No Liga For Old Men

no liga for old men 1



Lou looked at the screen hard and then he clicked on the mouse and he paused it. He sighed. It’s one thang to believe in your players, but it would be nice if they helped him some. Or helped theyselves, rather. He had to believe in em cause they all he got. Ain’t nobody else comin for another two years at least. I guess he had ol’ Sander and his boys to thank for that. Four matches it been. Four matches up against em ropes. They got knocked on they butt in the first two and then the last match ref damn near counted to ten. He wasn’t sure if they’d of recovered from another loss. Ain’t knowed any other coach ever recover from three league losses in a row. Not at this club that’s for damn sure.

He looked out the window. Truthfully, international break couldna come at a better time. Take a moment and hit that ol reset button. Mentally speakin, that is. Of course he ain’t have a reset button hisself. Ain’t got no off switch neither for that matter. Just the other day his wife called him stubborn as a mule, and she’s usually right. She was smarter than him anyways. He never was afraid to admit as much. Not that she’d know what to do about his right back situation. Danny ran more with his mouth than his legs. The other two he’d look at em play and he ain’t know what to think. I mean, what on God’s brown earth was Anthony thinkin when he brought him Douglas. He ain’t never even heard of the boy and on most days he wished he still ain’t. He backed the move when they asked him of course. Ain’t like they gave him much of a choice. Besides, a man ain’t nuttin without his loyalty. But loyalty don’t mean he gonna play Martin. He knew the boy when he was still runnin round the Mini and he liked him but ain’t no room for feelings in this here game. Now he wanna go try his luck someplace else. Heck, it’s a free country last time I checked.

He always knowed there’d be times like this when he took the job. Just never spec those times to arrive so soon, I suppose. One minute you on top of the world and the next the world’s on top of you. Leo started out on fire, too. Ain’t never seen a boy play ball like that. Some tryna say Ronald’s better, but he just ain’t man enough. A grown hombre don’t go round throwin fits whenever he feel like it, but I ain’t sayin nuttin everbody else ain’t said already. Besides, Lou had his own to worry bout. Leo ain’t put no ball in the net for three games now and that ain’t happened for a long time, especially takin into account he ain’t gave no assists either. Then again, these’re thangs fans worry bout more ‘n a coach. Sure, the Flea ain’t as good as he was a coupla years ago but nobody ever was and maybe nobody never will be. He still pretty darn good.

He drummed on his desk with the tips of his fingers. Silver Junior doin good, too. Better’n a lot of folks thought he would. Of course people round these here parts don’t know much and I know that much. Ever time Lou looked at Junior he felt old. Not tired, mind you, just plain old. When he was a child only sailors had tattoos on they arms and maybe on they back. These days kids walk round with tattoos on they necks like they ready to take on a seamonster. You can hardly see they skin. They wearin more gold than the queen of England, too. Blang blang, they call it. His grandpa had a watch. Nuttin fancy or nuttin just a watch. Wasn’t no gold or silver. You saw a boy wear diamond earrings in those days, well nowadays you can’t even say out loud what you thought of boys like that. Thangs done changed and then some. And that rap music they listen to, always yappin bout smackin some bitches. He just didn’t understand em and he ain’t sure he wanted to either. Still, he liked the kid more than he cared to admit. He just ain’t wanna show it, is all. Ain’t nuttin good can come from someone that young with the world at they feet. Just look at Jerry. That boy done had too much and too young and now he ripe for some pine, if he’s lucky that is. Hale, the other day he on his cell phone stead of watchin the game so he told him you wanna play fuckin Candy Crush you can kindly do so from the stands and that’s where he sent him. Not that he had any thang to say to no reporter bout that. Already they fishin for a story and those press boys’d be on him like a pack of bloodhounds on a sore wound if he slipped one word too many. Lou let out another sigh. Cell phones and pop stars. In his days a man was happy if his lady had all her teeth. No guarantee she’d still have ‘em after a coupla years of marriage but that’s a whole other story right there.

He paused the screen again. Up by one goal in injury time and two of his forwards ain’t track back for the last play of the game. He looked at it but he didn’t believe it. They just standin there like it ain’t no thang. Not even his new striker, and Lou liked him. They shared more than just a first name. Boy had scrap to him. A born winner, just like his own self. Only winning two leagues outta eight seasons don’t change a thang. It’s all in people’s mind anyhow and heck, ain’t nobody countin. Everbody know you either play hard or you don’t play at all. Why the hale they strollin? They sure make it harder than they need to. Ain’t easy to set your best on the bench and even less so when you losin. Used to be a boy don’t play he work harder. Now his agent’s on the phone faster’n you can say Ee Pee El and y’all know these numb nuts will sell em for a dime on the dollar, too. There just ain’t no percentages in that game.

He wondered what happened to his midfield. That’s a problem right there. Xavier’s an old dog. He can’t rely on him two games ever week and Andy ain’t exactly the ghost of a coupla years back neither. You gotta face up to that. He thought that if they can’t control the midfield they might’s well bypass the midfield and that’s why they brought in Evan for what looked like a bargain and he knowed Ralphy from last year and he liked his attitude and his directness. Now both started out well enough but the boy Evan lacked confidence right now and neither one of em’s brangin what he hoped for. Not yet anyhow. When he played em together they couldna keep the ball not even for two touches and you know how folks are sensitive bout they possession round these parts. People’s sure fast to turn on they team but hale, it’s easy lookin from the outside in. He had some players that’re too old ‘n others that’re too young and maybe a bunch that’re really good but no longer great or maybe not great yet. The sum can be greater than its parts, they say, and he believed it to be true. That don’t make the opposite false neither. He knew he had the tools but was wonderin bout the parts and how they fit. It was gettin dark outside but Lou would stay in the office until late again. He looked back up at the tee vee screen.

And he sighed.



Categorized as Barcelona

By Levon

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


  1. Used to be God´s green earth, but those two losses in a row sure made them fans lose it. And now it’s brown.

    Now when ya put it like tha’, it sure get man all cold inside. ´Specially when there be guy out ther, his hair all funny like kid be back in the 90s. And he’s justa kid, y’know. Funny, strange like. All kid and no smile. No wink, no frown, no nuthin’ And them say he be one of ours. Swear, only time ever seen that kid show emotion, when he shot one in. Mask slips for a second, pure drive’n’goal under, y’know. Ain’t like them kids nowadays, all talk and no walk. Tha’ kid, he’d do the walk, then the run, the fall and then the climb.

    Just don’t know what to expect. But sure gets man a cold one in, an I ain’t talkin’ ’bout beer. Cheers, bah the way.

  2. If you wanted to write a take on McCarthy you should’ve done Blood Meridian, now THAT is the real clusterfuck

    1. Thanks. Was there any specific reason you pointed this video out or just for general viewing ? Loved some of the camera angles.

  3. Well, I’m not sure I would stay either.

    From Barcastuff : Luis Enrique told Montoya that he’s only his fourth option at right back at the moment, after Alves, Douglas and Adriano. [md]

    We’ve all seen that this seems to be the case and I’m not really all that impressed by Monty but there’s just a little bit of me wondering how long it took LE to make up his mind and why Douglas is ahead in the pecking order. Mind you, even if I were third I doubt I would stay.

    1. Assuming the MD story is true, it’s borne out by the matches. I say any player who doesn’t want to stay, should leave.

      And if Douglas played himself ahead of Montoya, maybe, just maybe …

    2. I agree with you, but I would bring into play Hunter’s article about some more transparency as well. Monty has only played once this season, and I thought he did alright. He doesn’t go forward as much, but I think that strategically that should be the case anyway. Whatever, I’m not the coach (thankfully), but I do think that we are looking mighty thin at RB considering the ban. If Monty leaves, that means another year of Alves, and Alves is like a password everyone knows now.

      As for Douglas, he played one lackluster match so who knows. Maybe he is alright? Still, we should have spent the money on Cuadrado I guess.

      I don’t know the B team very well, how is the LB/RB situation there?

    3. We’ve got Grimaldo on LB. From what I’ve heard he’s pretty darn good. No idea about RB though.

    4. From what I know, Liverpool is keen on Monty, as we’ll be jettisoning Johnson soonish. I think I read that Montoya’s contract is just about up and they are looking at a pre-contract? I haven’t seen him play so was just wondering how he looks. I dont like the idea of us having Manquillo and Montoya as our RB choices as I think both would be better suited to being the young prospect sitting behind an experienced first teamer (like Johnson / Alves). I’m keen to see this mystery Douglas play, I have no idea what he’s all about…
      Peace, YNWA

    5. Douglas played one lacklustre game in which the whole team looked lacklustre.

      Mind you, it was his first game with the team, so there is margin of improvement, and second, the guy looks like he had never seen a bus in his life(which he probably hasn’t, coming from Brazil), no wonder he looked shaky.

    6. With Alves and Adriano leaving in the near future and now Montoya being forced out, we’re pretty much screwed on RB unless the club plans to buy an RB in 2016, I just don’t see how we can compete for trophies with Douglas as our #1 RB and perhaps a youth player. Not gonna cut it. I don’t rate Godswill. A lot of power and pace but nothing else.

  4. From a literary perspective – I’d like to know what dialect (if I may use the word) of english is this ? It seems very different from the sort we usually use. Took me a while to understand some of the sentences. But its an interesting fictional take on what probably goes on in LE’s mind. Especially loved the line – ” Sure, the Flea ain’t as good as he was a coupla years ago but nobody ever was and maybe nobody never will be. He still pretty darn good.” Also, I loved how you portrayed his frustration – ” It was gettin dark outside but Lou would stay in the office until late again. He looked back up at the tee vee screen.
    And he sighed.”

    1. Sounds like a fair attempt to a Texan drawl to me, if it’s not authentic(I have no way to find out).

    2. You should, it’s awesome.

      As for how authentic my Texan drawl is, I’ve never spent time in Texas so there will definitely be room for improvement!

    3. Ohhh…the article is based on this that I know that I get the references – the title, the picture etc.

      I think I’ll appreciate the article a bit more now.

      Can’t wait for Saturday !

    4. Hey Kosby, I’ve got a question for you and any others who may be able to feed my curiosity, but it is based around the topic of accents/dialects.
      I live in Australia where we speak English (the Queen’s English) but with our own funny accent that makes us laugh when people try to imitate and gasp when they get it right! I come from a Spanish family (mum’s side) with family members in Andalusia and Valencia, where the difference in speech is put down to being a different dialect, but I’ve never heard it referred to as a different accent.
      Americans, Canadians, Aussies, English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and many other English speaking countries share the language, but use it differently, even having unique sayings to the country or region, but they are always referred to as accents, as if dialects are something that only other languages possess. I know it’s off topic, but I was wondering if anyone is really clued into linguistics and could shed some light on the difference?

    5. According to wikipedia, accent is the difference in pronunciation of the standard language. Dialect is called when the difference exceeds pronunciation and includes vocabulary and/or grammar.

      Of course, some linguists disagree with that distinction, and the difference blurs in different languages. However, you can speak a dialect with an accent: I speak Canarian Spanish dialect with Bulgarian accent 😀

      For example, Canarian Spanish dialect differs from standard Castellano in some vocabulary(“guagua” for “bus” for example), pronunciation(cerveza is [servesa] instead of [thervetha]), and grammar(using “ustedes” for the second-person informal and formal, as well as simple past tense instead of perfect (“Ya le dije” instead of “Ya le he dicho”)).

    6. Yup Peter got it right. A language has properties like vocabulary, grammar, phonology etc.

      At a very high level, lets say:
      – Language ‘L’ exists containing words ‘W1’, ‘W2’, ‘W3’

      Dialects may exist such that
      – ‘D1’ contains words ‘W1’, ‘W2’
      – ‘D2’ contains words ‘W2’, ‘W3’

      In this example they differ in vocabulary. But both are essentially the same language. Talking about american english, Im not an expert but I found that lists out some of the dialects. And like Peter said, you can speak a dialect with an accent 🙂

      Accent is the way you pronounce a certain word. Americans and Britishers or for that matter Australians speak english but their pronounciations differ vastly.

      Thats my 2 cents.

    7. peter, the way you describe Canary Island spanish sounds like the spanish i have learned in mexico and central america. (no lisp, ustedes exclusively (no vosotros), and more simple past tenses).

      though when in Spain, it is my constant dimunitives (“itos”) that get me pegged as a “mexicano.” (im a gringo, but you get what i mean).

    8. Well, Canarian Spanish is more akin to South American spanish and a bit like Western Andalusian Spanish, because the majority of early New World Colonists came from those places.

      Mexican Spanish uses A LOT of diminutives, but it also has a different sound to it. I can’t really peg it down, because to my ears it all Spanish and it has to be a really notable difference for me to be able to catch it(like the “vos” and “LL” pronounced as [ʒ] or, by some speakers, as voiceless [ʃ] in Argentinian/Uruguayan Spanish).

      It’s mostly the diminutives that catch the ear for me.

      As for accent, I’ve had people ask me whether I’m Galician(?!), German, Czech, Swedish, Russian, Romanian, Italian, Hungarian, Polish.

      Canarian Spanish, I mean REAL Canarian is quite fast and a stereotypical Canarian has no usage for “s” at the end of the word, like for example “Noh vamoh a Loh Indianoh”(Nos vamos a “Los Indianos”, a fiesta at the island of La Palma just after the Carnavals.)
      Just hear David Silva speak
      and imagine him at Pedro speed. 😀

    9. For some reason I can’t reply to Peter, Kosby and Ooga Aga (whose name I can’t say without thinking of Puyol in a Captain Caveman-esque loincloth and carrying a large club), but thank you so much guys and/or girls for your help. I couldn’t have asked for better or more informative responses. Much appreciated, I find languages and dialects fascinating, especially the spanish and hispanic variants. Listening to some of my Argie/Uruguayan friends speak is so different to the Chilenos and Salvadorians, who sound more like my Spanish family. I do have some family from regional Andalucia, and they speak a whole different style, where a simple ‘hola, como estas’ turns into “O, Com e’ta?”. Don’t even get me started on my family in Castellon who tried to teach me Valenciano… Thats a whole other kettle of fish.

  5. Oh my god guys. Lord Vermaelen trained with the squad today! This is it, the beginning of the treble run!

  6. Suarez, Mathieu, Vermaelen, Samper and Sergi Roberto in training today. Iniesta and Rafinha still recovering.

    The MRI performed on Modric has shown a complete tearing off the upper tendon of his quadriceps. Marca are saying six to eight weeks, AS are saying three to four months. Poor guy. 🙁

  7. My Spanish isn’t great, Kxevin. I can make out the usual interview responses about never knowing what might happen etc. but is there anything more definite I’ve missed. He seems quite content and not unnerved by criticism as far as I could make out.

    1. Seguís pensando en quedarte toda tu vida deportiva en Barcelona? ¿O a veces, por todo esto, por las críticas o por probar en otro país decís “por ahí me voy”?
      Do you still think about remaining in Barcelona for the rest of your career? Or sometimes, because of all if it, the criticism or because of trying in another country you say “I’m getting out of here”?
      -No, hoy por hoy vivo el presente. Pienso en hacer un gran año y ganar los títulos que queremos en Barcelona. Y nada más. Después se verá. El fútbol da muchas vueltas… Si bien siempre dije que me gustaría quedarme siempre allá, a veces no todo se da como uno quiere.
      No, I live in the present. I’m thinking about having a great year and winning all the trophies we want in Barcelona. Nothing else. Afterwards we’ll see. Football gives you lots of turns. Of course, I’ve always said I’d like to remain here forever, but sometimes not everything turns out the way you want.
      -¿O sea que si te vas no sería por vos sino porque otro te lo dice?
      So, if you leave it wouldn’t be because of you, but because someone else tells you.
      -Sí, muchas veces lo dije. Que si por mí fuera me quedaría siempre. Pero como dije recién, no siempre se da todo lo que a uno le gusta. Más en el fútbol, que es tan cambiante y que pasan tantas cosas. Es complicado, más en los momentos que está pasando hoy el Barcelona.
      Yes, I said it lots of times. For me, I’d stay always. But like I said, not always you get what you like. More so in football, because it’s so changing and so many things happen. It’s complicated, even more so in the moments that right now are happening in Barcelona.

      Oh, and Thiago is a rightie. Regrettably, but nothing to do about it. 😀

    2. Thanks, Peter. People are being rather silly in this situation. They are fixating on the notion that Messi has broached the topic of leaving, without any attendant amelioration of any sentiment from the quote that if he had his way, he’d stay forever.

      You then have to think that the board is stupid enough to sell Messi the season before an election year, etc, etc.

      I have been thinking about the idea of selling Messi as an abstract intellectual exercise. Might or might not be a post. Have to find an hour from somewhere.

    3. My pleasure. 😉

      Actually, I think the interviewer was looking for a nice soundbite, because he basically phrased the question that obliged Messi to answer it. If he hadn’t, newspapers would say “Messi silent on his future with Barcelona”. Whatever generates traffic.

      Still, the answer is clear. If it depends on Messi, he’d stay. You’re right, a decision or announcement that Messi is getting sold would be a political suicide.

    4. Thanks, Peter. Fairly stock answer given both halves of it. Maybe just looking for a teensy weensy bit of love from some of the Barca fans ?

  8. Leo will stay here for ever.He is by far the best player in the world the last 6 years and will be the nexj 6 years.If guardiola did not used him in every game for 90 minutes then maybe now leo was not so burn out.And by the way the 5 best players in the world in my opinion:leo suarez hazard robben ronaldo in that order.

  9. If you get the chance and are looking to see the least friendly friendly ever in a hostile environment, Celtic park in a lttle while would be a good place to tune into. Scotland vs England !

    1. Sorry, but Spain and Germany, and Argentina and Portugal at the same time as the battle of Bannockburn, it’s not even close to a dilemma. 😛

    2. Nah, bloodless affairs lacking in atmosphere, Peter. 🙂

      Only mild interest in not seeing our guys injured. Just watch the pre match atmosphere with the anthems – and I’m not even a Nat ! These are the games everyone should visit once. I’ve said it before but I don’t think there’s a ground in the world with a better atmosphere than Celtic Park.

  10. At Old Trafford the best heard voice was that of Tata Martino, who seemed to have eaten a megaphone. 😀

    Knock on wood, Barcelona has been lucky in this international break. Only Bravo left to play tonight vs Uruguay, but so far nobody has been injured and most of the players played for half a game(Messi, Busquets, Pique, Bartra, Pedro, whereas Alba didn´t play at all), which should help their fitness for the weekend.

    As for the guys back at Barcelona, Iniesta is currently the only one working separately. Sergi Roberto, Iniesta and Rafinha have not yet received their respective medical all-clear, but they could very well do so in the next days.

    What this would mean is that for the first time this season Luis Enrique could have all his players available, from the first to the last.

  11. I don’t understand why Neymar’s contract is about to be improved, particularly as he was got last year. But considering that it took so much fuss from the Board before Messi’s last contract improvement, I can now draw up a picture from his interview.

    Maybe he isn’t wanted no more. To build a future around Neymar is interesting or could be idiotic.

    For me, Messi should move on or be sold. Bayern Munich or Manchester City. Would be good for the club, and for him, too.

    1. Neymar’s contract is probably about to be improved due to his improved performance. Right now he is in the middle rank of earners, and as of this moment he is the leading goal-scorer of the team, with him having scored more goals in La Liga than any other two Barcelona players together. It’s simple as that.If he keeps it up, the guy is on track for a 30+ goal season, and he’s not just some Brazilian prodigy, he’s the Captain of Seleção.

  12. Although the fear of messi leaving us may seem irrational to most of us but I get it. It’s like you’re dating the most beautiful looking girl of your class and you’re the average looking funny guy, you know that if she’s with you then you have something going for yourself but in the back of your mind you’re always thinking about what if one day she leaves you and you’re left heartbroken and scarred for the rest of your life. So even the slightest of hint real or imaginary remark or comment about another guy for eg. Can send you into a bit of shall e say hysteria.

    1. Ok let me rephrase that, barca used to be the athletic good looking guy, but then stopped going to the gym and has put on a few kilos, so he’s still good looking but his self esteem has taken a hit and he is you know chubby.
      (no offense was meant towards anybody , obviously self confidence has nothing to do with looks and body shape^ that is just a *fictional* story)

    2. Mano, I think It´s more like this:

      You’re an old rich guy, who met a beautiful girl and married her. For a few years you lived on a perpetual honeymoon, were on the covers of all the magazines, the incredible story of blind love. Now the evil tongues are saying that it was all a cover, rumours of quarrels and domestic and substance abuse begin to surface, and you begin to wonder whether you married the love of your life, or you married a gold digger.

      Here’s why gossip, rumours and the whispers in secret and in the shadows are used: they work. They plant the seed of doubt, and once that seed is planted, the mind starts finding proof of the doubt even where there is none, and the mind starts listening to the big mouths that bullshit for a living, those who are paid to talk and love to hear themselves talk.

      The doubt can be resolved in two ways:
      1. smother the doubt by love. Stop paying attention to it. Let the bastards speak till their mouths run dry, throw your love in their face and kill them with the one thing they fear the most – lack of attention.
      2. Diverce the girl. Then you have two options:
      a) you realize she was the love of your life and that you destroyed your happiness by listening to idiots who want your inheritance.
      b) she was a gold-digger and every awesome thing she did for you was because it benefited her as well.

      Here’s the thing about b) It brings no joy. The joy was when she was around, because you loved her, because she made you feel young and happy and joyful and powerful. What have you gained by renouncing that?

      In other words, keep your vows, it is “until death do us part”. Or in this case, retirement.

      P.S. Paul Newman was married to his second wife for fifty years, until the day he died. In the age of Hollywood scandals of infidelity, frequent marriages and even more frequent divorces, Newman was well known for his devotion to his wife and family. When asked once about infidelity, he famously quipped, “Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”
      And let me tell you we don’t just have steak. We have the most succulent, most tender, best-tasting low-cholesterol grass-fed open-ranch Argentinian beef steak.
      Why on earth change it for a Big Mac?

  13. and just when i thought i made a very good and clever comparison peter blows me out of the water. Thank you for the lovely morning present peter.-_-.
    But on a serious note , your version is far more reflective of the actual happenings, love reading your mini posts, they excite me as well as make me loathe myself and that my friend is how you know you write amazingly well. 🙂

  14. So glad we’re back this weekend. Also great that we lucked out with injuries. Madrid and Bayern really took some blows, though I think Müller is going to be ok. By the way, is there a more underrated player than Müller? Just look at all he’s accomplished at his age, i’d kill to have him on our team.

    1. i dont think muller is available for sale at any price. not with Guardiola as head coach. Even kroos was dispensable to ensure no one compete with his position, unlike a certain team, who put so little faith in its best player it had to brought in TWO replacement candidates.
      the best of barca i have ever seen is a team with one undisputed star, and many selfless heroes like xavi and puyol who are willing to stay behind to do all the work without the need for recognition, for the common good of the team. A good team is a system that can extract 110% out of its players. Not like this.

  15. Vermaelen completed his third straight day of training with the squad, though there was a bit of doubt, as he had some thigh muscle discomfort after the second day.

    But someone reassured him that muscles hurt when you actually use them, so he shouldn’t be alarmed.

    1. zing! seriously though, the only one who seems unlikely to return soon is Iniesta. they still have yet to estimate a return date for him, which is uncommon and makes me worry…usually they estimate # weeks as soon as they have a diagnosis…so maybe they dont know whats wrong? dunno.

  16. geez…it seems like every news outlet is running away with this “messi is leaving” story…can we just get back to the matches please..

  17. Morning training with the whole team, including Iniesta, Mathieu and Rafiha, who don’t have the thumbs-up from the doctors, but who have trained with the rest for the whole duration of the training.

    Yes, including Vermaelen. Knock on wood, the man’s been working with the rest for four dias in a row now.

    Adama Traore signed a new contract until 2018, with a clause that secures him first-team appearances next year.

  18. Mascherano’s presser is pure gold.

    Journalist: “Messi has stated he has certain issues with Barcelona and…”
    M: “Where did you read that?”
    J: “No, I’m asking…”
    M: “No, you are asserting, so I’m asking where did you read it?”

    the youtube chat practically exploded 😀

  19. great video of messi’s career 18 goals vs sevilla


  20. It’s been mentioned many times that Mascherano will one day make a fine coach. He’s a clear thinking, straight talker and very refreshing. It must get a little tiring being messi, and it’s nice to see someone else standing up and acting like an adult. Really, could any of us have predicted 5 or 10 years ago what we are doing now?

  21. This just begs to be posted, because a can of verbal whoopass was opened today and a few butts are smarting.

    Last four minutes of Mascherano’s presser:

    J1(ournalist): “(Name and media omitted out of pity), you have stated your talks with Leo are private and I’ll respect that and won’t ask you about them, but if you can, only answer one thing: “You understood the problems and uneasiness that he assured you he has with Barcelona at this moment.”
    M(ascherano): “And how do you assume that he has assured me that at the moment he has problems or issues with Barcelona? Why, I don’t understand that.”
    J1: “Well, I’m just asking you…”
    M; “No, you’re asserting that he has issues and I understood, you’re trying to affirm something to me.”
    J1: “Yes, I am affirming it…”
    M(interrupting): “But where did you read, or from where did you hear that Leo Messi said he has issues or problems with Barça?”
    J1: “Well, I believe a player always has some issues, that’s why…”
    M: “But you said he’s troubled, why does he have problems with Barça? Where did you read that?” (he sees she’s trying to pass the microphone to someone else) “Pass it on, it’s okay, but I wanted to know where did she read it, because I didn’t read that he has issues…”
    J1: “Well, from his statements it can be deduced…”
    M: “Aha, well, it’s from a deduction that you are able to affirm that…”
    J1: “Yes, yes, we interpret…”
    M: “No, well you always interpret the way you want it”

    J2: “Xavi from La Sexta, You have convinced us, it’s correct, it’s true Messi never speaks directly about his criticism of”
    M(interrupts): “I don’t need to convince you, it’s the reality”
    J2: “Yeah, yeah, yeah”
    M: “Aha, because I’ve always heard Leo Messi’s gratefulness to Barcelona.”
    J2: “I wanted to ask about the criticism coming from outside of Barcelona, it’s true that Messi never speaks about them, but you personally do you think there’s a campaign trying to discredit Messi?”
    M: “It’s impossible to discredit one of the best players in history. I don’t believe that, I wouldn’t want to believe that, because I love my profession and I’d like to keep on believing in the amateur spirit of this sport, even though I realize that nowadays it’s an enormous business, but a player like Leo with the way he behaves, it’s exemplary in and outside the pitch, so it’s very difficult to discredit/smear him. Then again, there are opinions that can differ, but in my view he has always behaved like a pro.”

    Damn, the dude’s pure awesomeness.

    1. I want to stamp the name mascherano across the back of all my shirts.. and im not talking about futbol jerseys.

  22. Guys. Forgive me, but can I ask a question? I am, for all my years watching football and playing FM, (heck I played USM 99 back in the days :D), I am still quite inept regarding the tactical side of the game. Inspired by many excellent posts by Kxevin, and taken into consideration the fact that I can’t really ask this questions anywhere else, I would like to discuss them here 😀

    Ok, the first and most basic of them all, how do you win in Football? I believe there are only two (and a half, kind of) ways.

    One, is by pure superior athleticism. Your team run faster than your opponent. Your players are taller, stronger, more durable, or agile. Your crosses are more precise. Pure superior athleticism is, in my opinion, one of the surefire way to dominate and win against an opponent.

    Two, is by mistakes. Your opponents’, and your lack thereof, that is. By making sure that your team is well drilled and disciplined, your defense does not have any funny ideas, and your players are well committed, you can avoid making mistakes, or at least minimize them. And certain tactics can “force” your opponent into making mistakes: a frustrated, pressured, and/or scared opponent is often more prone to making mistakes than not. An unpredictable team, with unpredictable players can also force the opponent to make mistakes. And certain players are also more likely to make mistake than others – by focus on pressing them, you can produce more mistakes. And if your strategy is mistake-based, you sure should drill your player to make the most out of it.

    The final one is luck. Its not a strategy, that’s why its only a half. Yep, luck count for all the matches that does not follow the original two winning strategies. But luck is unreliable at best, so I wont discuss it, at least in this post.

    Most teams rely on a combination of the two, some more on one than the other.

    My point is, Barca under Guardiola, focus disproportionately on the second method. It was very well known and well researched. Sheer athleticism from Messi, the tikitaka strategy, the scare factor, all of them combined to deadly effect.

    But the current Barca, in my view, doesn’t really know which system to follow.

    Barca is no longer an indomitable tank it once was. Opponents are no longer frustrated, and far more committed and spirited, against a Barca team that is everything but. Barca is far less effective forcing its opponents to make errors, and far less effective in using them too. And most of all, Barca has became predictable. Same system against all. Same players, as long as they fit. Most say: we will start winning when the system click. But how? The other teams are not going to be less focused and committed against a disjointed and dispirited Barca. Barca is not going to win in athleticism against Real, not in spirit and discipline against Atletico. And it certainly not going to scare any other team into oblivion like it once did.

    Another point is, what is the role of the coach then, if he do not study his opponents and shift his strategy to match? Is it beneath him? Every one else in La Liga studied Barca to death already. Atletico did that. Heck, Real did that.

    The Barca way seems to be: we beat everyone the same way. The system just need to click. Once it click into place, some how it will work, and we will beat everyone. The problem is, it only work when the system can force people into making mistakes. Now, the way to neutralize Messi without making mistakes is already a public knowledge – heck, even minnows does it nowadays. And its not going to go back. Now, the frustrated team is Barca, and mistakes aplenty. Its not a problem against teams that can’t use them, but against teams that can, well…

    So the question is, which direction to go? Is Barca want to be a team that dominate in athleticism? Or invent another way to force people into making mistakes?

    1. In essence, football is like battle.

      How do you win a battle?

      1. Deception
      2. Diversion
      3. Superior forces overall or in a key point of the line:
      3.1. Numerical superiority overall or numerical superiority in a key point in the line;
      3.2. Qualitative superiority overall or qualitative superiority at a key spot in the line where the breakthrough is made
      4. Superior tactics, which neutralize a portion of the enemy, like for example flanking manoeuvres, enveloping, etc.
      5. Better logistics and better trained/fit forces, meaning “getting there the fastest with the mostest and the freshest”
      6. Superior morale/will to fight or just refusal to quit that lasts more than the enemy’s.
      7. Superior knowledge/vision of the enemy line
      8. Sheer dumb luck(gives you five Gryffindor points every time)

      It’s as simple as that. 😛

      The question on which way should Barcelona go cannot be contained in one post, and of course is subjective, because there are always more than three ways to skin a cat.

    2. 1) and 2) Yes, football is like a battle. But unlike battles, most teams are quite well versed in tactic (most people don’t fight most battles week in week out).
      Just like in battles, deception and diversion works only the few first times. Do it hundreds of times and it’s no longer effective. Opponents do learn from mistakes.

      3) Numerical superiority requires sheer will and athleticism. Numerical superiority requires a highly mobile bunch of players that need to move all the time. A football match is 90 minutes, and you can’t afford to be numerical superior at all times. Barca players are not known to be stamina proficient, and a certain Messi comes to mind. Overloading specific portion of the field requires sufficient cover of others; inadequate cover and you risk counter attack. This is especially true for Barca given the fact that two of its best players do not like to backtrack (Messi and Neymar)

      Quality superiority mainly comes in two variant: technical superiority and athletically superiority. The technical quality (dribble, tricks) is only relevant when you do have the ball, hence the obsession on possession. When you do not have the ball, technical qualities are mostly useless. Discipline and athleticism takes over.

      4) Logistic is indeed important, but given the quality of the league, the different between Barca and other teams is not gigantic. WRT continental competition, the difference in logistic is negligible.

      5) Vision, in my opinion, is ultimately the ability to spot defensive error of the opponent. Against an error making opponent, vision is great. But when the opponent does not make error, vision cannot do anything. And vision combined with direct crossing is deadly – just that Barca does not exactly have an accomplished crosser. Barca’s strongest weapon, the through ball, against a team that park bus (practically all of them really), is significantly less effective.

      6-7) Yes, morale, and luck. But both a fickle things that most do not really have control over. And it often work both ways – against Barca more often than not.

      My observation is that people (almost) stopped making errors against Barca, or at least not nearly as much.

  23. What on earth is this about ?

    From Barcastuff: Barcelona look into Douglas transfer. Paid 4M, but initial fee agreed was 8 or 12M. Assistant sports director Valentin under suspicion [ser]


    1. No idea. Not sure if the initial fee agreed to was negotiated DOWN to the fee paid, or if someone agreed to the 8 or 12m but didn’t tell someone else, which would be, essentially, astounding.

    2. Yep, Cadena SER also announced today that Bayern had a pre-agreement with Khedira. Bayern announced that SER is full of it.

      1. If Bayern did that, they would get fined faster than cules can shout “Zubisucks!”
      2. Bayern currently have Thiago Alcantara, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philip Lahm, Rafinha, Xabi Alonso, etc. trying for around three to four midfield spots. Where exactly would they feature Sami Khedira?

      SER belongs to the same media group that AS, El Pais and CANAL+ belong to, which is why

      AS offers a very extensive explanation: according to SER there is an on-going investigation that initially Barcelona were going to pay 12 million for Douglas(or 8 million more than finally paid) due to the undermining work of Zubi’s right-hand man, but at the last moment Barcelona found out and signed him for 4 million(plus up to 1.5 depending on how many games he plays). Albert Valentin is supposed to be the headman for the con, in conspiracy with the two scouts that he brought to the club, as well as an intermediary Juan Figuer (with whom Barcelona does not work). Valentin and Figuer decided that they would tell TRAFFIC(owner of 40% of the rights of the player) that since Traffic has a bad fame in Barcelona, it should leave the rights altogether, and then they would tell Barcelona that the price was 12 million. What is not explained is just how would TRAFFIC just renounce their rights of the player, relying on the “scout’s honour” that nobody wants to sell him to Barcelona, without TRAFFIC picking up the phone to Bartomeu and saying “Do you know anything about this?” Second, and equally as important, how did Zubi got to know that “yo dude, you’re getting fleeced”.

      The story seems to be sewn together with white threads, but “journalists” in Spain generally operate in the mode “If what we’re saying is false, disprove it!”

      According to MD they have already called the club and the answer was “Please do send a sample of whatever you are smoking”, because according to them Barcelona does not work with Juan Figuer and Albert Valentin is apparently sports evaluator only, and has no say in economic matters.

  24. front-page article on the Guardian this morning about Messi possibly leaving Spain due to his tax difficulties, citing “sources close to the player”. i wonder how much truth there is to that?

    certainly if the Spanish courts sentence him to a heavy penalty (jail time is a possibility, but i have to think a very remote possibility), it could undermine his position at the club. we all know he has said he wants to stay at Barça for life; could the Spanish courts possibly go so far as to hound him out of Spain entirely?

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