who can’t complain too much if he doesn’t get game time.
      The only question is whether Sanchez is needed as ballast in a swap deal.

  5. O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
    The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

    But O heart! heart! heart!

    With Battered knees, but Noble locks
    he leads her in at last
    Through howling storm, past shores of rocks
    To new-born dawn with mythic past.

    -Walt Whitman writing about his two favorite captains

    The Camp Nou Address

    One decade and five years ago today, Puyol and Xavi brought forth upon this club a new ethic, conceived in heart and brain and dedicated to the proposition that a team not always fleetest of foot or burly of brawn can win by passing and last minute tackling.

    We come here now to pay homage to our great team with it’s Titans who will surely become Immortal.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, still playing or retired, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

    The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did. It is for us the fans, rather, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored warriors we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these players shall not have strived in vain — that this club, under our blaugrana flag, shall have a rebirth of greatness — and that passion, fair play, and possession dominating total-football shall not perish from the face of the earth.

    -C. Puyol
    *Translation from the Catalan Captain as delivered in his press conference upon retiring from the club on 5/15/2014.

    1. Wow, That is he best parting speech I’ve ever read. He will be so sorely missed. I fear no one will step into his shoes to fill his void. I will always smile when I think of the Captain and his locks making a flying tackle, crashing through the box to get a goal, or rallying the troops to keep calm or let them know there’s still work to do. I can’t wait to see what he decides to do with the rest of his life. Whatever it is will be done with professionalism and integrity.

  6. I’d like to see Puyol and Valdes added to the BFB cover page. Abi is there already. Let’s immortalize our legends as they leave us.

  7. This is an excellent piece, that is spot on:

    This paragraph from it sums up a lot, even as he and I differ on the effect that Neymar’s inclusion had, even as I see his point. In the system that we know, Pedro is a better fit.:

    The Barcelona of old might have been spurred into life. Not this one. This version had Lionel Messi as a passenger, Andres Iniesta as a pale ghost and, once he came on, Neymar as the squarest of pegs in Pedro’s round hole. Still, the ending was nervy and frenetic as you’d expect, with Dani Alves, Sanchez and Javier Mascherano battling on until the final whistle.

  8. I expressed my disappointment on these pages last August when I saw Martino’s lineup for the game vs Levante. I had hoped to see a turnover of players, to set the tone for the rest of the season. I wished To have seen Montoya at rightback, Barta in defence; maybe even S. Roberto and Song midfield instead of same old boring Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets. It may not have worked, but it might have set us on the right path eventually. It would have anyways sent some sort of message that Martino was willing to trust the young in Deed rather than word, and that he was willing to drop the midfield triumvirate and try something different for a change.

    Many here replied that Martino would have been foolish to start with an experimental lineup on huge first game of the season. “There’s plenty of time ahead,” someone insisted, “for experiments.” Ostensibly the final result made a fool of me.

    Now it feels, to me, like a wasted opportunity. I would have gladly accepted a losing year like this if at least I saw that the groundwork for the future were being prepared. No such thing happened. We lost another year of transition which usually comes after a winning period; this one like last one. We lost the league by playing the same way we had when Villanova coached us. Nothing new and drastic was attempted.

    All that’s left to do now is to demolish hitherto old house and build a newer one ofpn top of bathe ruins.

    1. 86ed you beat me to the punch on a lot of your points, but I will post some similar ideas below. It would be interesting which three players you would choose for the question at the end.

  9. Today I am excited that my favourite barca player of all time has come back home. This is a new era and a new chapter. Very exciting times ahead

  10. Why I No Longer Worship at the Alter of Tiki Taka
    Any player that comes two a team with its own huge success, fixed style, skill set, and culture will struggle at Barcelona. That is why we have had to real transfer succeed at our club since 2010.
    The team has reached a point in which the largely same set of players got one last season to get one of those trophies that we were almost guaranteed to have each year.

    The club and its fans in hope or sentimentality sacrificed what might have been a season of transition to give largely the same group of players one last shot at glory. Fans, of course, differ as to whether that shot was worth it, but that debate is now past and we must look to the future.

    Our team as presently constructed even with a heroic Pique who came back to almost save the day, can no longer win consistently. I agree that in some games we may not have played at our hardest, but no matter the illustrious names on the back of the shirts and the crest on the front, the collective performance and confidence is no longer there. Who is to “blame” for that?

    As Iniesta said “everyone and no one” individual in particular, but the collective must be changed. We can no longer step on the field bursting with confidence when we know deep in our hearts that we need a wonder goal against a determined defense to win and only have to concede on a very ordinary set piece or quick counter to lose or draw.

    I don’t know what the names of the players who will step on the pitch next September will be, but I think that none of the players on a team that has reached the end of a great era should be guaranteed a place. At the beginning of next season, all La Liga teams will start with no wins and all our players will start with no goals.

    If a player wants to be on the field for our team, he should earn it by being a vital piece in a collective group that can win games the best way it can. Whether that collective group consists of 2 new players and nine old ones or 6 new players and 5 old ones I can not say, but I almost think at this point I would prefer the latter.

    Which 5 players from our current team would you definitely want to see start for our team next season?
    My choice: Messi , Neymar, Pique, Sanchez, Fabregas

    1. Messi, Iniesta, and Pique for sure. I was against Neymar’s signing. I have yet to we anything in him that makes him worth the pile of cash we spent and the headache we earned. He was not what was needed anyway. But it is too late now and he could conceivably come good , just as he could implode. I would keep him in the roaster.

      More important than the personnel is the system, I think. The false nine BS has got to stop. The obsession with Short and physically weak players has got to stop. The blind adherence to the outdated 4-3-3 has to end. No more allegiance to players who are past it. I saw it happen to Milan after 2005 to 2007 seasons. More ruthlessness at the board level and coaching staff would be welcome. That Tello nonsense during the Getafe game was embarrassing. That Martino played him again was bad enough; that the board didn’t automatically dock his pay as a fine was, well, ridiculous.

      Times are moving past us. They have since 2011. The board has done nothing to stem the tide of decline till now. That’s on them. They have to if them mess Rosell created or pay the consequences in a plebiscite.

  11. I get the feeling that, in the world cup, Sanchez is going to put Chile on his back, and take them a hell of a long way. The Board had better be pretty careful about letting him go.

  12. We signed Ter stegen finally,its was always gonna happen anyways.Whats next? Ashley cole is free why don’t we sign him,he’d make good back up at left-back,also fernando Torres,he’s the kinda guy we need for that centre foward role. I know is evil but there’s an articule about ”areas where luis enrique must address” when he join us.its a good articule guys.

  13. I saw Alexis Sanchez play with Chile last fall when they came to Toronto, and you can’t really appreciate him until you have seen him live. He is an absolute dynamo on the pitch, never stops moving, and always looking for that bit of space. He’s a fantastic player, and I really hope he doesn’t leave. I also hope he and Chile can get out of their WC group along with Spain.

    1. Sanchez had 21 goals this season, none from penalties. Better production per minute than Villa, who is still deified by many culers, with a staggering work rate. And Sanchez wasn’t even a full-time starter.

      I can’t see Enrique discarding a player like him, which is why I don’t place a lot of credence in the rumors. The latest one is that Sanchez has agreed to the move to Juve, and now the clubs are talking.

      I don’t buy it. It was his dream to come to Barça. I just don’t see him throwing that away so easily, without knowing the intentions of Enrique.

    2. No need for the dig at Villa, he was brilliant in his time. He has just never been the same since the broken leg. Anyway, I hope you’re right about Lucho wanting to keep Sanchez. Seems like just the kind of player he would like.

    3. Whoa, whoa, there. Not a dig at Villa, just a comparison and statement of fact. Not at all. I don’t do that stuff.

    4. I don’t seem to recall many culers crying when Villa was sold so I have no idea where you get that notion from that he’s deified.

      I think it’s better to compare Alexis to Pedro. Similar players. Both with an amazing work rate, the best on this team.

    5. Not only were culers crying about the fact that a still-useful player was sold, but also the price at which he was sold. It happens.

      The statistical comparison in question involved a number of players, including Pedro. Sanchez had a superior goals/assists per minute ratio to all of them.

      So prima facie, it’s crazy to sell Sanchez, but it all depends on the new coach’s view of him and what he brings to the table, coupled with what that coach wants and players the club is bringing in.

  14. So todays silly season is somewhat funny. Yaya Toure’s agent went on a rant because Yaya didn’t get birthday wishes from Man City so says his client wants to leave. Dmitri Seluk was a plague when Yaya was here and nothing really ever changes.
    Regardless of his agent Yaya is a phenomenal player who said that he wanted to play for Barca again when he left but it’s not going to happen. He moved on and so did we but I’d love to see him in a Barca jersey again.

    Jeremy Mathieu was again linked and I think he’d be a great backup, especially given that he could play left back if we wanted defensive solidity. Versatility would be nice for a change.

    Another interesting article suggested that Lucho wants to exercise our buy back on Andreu Fontas for €1m as cover for CB & DM positions. He had a good season with Celta, and has worked with Lucho for a few seasons so I could see it happening even though I’m not sure of his quality.

    If we can sign a truly world class centreback, to rotate with Bartra & Pique then I could see Mathieu or Fontas picking up that 4th spot.

    1. Rumor now has it that Benatia is that “world class” CB for Lucho.

      Have you seen this player in action enough to give an opinion. What are the biggest strengths or weakness he might bring to the squad?

    2. I’ve never seen Mathieu play badly. He signed a new contract after we rejected him last summer so I expect him to cost much more this time around. Too bad.

      But in any case, I’d rather take Mathieu over Fontas.

  15. For me, the Deulofeu arrival says more about the fate of Tello than Sanchez. If Sanchez leaves, it will have more to do with Messi and Neymar than anything else.

    Had an interesting convo on Twitter yesterday in which someone posited that Sanchez has a high salary, and is about as good as he is going to get. His value will never be higher, making it the perfect time to sell him.

    That makes sense. It is logical, and the reasoning is sound. But Barça isn’t a selling club, I keep telling myself. There is nobody in world football with a work rate like Sanchez, on or off the ball. He runs into wormholes, and if you give him too much time to think he will invariably think himself into a bad spot. That’s a complexity on a club that prides itself on cerebral football.

    But then I think of Track Meet Barça, where Messi, Sanchez and Neymar are running at a defense, unfettered by the demands of tika taka, and I think “That would be pretty cool.” Then my mind adds a dynamic mid like Fabregas or Rafinha, and it gets even more interesting.

    1. I am really looking forward to some tactical diversity and seeing how a new Barca might look in the future. A year of experiments is OK with me because in 2 years we might have a new “golden generation” coming into its own with Neymar and Bartra well on their way.

      I don’t know if Montoya and Rafinha will also be key pieces in that golden generation , but I really want to find out the answer to that question next year (mucho minutes for both).

    2. Yeah. Sanchez is in the “we’d be stupid not to listen to offers” category. Not someone I think we’re looking to move. But not an “untouchable” either. In either case, as what happened with Yaya, I’d hate to see him go but would appreciate the business side.

  16. Three Questions to Occupy your Summer

    As a football fan who supports our team there are really three questions that I looked forward to seeing answered this summer:

    1)How will our players look in largely or somewhat different squads. Particularly how will Messi, Neymar, Fabregas, and Sanchez look when featured in their national sides. We may get a glimpse of how each player may be used next year with our club provided that some or all stick around.

    2) Who will be the major players coming or going as we embark on a new era? Do people think we will find out mostly before or after the World Cup even if it comes from strongly supported rumor rather than official announcement?

    3) What actually happened this year behind closed doors with our players and coach. Was there such discord that it left the side discouraged and poorly motivated or did our team merely have an unlucky streak of unusually bad form?

    The first two questions will be answered gradually in the upcoming months but as many have suggested the last may never be known.

    However, there is such a person “out there” who may give us an answer about to last question that we can squabble over. A person who is not afraid to speak his mind and, in fact, may not be cautious enough to remain silent because he doesn’t plan to be around next year because he may be somewhat disgusted by the way our club behaved this year.

    Yes, I will now reveal my source and remember you heard it here first:

  17. My general view on player buy and sell lists is they reflect the views and biases of the person making the list, more than what the team needs. I think that what this club needs starts with a coach who has absolute authority, and a management who has the task of getting the coach the EXACT players that he wants.

    People snarl about Laporta and some of the things that he did, but he and Txiki were fully committed to getting their coach exactly what he wanted. That’s what a technical staff is supposed to do. It’s also why any notions of players being bought or sold before a coach was named, were just so much hogwash.

    The club has scouts, and those scouts have traveled hither and yon, looking at various players and assessing their abilities based on what they believe the club needs. I watch somebody on TV and say, “Boy howdy, that dude is good. I’d love to have him on Barça.” But what the heck do I know?

    So I certainly appreciate and enjoy the overhaul, buy/sell comments, etc, but I reckon you won’t see me taking part. It’s useful also to have some new names of players to watch, folks I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

    1. I partly agree, but as many have pointed out before all or us are in part fans of the club and in part fans of particular players. The players I favor are the ones who I have confidence will perform well in big games.

      To use players currently under scrutiny, the new coach may decide that Pedro is just as much an asset as Sanchez and because the former has more years with the club and is a La Masia product might decide to sell the latter.

      The coach of course may be right and he certainly has 1000 times my football IQ and gets to see the players practice, but I would still believe it is the wrong choice.

      To think that the club or the coach always knows best is a point of view that fans have seen backfire too much in the past to not question many of the club’s decisions.

    2. Which, for me, is like debating whether the sun should rise. It will, and what’s the point? It sparks debate, and I’m all for that, but the club and its management could give two craps what anyone thinks about selling anyone on the team, which is as it should be.

      I am not a fan of any player, which often gets me in trouble when comments that I make are misconstrued. And that’s okay, too, as long as both sides are willing to see where the other is coming from.

    3. Then we may be different kinds of fans. To me, what gives me a lot of pleasure as a fan is to make predictions about what choice of tactics and players I think will be best suited to make the club successful and then have those predictions be shown to be “right” or not.

      If, for example, I predicted that the Ibra signing would be terrible because this player would never be able to successfully integrate into our team, then that would give me some satisfaction, though, of course, as a fan I would much prefer to have been proven wrong.

      Of course, my particular opinion has no effect on what the club will do, but I watch the matches too in part knowing that my viewing the game will have no effect on the outcome but enjoy that experience as well. 🙂

      Just to understand your position better, if Enrique and Mourinho each decided that they liked the other’s squad better and then completely swapped players would you have a problem with our new squad as a fan of our team?

  18. What is the vision?

    For example, one characteristic of the Xaviniestamessi team is to hoard Spainish international players. In the past two years FCB has lost the best player on the Spain under 21/19 teams and failed to sign all but one (D. Suarez) of the others that were possible to buy (Jése, Carvahal, Sarabia are R. Madrid:): Isco, Illaramendi, Oliver, Koke, Inigo, Moreno, DeGea.) R. Madrid bought two at great expense that don’t fit into their super-athletic style of play, but who would have fit beautifully at FCB.

    Most of these players are the best of the group coming up whose idea of football has been shaped by Xaviniestamessi. They, with some youths already in the system are the true heirs.

    1. I wonder if the Masia/Barça B presence shaped that in some cases. Certainly for Isco, Illaramendi and Oliver in particular, they’re looking at Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, know that Rafinha is coming and folks like Suarez, Samper are in the works, and wondering about their career choices.

      Interesting question, though.

  19. IMO: resist craving the messiah in silly season. Pursue a vision. Think like D. Simeone. Or P. Guardiola. Or, hopefully, L. Enrique.

    1. I too share your worry that we no longer have the best Spanish youth players. In five years the Spanish side, in fact, will probably not feature many Barca players. That is a problem to both Barca and Spain’s squad in that the players will have less experience playing together on both squads and thus each may not be as successful as they otherwise would be. How amazing would it be right now if we still not only had Thiago and but also would have bought Javi Martinez.

      Similarly, I would want to also make sure that our club has some of the best youth players in the world and that also may not happen if Barca hold on to their “legends” for too long a time or not trust its youth enough and instead try to fill in the gaps with well known “proven” players who will take their spots but in the end not be successful transfers .

      The club has already taken a pass on Thiago and Tello, but other upcoming youth players such as Rafinha, Deulofeu, Dongou, Sampler, Suarez, Le, and Bagnack must as least have their shot to be contributors to our first team.

      That is why the only reason I would be OK with a Sanchez move is if the club really thinks Delofou is a player that is ready to make a significant impact this year.

  20. In a reply towards talking about player who we want to go/get, this often rubs people the wrong way, myself included. I was frustrated listening to it in the games we won ‘controversially’ in the beginning of the season: let’s see how this team pans out I thought. However, it really is just a catharsis for fans, many of won, and especially in the offseason, play a part in the essential fantasy of routing for a team (and I don’t mean this critically – although my Catalan wife might go one about how Spain’s football success is the only thing preventing nationwide rioting due to the crisis).

    In other words, there is nothing wrong with it, but it is, of course, arbitrary. I think the narrative that discusses this tendency towards fantasy with fans is important. It provides the entire debate with context and tempers the tendency to get too emotional. Pathos, however, has been entering in spades recently. People are getting attacked for opinions, opinions which are essentially a sort of masturbatory exercise. Let the kids play I say.

    With that caveat aside, the idea of cashing in on Alexis to me ought to be applied with Cesc. I think that we need to think about different ways of using Messi, and one of those might be as an attacking mid. With Alexis finishing, along with Neymar, and perhaps another winger (thinking here that Tello is gone with Deu. playing in his position. I am not trying to say that Messi always play in midfield, but that he could, giving us a nice tactical diversity. This system would require keeping Pedro, or even better, getting another winger. We have Iniesta and Rafinha ought to be given ample playing time in Liga games.

    Also, we need muscle in midfield, but we have one of the more badass players in the game: Mascherano. Busi doesn’t need to play every game. We have to become less predictable if we want to compete, but I think we already have a lot of the players to do this. The squad needs shaking up but I feel pretty positive, especially with Luis Enrique coming. He was great with Barça B which means he will probably trust the youth more. However, we should also not expect a Treble. We will definitely need to be patient fans, especially with our new keeper.

    1. Assume you speak Catalan? I’m still struggling with it, but soldiering on.

      — Re: players, rumors are flying. The latest is that Fabregas can be had for 40m, which strikes me as a number a club sets when they aren’t serious about selling a player.

      I also think that any and all rumors must be taken with a massive grain of salt. If things are being done properly, ALL comings and goings are with the blessing of Enrique.

    2. It would be the best move for all parties involved, but I don’t think the club will sell Fàbregas either. At this point I don’t think he will ever come good. I have to admit to what Kevin said three years ago: it would have been better to wait another two seasons before we had gotten Cesc. He has been messed about playing out of position for three years now, because of hey, Xaviniesta… I also think that he would be a great player to build a team around, because that would give him the freedom to do what he does best. In a squad where he is the fourth or fifth most talented player, however, that will never happen, and his game suffers as a result. 40M strikes me as a good price.

      Regarding Catalan if you speak Spanish you’re more than halfway there. I can often just guess the words when I speak. It is also very important to not care about making mistakes, of which I make PLENTY. Catalans love the effort, regardless. Speaking of, in my working class Hospitalet neighborhood, Catalans are not very popular. I have literally gottten hugs from latino neighbors simply for NOT being Catalan…

    3. Hey Lev, are you starting to support the local Hospitalet team as well as our boys? Is that a big no-no?

    4. My guess is that we got Cesc for really 2 possible reasons:

      1) The publicity that came with getting him in the year after the World Cup and the nice story about one of our own finally coming home to play football with his long time friends at club and country.

      2) The club looked at Thiago as a future Xavi replacement and decided to take a pass because they viewed Thiago as talented but reckless or didn’t trust that he would become world class quickly enough.

    5. I used to love getting salchipapas in hospitalet. and everyone is always playing generala in the bars.

      i agree with levon on the language issue. i learnt a castellano/catala mix. it’s easy to substitute words, and catalans seemed to appreciate the effort. it at least advertises an acknowledgement. it is funny when i speak to people from spain though, as i realize how many catalan words i actually use.

    6. Funny, first time I went to Barcelona with some pidgin Catalan under my tongue, hopped in a cab at the train station, gave the address in Catalan and the driver (who I later saw was wearing an RM fleece vest) corrected me: “Niente OCHO!.”

      It was very funny.

    7. I actually really like hospitalet. Barcelona is beautiful but I’m a humble person. I can’t stand all the tourists in the street, either.

    8. Oh man, we lived behind MACBA for a year and it was too much. The tourists in Barcelona are the worst I have ever seen (and I’ve lived in some hotspots).

      I like Hospitalet too, but Poble Nou/Poble Sec were my favorite. Though I never got a chance to actually live in Poble Nou. The best part about that city for me was how nice of a place it is to walk. I miss that a lot.

    9. Deer, Only been a couple of times, but Poble Sec was also our favorite – not too expensive, good neighborhood feel, still close to all the bars and restaurants in Gothic, Raval, Parallel, and … (I’m forgetting, what’s the trendy neighborhood between Gothic Qtr. and the the big City Park?). Also had it’s own cool places. Isn’t the 1 Euro Pintxos place near there? Something de Blais?

      If I were 20 years younger and didn’t have to worry about retirement or a mortgage, I’d live there and teach English in a heartbeat!

    10. el born is the neighborhood you mean.

      i taught english there for two years. it’s a hustle. the economy went to shit though, and lifestyle reduction aside, we decided to move to the US. i miss it a lot though (especially going to a bar to watch a match!)

      i forget about the 1euro pintxos place, though it rings a bell. best pintxos in poble sec is quimet i quimet though, hands down. great view too! unless you are up past gracia.

    11. I can’t see Cesc being sold regardless of the rumours. Xavi is 34 and we won’t be able to sign anyone next season so we’d be gambling on Xavi lasting at least 2 years at starting level or signing an outsider and entrusting them with our future.
      The other option would be assuming that Rafinha would be able to step up within a very short space of time which I can’t see.

      The other issue would be making up for the lack of goals from midfield. Like I said, I can’t see it happening.

    12. I am suggesting that Messi can fill that slot and that way get the gal more. He’ll have to press though. It’s just an idea though, I certainly don’t have a talent for tactics.

    13. If Messi was filling a slot in midfield it would mean having two defensive midfielders though and it’s not how we play. He should be a real no.10 but not a central midfielder.

    14. Messi has to be willing to no longer be a ballon d’or winner and that Neymar may become the next Barca winner to win the award.

      If he is OK with that then I am all for it too. Let’s see how he is used this summer in WC!

    15. I don’t see how “that is not the way we play”. We don’t need to adhere to tiki-taka to death in order to maintain our identity. Cruijff played Guardiola and Bakero in a three-man midfield.

    16. Well Levon, two defensive midfielders and Messi would mean no place in the starting line up for any of Iniesta, Xavi, Rafinha etc and without a traditional Barcelona-style central midfielder.
      I’ve been a fan for a long time & I can’t ever remember a time where we played like that.
      Xavi, De La Pena, Gerard, Amor, Guardiola etc. etc. we’ve always had them.
      Even when we played with a double pivot of a sort we had Xavi occupying one of those with Davids.

      It would be a tactic to use to chase a game but not start one in my opinion.

    17. Guardiola was a pivote and Bakero was, well, he was neither offensive nor defensive tbh. What I’m saying is we should not be hung up on ‘our style of playing’ as if it were a completely inflexible concept. And in a midfield of Masche and Busi, the latter could play a more forward role.

    18. I don’t see why we’d need to defensive kids with Messi there, provided he did defensive work. I don’t mean using that system in every game either. However, we lost this years league because we could score, not because teams were scoring on us. Part of that was our inability to get Messi the ball. I’d like to see what would happen if he had the ball earlier in the pitch. Lord knows, he can make that vertical pass. I also think it’d be interesting to be able to play a proper front three. Neymar can play on the wing or in the center, and I’d like to see how Alexis does in the center as well with Messi and Iniesta behind him. I guess its still a 334 but without a false 9, which, to me, needs to go.

      Furthermore, I like the idea of the opposition never knowing if they have to face a Messi in the mid or upfront. That way they have to work out strategies against both options.

  21. I love transfer rumours. The keep things interesting in the off season and allow you to contemplate all of the permutations of the different purchases as they happen.
    For example, there is talk that we’ll be buying 2 central defenders and a defensive midfielder but if Javi Martinez was signed then surely we wouldn’t sign all three.

    I find it all very interesting. The way I see it we have a very good core of a squad but need probably 3 starters, 2 rotatable squad players with skill sets of different occasions and 2 more to fill the squad correctly.
    ter Stegen is one of the 3 starters and Rafinha & Deulofeu should be the 2 to fill the squad but that still leaves a few spots that need to be filled. 2 central defenders, 1 right back, a midfielder & striker.
    I’d want a specialist centreback like Benatia, Hummels or Garay. Another centreback who can play another position like Mathieu (LB) or someone else who can play DM. I’d replace Dani with Cuadrado and have him rotate with Montoya for different situations.
    In midfield I want someone who can play alongside Busquets in big matches or replace him against smaller teams. Busquets is great but is absolutely no goal/assist threat so someone who could contribute to the attack more from the position would be great like Vidal, Pogba or Rakitic. None of which are true defensive midfielders but all of them have played the role in different ways at different stages.
    Then up front, I’d like an athletic, physical striker capable of getting different types of goals to what we normally score and give us the variety of playing Messi in behind him etc. I don’t mind Llorente but he has not got great pace. Jackson Martinez is probably over-priced but good. Suarez isn’t as good in the air and would demand too much playing time. Mandzukic is an interesting option but I can’t see him being any happier on our bench as opposed to Bayern’s.
    Basically, I don’t know what striker to be looking forward to because I’ve no idea who I’d buy. The other thing is that depending on how much we spend on other players and how much we get for those who we sell then we could have a lot or a little to spend on this striker.

    1. It’s been said before but what about using Pique as a Plan B “striker” option more often.

      If we buy some more reinforcement in defense then Pique could spend about 1/3 of his time up front. The only problem is that he too often gets injured when he tries to do something too spectacular. It will also give our club a chance to get another player on the field that is good in the air when taking and defending set pieces.

      Pique just needs to work on his fitness and commitment and then he is captain material and maybe even the break through player in World Football next year with 10 goals to his name and still “world class” status as CB.

    2. Pique isn’t exactly going to score as many goals as a dedicated striker. He is a great defender but wouldn’t have the killer instinct of a real no.9.
      If only because of my personal like of him but I’d love to see Fernando Torres in our jersey. If he could find the form he had at Atletico or Liverpool then he is genuinely world class but has been playing without confidence for his entire time with Chelsea. He is surely on the move and would be cheap but it is certainly a gamble.
      He used to be right up there with my favourite players until Chelsea ruined him.

    3. Torres is an interesting option, but I just assume he is on his way back to Atletico because why wouldn’t he want to, as there is no place better to resurrect his career.

      I know Pique doesn’t have the skill set of most number #9s but then again most #9s don’t face the kind of compact and relentless defenses that we usually do. At least I would like to see him join the offense more often at appropriate times and not just late in games out of desperation.

      Here’s a good clip of at least some of his offensive skills, and yes I know that anyone can look good on a 3 minute video:

  22. Inamess, to answer your question re Benatia.
    Yes I’ve seen him a number of times and he is the real deal. The only issue is that in all of the matches I’ve seen him play, he is always the right centre back and that is always where Pique plays. It sounds like a small issue but it can impact how a player plays. Garay & Hummels are both right footed left centre backs but neither are as good defensively as Benatia in my opinion.
    Benatia is very physically fit, great in the air, fast and good at one-on-ones. He scores a few goals and is reasonably good at playing out from the back even if he is fairly conservative in his passes. He also brings the ball out well like Pique, Bartra or Masch do. He and Leandro Castan have been a great partnership for Roma and Benatia is the organizer of the two.

    I love Hummels too. He is phenomenal on the ball for a defender and rarely gets beaten in any form of duel but his concentration and pace aren’t at world class level for me. When you watch him and Sokratis play, often Sokratis ends up clearing up when Hummels steps out of defensive. Not a bad thing, because they are a very good pairing but it’s normally what Puyol used to do behind Pique so I’m not sure which would change their game. He is an amazing player though.

    Garay should also be considered in my opinion as he is certainly a better defender than the likes of David Luiz. Yes he played for Real Madrid but remember that they outbid us when we tried to sign him that summer too. He is probably a bit faster than Hummels but not quite at Benatia’s level. Still I’d be happy with any of the three.

    In regards to the other name being linked, Laporte; while I think he has massive potential and is currently a very talented player I have two issues. Firstly is his price tag, €36m for a 19yr old CB is crazy money. He has had one good season in the first team and is still unproven. Secondly, players under 25 need regular game time to improve and are more likely to regress with limited playing time than older players. If we have Bartra & Laporte vying for playing time with Pique & another centre back then someone’s progress is going to be affected and I think that Bartra will turn out to be a very good player.

    1. Hummels is a very good CB, but with Bartra and Piqué, we got the ball playing defensive role covered. They should be paired with a life saver.

      I haven’t seen enough of Laporte to really form an educated opinion.

  23. I’m not sure they could but I don’t in principle see any reason why they couldn’t play together. It’s something that’s often said but both can attack the ball, both prefer to stay on their feet, Bartra has some pace and both know how to play defence. Unfortunately, with a top CB coming in the summer Bartra looks set for some time on the bench, unless they pick up my suggestion of trying him at RB to give him some first team playing time. How bad could he be there? I’m not sure he wouldn’t be at least as good as Montoya. I thought he looked quite good and quite aggressive the times he went forward this season.

  24. Wacky Transfer Rumor: Roma will now retroactively activate their 27 million dollar option to purchase Bojan outright. This willcover all of our transfer fee for Benatia as well as leave us with a good chunk of change to boot.

    A nice piece of business for all concerned.
    Zubi will now work his magic to unload and bring in other players.

    Good way to start our new era!

  25. man, i take a few days off and i miss a soccermom piece…this is amazing SoMa. Thank you. I wish I could hug you in person. xoxo

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