The first shoe drops, aka “Don’t be fooled”

zubi

I was watching a TV show called “Fool Us,” featuring the magic duo of Penn & Teller. The premise is that magicians come out to do their thing in an effort to find a trick slick enough to fool two of the best magicians ever.

It’s pretty hard to fool Penn & Teller. The question will be, now that the magic trick of getting rid of Andoni Zubizarreta has been performed, whether this board will be able to fool us.

I hope not.

ZubiZa is out. As the man who so many have blamed for the woes of the team, he’s a lovely target and a fat one. When the team isn’t performing on the pitch you sack the sporting director, right? And the coach shouldn’t buy any green bananas. And whatever nomenclature is used, ZubiZa was sacked. Buzz on the streets is that Carles Puyol will be taking over that role and hey, why not? The club can’t do ANY transfers until winter of 2016 so this is a perfect time for a newbie to learn on the job. Carles Puyol has left the club, via Facebook note to his fans. Hmmm, wonder if they expected that one?

Any new sporting director, from Monchi to a Magic Man, is just a boondoggle to placate the increasingly restless natives. And it shouldn’t be allowed to work. I wouldn’t care if they brought back Abidal, had him and Puyol beat Caga Tio upside the dome until Marco Reus came out of its ass, it’s still a PR boondoggle that doesn’t solve the problems at the club. When asked about the transfer ban, ZubiZa correctly pointed out that Bartomeu was the man with the plan at that time. He later said that wasn’t what he meant, even as the meaning was clear. “Get rid of me, but you aren’t solving the problem.”

ZubiZa is the fall guy for a board that didn’t allow anyone to make proper transfers, let the core of a once-great team slide into increasing ineffectiveness and has been too busy messing with its giant bauble to give two shits about the human side of things, the players who need to know that their bosses have their backs. It’s like firing the electrician because your builder screwed up the home’s foundation. You made a move, but it wasn’t the right one. So keep sliding those deck chairs around, but it’s the stewards moving the chairs who are the main problem.

I don’t like this board. Never have, never will. That much is clear, as are the reasons I would like them gone even as I acknowledge that they have done some good things during their tenure. At least when Rosell was president, it could be argued that the man in charge had a mandate to destroy the club he was purporting to save. Now that he has scuttled down the ratlines, his successor duly appointed by club bylaw, the man in charge doesn’t have a mandate, irrespective of what the rules say. The proper thing for him to do would have been to accept the baton from Rosell, then use his earliest opportunity to call for elections.

Instead he dug in his heels and began a series of applications of neon to a building that needs serious work. “Look! Transfers! Shiny things!” “Look! A new coach. And he’s Barça!”

Might those transfers eventually be found wanting, or work out to be brilliant? Who knows, because the team is still suffering from the neglect of the sporting project. Two new tires when the other two tires are almost down to the wear indicators means the car still won’t have the traction it needs.

It should make you angry, if it doesn’t. I don’t care that the team lost to La Real on the weekend. I care about HOW it lost. I can’t get mad about a match being lost when the club is in danger. In my previous post, I laid out the dysfunction that this match laid bare, and speculated about the causes. Other writers in similar pieces have made many of the same observations. I don’t believe in the “Enrique doesn’t have a clue” stuff. I don’t believe that he isn’t the right coach for this team. I just don’t know yet. But I think that the decline has been subtle but noticeable to anyone who wanted to look. Bad luck, injury stuff, etc, allowed us all to say, to hope that things were still the same even as it was clear that they were not, and are not the same.

So don’t shine a light in our eyes and claim that it’s the sun.

What’s next?

There will be an extraordinary meeting of the board on Wednesday, topic unknown. This meeting will be preceded by a Bartomeu presser, which should be interesting. At the open training at the MiniEstadi this week there weren’t the same numbers of spectators, and apparently some spectators were hurling invective at ZubiZa, Bartomeu and others. Rumors abound about Messi being angry with Enrique, and then when Messi missed open training, the rumor mill started. People are screaming in social media, and everything is nasty right now. It’s hard to separate rumor from reality, and lies from truth, even as we know what is happening because it’s clear to see.

This is Barça. The happy years were a brief interregnum in the internal history of a club defined by strife. In many ways I feel sorry for newer culers who must be sitting in the corner, blinking in bewilderment and wondering what happened. The focus has always been on the team, even as people have said that it ain’t just the team. Now that it’s clear that it isn’t just the team, a different kind of bandwagon is filling up, and its license plate reads GET OUT.

This is what should be next. Get out. And even if they don’t leave, at least give the socis, the people who are charged with voting for the men who run the club that we allegedly are members of and “own,” the opportunity to choose. Laporta, Benedito, that giant, inflatable Barça mascot that waves its arms at Gol Sud of the Camp Nou.

You want Enrique fired? Okay but don’t be blinded by the neon. Bring Guardiola back, and pretty much the same stuff will happen. Men who are in power want to keep that power. I would wager that there will be more sacrificial lambs, quite possibly even Enrique, who does have his own problems. Board members resigning? Possible. None of it matters.

Don’t be fooled.

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

33 Comments

  1. barca96
    January 5, 2015

    Zubi shouldn’t have been sacked. Just let him resign gracefully. He is a club legend after all. They could’ve departed on a more respectable manner. Best way is to mutually agree for Zubi to leave. Or is it really because of Zubi’s latest comments? If it’s the latter, then I really think Barto should step down for firing Zubi instead of talking things out.

  2. BA
    January 5, 2015

    good riddance. a longer post on his transfer “policy” is upcoming, but for now regarding the previous game and Lucho’s severe confusion about his player selection, a damning stat from Sid Lowe:

    This was Barcelona’s 17th league game and their 17th different lineup.

    that is, in a word, absurd.

    • norden
      January 5, 2015

      Maybe LE wants to break a record.

    • ooga aga
      January 5, 2015

      how is that damning? if we had one more point in the league, just one more, we would control our own destiny. This, against a record-breaking Madrid that people are tripping over themselves to laud. i think it’s fair to say that people are being overly dramatic regarding this one point difference.

      that said, i hope our core XI remain healthy and are in good rhythm for the business end of the season.

      nothing’s been won or lost yet folks.

    • Valdemar II
      January 5, 2015

      And just imagine if we had won 15 penalties, like them, instead of 1-2. In my opinion, that shows that they’re being overvalued, not that were keeping pace with a fantastic team.

    • ooga aga
      January 5, 2015

      maybe, but theyve also been playing some very good football. doesnt change the fact that people overstate the implications of every occasion where we drop points. IMO, we didnt deserve to lose yesterday. alba OG created huge problems, and that was down to bad luck. it was only a few years ago when it was normal for both RM and FCB to drop points many times throughout the season. Now it appears it’s inexcusable. as kxevin has pointed out so mmany times, even for great teams ad athletes, in a global sense, losing is the norm and winning is the exception. good to keep in mind when we lose our patience for a first year coach before season is half way over. i remember when we FCB fans used to make fun of RM for their frequent managerial changes. If we give into the same impatience then we will look mightily the same. im not saying its not OK to criticize LE, far from it. but some of the sentiment is just over the top for me, and ignores that on a different day we very well could and should have won that game yesterday, even without messi and neymar. we were by far the better team but if youve played football you know that these things can happen. and hats off to la Real, who played fantastically. back to the original point, it might not be “damning” that we have had 17 different lineups.

  3. ooga aga
    January 5, 2015

    The board is a problem, that seems clear. pretty gross.

    LE – not sure yet. people fete ancelloti and his team and we are practically in touching distance of them (if luis suarez converts that beautiful thru ball from xavi, we control our own destiny in the league, folks. think about it) and yet LE isnt worthy of coaching a seniors’ sunday league team, according to some…that just doesnt add up for me. can the haters please explain for me?

    people are too dramatic about our situation. spoiled by past successes and thinking we are supposed to win every match, and if not, they explode.

    calm down.

    i agree with kxevin that too much has happened over the past few years for us to give this board a pass. Luis Enrique hasnt even been in charge half a season and people want to send him to the gallows.

    • kosby
      January 5, 2015

      Thanks for those words. Ive been a bit too busy to comment these days, but Ive been following your words from the last post and I’dve said the exact words (well the exact sentiment atleast) that you did.

  4. norden
    January 5, 2015

    It’s like firing the electrician because your builder screwed up the home’s foundation.

    Exactly! 🙂

    On the other hand, the reasoning is clear. The team is not doing well, let’s fire someone. How about someone hated by fans and not needed much at the moment…

  5. agar2515
    January 5, 2015

    Good, first of many, MANY needed changes to this club.

  6. Jim
    January 5, 2015

    It’ll certainly be an interesting press conference on Wednesday. I’m not in the hang Barto camp as I think he has done a decent job since taking over. He came out and gave us more detail on the Neymar’s transfer than we had a tight to expect, he handled himself very well through Tito’s illness and after, persuaded Xavi personally to stay, and organised a decent transfer fund for the summer. He started the work on modernising the stadium, badly needed even as I’m not sure the increased capacity is and there have been rumours about getting a better sponsor for the shirt ( a necessary “evil” in this day and age). He was quite entitled to take over despite it not being popular with some.

    “Instead he dug in his heels and began a series of applications of neon to a building that needs serious work. “Look! Transfers! Shiny things!” “Look! A new coach. And he’s Barça!” ”

    The above is what people were screaming for. Although I didn’t know much about LE and sided with keeping Tata at the time I read post after post about how LE was the right man. Again, I knew virtually nothing about Rakitic and Rafinha but just go back and look at the glee which accompanied their arrival. I knew about Suarez and for me you couldn’t choose a better front man ( other than a Villa at his peak). So I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the para above, Kxevin.

    The fact that Zubi was sacked rather than allowed to go gracefully interests me. I’d rather the latter but why wouldn’t Barto? A negotiated settlement would mean a silence clause if there is a smoking gun. By sacking him that’s presumably off the table. Why would you do that ?

    There have been mistakes. The FIFA ban and Vermalaen spring to mind. ( I don’t consider Mathieu to be a mistake. He has the makings of a decent partner for Pique. However, I don’t know who was responsible for these. If Zubi was negligent on the FIFA affair then it is a black mark even if the ban was ridiculously severe. If he signed Vermalaen without due diligence on the injury front then that would test anyone’s patience. If he was a front runner in suggesting LE then in the current climate Barto might also be pretty disillusioned by that.

    However, none of us know so why don’t we wait till the presser and see what is said? Barto will get a pretty hard ride from the press and I’m hopeful he will have reasons for his actions. If not, then I would lose faith in what I think he is. As it is I think new elections are now probably in the best interests of the club given all that has gone on in the last week or so but not till the summer as we badly need to steady the ship. God only knows what Messi makes of all this. He is close to Puyol so it’ll also be interesting to see how that plays out. However, I’m mindful of the siren voices here and elsewhere who informed me that Rosell would be incarcerated ere long for all his crimes and I’m still waiting on that one. So, let’s wait and see.

    Meanwhile, a steady CB pairing would be nice 🙂

  7. Neel
    January 5, 2015

    I dont understand how could some of the loyalists defend LE for his line-up (only about the last match). It was a sin. Does not matter where we stand in the table, how we are looking as a team, how are the individuals coming through. It was an opportunity. He should have put the best arsenal at his disposal to get the job done. And no matter what his reason to keep Ney and Messi in the bench – how stupid is it to then throw them in after halftime then. Where is your conviction then? And what’s worse is that he looked mightily worried right from the own goal. He just didnt have any faith on his own team or plan. So how are the fans or even the players on the pitch to respond? He was cringing. As, I have said earlier, I have never criticized a Barca coach before. But yesterday something brutally wrong happened. And no one should try to absolve LE of what he is guilty of. Keeping in mind, only the last match and the cisrcumstances leading to it.

    • Huckleberry
      January 5, 2015

      From outside it looks stupid. But perhaps there were some reasons, an already ill Messi, a not fit for a whole game Neymar after the Christmas brake?
      What’s obvious: the team as a whole is clueless and without confident.

    • Jim
      January 5, 2015

      I would agree with the confidence point. That comes from playing together and winning. Despite this setback we are still genuinely in the running for everything. If we can go on a run of wins that will come back. Remember the games we scored a lot of goals. The smiles quickly came back to the faces.

      I don’t think they are clueless either generally or even yesterday. We face an extra dimension every match seldom faced by other teams. The problem stemmed from the own goal which gave them the incentive to lose whatever attacking intentions they might have had plus the adrenalin to keep on running. First half we got bogged down at the edge of their box and second we were a bit unfortunate in my opinion. We’d be clueless if we were getting over run but we need to stop going a goal behind.

    • agar2515
      January 5, 2015

      Some people want to go down with the ship no matter what. It aure seems that way, no idea what LE has done to EARN benefit of the doubt. With Zubi and Puyol ( his biggest backers gone) and this board soon to follow, he’s on borrowed time anyway.

  8. Jim
    January 5, 2015

    Ok, for anyone who doesn’t get a Revista the knives were out again big time for LE. A flavour of the comments from Hunter et al. Sorry about the length but I think it’s worth trying to report verbatim.

    “Messi and Neymar not told the extra day would lead to them being dropped.”
    ” all he cares about is quick transitions instead of what made Zbarca good which was a style of team play”
    Ballague : ” if you want to do that, explain it to the players and by the way put the work in in training to achieve it ( Hunter nods vigorously)
    ” lot of people trying to make it Messi vs LE but it’s not like that… Yet”
    ” a lot of people trying to make something of this to get rid of the board ”
    Hunter : LE needs a doctor urgently ( Balague suggests a psychologist) but that won’t solve the big billet hole in his foot. Cos he’s acted like a dolt. Offers them a holiday then punishes them. On Friday there was a row on the training ground between Neymar and Suarez – little bit of pushing then between Messi and LE who was refereeing the little rondo games. It’s just a spat but then Messi doesn’t start the next game, the game’s atrocious then suddenly today Messi is ill and can’t train or visit the hospitals. As far as I’m concerned Messi is in the middle of a power play and suddenly his post is in jeopardy. “. Wow! – (my reaction not his)

    This is not small people and LE seems to be the sort of man who won’t ever think he is wrong so this could end badly and quickly.

    Luckily, being retired I’m available – if not cheap ! At least we’ll have a settled CB pairing that won’t lose daft goals. 🙂

    • Jim
      January 5, 2015

      * bullet

    • January 5, 2015

      Wow, this is atrocious, if true. Which one said that Neymar and Suarez and Messi and LE were fighting, Ballague or Hunter?

    • Jim
      January 5, 2015

      Hunter

    • Jim
      January 5, 2015

      Although he did say it was the sort of spat that happens all the time on a training ground.

    • agar2515
      January 5, 2015

      How dare you Jim! Trust Lucho! Patience!!!! Everything is fine,all the smoke is lies!
      ^_^
      Thanks for the info

    • kosby
      January 5, 2015

      Pushing between Messi and LE – if thats true, irrespective of how little, then things are really bad. First reaction after reading this is just woah…but knowing Barca and its media entorno..Im also a bit sceptical of the authenticity of these reports, even though they might’ve gotten it right.

    • Jim
      January 5, 2015

      Sorry, my bad. It was pushing between Suarez and Neymar and an argument between Leo and LE. Don’t want to make too much of it as Hunter says its the sort of thing that can happen. He was more majoring in the fact that it wasn’t then wise of LE to go ahead and drop Messi adding basically insult to injury.

    • kosby
      January 5, 2015

      ah, thanks for clearing that up !

  9. Jim
    January 5, 2015

    Think I have a latent hankering to become a reporter. For all those conspiracy theorists out there.

    Barcastuff: Carles Puyol had already informed the club a few days ago that he would leave as assistant sports director. He will move to New York. [rac1].

    Yup, my first reaction before reading this was he wants out too.

    • IamXavi6
      January 5, 2015

      Puyol decided a while ago the role wasn’t for him. He’s made that clear previously.

      http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/puyol-doy-por-finalizada-relacion-laboral-con-barca-3829421

      I don’t trust a word that Ballague spits, as he is and has been proven time and time again to not be trusted on his reports and sources.

      As for the push and shove in training…I think you’ll be surprised at how often those events occur at all clubs..

      But hey, we’re Barca, so let the sensationalism and infighting begin!

    • Jim
      January 5, 2015

      I’m not making anything of it. I’m just reporting what was said. It was also Hunter not Balague who said that bit. I agree as I’ve said above it Isn’t a big deal. Just thought folks would like to know what was said on the programme. I’m also happy to read that Puyol leaving wasn’t anything to do with today’s events so no need to read anything into my posts.

  10. IamXavi6
    January 5, 2015

    I hope that a lot of bandwagon and fake fans here, jump off after ‘all doom and gloom’. Let the true fans and supporters of the club stick about. Now is not the time to turn your back on the club.

    I won’t be posting here much for a while now, as I’m tired of all the bollocks that people come up with, but I will be enjoying the trolling and hyperbole that comes from these events.

    • agar2515
      January 5, 2015

      Jahahahaha my favorite kind of rhetoric

    • IamXavi6
      January 5, 2015

      🙂

      I’m out! enjoy the ride!

  11. Jim
    January 5, 2015

    Hmm, looks like it might be wise for the players to rally round or our season goes up in smoke.

    • January 6, 2015

      Jim, thank you for all the revista inputs. It all looks a mess, but am hoping, somehow LE will realise the need for a soul searching and there would be a change.

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