The Zubizarreta Files, Pt. 1 (2010-11)

Few high profile positions in this world have as many people thinking they can do a better job at than that of the technical director of a huge and powerful football club. With millions (and millions and millions and millions) of euros and one of the world’s largest scouting networks at your disposal, it’s hard to see how you could fail. You just have to watch loads of football and decide which players would improve your club.  It’s easy. Peasy. Simple as. Do you want that piece of cake, because I’m about to eat it.

In comes Andoni Zubizarreta. Zubi was announced as FC Barcelona’s technical director on July 2, 2010. As a player he had enjoyed an impressive career, which included an eight-season spell of saving lots of shots but never penalties at the Camp Nou. After he hung up his gloves, he spent three years as a sports director at Athletic de Bilbao before writing columns for El País and analyzing games for TVE.

zubizarreta

Much maligned and often ridiculed (occasionally by yours truly because, hey, it’s fun), he recently got booed, jeered and whistled by approximately a football stadium full of people when his already not so small face was projected on a giant screen during a tribute video for Messi’s total Liga goal record. In today’s climate it therefore becomes fashionable to ask “how bad has he been so far?” instead of “how has he done so far?” but if I did that, you might ask me “is this a Twitter account?” instead of an article on the hot-darnest most awesomest website dedicated to Barça. So instead, let’s examine his performance, year by year.

In the summer of 2010 Sandro Rosell headed a new board of directors which had comfortably won the elections to take over from Joan Laporta. He thus felt he had the mandate to start with a clean slate and replaced Txiki Beguiristain with Andoni Zubizaretta. Before Txiki left, however, he signed David Villa* (40M) and sold Yaya Touré (30M).

The squad he inherited looked as follows:

 

Barça summer 2010

Zubizarreta’s coach, half man half I don’t know what kind of life form Gandalf is supposed to be, Josep Guardiola, felt right back Martin Cáceres, midfielder Victor Sánchez and Brazilian forward Keirrison de Souza Carneiro did not possess the necessary quality to make it at Barcelona. Hleb had not played for the club for over a year, as he was found lacking character during his first season. This was something Swedish superstar Ibrahimovic had perhaps too much of and he felt uncomfortable with his role in the team. He clashed with his coach and so turned the possibility of keeping him into an impossibility.

All this left the squad, which only a couple of months earlier had been a volcanic eruption and a scandal at San Siro away from reaching its second Champions League final in a row, with real needs at the right back and defensive midfield positions. In a pinch, Carles Puyol could cover for Dani Alves, as could Seydou Keita and Rafa Marquez for holding midfield revelation Sergio Busquets, but these were not ideal solutions, neither in case of injury nor for rotational purposes.

When looking at the diagram above, the need for a central midfielder seems obvious as well. It was felt, however, that Thiago could rotate in from the B-team and that sooner or later Cesc Fàbregas would come home. In the meantime Seydou Keita could ably back up Xavi Hernandez and Andrés Iniesta. Another thing to keep in mind is the age of the central defenders: All of Puyol, Marquez, Milito and Abidal would have walked up the stairs to the third floor by the end of September and we all know that the longer you walk on that floor, the heavier your boots become.

RENEWED: Josep Guardiola
RENEWED: Josep Guardiola

Although Barça narrowly missed out on the CL final, there was little doubt who were the best team in Europe. Guardiola had already turned himself into a living legend by winning the sextuple Liga, Cup, Champion’s League, Supercup, European Supercup and the club World Cup. No way was he going to ditch his players after only two seasons in charge, right? Not necessarily. Let’s just say that there are reasons to believe he was not as comfortable with the new board of directors as others. Sandro Rosell’s first act as president to strip Johan Cruijff’s off of his title of “honorary president” did not sit right the Dutchman’s former pupil. After all the two men were still friends and held regular golf and dinner dates. Guardiola has never hid his admiration of and gratitude towards the guru. Still, two weeks after Cruijff stormed the club office to give back his title of honor, Pep signed a one-year extension to his contract and by the end of the season he signed on for another year. It was not the long term commitment many had hoped for, but at least the immediate future felt safe.

VERDICT: Zubi got Pep to commit… but only just.

RENEWED: Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Bojan Krkic
RENEWED: Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Bojan Krkic

Pretty standard stuff, here. All three players signed extensions that would keep them at the club until 2015. Bojan was the first to put pen to paper, in December 2010. The diminutive forward had not enjoyed the best first half of the season but he was still considered an important talent. Sergio Busquets, who had dislodged the moving man-mountain called Yaya the season before, signed his extension a month later. Dani Alves was last up and signed his in March, an important deal to secure a player whose only competition for the best at his position at the time came from fellow Brazilian Maicon, who pledged his trade at Internazionale.

VERDICT: Zubi got no complaints from me.

Andreu Fontas 2010
PROMOTED: Andreu Fontàs

Having hardly featured under Pep since his 2009 league debut, central defender and Masía graduate Andreu Fontàs i Prat was called up for the November 2010 eight zero drubbing of  Almería and showed great promise. The sharper memories among us will recall his fifty yard pass that led to a goal and the even sharper ones will tell me in the comment section who scored. When Abidal fell ill with cancer halfway through the season, the twenty-year old was promoted to the first team.

Promoted from the youth ranks to the B-team were: Isaac Cuenca, Marti Riverola and a young Spanish Brazilian who went by the name of Rafinha.

VERDICT: Zubi gotta promote at least one player.

OUT (24M): Zlatan Ibrahimovic (CF)
OUT (24M): Zlatan Ibrahimovic

A year earlier, Pep had sent Mad Sammy Eto’o packing because of a lack of “feeling,” upon which Txiki Beguiristain gave him a suitcase full of 56 million euros to pass on to Massimo Moratti along with a Google Maps printout with directions of how to send tae kwon do expert Zlatan Ibrahimovic racing his Lamborghini to Barcelona. As the season progressed it became clear that our coach had received more than he’d bargained for. After a brilliant start, the big Swede became disenchanted both with how he was used on the pitch as how he was asked to behave off of it. A dip in form saw him subbed out at around the 60 minute mark in both CL semis and he eventually lost his starting spot to Bojan Krkic.

If culers hoped Guardiola and Ibrahimovic could restore their relationship, they were badly mistaken. The Gamper Trophy exhibition match gave us a glimpse of what a Messi-Ibra-Villa frontline looked like, but it was presumably during the same 90 minutes that Sandro Rosell agreed to sell him to AC Milan. The final terms were to be a one-year loan which would be turned into a permanent deal for 24M to be paid in three yearly 8M installments. All in all, within one year the club lost its most expensive signing ever for less than a third of the paid transfer fee.

VERDICT: Zubi got Zlatanned.

OUT (15M): Dmitro Chygrinsky (CB)
OUT (15M): Dmytro Chygrinsky

His spell at our club was as short as it was unfortunate. Brought in for 25 million euros and given a five-year contract, the lanky defender went on to play 14 matches in his first season during which he impressed Guardiola and pretty much nobody else. In a decision that was largely attributed to Sandro Rosell, Chyggy Pop was sent back where he came from for 15M. The sale was against the express wishes of the Barça coach, but color copies were hard to come by in those days. Time seems to have proven the former president right, though, as over the last four seasons Dmitro has only played 34 matches. Rest assured that his season at our club has not been in vain. Crackovia watchers will forever cherish his Chewbacca-like appearances thanks to the Ukranian’s difficulty with learning the local language.

VERDICT: Pep got Sandroed.

OUT (Free): Thierry Henry
OUT (Free): Thierry Henry

Had you told me a not often used substitute called Pedro would relegate one of the modern game’s greats to the position of being a not often used substitute, I would not have believed you. Rarely has a player’s performance declined so sharply from one season to the next. The Frenchman went from 26 goals out of 42 matches to 4 goals out of 32. By the end of the 2009-10 season, Laporta declared he would not hold him to the last year of his contract and less than two weeks after Zubizarreta took to office, he was on a free to the New York Red Bulls.

VERDICT: Zubi got nothing to do with this one.

OUT (Free): Rafael Márquez
OUT (Free): Rafael Márquez

Signed in 2003, Rafael Marquez played a total of 242 matches for F.C. Barcelona. Although he was under contract for another two years, the club decided to release him. Chalk that up to letting you go wherever you want for services rendered. Rafa joined Thierry Henry Stateside.

VERDICT: Zubi got free season tickets to New York Red Bulls games for the next ten years.

OUT (Loan): Alexander Hleb
OUT (Loan): Alexander Hleb

Previously loaned out to VFB Stuttgart, it was painstakingly obvious Hleb was not going to come back to his Catalan paymasters. Although once widely coveted due to his stellar play at Arsenal before moving to Barcelona, it turned out impossible for our new technical director to find the Belarussian a permanent home and so, another loan deal was found, this time back in the EPL, at Birmingham City.

VERDICT: Zubi got Hlebbed.

OUT (Loan): Martin Cáceres
OUT (Loan): Martin Cáceres

Martin Cáceres was sent to to Sevilla on a brand new loan deal with an option to buy after having spent the previous year with an old lady in Italy. On May 1 he was attacked by a Danish dog and rushed into the hospital with a lacerated kidney.** Nevertheless, a month later Sevilla took the player from our hands for three million euros. It didn’t pan out the way the club had hoped, however, and at the end of the next transfer window Cáceres was again loaned to Juventus, where he would eventually sign a four-year contract. To make a long story short, a player that Barça had bought for 16.5M at the age of 21 was sold for 3M three seasons later and is currently worth 9M at the age of 27.

VERDICT: Zubi gots to take an Economics 101, and soon.

OUT (Loan): Keirrison
OUT (Loan): Keirrison

in July, 2009, Palmeiras sold 20 year old striker Keirrison de Souza Carneiro move to Barcelona for a 14M transfer fee plus an additional 2M in variables. A teenage prodigy in his native Brazil, he was to be loaned out and gain experience before trying to break into a Barcelona squad that would go on to make history. Zubi’s predecessor, Txiki Beguiristain, had high expectations. Benfica was the chosen among many suitors, but after only a couple of games their coach decided he’d play better from the bench. A park bench, to be exact. High expectations made way for a bit less high expectations. In January of 2010 another loan deal was struck with Fiorentina, worth two years with an option to buy (for 14M). Twelve games and two goals later, La Viola had enough and sent him back to Barça, exactly one week into Zubizarreta’s reign. What were once a bit less high expectations were slowly turning into moderate expectations. It took the Basque two days to find Keirrison a club in Brazil, where he would join Santos on, you guessed it, a loan. Culers were starting to have low expectations about this one.

VERDICT: Zubi got Txikied.

OUT (Loan): Victor Sánchez
OUT (Loan): Victor Sánchez

Homegrown Victor Sánchez Mata appeared in seven games during the treble season. For 2009-10, the defender slash defensive mid was loaned out to Xerez, where he played 25 games and scored twice. Upon his return home, Zubizarreta loaned him out to Getafe. He played 29 games and helped the Madrid club avoid relegation.

VERDICT: Zubi got this loan thing down pat.

OUT (450k): Ruben Rochina
OUT (450k): Rubén Rochina

Brought into the Masía at the age of thirteen, striker Rubén Rochina hung on for three seasons at Barça B, playing 26 games in which he scored 4 goals. In a deal that almost surely caused a tsunami-wave of excitement in the FCB front office, Zubizarreta managed to sell the Valencian to Blackburn Rovers for an actual transfer fee, netting the club a nifty 450,000 euros. He would score a further seven goals in forty-six appearances for the British club, where his stay would be interrupted with short loan spells to Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano. In the summer of 2014 he would come back to la Liga for good, signing with the Andalusian club Granada. His current worth is estimated at 1.5M.

VERDICT: Zubi sold a player for money. I repeat, for money!

OUT (Free) Alberto Botía
OUT (Free): Alberto Botía

Already a loanee at Sporting Gijón during the previous season, all parties agreed to turn the loan-deal into a free transfer that included a buy-back clause. He played impressively, as his team drew with Barça and beat M*drid during the end of the season. Although his buy-back clause was relatively low and more than a few culers wanted the club to give him a chance, Zubi wasn’t buying it. He went on to represent Sporting Gijón for a further two seasons before the club sold him to Sevilla for a cool profit of three million euros. Sevilla decided to loan him out to Elche during his second year and finally sold him to Olympiakos for two million. He is currently valued at 4M.

VERDICT:  Zubi got nothing instead of something.

Also out for the grand total of zero euros: Jaume Sobregau, Polaco, Iván Benitez, José Manuel Rueda, Víctor Espasandín, Sergio Urbano, Miguel Ángel Luque and Elvis (left the building). Most make a living in one of the lower Spanish leagues with the notable exception of Benitez who is presumably tackling strikers and looking for sponsorship deals in Azerbadjan. Their current combined worth is estimated around the 1M mark.

Newly promoted Barça B members Isaac Cuenca and Martí Riverola were loaned out to CE Sabadell (Segunda) and Vitesse Arnhem (Eredivisie) respectively

VERDICT: Zubi gots to know these players better than we do, right?

IN (9.5M): Adriano
IN (9.5M): Adriano

The real McCoy of utility players, Adriano Correia Claro played both full-back positions and filled holes in the midfield for back-to-back UEFA Cup winning Sevilla. At Barça he would occasionally be used as a winger and a center back, as well. He had kept his love for muscle sprains and tears hidden by playing a respectable 214 games in the last six seasons. Ambidextrous, speedy, possessor of a killer long distance shot, a lively intelligence and a bright disposition, for 9.5 million Adriano was a no-brainer who could back up Dani Alves and then some.

By and by he has done well at Barça so far. While never managing to dethrone either of Alves or Abidal and Jordi Alba, both the team and fans are comfortable when he plays. He has no big weaknesses and an absolute howitzer of a long distance shot. After a couple of repeated injuries, they call him mister glass, but since the club never depended on him to start week in week out, the positives have far outweighed the negatives.

VERDICT: Zubi got a sore hamstring, but it was worth it.

IN (20M): Javier Mascherano
IN (20M): Javier Mascherano

In what turned out to be the technical director’s best deal in his first year at Barça, Javier ‘El Jefecito’ Mascherano left Merseyside for Catalonia after playing hardball with his former club Liverpool, where he was under contract for two more seasons. With Barcelona unwilling to meet the £25,000,000 asking price, Masche refused to suit up in red, claiming that his family was unhappy in England and his wife’s legs were getting milky. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked and Zubizarreta got the club to accept a ‘mere’ 20M euros and the player to take a pay cut.

Initially underused by Guardiola, who was hesitant to employ him in a midfield where only the tikiest of the takiest survived, the coach eventually converted him to a central defender, a position at which he ended up starting the Champion’s League final at the end of his first season at the club. Many thought we had found our new Puyol. A dominant force that snatches up all balls that are played over the ground, those first 12 months as a CB were possibly his best, before opponents figured out his weaknesses for high balls, whether played from deep or from the flanks. Be that as it may, his intelligence, dedication and leadership qualities have made him a beloved figure among all culers, who are sure to lose his mind when (if ever) he scores his first goal in our colors.

VERDICT: Zubi got his man.

IN (3M): Ibrahim Afellay
IN (3M): Ibrahim Afellay

It’s easy to forget how excited we all were about this January signing. A young and talented international from the Dutch school who could play anywhere in midfield and on both wings. Ibi was fast, could dribble, pass and shoot with flair and, with only six months left on his contract with PSV Einhoven, he wanted above all things to play for Barça and no-one else, which led to Zubi snatching him up for such a ridiculously low price BFB’ers immediately nicknamed him “3M.”

While nobody expected him to displace any of the established starters in the second half of the season, we can say he came along nicely, appearing in 26 games in all competitions and earning everlasting culer fondness for blasting past Marcelo and assisting Leo Messi for a crucial semi-final Champions League goal against arch rivals Real M*drid. Pep rewarded him with a couple of minutes in the CL final, an act that broke Bojan Krkic’s heart.

The real heartbreak came a couple of months later, when Ibi’s second season practically ended before it started with a ligament injury that required surgery and a 7-month rehabiliation period.

VERDICT: Zubi got a great talent for a low price.

IN (600k): Saul Berjón, Carlos Ramona & Abrahám.
IN (600k): Saul Berjón, Carlos Carmona & Abrahám.

Saul Berjón and Carlos Ramona were bought for 300k each from UD Palmeiros and Recreativo Huelva. Abrahám Mineiro was picked up for free from neighboring Sant Andreu. Of the three players, attacking midfielder Carlos fared best, playing 55 games for Barça B and scoring 6 goals. He eventually left the club for free to pursue his career at Sporting Gijón, where has played 83 games and scored 13. Winger Saul Berjón was loaned out after his first season in the B-team after which he was let go to Real Murcia. Abrahám only lasted one year and currently represents SD Eibar. The real gem that year was former youth player Cristian Tello, who Txiki brought back from Espanyol the month before he left the club. None of Zubi’s B-team signings went on to impress. However, if you don’t shoot, you don’t miss. With that in mind…

VERDICT: Wherever you are, don’t move! Zubi got the bow, three arrows and his eye caps on.

So, after the ins and outs, the arrivals and the departures, the honeymoon sweethearts and the bitterly divorced, the freshmen and the drop-outs, the newly born and the dearly departed and the fish and the rabbits, Pep Guardiola had the following squad at his disposal. Keep in mind that Afellay arrived after the January transfer window. One could even go as far as saying that Mascherano was a “winter” signing also, because it wasn’t until after a couple of months had passed that Pep decided to convert him into a central defender.

barça zubi

As you can see, Zubizarreta made sure every starter had a quality backup***. Guardiola could also call upon the B-team and used no less than fourteen players. Fontàs, Nolito, Sergi Roberto, Víctor Vázquez, Rubén Miño, Marc Bartra, Sergi Gómez, J. Dos Santos, Muniesa, Romeu, Olazabál, Montoya and Thiago Alcântara all got to play with the first team. Thiago featured most, playing a whopping 730 minutes. This was in part due to the fact that he was the jewel of the cantera, but also out of necessity: Iniesta, Xavi and Keita had to be rotated and Pep liked Afellay more on the wings than in the midfield.

So what about the deals Zubizarreta didn’t make?

Diego Godín (8M), Mesut Özil (12M), Ángel Di Maria (25M)
Diego Godín (8M), Mesut Özil (12M), Ángel Di Maria (25M)

Hindsight makes culers wish Zubizarreta had had the foresight to not wait until 2014 to sign a central defender and Diego Godín would have been a smart pick up. Sold to Atletico Madrid by Villareal at the age of 24 for only 8 million euro, Godín has proven quite the deal for the mattress makers. A Uruguayan international since he was 19 years old, the 1,86 meters tall hard man is one of the best center backs in the business today. The need for this position might not have been so obvious in the summer of 2010 as modern day legend would have us believe, but the club could have done worse than spend eight million on Diego Roberto Godín Leal.

Begging to be bought by Barça after a stellar World Cup, Mesut Özil was one of the summer’s golden boys on the market. An associative player with quick feet and an even quicker mind, the 22-year old Turkish German was in the last year of his Werder Bremen contract and on every fan’s wish list. Possessed with a perfect technique and a 360 degree vision (no, literally), Mesut would have been a perfect fit for our midfield and a possible option at the right forward slot as well. A professed fan of Barça, when our technical director denied all overtures he wasn’t culer enough to resist Real M*drid and Flor snatched him up for a cool 12M. Incomprehensibly, Zubi blew it.

Last but not least, Ángel Di Maria. We probably never had a chance to get the wiry Argentinian winger, due to the Jorge Mendes – Mourinho connection, but imagine we would have let Villa go to M*drid and gotten Di Maria for 15 million euros less. Heck, and I don’t mean any disrespect, but Di Maria would have been worth every 40 million we paid for el Guaje. Anyway, the money was spent before Zubi even got here, so there’s no use crying over it. One can only imagine what could have been.

…………………………………

The final conclusion is yours to draw. This is the first installment of a four-piece series. Coming up will be the 2011-12 season.

 

EDIT: I see how the last segment in which I dealt with Godín, Özil and Di Maria can be read as a conclusion of Zubizarreta’s first year at the club, but that is not my attention. If anything, it’s more of an appendix. The final conclusion is yours to draw, to which the above summary of Zubi’s dealings in the 2010-2011 season is simply an assist.

 

 

* Thank God David Villa was Txiki’s doing. It means I don’t have to analyze and make unnecessary waves by explaining it was not nearly as good a signing as many like to believe… Oops.

** The Danish dog’s name was Michael Jakobsen and he was shown a straight red. For aficionados of the hard foul.

*** People will laugh now, but Bojan was a genuine talent at the time. He was only an iffy referee call from putting Barça in the CL final with a disallowed goal in the dying minutes of the second leg against Internazionale. By the end of the 2009-10 season, he had replaced Ibrahimovic in the starting lineup. He also did this.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

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...

81 Comments

  1. December 2, 2014

    I, for one, am happy we didn’t buy Ozil. And I bet you Arsene Wenger wishes we had. Can you see him sashaying around on a wing for us while players run past him?

    For me, overall, ZubiZa did a good job jettisoning players who were never going to be good enough to play for the club, like Botia, Victor Sanchez, etc.

    Snark aside, when you look at what he did, it wasn’t too bad. He inherited a club with a lot of never will bes and auto-promotions, and streamlined a nice squad for Pep Guardiola to use.

    Di Maria was never an option for us, and what were we going to do with Godin? In theory, the club had Pique, Puyol, Milito and Fontas as CBs, with Abidal and Mascherano capable of playing that slot. That was, to my view, a non-starter, like the people who still don’t forgive ZubiZa for not signing Varane, when that player was always bound to RM, thanks to the work of Zidane in setting the hook.

    • deerwithwings
      December 2, 2014

      I agree with Kxevin for the most part, although the write up was really good and, as always, entertaining.

      For me, I don’t think one can make a verdict until we know whether or not Zubi’s hands were tied about our deficiencies in CB (for a few years) and the RB position this year.

    • December 3, 2014

      Özil would have been an excellent signing. I know he sucks at Arsenal, but people forget how good he was at M*drid and I dare say Pep would’ve motivated him to work his butt off. We might have even gotten him for less than 12M, because he really wanted to come to the club.

      Agree that Di Maria was never an option – I said as much in the piece – but oh boy, what if.

      As for Godín, again, like I wrote above, the need was not yet as obvious as it turned out to be, but Fontas was never good enough and Puyol, Milito and Abi were all 30 or over. With an eye to the seasons to come, it wouldn’t have been a bad move at all.

      Overall, though, I think Zubi did a good job in his first year. After all, we won the league and the CL.

    • December 3, 2014

      Angle De Maria was the player we really missed, I agree Levon. It would have been a brilliant signing. Give him one or two players at the middle or at the corner, he can easily dribble past them, unlike Alexis or Pedro or who else tried to do that for us. I remember there were comments and articles every where, after wc2010, that even Messi was reccomending him. That was a miss. In those days, he was not into shooting brainlessly as CR7 still had not advised him ‘to take more shots’. (Its funny CR7 advised him thus just before the 2014WC.)

    • Rami
      December 3, 2014

      I remember something along the lines that pep wasn’t interested in ozil and rejected him and decided to continue pursuing after cesc.
      It’s impossible for me to recall where i read such info, Yet it’s engraved deep enough in my head for it not to be a complete fabrication of my imagination, Maybe one of our members can aid.

  2. Josep
    December 3, 2014

    Going to go to sleep, and in the morning make a fresh cup of coffee and read the absolute shit out of this piece.

  3. Zubs
    December 3, 2014

    Wow, it feels so long ago reading this.
    Zubis first year wasn’t too bad IMO. Bought some real stars (Masch) and some, not so shiny players (3 Barca B players).
    As a Blackburn resident, Ruben. Thank you for bringing some Barca here, even if you weren’t that good.
    Masche – what can i say, Easily one of my favourite players ever. A boss on and off the field. Im going to cry the day he goes. Im going to cry the day he scores. Basically, i cry whenever i see him.
    Adriano – dependable. Awesome player, deserves to be a starter i think. unfortunately, unless Douglas comes good, i don’t think it’ll happen at Barca.
    Afellay – forever engraved in my mind. Had all the potential to be one of my favourite players but the injuries hindered him a lot. I still keep up to date with him though. Currently, he’s doing quite well at Olympiakos hence the NED NT call ups.

    Slightly off topic here, but with talk of Monchi being a potential technical director, what do you guys think of it?
    IMO, though he’s good, i feel his skill set isn’t suited for Barca. Sevilla, you could argue, or sort of a selling club. So they don’t always buy players looking at the long term. At Sevilla, Monchi has a lower budget and his task is to buy ‘unknowns’ and pray that they come good (which it has, for the majority of the time). At Barca, its a complete different ball park. We’ll be looking to buy established names for the first team or child prodigies for the B-team. Theres hardly any room for error as, knowing our fans, one bust and people would be calling for his head. Imagine the uproar we’d get if we were to buy Chilli Charlie from the Chilean League even if was the perfect player we needed. Its evident right now with all the hate thats being thrown at poor, innocent Douglas, who for all we know, could become the next Cafu.
    Its still 2 years before we can think about a new TD but it’ll be interesting when it happens. ATM, our team is quite set for a while barring the CB’s and RB (again, provided Douglas isn’t as bad as he’s made to be)

  4. Josep
    December 3, 2014

    FYI, This post wasn’t loading for a few deals until last night even tho it had been on my RSS feed for 2-3 days.

    Were we ever in for Godin the way we were in for Ozil? I don’t know, I never knew we looked that direction. Probably began the T. Silva murmurs back then.

    Many “culers” were begging for Botia to be bought back *cough* for the estimated 2m, only to see his career not really take off. It’s a shame when you look at some of those could’ve been players;

    Bojan, La Masia record goal scorer
    Muniesa, 17(18?) on the bench for the CL Final
    Thiago, well.
    Riverola, first player to play every single level at La Masia
    JDS, the year he stopped being seen as better than Thiago.

    For all the fans of other clubs who complain we snag these kids at 10-11, and act like we’re stealing superstars from others, there’s so much work that goes into it and it’s also the kids who know they will get the best education as well at La Masia.

    Although, it does bother me a bit that we snap up everyone especially from Espanyol, but that’s another story.

  5. BA
    December 3, 2014

    if Dortmund doesn’t come good, i can see a big exodus of their stars over the summer (including, perhaps, Klopp himself). an unforeseen consequence of our transfer ban means that we’ll lose out on that bonanza of outgoing talent, particularly Hummels and Gundogan, in positions we desperately need because of previous oversights in our transfer policy. yes Zubi has had a couple of good buys, but overall our transfers have been a clusterfuck and his inability to see the need in the squad for defenders has crippled us tactically and on the points boards. this will be our second year without any trophies (or perhaps a token Copa del Rey); i wonder how many it will take before we’re rid of these losers?

    we’ve been heavily outmaneuvered and out-thought (as well as being out-spent) by Real Madrid in the last few seasons. they’ve invested huge amounts of money but their pursuits and purchases have been aggressive and focused. i wish i could say the same about ours.

    • December 3, 2014

      “A couple of good buys:”

      Ter Stegen, Rakitic, Mathieu, Bravo, Suarez, Neymar, Alba, Fabregas, Sanchez, Villa, Mascherano, Adriano

      Not to mention snagging Denis Suarez from City for a pittance, and nabbing Alen Halilovic, when everyone else in world football wanted him.

      I have not done as thorough an analysis as Levon is undertaking, but that strikes me as more than a couple of good buys.

      And not sure if you have watched Gundogan lately, but it’s worth a look. It’s also worth asking how certain players are going to fit into our side.

      Back in the day, should the club have sold folks like Xavi and Iniesta, and started the rebuilding of the midfield in a different way? Culers wouldn’t have stood for that. What’s more, people were clamoring for the “old Barça,” which included players who were aging before our very eyes.

      There is a lot to consider before completely and irrevocably damning Zubizarreta as a sporting director.

      As for RM, should we really be spending as much as they are? I don’t see them as an avatar of much except fiscal excess and waiting until your chief rival hit the inevitable trough, which brings me to another point, which is that sustained excellence of the kind people seek is impossible, irrespective of the players you have. “Two seasons without major silver.” That isn’t all that absurd to consider, really, even in the big club context. Bayern didn’t even start owning the Bundesliga until they started spending huge money, and taking the best players from its chief rival within the league.

      I guess my point is that the reason I predicted no major silver last year and again for this year, is NOT our talent. There is enough to win major silver. It’s just that the level of focus and sacrifice necessary to grab major silver, year after year, is difficult, verging on impossible. A lot of things are ZubiZa and the board’s fault, but that isn’t one of them.

    • Josep
      December 3, 2014

      Ter Stegen; Verdict still out. Hasn’t looked good.
      Rakitic; Good signing but given we gave up another player you mention as a good deal..
      Mathieu; I like him. He won’t be here long, and has had a few injuries already.
      Bravo; two GKs?
      Suarez;Extremely early but can’t put this in the win column.
      Neymar; Shrouded in huge controversies.
      Alba; good
      Fabregas; no.
      Sanchez; subsequently sold
      Villa; injury ruined him, must be said.
      Mascherano; solid first season, somewhat of a decline/exposure after.
      Adriano; constantly injured but solid when not.

      Denis Suarez; should’ve had him before City, but we didn’t want to pay the wages then.
      Alen Halilovic; wanted to come. not playing extremely well at B either..

      And not sure if you have watched Gundogan lately, but it’s worth a look. It’s also worth asking how certain players are going to fit into our side.

      wait, what? Not sure what you mean by this..

    • December 3, 2014

      Ter Stegen hasn’t looked good? Really?
      Rakitic is a good signing, but he apparently isn’t because under your own criteria he took the place of another player, a player who according to you wasn’t good. Nice twisted logic you got there.
      What IN THE HELL have the “huge controversies” have to do with player performance?
      Suarez can’t be put in the win column. Sure. 😀

      Why don’t you just put Messi in the bad column, because he always wants to leave, and creates controversies with his tax issues and with his non-running?!

      This kind of attitude is what I rail against. There are culers who would gladly discredit, smear and diminish OUR OWN PLAYERS to create a view that suits them.

    • December 3, 2014

      Maybe I shouldn’t have gone sarcastic, or at least not immediately. I apologize for that, because it creates an ambient of hostility, which is contrary to the standards of this site and it will not happen again.

      Here’s what I have to say about Neymar:

      Neymar’s signing is completely separate from his performance on the pitch and his greatest sin is that he plays in Barcelona and not in EE.

      Nobody wants to remember that the pure-hearted soci in search of truth was the frontman of a failed vote of no confidence and at the time the reasons for that process had nothing to do with Neymar’s signing.

      Nobody wants to remember the fact that that same soci went to the HQ of a far-right centralist organization when that same organization was looking for ways to get in on the trial – the presiding judge had asked that organization for a 60 000 Euro fee, unless they could ally with the soci in question.

      Nobody wants to ask the uncomfortable question of who provided that soci, who supposedly barely made ends meet, with legal representation for more than six months, and with the funds to rent halls for press conferences, repeatedly.

      Nobody wants to comment on the fact that it has been proven beyond any doubt in a court of law that nobody in the board of Barcelona has embezzled money from the transfer of Neymar. It has been testified under oath that Real Madrid offered a whole lot more than FC Barcelona did for the captain of Brazil’s national team.

      Nobody pays attention to the fact that at this point the prosecutor of the trial has to prove that those 40 million Euro are a part of the player’s salary and that only in such a case should taxes be paid in Spain. Why? Because the taxes have already been paid in Brazil, by Neymar’s dad’s firm.

      Nobody. Why is that?

      Because it’s easier to close your eyes and rejoice the fall of the hated dictator, no matter whether he was guilty or not? Because the ends justify the destruction of the image of the club on the front pages of Madrid’s mouthpieces? Because objectivity is desirable as long as it suits the views and the purposes?

    • December 3, 2014

      Josep, I’ve seen Gundogan twice, hasn’t looked very good to me. Or certainly not a player the club should be rushing to acquire.

      I like your list, but it doesn’t really take into account how they have played while in the colors.

      Ter Stegen: Has looked quite good by any standard other than Valdes’.

      Bravo: Has been excellent, and competition is good.
      Suarez: I was and am against his signing, but has been quite good, though needs to start scoring.
      Neymar: Controversies or not, can’t fault the quality of his play.
      Alba: Good, agreed.
      Fabregas: Takes the second part of seasons off, and overpriced as hell for benefit. He really would have been better with the Enrique system. Go figure.
      Sanchez: Good, all-pitch game with lots of energy, really coming into his own, then he was sold.
      Villa: Spot on
      Mascherano: No player divides culer opinion more. For me, he has been exceptional, and consistently our best defender.
      Adriano: I wouldn’t say “constantly” injured, but defo solid.
      Suarez: Irrespective of when we should have had him, he was a nice get for a great price.
      Halilovic: He actually is playing well at B. Should go on loan to a first-division club for finishing school next season.

    • BA
      December 3, 2014

      Kxevin: IF we’re talking about the record of the sporting director that signed them, the qualities of the player are secondary to the circumstances of their transfer.

      if Player A scored 25 goals their first season but cost 150m and was signed by the Sporting Director over a pile of dead hookers, that would be a bad signing regardless of their performance on the pitch.

      likewise, if we paid 20m for Player B, who went on to have a great season, but then sold him for 10m to a major rival, that would be BAD transfer policy.

    • December 3, 2014

      If so, BA, then why are people fine paying 81m for a player with a long history of suspensions and fines due to behavior problems?

      To your player A point, Neymar’s total cost was 90-some million, if you include everything under the sun, which isn’t traditionally done in transfers. Yet that he had a 90+ fee has become the stuff of legend, and defines him for many. That isn’t fair to me.

      To your player B, that’s Txigrinski, where we bought him for 25 from Shakhtar, then Rosell decided we needed to play up the role of an austerity club, and sold him back for 10.

      Are either of those on the sporting director, is the pertinent question.

    • BA
      December 3, 2014

      just to briefly run through the list of players you mentioned:

      :Ter Stegen: looks good; 1 of the 2 good signings i mentioned.
      :Rakitic: maybe a useful squad player. hasn’t fit into any defined system yet.
      :Mathieu: is 30, hasn’t set the world on fire at CB. perhaps a useful backup CB option, but the wrong profile for requirements.
      :Bravo: looks like a useful backup GK. clearly a placeholder for Ter Stegen. i for one would have preferred that Valdes stay on, but the board made that impossible.
      :Suarez: cost 82m, will be 28 soon. his purchase threw club’s reputation into disrepute. will need to score ALOT of goals to make up for all of that; hasn’t yet.
      :Neymar: an excellent young player, whose transfer cost 40m more than cules were initially told under possibly illegal circumstances that claimed the position of the elected president (twat though he was). hardly an exemplar of good transfer dealings.
      :Alba: came home, has performed mediocre; big flaws in his game, in the systems he has played in. in retrospect probably the wrong profile for LB in our current ramshackle defense
      :Fabregas: came in, underwhelmed, unbalanced the system, left for less than market value. was the wrong signing when he was bought (as i said then), but had to be bought for propaganda purposes.
      :Sanchez: an outstanding player, who was allowed to leave at 23 to make room for expensive new signings in the wrong areas of the pitch. in terms of overall transfer policy regarding the player, a huge failure.
      :Villa: deal was done by the time Zubi was appointed; not his signing
      :Mascherano: great player, for the wrong position. he constitutes half a good signing
      :Adriano: valuable squad player, always hurt. he constitutes the other half.

      i don’t know how anyone could look at that record and not see that beyond the few positives it pales in comparison to A. not signing a CB for 4 seasons (and still really don’t have the profile needed), B. not signing sufficient midfield cover to transition away from Xavidependencia, C. presiding over the Abidal transfer shame, D. presiding over the (still possibly illegal) Neymar transfer scandal, E. not signing the 2-3 key profile players Enrique asked for at the beginning of this season before the transfer ban went into place.

      as for “smearing our own players”; i don’t care about the players more than i care about the image of the institution as an open, cosmopolitan, progressive club that at least puts in some effort to not whore itself to every corporate interest that knocks on the door. if some of those values were tarnished by signing Suarez, some say, so be it. i simply hold the club to higher standards than they do. i would say the same if we signed a convicted rapist (as is currently a case in England).

      Peter’s kneejerk defense of this board and the current administration, for whatever reasons, is consistently tedious. the inability of some people to see the situation at the club FOR WHAT IT IS, rather than what they would like or imagine it to be, forces them into a view of the issues facing it that’s considerably rosier than reality would suggest. we have major tactical and personnel issues that we can’t fully address for at least another season and a half, and that were let to languish for years by Zubi and the sporting director’s office. that’s not a good track record, period.

      oh and as for predicting trophy counts? last season i was called a defeatist and whiner for predicting we’d win zero trophies, due to the disjointed nature of the squad. how did that turn out, can someone remind me?

    • BA
      December 3, 2014

      sorry Mathieu is, as of Oct. 29th, now 31. happy birthday.

    • BA
      December 3, 2014

      and Alexis was allowed to leave at 25, not 23. best years of his career still clearly well ahead of him.

    • December 3, 2014

      I wouldn’t say that Sanchez was “allowed to leave.” He wanted to leave, and the club sold him. Same as Thiago.

    • December 3, 2014

      Actually, BA, you weren’t the only one who predicted no trophies. A few of us mods did as well in our season preview, as I have this year.

      I would also admonish against personal attacks. We can disagree without using words that serve only to inflame. We can debate, discuss and it should all be done with respect. Peter’s view is no less valid than yours, and it wouldn’t be respectful if someone said to you, or anyone in this space, that their knee-jerk views are tiresome.

      Seeing the club for what it is? Ah, that’s interesting, situational and personal. Some will look at an XI and say “What a batch of talent!” Others will look at an XI and say, “The board failed, Zubi failed, off with their heads.z”

      It’s all subjective, really. It’s pretty hard to argue with, for example, an XI of Bravo, Alves, Pique, Mathieu, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic, Suarez, Neymar and Messi. Yet people do. It’s fascinating.

      This club is galvanizing in a fascinating way, because so many insiders see the glass and half-empty with a hole in it, where outsiders would kill for our talent and success, not to mention the stuff coming up from La Masia.

      I would also suggest that the personnel difficulties (again, perspective) that we have lay at the feet of a board that was preaching and practicing austerity. Each and every season, every coach asked for transfers and the rumor mill churned. But nothing happened, until this summer when the board opened the purse strings.

      P.S. As regards your convicted rapist reference, Ched Evans isn’t playing for anyone, or even being allowed to train with anyone. For the record.

    • ooga aga
      December 3, 2014

      “this will be our second year without any trophies”

      you heard it here first folks! season’s already over. never mind the fact that we are looking every bit the part of a championship team. we control our destiny with….25? games left.

      we have as good a chance as anyone else at winning the league. the CL depends on whether we are in the right form at the right time.

    • December 3, 2014

      Sorry, BA, but your post can be summarized as:

      “And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

      That’s all it is, generalizations. Kevin posted before I could, but I would’ve written basically the same.

      Edited for standards.

    • December 3, 2014

      Peter, I think we can react to other people’s opinions without qualifying them as BS, even if you are in polar disagreement, right?

    • December 3, 2014

      Sorry. Please edit it if possible, since I can’t. Or even delete it. 🙁

      I’ll be posting my own comparison with two transfer gurus when I finish it.

    • December 3, 2014

      BA, I don’t share your view in the slightest. I think it’s misguided and I look forward to debating and hopefully persuading you that our players are good.

      Still, my reaction and choice of words were uncalled for and I shouldn’t have used them. It’s a sensitive topic for me, but it does not excuse it one bit. It’s contrary to good sense, contrary to the quality of argument and contrary to the ambient we try to maintain here. I am sorry.

    • December 3, 2014

      Thanks for that, Peter. Appreciated.

  6. barca96
    December 3, 2014

    Excellent man!

  7. agar2515
    December 3, 2014

    Though I know where you’re gonna go with the Guaje signing ( especially with how cheaply he was sold) his 2010 season and roles in the Manita and UCL win make him a positive buy in many people’s eyes ( mine included). Just like Ibi, we were getting DV at a peak time, only to have injuries ruin their time here.
    For me I start to lose patience with ZUBI after the 2010 UCL Final when everyone knew we needed more CB’s with Abidal and Puyol nearing the end. No Song doesn’t count as a CB signing

    • barca96
      December 3, 2014

      2011

  8. December 3, 2014

    There was a discussion in Twitter the other day, which involved continuous criticism(to put it mildly) against Zubizaretta’s management and signings. Examples of people in charge of transfers, “who do the job” were presented as alternatives to ZubiZa, who by most of opinions has problems walking down the street if he’s chewing gum at the same time.
    First of all, we have to remember that no transfer director operates in vacuum. The coach evaluates the needs of the team and he may have preferences; the director in charge of finances has the job of finding the money or not; The transfer director then has to present his conclusions and provide alternatives in case the primary transfer does not happen.

    Lev will present you with the rest of ZubiZa’s transfer history, this post is to address the comparison to other transfer Gurus.

    So far ZubiZa balance of trophies:
    1 Champions League, 2 La Liga(three if not for a wrongly disallowed goal), 1 Copa del Rey, 1 FIFA World Cup, 1 UEFA Supercup, 3 Supercopa de España.

    Transfer guru Nr.1: Txiki Begiristain.

    Txiki occupied the position of director of football from 2003 to 2010. In the interest of comparing roughly same lengths of periods(five seasons), here are the transfers[La Masia promotions in square brackets] that he made since 2005/06 season until the 29th of June 2010:

    2005/06 – Esquerro and van Bommel [Lionel Messi]. Total spending 0. Profit of outgoing transfers 10 million Euro.
    2006/07 – Zambrotta(14m), Thuram(5m), Gudjohnsen(12m). Total spending 31 million Euro. Profit of outgoing transfers 13 million Euro
    2007/08 – Henry(24m), Toure Yaya(9m), Abidal(15m), Milito(17m + 3.5m variables probably paid in full), Pinto(0.5m) [Dos Santos and Bojan]. Total spending 69 million Euro; profits 11.7 million Euro
    2008/09 – Keita 14m, Pique 5m, Pinto 0.5m, Caceres 16.5m, Dani Alves 29.5m + 6m paid variables, Hleb 11.8m, Henrique 8+2m [Busquets]. Total spending 90.8 million Euro total income from transfers 53.5 million Euro
    2009/10 – Ibrahimovic 46m + Eto’o(supposedly worth more than 25 million alone), Maxwell 4.5m+0.5m, Keirrison 14m, Chygrynskiy 25 million [Pedro, Jeffren]. Total spending 90 million Euro and Samuel Eto’o Income from transfers 2 million Euro (Gudjohnsen to Monaco)

    Net transfer balance: 190.6 million Euro spent. Trophies won:
    2 Champions League, 3 La Liga, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 3 Supercopa de España, 1 UEFA Supercup, 1 Copa del Rey.

    Transfer Guru Nr.2: Florentino Perez

    Florentino Perez is the current President for life of Real Madrid CF, been in charge of transfers since 2009/10. In his case I will include that year as well, because it includes key players for the duration.

    2009/10 Arbeloa 4.5m, Kaka 65m, Xabi Alonso 35+5m, Alvaro Negredo 5m, Raul Albiol 15m, Karim Benzema 35m, Esteban Granero 4.5m, Cristiano Ronaldo 96m(plus 10% Mendes fee) Total spending 273 million Euro. Income from transfers 88.5 million Euro
    2010/11 Sergio Canales 4.5m, Pedro Leon 10m, Angel Di Maria 25m, Ricardo Carvalho 8m, Sami Khedira 12m, Mesut Ozil 15m; Total Spending 74.5 million Euro. Income from transfers 16 million Euro.
    2011-12 Nuri Sahin 10m, Coentrao 30m, Jose Callejon 5m, Raphael Varane 10m, Hamit Altintop(free); Total Spending 55 million Euro. Income from transfers 9 million Euro
    2012-13 Luca Modric 33m, Diego Lopez 4.5m Total spending 37.5 million Euro. Income from transfers 34 million Euro
    2013-14 Dani Carvajal 6.5m, Casemiro 6m, Isco 30m, Illaramendi 35m, Gareth Bale 101m. Total spending 178.5 million Euro. Income from transfers 117.4 million Euro
    2014-15 James Rodriguez 80m, Toni Kroos 25m, K.Navas 10m, Chicharitto 2.5m(loan); Total Spending 117.5 million Euro(+ Diego Lopez severance package). Income from transfers 121 million Euro

    Net balance of spent 348.5 million Euro over the 6 years, with the following trophies:
    1 Champions League; 1 La Liga; 2 Copa del Rey; 1 Supercopa de España; 1 European Supercup.

  9. lala10
    December 3, 2014

    In the interest of fairness Peter you cant credit Zubi with the 2010-2011 season. The foundations he inherited were set up by the previous regime. Judge him now. There are no clear winners and losers.

    • BA
      December 3, 2014

      he’s correct: the 2010/11 squad contained virtually zero players signed by Zubizaretta. how does that stack up to Perez’s record? (hint: it doesn’t).

    • December 3, 2014

      I am counting trophies over seasons. Nothing more. I show them only for a comparison, mainly with Florentino Perez. To me the sporting director doesn’t have that much influence on the performance of the team. He can provide the players. It’s up to the coach, his staff and the players(and the opposition) to win the trophies, because trophies are won and lost on the pitch.

      I am also counting 2005/06 season for Txiki despite there not being any transfers that season. Txiki at that point had had already two years of setting the squad, so yeah.

      When you look for example at the 2007/08 season, when the club finished in third place, wit was what, 18 points below the first place? The majority of the players that won the treble were there. The missing were Busquets, Pique, Dani Alves, Keita.

      Here’s a dilemma: Does Villa count towards Txiki’s signings, despite him using money from the 2010/11 budget?
      Or you look at seasons as a whole?

      The 2010/11 squad contained these new players: Villa, Mascherano, Adriano, Affelay. For a squad that has 22 outfield players, 4 players are quite a bit more than virtually zero.

    • December 3, 2014

      The foundations he inherited were set up by the previous regime. So were the problems.

      The club took a 154 million Euro loan after a successful season. That loan is still being paid off. Villa was already signed so those were 40 million Euro ZubiZa could not use for signings. That’s like tying cement shoes to a man’s feet and then curse the bastard for not swimming like Michael Phelps.

      So yes, if you count the foundations, count as well the rest. Of course nobody does that, because it infringes on the sainthood of Laporta and Txiki. It’s also much easier to just blame.

    • barca96
      December 4, 2014

      Messi can take FK from the right or left. He’s that good. On the left would be easier for him to curl but it becomes easier to predict for the GK. I love it when he takes it from the right and tries to curl it around into the near post.

      What they should do from now on is put both Rakitic and Messi behind the ball. The GK won’t be 100% how to set up the wall.

  10. TITO
    December 3, 2014

    I am sure that every single fan of every other single club, including our friends of RM would laugh as crazy if they read “our” disappointments with the transfer policy over the years. It’s like we haven’t won anything in ages and we are battling for relegation every season.

    To me, every single player bought or brought by the academy is worth every penny if at the end of the season brings success to the club.
    That’s how a club is remembered, by success.

    • agar2515
      December 3, 2014

      Besides Lord Douglas as Lord Vermaelen ( They call him “Mr. Glass”)

  11. luisthebeast
    December 3, 2014

    We have 6 ligas and 3cl the last decade.Can we just enjoy the team without asking for win in every game?Ok douglas is amateur,Zubi idiot,The board a joke,Lucho no pep blah blah blah.There are people in twitter who after every game they say the same things.It s boring people.If u dont like our team go support madrid or bayern or stoke.I dont care.

    Edited for content

  12. December 3, 2014

    Just a gentle reminder:

    A few posts have been edited. Moderation here will come and go as is warranted, but I would like to remind all that no matter how exorcised we might get about someone else’s opinion, respect is always the operative word.

    I think of this as a giant room with big, comfy sofas where we can all kick back, relax with a favorite drink and talk about Barça. Our opinions will differ, but the mood shouldn’t.

    There aren’t any real rules, but respect and no personal attacks should be the dominant unspoken ones. We have all violated those rules. But I just like to remind, from time to time, about the responsibility that we all have in making this a cool space.

    Thanks.

  13. ooga aga
    December 3, 2014

    we won today. 0-4. goals by rakitic, iniesta, rafinha and pedro. edgar Ie had his first offical appearance.

    • deerwithwings
      December 3, 2014

      three excellent goals too! i thought Rakitic had a great game, Douglas wasn’t too bad, and Rafinha has got a killer pass. Iniesta got a great goal and an assist, but he needs a couple of games. I hope he finds form this year, we need him. I think he partners with Ivan rather well.

  14. Tata2
    December 4, 2014

    That’s it for me this season. so we are going trophy less this season… then what’s the point of following the team this season? bye guys catch ya next season, when we will win trophies

  15. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    December 4, 2014

    ON FREEKICKS AND BARCA
    I don’t know why I havent said this before.
    Look I love Xavi to death.
    But he should not be allowed anywhere near a freekick. Screw seniority and stuff, but its absolutely criminal to let him take all freekicks (for right footers) when there are Rakitics and Neymars (and suarezes) in the team. And the mind boggling thing is every time I have seen another Barca team member take a freekick, it has been absolutely precise and unstoppable. ONE opportunity is all that those guys needed to sink it. The David Villa free kick against Milan and Alexis Sanchez freekick that sent Tata into delirium all come to mind. Why not let better qualified guys take it? Neymar and Rakitic are excellent with the dead ball. If anything, it adds so much more unpredictability for the opposing GK.
    I am convinced that if it is slightly to the right, Messi should take it and if it is to the left, Rakitic and Neymar should split the honors with Rakitic getting first preference. Xavi is a great player and we all love him to death, but it is high time, folks like Him and Alves are allowed nowhere near a direct free kick.

    On ZubiZa’s performance
    I actually think he has done rather well. We can complain that Villa came a year too late, Suarez a year too late, Mathieu a year or two late and a bunch of other promising candidates never signed. But given that, the president has to free funds for the sporting director to do his job, he has pulled quite a few rabbits out of the hat – among them being Ter Stegen, Halilovic, Denis Suarez, Rakitic, Masch, etc. I also believe that people look back upon a glorious period and include everything under that warm perfect blanket. But TxikiB made quite a few mind blowing blunders himself, the likes of which I am yet to see ZubiZa do. Which brings me to my next point..

    the Ballon D’or
    We all know this is a complete sham. But at the end of the day, it has to be given to someone. Look, I would love for Neuer to win it. I really do. He is a stylish GK who has mastered his craft and kills it at two teams who pretty much kill it in every department. Which is precisely why it cannot go to him. Remember back in the day when Barca was winning everything, in all the world XI and FIFpro teams etc, we would regularly see 7-8 Barca players in those teams. Which prove that when you have a successful winning machine, the parts also start to look good. Neuer is good, but he also has an amazing team in front of him. Further, I’d argue that a GK is a totally different role to any other outfield player. For the simple reason that he can use his friggin hands and nobody else can. Can nobody see this? Between ronaldo and Messi, I am not sure. Messi is obviously the best player in the world, in terms of what he can do and to an extent what he did as well (with Argentina). But my hate for Ronaldo decreases by the day as I can no longer ignore the kind of drive he has shown to not submit to a person like Messi (which is nothing to be ashamed of) and has instead, taken him on. After 4 yrs, to show that kind of comeback and be a candidate for 2 consecutive BDO’s is no small feat. Kind of like Jordan’s return to win 3 more consecutive rings. Yes, he basically cried himself to win it last time. But I actually think that this time, he has been most deserving. Still Messi would also be a fair choice if we can get past the ridiculous standards he has set for himself.

    But Xavi – no more free kicks for you!

    • December 4, 2014

      I completely agree about the free kicks.

      I would even dare to suggest that Messi should concede a few kicks to Rakitic(and possibly even Suarez).

      It’s simple really, right now keepers order their wall to hinder Messi. Normally it can’t hinder him enough to launch the ball, but often it’s enough to make it go out or the trajectory necessary makes the speed too low, so that the keeper has the time to track to the left/right to save it.

      Now, if Rakitic/Neymar/Suarez were to shoot a few and score, keepers would have to keep in mind the alternative threat, which would either make them compromise in their ordering, or add more men to the wall. Any of the two options is beneficial to the team and if it’s the former, then Messi would have an easier time with the free kicks.

    • December 4, 2014

      Exactly. And for this reason I’d add Neymar as a potential taker on both the right side and the left side, because he often aims his free kicks at the “wrong” corner of the goal.

      As for Rakitic, I’m not sure if yesterday is very representative of his free kick taking record but regardless, in a team with so many heavyweights I’d respect hierarchy.

    • Dar_vincy
      December 4, 2014

      I am all for heirarchy, Levon, but when it seems to become more of an hinderance than an assistance, then the need for introspection is sacrosanct.
      I for one expect the coach to apply his authority as a leader in situations like this. It should be well spelt out who should take a kick from where.
      Neymar has proven his competency, Rakitic is following suit. With due respect to our legend, his f.k prowess has declined (and I wouldn’t know when last he scored one). While at it, he should tell our lil genius (Messi) not to monopolize that responsibility which serves as a good source for goals. In this context, there is not only love in sharing, but also invaluable benefits.

    • December 4, 2014

      He last scored one three matches ago.

    • December 4, 2014

      Levon, why isn’t the Rakitic FK representative? That was a goal, no matter the opponent.

    • Dar_vincy
      December 4, 2014

      That line was addressing Xavi, Levon.
      Sorry that wasn’t really clear.

    • December 4, 2014

      I’m not saying it’s not, I’m saying I don’t whether it is. And my line of thinking was more along the lines of not knowing what his record over the last seasons is when it comes to free kicks in terms of goals and accuracy percentage.

      However, since you bring it up, psychologically it is easier scoring a free kick against Huesca than against Real M*drid. The pressure and the confidence are not the same at all. It’s almost like a practice game versus the real thing.

      @Dar_vincy
      Oh, ok, lol.

    • Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
      December 4, 2014

      It’s clear that the FK responsibilities should be spread more evenly.. Something like messi 40%, Neymar 30%, Rakitic 30%.
      Suarez will have his share, when he comes in to his own or next year.

    • Jim
      December 4, 2014

      Im afraid free kicks don’t work that way. There is never a guarantee of scoring or even close. Players go through phases, some are more suited to long range some to short, done from directly in front or wide on either side. Rakitic scored a great goal from one last night – no more no less. The one that hit the post shouldn’t have got past an under 16 Sunday league wall so leave that aside. That gives him a shout in the future when it comes to one but no more than that. Likewise with Xavi, you don’t lose the ability to take free kicks with age the way he takes them. Our problem is that at any given time we have about six players capable of scoring a goal from a free kick but no way of knowing which one at that point. I’ve never known anything other than the captain of the side making the decision on the spur of the moment because a good captain can have a feeling for these things.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=q6Ttmv3faXQ

  16. luisthebeast
    December 4, 2014

    Kxevin i understand why u edited my comment.I am not a football coach and i cant understand how people here and in twitter world can say their opinion about any player after just 2 games.About another thing:Look at LFC the biggest club in england.They are 24 years without a championship but in every game their stadium is full,they sing with the same passion,they love their team with the same crazy love.Imagine the barca fans of internet world if barca stay not 24 but 5 years without a trophy.

    • agar2515
      December 4, 2014

      Didn’t see your comment but I hope you didn’t get edited because you took issue with my words on Douglas… Oy vey Douglas. Also , this idea that criticism = not a true supporter / would jeer in person / whatever exaggeration you want to levy… Yea I don’t agree .

    • December 4, 2014

      No, the edit was just to remove a bit of personal attack. That was all.

      — agar2515, there has never been a more misguided notion on the part of culers than than criticism does not equal being a true supporter. I view that as a defensive overreaction to being called on excess negativity. If not criticizing meant not being a supporter, Barça wouldn’t have ANY supporters these days.

      I watched that match twice, the second time just watching Douglas. He was about as crap as Montoya was the last time out, and continues in the fine tradition of Barça RBs that are poor defenders. He had some good plays, he had some bad plays.

      Like anyone else whose eyes work, based on his display I wouldn’t want to see him starting vs a big opponent in a key match. But the exact same thing is true for me of Montoya. That Dani Alves is the best we have isn’t Douglas’ fault. The reality is that at present, Barça doesn’t have a top-shelf RB.

      But I do think that the hatred of Douglas is over the top, and has reached parody levels.

  17. Dar_vincy
    December 4, 2014

    The verisimilitude that our transfer operations could have been better is quite accurate. No doubt. However, I will not be in alignment to any submission that our current cocktail of players aren’t sufficient enough or are still deficient in parts to achieve success. Even as we yearn for the consumate eleven and capable back-ups, at the end of the day, no team can be a collection of perfection. The ones that can be alluded to being close to it were the galacticos. And even that experiment never ended gloriously. For me, it is what a coach does with what he has at his disposal that truly defines and measures his competency as a sui generis manager or not. Like one of my fav twitter voices said early this year, anyone that can achieve success with Tiago Mendes (of Atletico) is a genius. Which reminds me of the Cesc sale for always taking a sabatical during the second part of the season. As it is needless to dwell any more on the issue, I wouldn’t want to believe he is incapable of rectification to perform in the latter part of the season. It will only be possible with the right managerial input. And that is why my deference for the likes of Simeone (who I wouldn’t mind coaching us in the future), Wenger, etc, would remain special and enormous.
    As a matter of fact, with the resources we possess (especially our lethal attack), there should be no alibi for failure. And i’m under no illusion that LE doesn’t know that too.

    • December 4, 2014

      Not much to add except “Yup.”

    • Dar_vincy
      December 4, 2014

      Thanks, Kexvin.

    • December 4, 2014

      Nice comment!

      In his first press conference Lucho told the world he would be judged on the titles he would win this season. He has since reiterated this line of thinking several times. Noone can say he lacks cojones.

      Do we have the team to win the league? I don’t know. Our main rivals winning a hundred games in a row suggest this is a tall task, but we’re only two points behind.

      The CL? Lesser teams than our current squad have won it, but not playing our kind of football.

      The Copa? Huh? Is that a prize?

      ……

      As for the possibility of Wenger coaching our club, I think I just puked on my keyboard :p

    • barca96
      December 4, 2014

      I’ve always wanted Wenger to coach Barxa one day but now after many failed seasons it seems that he just doesn’t get what’s wrong with his squad.

    • Dar_vincy
      December 4, 2014

      Ha….certainly not Wenger.
      The one I wouldn’t mind is the beligerent-style Simeone.

  18. barca96
    December 4, 2014

    Montoya can’t do no worse than Alves and Douglas can he? I’ve seen Montoya for 3-4 seasons now. He’s never had such a poor performance as Douglas in his first 2 matches and Alves for the past 2-3 seasons.

    But it seems that the board (cause it can’t be all 3 managers who feel the same way about this matter) wants our RB to be an offensive player. Doesn’t matter how poor he is defensively as long as he is an ultra attacking RB. Cause that is what it looks like first with Alves and now Douglas. Smh.

    I just can’t come up with any other theory other than the board or Lucho wanting an ultra offensive RB at the expense of our right flank being the weak link.

    • barca96
      December 4, 2014

      And Lucho letting this happen knowing that he won’t be able to sign any player until summer of 2016. Back in 2012 I can’t put 100% on Tito (RIP) for underplaying Thiago and activating the clause As he might have not been aware of it (should’ve played Thiago more irregardless of the clause) but Lucho, Lucho knows exactly what’s going to happen now.

      Adriano is old and injury prone and is not a natural RB.
      Alves is past it. Doesn’t contribute offensively and defensively which is his main duty.
      Douglas is just like Alves. Just an ultra offensive RB and can’t defend.

      Montoya is our only natural RB. Instead of grooming him, Lucho does this. We all know Montoya isn’t Cafu or Maldini or world class level but he is average for me. At least he knows his main job is to defend and he is better at it than both Alves and Douglas. He is not on Azcipuletta or Ivanovic or Ramos’ level but we gotta make use of whatever resources we have especially with the transfer ban until 2016.

  19. agar2515
    December 4, 2014

    I think many make the proper point that this is now three coaches that havent given Momuoya a real go, so there’s gotta be something… The hate on Douglas is exaggerated because , with Dani about to leave, Montoya underwhelming, and a ban coming up, the club chose to buy some obscure Brazilian whose own supporters apparently never even rated, who isn’t exactly a prospect at 24, who hadn’t even lit up the Beazilian league. It may not be fair , and sure he may be end up “decent” but with all I just said , with how how important FB’s are to Enrique, the fact we bought Douglas feels even more baffling than Song and is a perfect example of a ” wtf Zubi?!”.

  20. Jim
    December 4, 2014

    It may just be me but I’ll say it (yet) again. Why is Bartra not getting a shot at RB? He’s the best natural defender out of the names mentioned, he’s reasonable going forward ( don’t know about crosses although I think we’ll see more sparing use of FBs bombing forward as our front three come into their own), he adds height, he’s not getting a regular game at present and he could see how Pique/Mathieu form a partnership with the knowledge that Mathieu maybe only has a couple of years left before he steps into that position.

    I’m guessing Bartra wouldn’t argue, our defensive qualities would go up a notch or two and even VDB would be happy at him getting game time.

    • December 4, 2014

      I have wondered this too, my guess is that he is not fast enough and Lucho wants very fast fullbacks who can recover their positions quickly on the counter. It seems like very attacking fullbacks are a key part of Luchos system so having a more defensive minded player looks to be a no no, which would explain a bit why Montoya hasn’t really been given a chance. If the idea is to have a fast, attacking RB, well Montoya will never fit that mould so I can see why he isn’t getting playing time. It really is a shame we couldn’t land Cuadrado, I have a feeling he would have excelled in that position, although he cannot defend either!

    • Dar_vincy
      December 4, 2014

      I thought it would be worth a try too considering his decent defensive ability.
      Like Hilal said, his insufficient speed for that role might just be why he isn’t attracting much consideration.

    • Jim
      December 4, 2014

      For a FB positioning and decision making are more important for me. If a FB has to sprint down the wing after a forward he has every right to expect the CB on his side to provide cover. If we look at when Mascherano went back into defence in the last game all Alba’s speed was no use in giving him protection as his positioning was all wrong.

    • Dar_vincy
      December 5, 2014

      That’s a valid point, Jim.
      Saw him play there once some years back and he put in a good shift.
      By and by, I seriously wouldn’t mind him playing there. His reasonably conservative nature not to link with the attack might be positive in bringing balance to the defence; even more so, when you factor Alba’s proclivity to go awol in his position (like you cited).

  21. December 4, 2014

    The Messi yellow for “time wasting” was withdrawn by the appeals committee. As it should have been.

    • December 4, 2014

      It’s amazing that it was given. It’s amazing it wasn’t withdrawn by the collegiate of referees or whatever committee is in charge of that.

      Except that it doesn’t amaze anyone.

      Are there any doubts that Barça is systematically put at a disadvantage in this league? The ref wrote in his match report that the bottles didn’t have caps on ’em, but shortly after the match pictures circulated of the referee picking a bottle with, you guessed it, a cap.

      I guess we’re “lucky” that the appeals committee overturned the decision.

      Rant over.

    • G6O
      December 4, 2014

      Caps or no caps, were they full?

    • Jim
      December 4, 2014

      I think the point about the caps was that it isn’t permitted to bring those into the ground or sell there was it not ?

    • December 4, 2014

      I think the point is that he lied in his report.

  22. senyera7
    December 5, 2014

    I always find it interesting to look at how players have done AFTER leaving the club. Interesting findings here. In the past 2 seasons, the MAJOR players moving out have been:
    Thiago to Bayern
    Cesc to Chelsea
    Alexis to Arsenal
    Victor Valdes to?
    Now, out of these, Thiago’s was the move that most fans bashed, claiming we had sold the future of our midfield. Cesc and Alexis were pretty much ok sales for most of the Culerpublic. Victor Valdes was seen as a big loss, but a replaceable one. Let’s look at how the first three moves have done( so far)

    Thiago: Was absolutely brilliant for Bayern for his first few months. Acted as a conductor of play and moved the ball around with aplomb. However, has endured an absolutely torrid time with injuries. Hasn’t touched a ball in months.
    Cesc: Has re-integrated into the prem with brilliant ease. Been at the heart of Chelsea’s unbeaten run of form so far. Top assister in the Prem and has looked very good indeed.
    Alexis: Is basically the driving force behind Arsenal. Goals, assists, dribbles,defense. Alexis has shown the world what he can do.

    My point here is, Barca has so much playing talent, that even personnel regarded here as ‘non-essential’ can go to other leagues and be the best.
    Sometimes (especially with the more ‘vertical’ players) the players here are somewhat limited by the system that we play. Hence, despite spending millions of euros, sometimes our system is less than the sum of its parts.

    • Jim
      December 5, 2014

      Fair points, Senyera7. The only one I would quibble about is your conclusion. For me, what it shows is that it is a completely different situation in the EPL where basically it’s end to end stuff with teams relying on their defences rather than cover from the midfield whereas in Spain you’re playing against teams who maybe only commit three players to attack. That results in us a fair amount of the time having to cope with eight players back in front of us so we have to play it about to create space. We have tried to get the ball forward a bit more quickly this year and I reckon the balance is about right when we have three up front who can create chances in the middle of a packed defence. No point in just hoofing it forward at every opportunity though.

      I said before I’ll be interested to see how Cesc copes with the second half of the season and in particular the bad pitches. He doesn’t have a lot of physical players around him prepared to cover for any lack of speed/ coverage. Mou’s patience will be severely tested by him in the sticky conditions I reckon.

  23. luisthebeast
    December 5, 2014

    The team is two transfers away from the big trophies.A fast tall strong RB and a CB with the same qualities.We can win la liga and Cl with the current squad but we will need all the players to be in the top of their perfomance and alves is a big problem.I dont trust him anymore.I hope the rumour about pereira and nyom is true.

    • December 5, 2014

      I don’t know about Nyom, but Pereira is a huge no-no for me.
      Whether it’s his attitude, workrate or whatever, Nuno has publicly said he’s not going to include him in the squad any more. Never. Ever.
      Let that sink in.

      Personally, the press invents stories all the time, that’s what sells paper when there are no news.

    • December 5, 2014

      If the Pereira story has any truth, then no wonder club also got Douglas. Even Valencia thinks he is poor.

  24. luisthebeast
    December 5, 2014

    Peter can u tell me in ur opinion the best 5 RB in la lga??

Comments are closed.