Then as now, aka “Respect my authority!”

rm enrique

“Luis Enrique will do a better job than I did.”

— Pep Guardiola

History is most interesting when we forget it. In using the “where there’s smoke …” adage, it’s doubtful that anyone continues to use “alleged” when discussing the alleged rift between Messi and Enrique. Is there something in fact going on? Again, we don’t know.

People say Enrique is “arrogant,” “difficult,” “in over his head,” “can’t manage at a big club,” etc. These things are said without knowing, because we don’t see what goes on. Most of what we know is his Vito Corleone-like badass face at pressers, where he rasps answers from behind a jutted chin. From that, people get arrogance, etc.

But it’s worth going back to happier times, when Pep Guardiola rolled into the club after the days of Frank Rijkaard.

Speaking of Rijkaard and history, what’s interesting is that many suggest that his tenure went off the rails when he lost Henk Ten Cate, who was his pit bull. So that authority, that person who would say “Shut up and deal with what we are telling you,” was lost. From there, the locker room descended into anarchy. Once a coach loses the locker room, there’s no way to get it back, and that coach is on a very, very short leash.

Guardiola came in and laid waste. Unlike his successors, he had full and complete authority, and knew what he wanted. People also forget that he wasn’t interested in dissent. It was his way or the highway. He leavened that stern nature with hugs and was clearly a very human coach, but Guardiola was going to get his way.

When he took office, the first thing he did was clean house. The wholesale clearout that transpired included Ronaldinho and Deco. It was easy for many to accept those moves, because R10 wasn’t what he once was unless at a party, nor was Deco. More interesting was Samuel Eto’o, a fearsome striker at the peak of his powers. Guardiola wanted him out, and said you can do this my way, or leave. Eto’o stayed, and was an integral part of that legendary Treble side. When he lapsed he was gone, in favor of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The warnings about Ibrahimovic were many, and pretty much all of them came to pass. He eventually left the club. Toure Yaya wanted more playing time, wanted things from his role in the team that he wasn’t going to get, mostly because Sergio Busquets fit what Guardiola wanted better but also because Guardiola didn’t want anyone who wasn’t fully on board with his program to be around, getting in the way.

This is exactly as it should be. A coach should have full and complete authority to run him team exactly as he likes, and it shouldn’t matter who that coach is. The role should come with that presumption. Management styles differ and can be debated about, but what should be etched in concrete is that Coach is Mister. That the traditional Mister role has disappeared in the face of modern players and superstars is another matter for another day.

I’m not speaking to him

Guardiola ran his team.

Allegedly, Messi and Enrique aren’t speaking. My mind immediately returned to the allegations that Guardiola didn’t speak to Eto’o, Ibrahimovic or Yaya, and I got to thinking about what the differences were. I got to thinking about how back then, people said it was stupid to even consider that a coach wouldn’t be on speaking terms with a player on his team. It’s more than results because when Guardiola cleared house the season hadn’t started yet. When he wanted Eto’o gone, the team had not yet become That Team. And Guardiola’s only coaching credentials were that he had great ideas, and kicked ass at Barça B.

But Guardiola had the authority to run his team. That team also didn’t have a superstar of the likes of Messi. Ronaldinho was brilliant, affable and a great player. Would people include him in a list of 5 greatest players ever? Maybe his Mom, but that’s pretty much it. But even if he had been he would have been gone, because Guardiola wanted him gone. He relented on Eto’o because the player convinced him, but as soon as that full confidence was lost Eto’o was gone, as was Ibrahimovic.

Back then, a few brave souls said that Guardiola seemed to have difficulty managing superstars and their egos. In that context, draw what you will from his assuming the helm at a Bayern team that lacks that real superstar, iconic player who is also near the top of his game. He could sell Robben or Ribery in a heartbeat and few would bat an eyelash.

When Guardiola sold Ronaldinho, people said “Okay, but your crap had better come out smelling like roses.” It didn’t, and the muttering began. Then the team started winning, and Guardiola’s authority grew even stronger, to the point where the only real issue that most had with the sale of Ibrahimovic was price, rather than that the most talented striker in the game was being sold because he and his coach couldn’t get along. “Zlatan’s just an arrogant prick.”

“He got benched for Krkic!” Yes, because he checked out. The player that was benched by Guardiola wasn’t the same player who started the season, it was clear. Why? All we have is what Ibrahimovic has been saying in his book, pressers and pretty much whenever anyone asks, painting himself as the free will among the passel of choirboys.

Obviously, Guardiola and Enrique are very different managers. One has a role in Barça iconography, the other might not even finish his first season. But just because the two can’t be compared doesn’t mean that there aren’t commonalities, and one of the most noteworthy is their authoritarian styles.

But to do this you have to step back and look at the situation. How possible is that when it involves Messi? Enrique is automatically wrong. For those who say that he isn’t getting results, he is. So the issues become his rotation, seeming lack of a system (compared to what, it should be asked, and what role does poor execution play in that alleged lack of identity) and his “arrogance.”

Who’s the boss?

I can’t say that I agree with those notions. If a coach in American football plays a beautiful, offensive game and all of his players love him but his team finishes 2-14, that coach is gone. If a coach plays an ugly, defensive style, butts heads with his players and wins the championship, that coach is secure as can be. In many sports, it is all about results. The rest is window dressing.

Many have a difficult time understanding the idea that many culers would rather lose a match playing pretty, than win it playing ugly. But it’s at the core of the Enrique complexity. He’s getting results, doing so with a squad that unlike the squad that Guardiola was given for his first season, isn’t anything approaching ideal. It’s aging icons, a superstar who’s lost a step, role players and promotions still taking shape. Enrique has taken that group and has them second in the Liga and to the knockouts in Champions League after winning the group. That team also cruised (yes, it was Huesca) in the Copa. It really has been an impressive start from a results worldview, even as it has been at times a failure from the other worldviews.

And that’s the difficulty. The past is impossible to escape. Note that Tata Martino (who used 17 different lineups in his first 17 matches, by the by) is never used in Enrique comparisons. Why? He didn’t win anything. But that comparison would probably bring about a bit more patience, a bit more willingness to have patience with Enrique. Yes, the team has 3 losses in Liga. The Treble team had 7 losses, even though some came when the league title was all but done.

I don’t know what Enrique does or how he manages. The only thing I have to go on is what I see on the pitch. I haven’t watched training sessions, haven’t watched him interact with the players or staff. Because I have seen none of that, I am ill-equipped to make the same judgments that many are making about his fitness to continue coaching FC Barcelona.

But I can look at history, find similarities and speculate about why past is present but that present is perceived differently. Guardiola won everything under the sun for one great season, kept winning for a while, won a Copa and then left. The results weren’t there for the same reasons that the team isn’t doing all that it can right now: a neglectful board.

His successor, Tito Vilanova, won the Liga but nobody really cared because he screwed up and didn’t use Thiago Alcantara enough so he left for Bayern, legend has it. “He didn’t need those 100 points, and only wanted them because RM got them the year before. Hollow victory.” This was really the marking of the first return of how Barça used to be, the Barça that we’re seeing now, of the infighting and nothing ever being good enough. That season was defined by the Bayern beating, and always will be.

Martino came in, got an absolute mess of a team within 5 goals of being in with a shout for the Treble, and it’s immaterial. And in this situation results matter, in a deft malleability of grading standards.

And now we have Enrique, whose sins are:

— Arrogance
— Too much rotation
— “Ugly” football
— Poor man management
— Has lost the locker room
— At war with Messi

He was getting stick for his previous sins, even beFORE the alleged row with Messi. And from my perspective, all of the other sins are nonsense inventions by people looking for a reason to dislike a coach. But if he has lost the dressing room, that’s fatal. A coach can be forgiven a lot, but not that. Because if the players won’t play for you, results are impossible.

It’s why I struggle to understand why the Messi thing has suddenly blown everything up. Prima facie, the alleged situation involves a coach’s authority over a player. And if we believe part of the allegations then we have to believe all of them right, which includes Messi getting a case of the “blue flu” and stiffing sick kids because he was having a pout.

“Oh, but Messi wouldn’t do that.” Yet Enrique is the monster because Messi is angry. It isn’t assumed for an instant that Enrique might have just as much reason and right to take on Messi as Guardiola did Eto’o, Ibrahimovic or Yaya. That thought doesn’t enter anyone’s mind. It can’t, because Messi is involved, and so Enrique is automatically at fault. He has to be, because all Messi wants to do is play with Thiago, his PlayStation and a football.

It shouldn’t take a cranky old journalist to point out the complexities in that approach to the situation.

If you stomp your feet and scream “WHY ARE YOU DEFENDING ENRIQUE,” then you haven’t been paying attention. The point isn’t Enrique’s suitability for the job that he has. The point is allegations, what they mean and a coach’s right to run his team the way that he sees fit, to do the job that he was hired to do. If he’s bad at that job, judge him on that, rather than a bushel basket of “allegeds.”

It’s a complex matter that I have struggled to get my mind around, but it seems to me that a lot of it is perception of two men, both wanting results and success and going about it in their own ways. And now they are allegedly butting heads. If that player is say, Jordi Alba, does it matter as much? When Enrique sat Pique for whatever reason he sat Pique, people defended Pique but really it wasn’t that huge a deal because Pique wasn’t getting the results on the pitch in that he wasn’t as consistently excellent as he has been in the past. News flash: Neither is Messi.

But none of that matters, because Messi is the Best Player Alive and Enrique is just some coach with no credentials, riding herd over a directionless team that is playing ugly football. And now he’s fighting with Messi. Lucho OUT!

What if he is fighting for the way to run his team as he likes? What if at the other side of all this alleged allegedly stuff is a fist of a team that takes shape and kicks the crap out of everyone. What if, what if? What if nobody can see any of the other “what ifs” because heels are embedded into the ground because we aren’t seeing exactly what we want to see from Barça, which makes everything suspect.

You can ask all the questions you like, but without asking the right ones, it’s difficult to solve a dilemma or get past a crossroads.

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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.

48 Comments

  1. imranraad
    January 7, 2015

    Maybe a relevant issue – how Rijkaard won the Dressing room. So far it seemed to me, Enrique followed Rijkaard’s path. To Rijkaard Enrique (then captain) was the source to win the dressing room. Enrique gave his hundred percent support to Rijkaard so that Rijkaard could have the control of the dressing room. Eventually by the end of the season, Rijkaard won the dressing room & Enrique retired. Armband transferred to Puyol.
    Enrique did exactly the same with Xavi. Few days ago, from Xavi’s interview, it appeared to me, he has given his 100% support to Enrique. & By the end of the season we will see how much control Enrique really gained over the dressing room.

    Btw, I’m not bringing that Messi-Enrique issue. From today’s press, it appeared – the atmosphere in the locker room is positive, what happens in the squad stays in the squad. one thing is sure, All the media outlet is complete bullshit. So I choose to believe – Nothing.

  2. HisR0yalFlyness
    January 7, 2015

    From the ongoing presser- Luis Enrique: “Players reportedly annoyed by only announcing squad on match day? Don’t know, but that won’t change for now.”

    An effective coach should be in constant communication with his players and know the mood of the squad. For me, that LE “Doesn’t know” how his players feel about something like that says alot about his management style and how he is communicating with the squad. As well as the position he is taking about not addressing it at this time does not bode well.

  3. Jim
    January 7, 2015

    “He’s getting results, doing so with a squad that unlike the squad that Guardiola was given for his first season, isn’t anything approaching ideal. It’s aging icons, a superstar who’s lost a step, role players and promotions still taking shape. ”

    Unlike Tata, ‘though, he knew he was coming and was able to say who he wanted. Otherwise, why come ? I’m assuming you mean Xavi as the ageing icon. LE had the chance to send him packing at the start of the season if he held him in as low esteem as you but didnt. The superstar who’s lost a step ( I’m assuming Messi ? ) doesn’t have any evidence to back it up and as I said in the last comments the two midfielders he has brought in have basically lost their place, in the team picked by him, to the previous incumbents who presumably according to you have helped get the team the results you talk about and we are left with barely credible stories about them not performing well because one is tied to the right back position?

    It could just be that the team has achieved all of this largely because of their innate quality rather than anything particularly he has done. You say you struggle to understand how all this has blown up over the incident with Messi. It can’t. There has to have been a lot going on before this. I agree the key is in asking the right questions but for me they start with LE who came in with as far as I can see, a lot of goodwill from Barca fans and has frittered it over the first half of the season through and that has nothing to do with Messi.

    I don’t want to see him sacked. It would be the end of the season basically but he can’t go on alienating ( if he has and you’re absolutely right to say none of us know the truth) the dressing room and expect to get any backing.

    After all that, I’m actually bizarrely optimistic about what this day will bring – one way or the other.

    • Jim
      January 7, 2015

      Kxevin, just re-read my reply. Hope it doesn’t come across as aggressive in any way. It wasn’t meant to. As usual, I’m grateful for the article, in this case particularly the context of Rijkaard and Guardiola’s approaches when joining the club. I wasn’t following the club when the former arrived and the latter didn’t have the success baggage to cope with so much.

      On LE’s presser I know we don’t always get as much as we’d like out of such events and I haven’t seen it but I’m getting an impression of “move along, nothing to see here” from his replies. Which is fine if the whole thing has been whipped up but if not… Don’t know if you caught it but the Messi question was a strange reply. Can’t help feeling he missed a chance to come over as a bit more human, warm and acknowledging that not everything has worked and that he’s still looking for a bit more X and Y. He gave not an inch. How hard would it have been to say ” yeah, I’ve been talking to the captains and they have asked me to think about letting the players know the team a little earlier do I’ll think about that, maybe try it out and see if they respond”. It’s the easiest thing in the world to say no and isn’t always a sign of strength.

      Still, on to Barto. I know you don’t expect much from him and you may be right but I’m looking for some plain talking. Are there any plans for one of the captains to speak soon ?

    • GebD
      January 7, 2015

      Good comment, people need to stop apologizing for fear of ” reprimand”

    • Jim
      January 7, 2015

      Thanks for the supportive comment but it was nothing to do with that. Just re- read it myself and felt it was a little abrasive in bits, especially as a first comment when someone has taken the time to construct a thoughtful article . Can hopefully make my points without that. No big deal.

  4. Davour
    January 7, 2015

    Yes, maybe LE is fighting for his way to prevail, and Guardiola did not have an untouchable superstar to manage. But now this is the reality: Messi has been carrying this team for more than two years now, and I would say part of the job would be to manage him correctly – or sell him. I wouldn’t consider it an absurd thought to instead build a squad around Neymar, for instance. The team did really well when Messi was injured last fall and it seems that to some extent he is overshadowing the development of the team as a unit.

    And no, I don’t want him sold (nor LE fired). And I’m sure Messi has a strong sense of entitlement – or he the deal with resting/substituting him wouldn’t be such a sensitive matter. The point is that LE must decide how to handle Messi’s role in the team – conflict or no conflict – and it seems this is not happening (or else, Messi does not play game, fully). He should have explained very clearly what his ideas were regarding Messi’s role. Maybe he did, maybe he wanted to wait and see.

    There may be several reasons for this, of course, involving Messi’s attitude. The team as a whole does not function, hence Messi does not stick to the plan and tries to save the team again, like he has done in the past (for who can you trust but yourself?). Or perhaps LE had a clear plan, after all, similar to what we saw initially, with a more deeply playing Messi, focussing on assists and playmaking rather than goals. This seemed to work out rather well for a team of aging playmakers, but then suddenly Messi was back in attack (though on the RW). Maybe Messi said ”screw this, I want to score and earn me another golden ball. Can’t let Ronaldo get all the glory”, who knows? But on the RW he is not getting the numbers – and where else are we gonna put Suarez?

    My, perhaps not completely lucid, point here, is that LE supposedly needs to be more clear. And if he is such a badass, bench Messi like he did Piqué, if Messi does not adhere to instructions. Messi, on the other hand, is most likely far from flawless. Probably a great guy – if you don’t get in the way of his game. But due to the mishandling of the team, placing the responsibility to heavily on Messi’s shoulders, I still think managing Messi is a relevant aspect separate from the team itself. There is no pretending otherwise.

  5. hereiam
    January 7, 2015

    I would say that, the main different between Guardiola and Enrique is trust. Both the willingness of the coach to trust his player, and the ability of the coach to make his players trust him. Which, through a combination of hard work, tactical expertise, shrewd maneuvers, and/or sheer luck, the former completely possess, and the later completely lack.
    It’s ok to be a dictator – if you have the trust of your players. You tell them “You do it my way, and you will win. You will win in a most spectacular fashion, and you will win everything with me. But you have to do it my way.” Pep told them that, and Barca dully won. Everything.
    Its perfectly fine to completely change the way the team work, to bench even the most talented player, and yes, even to kick him out, if you have the complete trust of the board – yes, by winning. A dictatorship with trust is a happy dictatorship.
    But what Enrique, in my opinion, failed to understand, is trust is something that has to be earned. You can’t be a dictator first, and then earn trust, it has to be the other way around. He is a dictator without trust. And people starting to revolt.
    Messi is not the little dictator just because he feel like it. He is super competitive, and super ambitious. He demand the best out of himself, and that of others too. Its precisely because of that extremely high standard he became the player he is. The big problem is when he think the coach is no longer qualified to let him do his game – he will ignore Enrique’s order.
    What qualities make a great coach? Many, I believe. But one of the most important is the ability to inspire trust. How to make the world best player to stop playing the game his way and follow yours instead, is no doubt the most difficult part of being Barcelona’s coach.
    And so far, Enrique seems to lack that ability.
    Its not a matter of success or not. You can win the title, or the CL, although certainly help, still doesn’t matter. If you can’t make your players trust you unconditionally, sooner or later you will fail.

  6. lala10
    January 7, 2015

    What is truth? How do we discern it? As fans we are far removed from events to authoritatively state things otherwise.

    Sans being the proverbial fly on the wall all we deal with is second hand information. Can we then deduce/ come to close approximation of the truth? Because when LE states something do we take his word for it? If so why when we were not there? Same with Messi/Xavi or any other player.

    Without knowing what really transpired i think that there is a general consensus that something did happen. Is it as bad? What is apparent to most fans is surely so to the players themselves. Unless someone rats we will never know.

  7. Jim
    January 7, 2015

    Well, it seems there are going to be elections. Know it won’t be popular around here but I’ve supported Barto’s approach so far and suggested that he should now agree to hold them so again I think he’s done the right thing. Did he have much of a choice ? Who knows.

    • Jim
      January 7, 2015

      I can almost hear the clacking of the keyboard keys as flights from Chicago are arranged 🙂

    • barca96
      January 7, 2015

      You like talking to yourself nowadays don’t you Jim? 🙂

      Thanks for being so active for the last couple of months. It’s fun to have you commenting a couple of times a day (talking to yourself lol) to keep the blog running.

    • January 7, 2015

      I think there is one person who has singlehandedly kept this blog going for a while now, without whom there would be no blog and we all know who that is.

      Having said that, I’ve been enjoying Jim’s comments immensely this last week or so.

    • ooga aga
      January 7, 2015

      Me too. Thanks Jim, and thanks Kxevin for keeping things going over this loooonnnggg winter break. Peter, I’ve missed your comments too, glad you have popped back in. Too bad we started the new year with a loss. We will have many more games in the coming few weeks to enrich our discussion here. Looking forward to it.

    • Jim
      January 7, 2015

      Agreed. I enjoy coming here and reading the articles, whether I agree or not. Luckily, Kxevin seems to have matured into a frame of mind where he can rattle these off quickly without too much effort. ( Did that come out the right way ? ). 🙂

  8. January 7, 2015

    Messi falls out with Luis Enrique. Elections in summer which fans were yearning for. All happened because Messi was pissed off with the board and coach. Messi helping the team on and off the pitch.Great. Messi isn’t going anywhere.

  9. January 7, 2015

    So… Elections at the final of the season.

    People are already posting partying Laporta pics on Twitter. Awesome. Just fucking brilliant. As if 2006-07 and especially 2007-08 never happened. Expectations after 2008-09 and 2010-11 became so high, that if this board finished the year 18 points off first place and had formed an honor guard to Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu, they would be lynched, and I mean it torn apart by an angry mob.

    Oh, and if Laporta runs and wins, you can bet first thing would be to terminate the ongoing suit against himself. To maintain the image of the club, of course.

    • BA
      January 7, 2015

      to be completely fair, the teams in 06-07 and 07-08 did not have anywhere near the level of talent available to the first team now. certainly better options at center-back, though….

      we have high expectations for this team because the squad itself has been (at great cost) stocked with some tremendous players. is the squad sheet unbalanced? absolutely. but simply playing Messi, Neymar and Suarez will win you a hell of a lot of games even if you put cymbal monkeys in your back line; it just can’t compete at the level to which we’ve become accustomed.

    • January 7, 2015

      Neither were Real Madrid for that matter. City and PSG were minnows then.

      The 2007-08 team didn’t have the following players which the Sextuple team did have – Alves, Keita, Pique, Busquets.
      The rest were already there.

      Besides, the competition wasn’t that severe either. Real Madrid didn’t have the most expensive team in history, City and PSG were minnows.

      Like I said, different narrative. Every Laporta action is filtered through Triplete-tinted glasses.

    • BA
      January 7, 2015

      bad argument. the team in 06-07 had Xavi and Iniesta, but before their Pep-inspired renaissance; while Leo Messi was just floppy-haired winger. Oleguer was a starter. Ronaldinho and Deco were putting in harder shifts at the club than on the pitch. there’s no comparison between the talent at our disposal then as to now, even if the teams are playing just a disjointedly.

      i remember 06-07 and 07-08, and there are actually alot of similarities to the team we’re seeing now: disorganization, playing without a clear identity and with mismatched or missing levels of intensity; a loss of collective will and coordination, with no ideas from the bench that stick.

      while we were a Fuck of the Century away from the title in ’07, Madrid tonked us in 07-08 (18 point gap in the league) and looked very much like the relentless white machine we’re seeing now.

      another similarity? one of the Madrid teams will win the league again this season (hopefully Atleti, wouldn’t that be somethin?), and we won’t.

  10. SFKL
    January 7, 2015

    Is The Problem really messi vs le? Is the problem with poor Results is messi being butthurt at being benched because he should be benched for being in poor form? Is le in the same lague as peo who did his homework in winning the trust of his star and best player?

    The problem is much deeper. Notice how no players are out defending le. They too are frustrated by his confusing plan and zero tactic. Is messi in such poor form or such poor attitude he must be benched? Thats the attitude of the naysayers. Messi is in fine form and the team without him is crippled although with him is limping because the board is a mess and the coach is messed up. When no one can understand your gameplan and logic in the bad decisions when no one is certain how can that inspire trust loyalty and dedication? A leader who lost his leadership and ability the admit his own mistakes myst be replaced if not there is revolt. And all this talk about selling messi. He is s the team’s best player whose teammates look up to him. He represents everything barca and yes maybe neymar will do well to replace messi but be honest. You really think barca will thrive without messi? And what s wtong with messi back to scoring goals? A general must know when and how to use his best soldier in a position best suited for the soldier. Messi proves he can still be the provider the scorer. He is only 27. Wanna push him to another position where he is not as effective when he is in his prime? Why no t wait till he is 30? And i find it ridiculous that suddenly this is suddenly messi vs stubborn coach. It is much much more. Messi is just a pawn. And yes i feel the coach must go. It makes no sense to give him yet another chance or to keep him and sell your most valuable asset which you still need. I also Feel enrique does not know how to utilise or recognise talent evidenced by his preference of munir and that is killing munir himself. I disagree with this article and it sounds like what enrique himself would have said,

    And as for pep and his tough “i am the boss” actions … Well it worked great because he has a plan and he has who will become the best player of his generation. Le has no plan and he doesnt have someone near messi to be his main arsenal. That is the difference.

  11. January 7, 2015

    I cant remember which player exactly, may Be Alves, who said, he was ready to jump out of the window, if Pep asked him to do so. Those players trusted Pep like anything and Pep didnt buy that trust, he earned it.

    I doubt if any of our players have that kind of trust with LE. Of course a coach can be a dictator, but he should earn the trust too.

    All of a sudden, all the issues are because of Messi! – again! – this is incredible. how did this happen – is it because of him following Chelsea on instagram – things changed so fast..

    Jim – I liked your long, morning, comment in the previous post.

    • Jim
      January 7, 2015

      Thanks, Fotobirajesh 🙂 I have too much time on my hands at the moment. Fellow teachers back at work. Football pitch iced over and frozen golf course = people have to listen to more ramblings than usual.

  12. Jim
    January 7, 2015

    Well, I’ve listened to the last half hour of the presser and I have to say, for me, Barto didn’t disappoint. He avoided the stuff he couldn’t go into, like specifics of meeting Messi etc. but covered a huge range of topics on his own with what I thought were pretty genuine answers. To me, I would never trust Laporta as he was way to affable which doesn’t synch with being the leader of such a large institution. Rosell, as I’ve often said, while I’m not sure that he was half as bad as people make out, you could never warm to him as a human being. Barto, for me, at least sounds the most open of the lot.

    Elections to reduce tension around the club. Yup, he had to. We couldn’t go on like this and not of his doing. He appointed LE and he created at least some, I’d say most of the current team troubles.

    Zubi’s going. Quite clear. Not related to the FIFA judgement. That was interesting. Must be transfers then. Possibly including LE?

    LE’s future. No plans to sack. Understand project of rebuilding is difficult. Yes they gave talked. No he won’t go into details. Sound response.

    Leo. Best player ever. Leader of the team but doesn’t run the place – ish. Brave statement to make in public. Better in private ? Still, bold attempt to strengthen LE’s position which was necessary if he wasn’t firing him.
    FIFA – made mistakes since their rules changed in 2004 and club didn’t change procedures. Club hadn’t harmed any of the youngsters in their charge and this isn’t over. Grateful for support of Catalan federation, Spanish football authorities and one of the group’s ( I’m lost on all these federations ! ) is pursuing legal action against FIFA on this matter. Certain amount of bluster here but you do get the feeling they weren’t alone. Interesting bit for me was where he said those responsible for mistakes were no longer at the club. Did he mean Zubi? Notice he said Zubi wasn’t fired because of it but that those responsible were no longer employed ? Don’t know.

    All in all it must have been well over an hour as I saw thirty minutes and it seemed to have been going for ages. Can’t ask much more than that. Will be interested to hear how others who don’t like the board and/ or him viewed it. Me, I was reasonably impressed.

    • barca96
      January 7, 2015

      With regards to the kids. What is going to happen to them because if I understand correctly, they can’t represent the club until they reach a certain age. So what will they do? Join other clubs? Go back to their country and in turn stunt their growth as a player? Or train with the club until they reach the allowed age?

      Although it is wrong but I do not agree with the ruling. Or we should’ve at least been given a pass this time for the 10 kids and then start the law properly.

      I remember back in 2000, Real Madrid signed a 10 year old kid. And last year they signed a young Japanese kid who looked like like he just became a teenager. Why are we being picked on? Is it because other clubs were smarter in finding loopholes?

    • Jim
      January 7, 2015

      I think consensus is that they have to go back till they are old enough. To be fair to FIFA they do seem to have told us not to play certain kids, which as Barto says we didn’t, but we don’t seem to have changed our procedures along with it which sounds like it gives us an advantage over others who have followed the rules. on the other hand the relevant Spanish authorities who should know better seem to be in the dock with us and if one of these organisations is pursuing FIFA through the courts it is a messy business at best which has disadvantaged those kids they say they are trying to help. I’ll be more upset if the issue now goes away and no other clubs are investigated and found wanting because they will be out there.

  13. agar2515
    January 7, 2015

    LE clashes with egos at Roma and was booted , it seems the same is happening here. Look at tactics alone all you want but the best manager know MAN MANAGEMENT as well. It’s why not every tactical wizard is automatically a treble winning coach. I also don’t know why youd even compare results in the NFL to Football, anything to stay ultra positive I guess.

    • deerwithwings
      January 7, 2015

      Ultra positive? I’m sorry, but this narrative is getting tiresome. Nobody is being positive really. A few of us are more interesting in solving the problem beginning from the top. For a democratic organization to function well, the democracy must also function. We have seen multiple boards soiled by corruption. I am positive today at least, because there will be a vote.

      Sorry, but I just don’t see how a new coach every year is going to solve the issues of the sporting project.

      This space is degrading a bit with all this hyperbole unfortunately.

    • January 7, 2015

      Yep, it is as unfortunate as it is sad.

    • GebD
      January 7, 2015

      Opposite side, many fewer comments now. Know many people came here and tired of being talked down to, tired of being finger wagged at.

    • agar2515
      January 7, 2015

      Please continue to tell me how my differing opinion is leading to the ” downfall” of an internet blog. Hogwash.

    • GebD
      January 7, 2015

      Another judgmental comment. No wonder so many leave or never come

    • GebD
      January 7, 2015

      This^ comment in reference to deerwithwings “space degrading” comment, people dont share your view= hyperbole/ degrading.

    • January 7, 2015

      Please keep things from getting personal, thank you. There is space for ALL views here. There is no need for anyone to state theirs while denigrating that of anyone else. It started with “anything to stay ultra positive” and went downhill from there.

      None of it is required. If someone has an opposing viewpoint, it should be able to be made without attacking someone or talking down to anyone. I don’t care if anyone at all comes here, but I do care that people who are here be respectful of each other, no matter the viewpoint.

      Just because I no longer comment doesn’t mean I am not watching/moderating. We can do this. We can disagree and still be respectful without being defensive and aggressive.

      Thank you.

  14. mjs12465
    January 7, 2015

    Just found this blog, and I love it. Lived in BCN for some time, and I appreciate the insights on all things Barca.

    To me, what LE is lacking is team unity. Who knows for sure exactly what the riffs are, how they originated, who’s mad, frustrated over playing time, bad board decisions, etc.. One thing is for sure, something’s not right in the mind’s of the players, and the mess LE has on his hands is because the team is not unified at all. Pep might have been a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of coach, but to watch his squads was to watch teams that were unified… he’s a great leader, which in my opinion is slightly different than a great coach or manager. It’s why he’s killing it a Bayern, even with no huge superstars.

    When you watch Pep’s matches at Barca, everyone looks like they’re having a blast… working hard together, and enjoying the results of that team effort with points and trophies. When you watch them now, no one looks like they’re having a good time. THAT’S LE’s responsibility.

  15. Neel
    January 7, 2015

    Aha, so its EE matches which are giving more joy nowadays 😉

  16. FCB16
    January 7, 2015

    Harp all you want about Enrique this or that, but in every match I see AM play it is evident: they would bleed and go to war with Simeone, they ADORE him. That is something you either have or you don’t. I do not think Enrique has that, and it will result in his end.

    • Neel
      January 7, 2015

      So true, was just seeing that. You could see that in the whole team. Benched players all also all in with him. These players have literally shed the last ounce of sweat for Simeone for the quite some time.

    • ooga aga
      January 7, 2015

      Your implication is that people here are showering LE with praise? Nobody is advocating he receive tenure. Rather, the “ultra positive” folks are saying…lets give him the whole season, and probably even two, even if we dont win everything. Of course there are many considerations.

      Anyhow, few if any coaches get out of their players what Simeone does.

    • agar2515
      January 7, 2015

      I’ll eat my hat if he gets two season, can’t see it happening. SAF, Mou, Pep, Klopp, LVG… I could go on, all great man managers. They don’t have to live or die necessarily, just ” buy in” or the coach at least has to have the ability to bring them onto his level of understanding even if they clash sometimes ( SAF and Rooney for example) .Only other place Enrique had egos was Roma and he failed there as well.

  17. ooga aga
    January 7, 2015

    Atletico defeats RM at home 2-0 in first leg of Copa del Rey. Two losses in a row for RM. Didnt watch the match. I have to say that whichever of the 2 gets knocked out of the CdR gets a bit of boost in the league, as we will be busy scrapping with the winner…yes, Im assuming we will advance vs Elche.

    • January 7, 2015

      I know the solution… Get ourselves booted from Cop[a by Elche and better also from Champions League by City. That way we can concentrate fully on the League. If you are not interested in fighting for the cup, then why the hell enter?

  18. Tata2
    January 7, 2015

    ‘Aha, so its EE matches which are giving more joy
    nowadays’. This ^^ So true @ Neel EE matches are given me more joy this year than ours

  19. BA
    January 7, 2015

    when Bartomeu inevitably goes, all the smug nationalistic cules who voted this caravan of garbage into office in 2010 need to come out and apologize to the rest of us.

    this administration has been a resounding failure on its own terms, and has seriously both impugned the status of the club and impeded the success of arguably its brightest generation of players ever. through misstep after misstep (the treatment of Abidal, antagonizing of both Iniesta and Messi over contracts), infringement after infringement (Neymar transfer scandal, underage player signings and subsequent ban), mismanagement after mismanagement (still no center-backs, jettisoning Thiago) and the biggest lie of all: that we’re so broke as a club (no colour copies!) we need to sell the shirt, sell the stadium naming rights, and throw ourselves at the feet of Qatar and Nike to save us from financial ruin; they have shown themselves crass, incompetent, venal, and utterly incapable of running the greatest and (once) most unique football club on the planet.

    when they go many of us will feel a huge sense of relief, and hope that the club we love, though still in an unsteady position, will be handled by people who differ fundamentally in their values and influences from this current board that we can get things back on track again. i for one can’t wait to say Good Riddance.

  20. Jim
    January 7, 2015

    What gave me joy in the RM match was seeing them struggle against that defence. They created nothing and weren’t neatly patient enough at stringing the ball about to create gaps. They lost patience after three or four passes at the edge of the box and hoofed in a cross. Why do they not face that every week ? Bale and Ronaldo are both pretty poor with no space to stretch their legs. Mind you, AM are still looking awesome in the air ( are you listening, Lucho ? You know what you have to do, right ? )

    • January 8, 2015

      Couldnt watch it yday. Am happy and worried at the same time thinking about our chances against a stubborn bus.

  21. Benj
    January 7, 2015

    “all Messi wants to do is play with Thiago, his PlayStation and a football”

    And Lego’s. Don’t ever forget the Lego’s.

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