Team vs club, aka “A chicken in every pot”

Well, this is weird. Somehow, FC Barcelona has gone from a team that was a clueless, rambling mess that didn’t stand a chance against the Liga champions Atletico de Madrid, to being a goal up (should have been more) and with a leg in the semifinals.

At the same time, an administration is flailing during the run-ups to elections, promising the equivalent of a chicken in every pot. The situation creates a “Yay!” “Boooo!” sort of quandary that needs a little bit of sorting out.

For many culers who disagree with this board and its tenure, a quandary presents itself. Sporting success tends to always buttress the claim of the incumbent. After all, Barça is a sporting project and all the rest is … well … the rest for many culers. Laporta didn’t get in trouble with socis and face a censure vote because of any of his peccadilloes — he got in trouble because of two silverless seasons, and barely survived the vote.

Yes, it’s politics and mes que un club, but the reality is that as long as that club is winning, socis have little interest in upsetting the apple cart that sits at the head of any victory parade.

So way deep down in the hearts of many a culer and soci lurks an awful feeling, too deep and dark to even face the light of day or utter even to themselves … it would be pretty good if Atleti mounted a remuntada, if the club went silverless because then that would mean that when elections are convened this summer, they would be gone for sure.

It is really a situation that, just as we separate the team from the club in thinking about who and what to support, flips itself in that many are wondering if some short-term pain for the team wouldn’t be worth it, for the good of the club.

It’s difficult.

The team has come together, and is playing wonderful football right now. Analyze all anyone likes, but I have just about zero interest in whether it is the team against its coach, the team and its coach against the board, us against them, them against the others, somebody against somebody. All I know is that the team is playing great football right now.

The board, in specific Bartomeu and Cardoner, have taken this opportunity to offer up some nifty keen stuff:

— More than 1k socis who have been on the season ticket waitlist, will get their precious ducats.
— Socis past the age of 70 and below the age of 14 get into home matches free.
— We have a foot powder sponsor! Yay, and phew!

When asked at the press event whether the ticketing stuff was part of the incumbent board’s election campaign, Cardoner (naturally) said “Why no, this is just part of our benevolent social strategy for the club.”

And to cap it all off, Bartomeu is adding fuel to the fire by saying that mean ol’ FIFA is unfair, and he doesn’t think that RM should be punished for their youth player transgressions, because Article 19 is just silly anyhow. And further, there is a transfer ban, but of course we can buy players. We just have to find somewhere to park them until January 2016. So … what transfer ban?

And to cap it all off, like Rip Van Winkle emerging, bleary-eyed from his slumber, Bartomeu is suggesting that hey, there just might be some complexities with the club’s title sponsor, that the situation with Qatar has changed recently, bla bla bla.

Don’t be fooled. I don’t have to go into what this board has done over the course of its four-year demolition project and frankly, I don’t feel like it anyhow, because I don’t want to get mad. But any, every and all things that they have done, from tickets and “Hey, Qatar might be naughty after all,” to appointing Jordi Roura as head of youth football and the latest bit, filling ZubiZa’s job with FOUR dudes, is an effort to say, “Vote for us. A chicken in every pot,” as the Depression-era politicians used to say. Promise everything, and let’s wait to see what we can deliver. Most important is to get re-elected.

Meanwhile the football team stands 90 minutes away from having an excellent chance at winning silver this season. Even though there is no sense counting chickens before any hatching, etc, it’s a pretty safe bet that the winner of this tie will be expecting to make the Copa final.

For me that is a blessing and a curse, and all that I can say is don’t be fooled. We know what was done and how they did it. We know. The real question is whether some benevolence and magic from the football team can be enough to keep a horrific board in power for another six-year term.

I’m confident about the football team, but less so about the board’s chances and the conservatism of older socis, who believe that this board is actually saving the club, but from a business worldview. And even as I will never, ever worry enough about this board to wish failure on the football club, it’s a struggle, a pitched battle between heart and mind, body and soul. Somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. The problem is that it’s possible for different people to profit from different things.

But. Whatever happens, don’t be fooled.

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Written by:

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.

67 Comments

  1. Fabian4Barca
    January 28, 2015

    Thanks, Kxevin, for the informative article. Good read. I appreciate that I can benefit from your knowledge and deep comprehension about the things going on in our club and the football world in general. Not intending to offend the other writers, but right now you seem to be single-handedly running this BFB, my main source of information for all things Barça. So yeah, I just wanted to say thanks as I usually can’t contribute much to the discussions.

  2. PrinceYuvi
    January 28, 2015

    Abu Dhabi Bernabeu !
    I like the sound of that 🙂

    • G6O
      January 28, 2015

      I would not be so smug, we might be next in line 🙁

      In other news, only 2 games ban for Cristiano

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 28, 2015

      icrosoft Camp Nou ? I heard 🙂
      At least, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is insanely active in anything from polio vaccination to post tsunami rehabilitation.
      Kind of like a mini Unicef

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 28, 2015

      *Microsoft

    • BA
      January 28, 2015

      i despise Real Madrid, as a rule. but to see such a proud (if douchy) club have some new-money oil dictatorship’s name splashed across the front of their iconic stadium saddens me. revenue isn’t everything, especially in football.

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 28, 2015

      That’s really nice of you BA, but apparently people are greedy.

  3. January 28, 2015

    I don’t see how any of us could be offended. I wish I could contribute more, but I’m grateful towards Kevin for keeping this site going.

  4. barca96
    January 28, 2015

    Pfft. Only 2 matches. It’s just unbelievable. He threw his 3rd and 4th punch this season and an additional kick, only then he gets banned but only for 2 matches. I get that the referee didn’t write it in his report because he didn’t see it but the whole world saw the replays. The FA is making a joke out of themselves.

    • January 28, 2015

      It’s true that it’s ridiculous to only go by the match report.

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      What’s the rule in Spain, Lev? Isn’t it in England that if the ref has seen it and dealt with it you can’t add additional punishment but if he didn’t see it the panel can view video evidence and act? Is the ref also saying that his linesman who must have been at the corner flag also didn’t see it?

      Whoever decided this sanction must have also seen the earlier incident so it’s an interesting decision to limit it to two given his previous record.

      Interesting take on it by Hunter in his latest ESPN column. I don’t really agree with anything he says there but take particular exception to his description of CR7’s “witty” response to the fans after committing a violent act, leaving his team in the lurch and showing didley remorse for his actions, leaving aside the whole role model concept. The latest in a growing line of pronouncements from Hunter which seem, to me, merely designed to get him noticed. From his description of LE when the hysteria was at its height to his constant puffing up of Ronaldo, I suspect a CR7 book in the offing. A pity as I used to listen closely when he spoke about both RM and Barca.

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      To answer my own question it looks like that is the deal in the EPL. Diego Costa is to face action from the FA after review for the stamping incident which the ref claimed not to see while he won’t for the other bust up as e ref dealt with it.

    • January 28, 2015

      Well, for one I don’t think that in Spain the same rules apply for Barcelona and RM.

      Second, and this is without researching the rules, if a referee has dealt with an incident and included in a match report the video evidence that shows his match report is incomplete (whether purposefully or simply because he didn’t see all that happened) is irrelevant.

      Remember Ronaldo punched Godín twice in the Supercopa at the start of the season and no action was taken at all.

      Then again, they initially refused to rescind Messi’s yellow card against Valencia because the referee wrote in his match report that it could only be time wasting since the lack of bottle caps on the bottles thrown meant that he couldn’t really be hurt. This did not take into account the evidence that:

      1) Messi had blood coming out of his head, and
      2) The referee had been photographed picking up / throwing away a bottle that had, indeed, a bottle cap.

      Upon higher appeal, the card was rescinded.

    • agar2515
      January 28, 2015

      Agreed Jim, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. CR has had a bigger ban coming for quite some time. What a joke his “discipline” is.

    • January 28, 2015

      What they are actually managing to foment is really deep resentment.

  5. luisthebeast
    January 28, 2015

    This is a sad day for spanish football and i dont care no more for la liga.Franco is dead but his spirit will always be here.They can be champions but not FAIR champions.Shame and injustice.

  6. BarcaSon
    January 28, 2015

    What can we say…. It hurts… lets move on… If we win any trophy this season, we won with blood and sweat. And its because we deserve it. Better to have nothing fairly than achieve something unfairly. Lets be the underdog. Better. Isn’t it?

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      I’m tempted to agree with this. Leaving aside any disagreements we might have about our best eleven, we have an awesome team and one which is capable of beating RM on any given day. I’m not a great conspiracy person, I’m afraid, preferring to put my trust more in the incompetence theory. It’s not easy to refuse an RM call for a penalty in the dying minutes when you know they’ll request you don’t referee their matches again.

      My worry is more where else they are going to drop points. They seem to have a never ending supply of different unlikely ways to win a match.

      Tonight will tell us a lot about our mental state. Still can’t believe the way AM let us away with a lack of height in the previous two matches. If it were me, you lob it long into Dani’s position, draw Pique out and lash a high ball into the box. Any time you’re near the byeline play it off our defender. Still, not complaining.

    • BarcaSon
      January 28, 2015

      We have seen them all over again. Especially those matches they were given winning penalty for peanut,hurts us considering the league title depends on each and every single detail of micro decision taken by the referee. its until recently I came out with a medicine that can cure me from these…. forget it and go in… coz you can do nothing. Nothing at all.
      Visca Barca. Looking forward for tonight’s match.

    • G6O
      January 28, 2015

      Tonight will tell us a lot about our mental state.

      Prophetic words (writing in the 2nd minute of the game)

  7. ooga aga
    January 28, 2015

    Line up — official

    MATS
    alves pique mascherano alba
    raki busi ini
    messi luarez neymar

  8. Jim
    January 28, 2015

    Well, you really don’t need me to say it . . .

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      He was due that error, he normally has them more frequently but he is always likely to make an error like that.
      If they haven’t spotted it by this stage they never wwill.

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      It doesn’t rain, it pours…

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      Outside the area for me, in defence of Masche, but a poor attempt at a tackle. Facing straight on and jumped towards him.

  9. G6O
    January 28, 2015

    Lethal counter 🙂

  10. Jim
    January 28, 2015

    And this is why you need a midfield. We can’t even keep the ball. Jeez !

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      You don’t see Atletico having more possession than many teams. Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic and Suarez particularly need to get more involved for me

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      Needs to free up Ini to take on the wider Xavi role or else get Xavi on – soon !

      Btw, Gooaaalll!!

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      So a dummy from Iniesta lead to a shot from Rakitic, then from the resulting corner taken by Rakitic, Busquets heads it and Suarez’ pressure causes the defender to score an own goal. Can’t get more involved than that

    • georgjorge
      January 28, 2015

      They need to get more involved defensively, but on the offense, bypassing the midfield with long balls from the defense seems to be planned and not some emergency effort because our midfield is bad. Our midfield is occupied with getting the ball out of danger zones against Atletico’s vicious pressing, and don’t bother much trying to build up possession.

      And judging by the result at the end of the first half it seemed to work quite well…

  11. ibbe
    January 28, 2015

    Ridiculous. Could the Spanish referring get any worse?

    • G6O
      January 28, 2015

      They deserved 1 penalty, they got 1 penalty. Too bad it was not in the same situations, and they got screwed on the counter in the second one…

  12. Jim
    January 28, 2015

    Did Busi just win a header ?

  13. Jim
    January 28, 2015

    WHAT a run by Alba !

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      Unbelievable. The length of the pitch to rescue the ball and put it on a plate for Neymar.
      Neymar is some player this season. He and Messi are miles ahead of everyone else on the planet at the minute with all due respect

    • georgjorge
      January 28, 2015

      Spot on…this game, Messi wasn’t even that good by his standards (and didn’t get much space from Atletico) – and it didn’t even matter that much as others stepped in to provide us with a lead. I like that.

    • January 28, 2015

      Ray Hudson: how the hell jordi makes a block and runs all the way across for the assist is beyond me.

  14. kosby
    January 28, 2015

    Horrible defending by both teams, but what a match its been ! Brilliant fight shown by our players, just brilliant. Come on Barca.

    • kosby
      January 28, 2015

      and just to stir the pot, I like what LE has done today. We’re playing fast, almost by passing midfield, going for long diagonal balls. Its been awesome to watch. That counter took my breath away.

  15. Valdemar II
    January 28, 2015

    This is looking like Arsenal v City or something, but I’m enjoying the brawl ahahaha

  16. TITO
    January 28, 2015

    What a hell is going on there.
    Cant watch the game, but it looks like one hell of a game. Five goals already and we are probably through.

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      Sorry, but don’t believe that for a minute. If it comes to a dogfight – and it looks like it might if we can’t control the ball – my money’s on them, I’m afraid.

    • stefan2k
      January 28, 2015

      It is an awesome game with awful refereeing! Ref got it wrong on both penalty occassions and probably disallowed a legit Neymar goal?

      Nevertheless we rock and are out there to fight!

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      That’s true, Neymar was onside for that long ball from ter Stegen

    • stefan2k
      January 28, 2015

      What an assist it would have been :/

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      Ya, that was a pass not a boot up the field. Ter Stegen is great with his feet for one so young.

  17. TITO
    January 28, 2015

    They need to score 3 more now. Surely we wont allow five goals in on game.

  18. Jim
    January 28, 2015

    Just watch the attempts to get Messi or Neymar sent off this half. Could be ugly.

  19. January 28, 2015

    player of the season so far for neymar. if he can only provide those killer balls from the left just as messi does from the right we will be unstoppable.

  20. ciaran
    January 28, 2015

    So Gabi got a red card at half time.

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      Arda should have gotten a red for that.

  21. Jim
    January 28, 2015

    Gab I sent off at half time ?

  22. ciaran
    January 28, 2015

    It’s hard to argue with Luis Enrique’s tactic. The first half he allowed our attackers play an open game in the first half betting on their ability to get goals and hahas just shut down the match in the second half.

    He won’t get credit from people but that’s my take on it.

    • Jim
      January 28, 2015

      Yeah, the game’s over once Gabi is sent off. Foolish as they were in the game up till then. That’s the luxury of having a front three like ours. They will always get you goals. However, we need to be able to keep the ball to control these games. It was more exciting than it had to be from our viewpoint.

    • kosby
      January 28, 2015

      With you on that one. And also on your statement – “We have evolved, they have not.”

      We had to leave our comfort zone to get here though. Kudos to the managers that got us here, inspite of all the talk about deviating from our stereotyped play.

      Looking forward to reaping the rewards now.

  23. agar2515
    January 28, 2015

    Atleti are an absolute disgrace

  24. BarcaSon
    January 28, 2015

    I wish there’s a chance not to play ATM again. I lost all my respect for Simeone. This is not football Simeone.

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      Well, that exact brand of football had us beat last season. We have evolved, they have not.

    • G6O
      January 28, 2015

      There is a second league game yet to be played

    • barca96
      January 28, 2015

      Is this the 1st time you watched ATM play? They’ve always played the same way against the top teams. And I don’t think he really cares about your respect when most of Madrid adores him 🙂

  25. G6O
    January 28, 2015

    BTW, how is throwing your shoe towards the referee not a red card?

  26. G6O
    January 28, 2015

    Also, people will complain about the “lack of control” in the first half, but that’s not at all how it was.

    Sure, it was not intended for them to score in the first minute, but they still had to score another one to win. And if we are as lethal on the counter as we were in the first half (3 goals scored on the counter, one disallowed), it makes no sense to press them and play into their hands as we have done in the past. If the game is open, we saw what happens – we scored one more goal, and it will be like that against most teams. We have to see how we do against RM and Bayern, but I am not worried about anyone else in an open game.

  27. PrinceYuvi
    January 28, 2015

    Freaking awesome counters 🙂 That was fun

  28. PrinceYuvi
    January 28, 2015

    Great to see Ciaran is back.

    • ciaran
      January 28, 2015

      Thanks, work is mental so I don’t get much time. I still read everything but getting time to write something worthwhile is difficult.

  29. BarcaSon
    January 29, 2015

    Sad to see Neymar being the one to make way for Pedro again. The boy wants to play.
    Maybe he wanted hattrick against his favourite victim who keeps provoking him. Anyway not a bad idea to let Potter play few mins too.

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