Understanding Pedro, aka “Achievement through effort”

pedro

Pedro Rodriguez Ledesma is an odd one.

Few players have been so liked by his coaches, yet so reviled by so many supporters while being misunderstood by those same supporters. Some of that is because Pedro defies traditional metrics, those objective evaluators of a player’s performance. He’s the kind of player who would require the creation of a new metric, probably called “Pain in the ass.”

Because that’s what Pedro is. A couple of nicknames have been born in this space for him, Pedro! and a more accurate one, Pedro Roadrunner. Because he just runs. It often seems that he doesn’t even quite know when, where or why he is running, only that he is, in his perpetual quest to affect the disposition of a contest involving a brightly colored, spherical object. In that particular way, Pedro is as pure as Messi, that simple, unrelenting object. Run. And then run some more.

The problem for Pedro is that for two consecutive years he notched more than 20 goals. As the arbiter of football goodness for an attacker, goals can be a millstone. They hung heavily around the necks of Thierry Henry and Alexis Sanchez, just as they now hang heavy around the heck of Pedro. Because people want goals, and don’t care where they come from. Once you score goals, you are a goalscorer. And when you don’t score those goals again, the thing becomes “return to form,” as in “scoring goals again.” Yet the thing about Pedro is that he was never about scoring goals, even while he was scoring them.

For Pedro, his goals came during the years before Barça was being figured out, as teams adjusted to the reality of an inexorable passing game. Things were still innocent, and Pedro had running room. As Barca marauded, pinging shots off keepers and into the box, Pedro was there to capitalize on any and all loose balls. There is no more Pedro like goal than the one he scored in the manita Classic. It’s a goal that comes from running, from wanting to be around the ball and executing when he gets there. Give Pedro an open shot, and he will get it on target.

As defenses reshaped their approaches against Barça, space disappeared. And as space disappeared Pedro, like most mortal attackers, saw his gaudy scoring totals drop. But the one thing he kept doing was running and working. In the recent match vs Levante, Pedro was in the Barça box, defending, then on the other end, almost forcing an error from the keeper. He was on the left and on the right, determined to influence the match through sheer omnipresence.

So it’s fascinating the comments in various forums and social media that greet his appearance, from “Barça is playing with 10,” to “Pedro? Why didn’t they sub in XXX instead?!”

And Pedro runs in, and has an effect that isn’t quantifiable but is so helpful to his teammates from Dani Alves to Busquets and Iniesta to Messi and Neymar. It isn’t just that he is always there, waiting to become a passing outlet, track back or help on the press. He also, unlike most forwards, doesn’t throw up his hands after making a number of runs and the ball doesn’t arrive, and stop making runs. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t mutter about playing time or have his agent generate transfer rumors. The only transfer rumors that involve Pedro come from others, who wonder why he is still “settling” for being a sub at Barça when he could go to another team and become a starter.

Pedro doesn’t care.

In many ways, Pedro is the ultimate defensive sub. He helps the midfield press, rarely makes the wrong decision with the ball, prioritizing possession over anything, and can run with almost any attacker in the league. His name keeps coming up when attackers who could be converted to RB is under discussion, and Pedro has said in the past that he’d love to be more forward, but anything that will help him play more is welcome. But he’s a defender who can take a sliver of space, take a pass and convert it into a goal, as another way to think of Pedro.

Neymar tracks back, but not like an attacker dedicated to it. Messi doesn’t fully track back except in rare matches. Suarez has an excellent work rate, but they all pale in comparison to Pedro. He has scored 5 goals this season but is the only player of his kind on the roster. He became a star under Guardiola, and his role began to change under Vilanova as opponents began to adjust. Under Martino in what became a more static attack, Pedro wasn’t being used to his strengths, stuck out the wing where he had to beat defenders off the dribble, which isn’t his suit. And the “Pedro sucks” legend began.

It’s only now, with a more open, dynamic Barça that his value again surges to the fore, even as many supporters still define him by what he used to do rather than what he does. Will he stay in the colors? Good question. It’s a safe bet that no coach in his right mind would sell a player such as Pedro, because those types of players are invaluable. Might he raise his hand and want to leave? He’s 27, fast approaching the time where that jackrabbit quickness will begin to diminish. Is it time for a big fee and a big payday? Only time will tell, but you get the feeling that Pedro just loves being at Barca even if his role isn’t what it could be, loves running and loves doing exacty what he does, which is to affect matches by dint of sheer, unrelenting effort. And that ain’t bad.

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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.

84 Comments

  1. ooga aga
    February 19, 2015

    Damn we are lucky to have a 4th striker of the quality of Pedro. You could understand if he decides to take a big pay raise and go elsewhere where he is an automatic starter. He would win many hearts among another team’s fans.

    Good day for the Liga in Europa League, where Villareal and Sevilla notched wins and Bilbao managed a draw away. Yes, we play in a difficult league.

    Funnily, all the goals scored in Europa League today against Liga teams were scored by ex-Barca players. Maxi Lopez scored both of Torino’s goals vs Bilbao, and Jonathan Soriano scored for Salzburg vs Villareal.

  2. Jim
    February 19, 2015

    A worthy recipient of such an article, Kxevin. Always liked Pedro because of the attitude and the smile. In the days when our forwards were given the freedom of a succession of parks he was in his element with the through balls. Not so much since because as you rightly say the space has gone and we need even better technicians than him to utilise what space there is.

    Hard to see that changing in the near future so he has a pretty clear choice. Play second fiddle, in a sense, to the front three and wait for injuries / rotation or move on. Each of our front three need to carry danger. If only two are bearing the burden of the goal scoring / creating then we’re back to Messi having to score 60 odd a season ! In a lot of ways, for me, he is like Sanchez. Great player, brilliant attitude but just not good enough for Barca’s first team. I suppose there is just a sign in the last few games that the beautiful movement is coming back which might just play to his strengths as we’re certainly moving defences about more and creating the space but should he choose to leave I’m sure there will be a list of EPL teams after him with the greater space there.

    • Inamess
      February 19, 2015

      Agree. Pedro’s like Alexis’s game thrives in open space, something he will get plenty of it with a move to the EPL. Unlike Alexis, however, he not as good at dribbling in tight spaces and creating his own goal scoring opportunities. The prospect of Pedro at RB is intriguing but I’m not sure the player or the club want to head in that direction.

      There’s no doubt that a team like Liverpool, Tottenham, or Everton would pay 30 mil for a player with his ability and work rate and our club and the player would be foolish to not cash in next season, particularly if we plan to bring back Deulofeu and/or promote Munir and Sandro next year.

      Incidentally, early odds for the 2015 FiFa Ballon D’or are out:

      Top four favorites: Messi, Cristiano, Neymar, Sanchez

    • BA
      February 20, 2015

      to claim that either Pedro or Alexis isn’t “good enough” for Barça’s first team seems absurd: Pedro was an integral part of our apex team in 10/11, is regularly picked for Spain (World Cup and European Championship winner), and displaced Thierry Henry in that same lineup. i’d wager that Lionel Messi has assisted Pedro for more goals than any other player. he works hard and fulfills a vital role; and yes, there are plenty of games where he’d be a starter. Alexis was never played in his proper position and has torn up both Serie A and the EPL. as for Pedro, though….

      the question isn’t with Pedro, it’s with fan’s expectations of him and what he’s asked to do in the team. he’s not a superstar. he’s probably not going to give you 25+ goals a season, from the wing. but he’ll run his ass off chasing lost causes and when on form has a sharp finishing touch. can we say the same about Neymar (:DISCLAIMER: yes Neymar is the better player, but there are plenty of situations when i’d rather have Pedro on the pitch)? given that we’re now playing more and more on the counter, with a more “elastic” system, there will be more space available to him to run into. to sell him now, as the system is once again coming around to suiting his style of play, would be shortsighted in the extreme. you won’t find another player *of equal talent* willing to put in that kind of effort, sporadically, and never make a peep or cause drama. Pedro and, i’d argue, Adriano are anomalies and we should be grateful to have players like that in the squad.

    • Jim
      February 20, 2015

      Don’t want to get into dissing either player. As I said they are both great players but neither was a shoe in over the last couple of seasons and had he stayed Sanchez wouldn’t have had any more time than Pedro, imo. So, no, I don’t think it’s absurd. Our problem in the last two seasons was that our front three wasn’t good enough – and no, I’m not talking about Messi ( or Neymar), largely because we were relying on players who carried no danger – and these two were probably the best of the others. Various commentators put forward their favourite from the B team but none of them really stuck because they couldn’t perform when it mattered.

      To hold down a place in a Barca front three which is looking to go all the way you need to have astounding technical skills, be able to beat a man in a tight area and carry enough threat that the defence feels they really need two players on you. Pedro and Sanchez didn’t carry that level of threat, imo, and no amount of running can make up for that. Both, however, could do very well in the EPL which isn’t exactly spoiled for world class players when you consider its finances.

  3. February 20, 2015

    I would hate the day if we ever decide to sell Pedro. He is the synonym of attitude and workrate. Even a forward line with the likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar, a player like Pedro is a must.

    Even if he doesnt score any goal, I will keep him.

  4. February 20, 2015

    Scholes: “In games against Barcelona I spent a lot of the time just hoping Messi would take up positions as far away from me as possible.”
    Can a great player be any more honest.

  5. georgjorge
    February 20, 2015

    Good article about the ultimate team player!

    One thing worth considering might be the lineup which Enrique used once this season (against EE maybe?) with Pedro in midfield – I don’t recall how well it worked but I can definitely see opponents where energy and speed in midfield might be more valuable than perfect passing and technique.

    Also, it’s not as if there are no opponents which give us the space that Pedro relies on so much – top opponents like EE or Bayern surely won’t be content with just sitting back and cluttering their box with players, but some La Liga opponents also like to attack. So I think there will definitely come games where Pedro would be able to provide much – but “unfortunately”, our current front three provide even more. I’d like for Pedro to stay, but wouldn’t fault him if he wanted to move on, and there ARE some great options for substitute attackers around (Traore, Munir, Sandro, Tello).

  6. Fabian4Barca
    February 20, 2015

    Thanks for dedicating an article to Pedro. He deserves it.

    I used to be a die-hard Pedro supporter, especially during the Guardiola era. Also loved his appearances for Spain, where it became obvious that he can easily keep up with other top strikers in Spain. It didn’t always look like that when he played for Barça.

    In the last few years he played so little that the focus of my attention and affection shifted to other players. What a pity. I still proudly wear the Barça jersey with his name and number from time to time, though.

    If you don’t love his way of playing, his special and very specific skill set, then you should at least respect him as a very dedicated, disciplined and loyal employee of our beloved club.

  7. Dreamteam
    February 20, 2015

    Not a fan of his, but we simply can’t let him go with our ban. He’s been digressing since 10′. Of course the prevailing sentiment in our fanbase is in opposition to this article, but this site constantly has to go against the grain or be ” hipster” with its views. Cant say a negative word, unless it’s about Suarez of course.
    You bet your bottom dollar we wouldn’t win a thing with Pedro in there of Suarez, not sure why some cant admit that.

    • Dreamteam
      February 20, 2015

      Also, He played well against Levante? Woooow stop the presses. He’s done this the past years, rack up a good performance or hat trick against mediocre opposition and then hardly affect the game against top teams because he can’t do anything on his own. You are literally apologizing him not being able to beat anyone off the dribble? He has so many deficiencies in his game but all is forgiven because he “runs” Just Unreal.

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2015

      You have solutions? Who do you want to bring in as 4th striker, once you sell Pedro? I know, we cant sell him cos of the ban…but you are presumably knowledgeable…in two posts you have called the author, the members of this site and their views as “hipster” and “unreal,” misrepresented the author’s views, and used sarcasm to bash said views.

      I cant see who I would bring in to replace Pedro, ban or none. He knows the system, he works hard, and frankly he is one of the core members of one of the most successful Barca teams in history. Yes, he is not perfect. But Pedro wouldnt get the minutes he has gotten from Pep, Tito, Tata and LE if his quality is as you make it out to be.

    • FCB16
      February 20, 2015

      Agreed, but some will never give Suarez credit and would rather have Pedro over , say, Reus. He came to Masia at 17 btw, hardly bred a Cule, but around here he’s untouchable, can’t say a bad thing without being told ” you dont get what he does” ” be grateful for his effort” and on and on. Not a chance he fetches 30mil on the open market.

    • February 20, 2015

      No forward of the quality of Reus will want to come to Barca now, at least for the 2 seasons, knowing MSN will be at the peak and will be regular starters.

    • February 20, 2015

      Forget about Reus. As he himself said, “If I went to Barça, where would I play?” I undersrand the fondness for such a player. I also think he made the correct move in staying at Dortmund.

    • bcdr
      February 20, 2015

      Does it matter in which age a player joins in La Masia? Puyol & Buquets joined barca at age 17. They both have barca “DNA”, don’t they?

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2015

      FCB16, what point were you making in your last sentence, when you said there’s “no way [Pedro] fetches 30mil in the open market.” Did someone make this claim?

    • Jim
      February 20, 2015

      I think I saw it mentioned in the English press somewhere. Surprised me but then again Pedro’s skills are right in line with what’s required for that league. I wouldn’t sell him either, largely because he is a great player willing to sit on the bench if needed. You can’t bring in another world class player. They would get disillusioned pretty quickly and we could have dressing room bother. There were a few games this year where I think Neymar was less than chuffed to be removed so its a delicate balancing act all the time for LE.

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      Lol good Luck with this opinion here, he’s a sacred cow, though I concur with your sentiments

    • February 20, 2015

      Thanks for the commentary. To begin with, this site doesn’t always go against the grain or seek the hipster path. There is no tone or agenda here. I do, when I write, strive to be objective, which is easy to mistake for positivity by many. I understand that, but am unconcerned with such, or any views, really. My opinions are my own.

      As noted above, Pedro isn’t going to score for Barça the way that he has in the past. So anyone expecting more 20 goal seasons from him and holding him to that standard is sure to be disappointed.

      But it’s worth asking, as I did while writing the piece above, why coach after coach keeps and plays Pedro. If we are to presume the absence of blackmail images, then we can infer that he brings something to the team that is worth having. The next step is to ask what that is, and go from there. It’s a fairly simple process, made even simpler when you watch him during a match.

      As for “apologizing” for his inability to beat people off the dribble, no such data exists in the piece above. It’s a simple acknowledgement of a player’s weakness. All players have them.

      Pedro will probably always have a spot if he wants to stay. It is difficult if not impossible to find a player who is a willing workhorse, and devotes himself in that donkey work way, to the team.

      — agar, I have said it before and will say it again: ALL opinions are welcome here. Your insistence, however surreptitious, that certain opinions are in fact not welcome here just isn’t supported by the dialogue in the comments spaces. If you have an opinion, bring it out and it will be debated. But just because you don’t have a Greek chorus of assent doesn’t mean an opinion isn’t welcome here.

      This space is for everyone here to discuss this football club. The only rule is that it be done with the respect that you do NOT give the other commenters here when you assume some sort of agenda or cabal of positivity.

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      That wasn’t directed at you Kevin, it just seems that some people become a little too defensive up Pedro. Not sure why. I’m thankful for his contributions but he hasn’t been the same player since our last champions league. Yes he still runs, but criticism of him doesn’t necessarily mean that one doesn’t appreciate what he has done for the club, or that one is not aware of the things he brings once he steps on the pitch. There is simply no one else I suppose? I only fear when we have to call upon our bench to chase a game, when we won’t have the luxury of allowing Pedro to dribble to nowhere only to pass it away because he was shut down one on one.I don’t think we have the firepower. A lot of people want Reus as a LCM btw, not as a forward,with as many counters as we run now? Hed be insanely perfect

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2015

      If someone told me i could immediately replace Pedro in the squad with Reus, would I take? No. Reasons (1) He wont be happy on the bench (2) he wont run as hard (3) period of adaptation which he might not make it through, given (1) above. This isnt taking into account financial aspects. Im speaking practically here.

    • Jim
      February 20, 2015

      Or he could work out like Cesc, Affelay, GDS and several others. That’s the thing with our team and our style. I find it very difficult to try to guess who would fit in and who wouldn’t. I was completely wrong with Cesc who I thought was Xavi’s heir apparent when he arrived. I’m not sure how our scouts assess them. Mind you, maybe that’s partly why Zubi ain’t here no more . . .

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      It’s all speculation at this point but I find it funny that people think that reus won’t “run as hard”

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2015

      address the point instead of calling it funny.

      put it this way. he wont run any harder than Pedro. Few players do.

  8. senyera7
    February 20, 2015

    Hey Kxevin!
    Do you happen to have your archives from theOffside days?
    I’m watching my way through Pep’s full time at Barca, and I’d like some neat reviews to go with it!
    Thanks

    • February 20, 2015

      Unfortunately, no. That all went away when the site changed hands. I am not even sure if The Offside exists in any form, since the people who last had it stepped down.

    • senyera7
      February 20, 2015

      Agh. Aw well! No harm done! I’ll enjoy the matches anyways!

    • February 20, 2015

      Where did you find all of the Guardiola stuff? We get a lot of requests for such material, and I have all of that stuff on DVDs and on my DVR hard drive, but the sources seem to be drying up, which is unfortunate.

  9. Dar_vincy
    February 20, 2015

    Revisiting the Messi link that was a thigh-slapper in disguise from the previous post, it really was quite irresistible not to let out successive bouts of guffawing, much to the chagrin of my co-workers. I’d just recommend it as a standard recipe for stress relieve. Quite magical!
    Apologies for derailing the post.

    • Dar_vincy
      February 20, 2015

      This line practically popped off the withheld laughter- Messi has assisted on nine of Neymar’s 24 goals this season, but what of the other 15?

  10. bcdr
    February 20, 2015

    As FCB16 commented about Pedro “He came to Masia at 17 btw, hardly bred a Cule”, I go through wiki to see some La Masia Product at which age joined to barca. Pedro played more than 100 professional matches. So I counted only them who played more than 100 matches in their professional career (for barca or other clubs). Let’s see few players at roughly 16+ age joined at La Masia:

    Name – Birth Year – Join Year – Barca Senior Career
    Carles Puyol – 1978 – 1995 – 1999-2014
    Thiago Motta – 1982 – 1999 – 2001-2007
    Sergio Busquets – 1988 – 2005 – 2008-?
    Pedro – 1987 – 2004 – 2008-?
    Sergi Barjuán – 1971 – 1988 – 1993-2002
    Luis Milla – 1966 – 1983 – 1984-1990
    Albert Ferrer – 1970 – 1986 – 1990-1998
    Francesc Arnau – 1975 – 1994 – 1996-2001
    Andreu Fontas – 1989 – 2007 – 2009-2013

    Lastly, two name currently playing at B team:
    Munir El Haddadi joined barca in 2011 at age 16
    Edgar Ie joined barca in 2012 at age 18

    • February 20, 2015

      Thank you for the illustrative comment. I reckon that until the club starts a nursery and artificial insemination clinic at La Masia, no player can be said to have been “bred” at La Masia. Even now, I do believe that Sergi Samper is the only Masia resident who has only played at La Masia.

    • bcdr
      February 20, 2015

      Actually there is JUST one player before Samper who completed all level of La Masia – Martí Riverola. Probably, he was loaned out for a season before debuted for first team.

  11. February 20, 2015

    Oh, and this is a general shout-out to the new voices making themselves heard. Thanks for coming, and to you lurkers, please don’t be shy. The more voices, the better.

  12. February 20, 2015

    Thanks to the bloody Star Sports, I and many other Indian fans, will miss tomorrows Malaga match. They have 8 channels in INdia, 3 of them will show different EPL matches, and all the remaining will show Cricket – in fact 4 of them showing the same programme!!!
    I am actually cursing the Liga offices, who decided to show the match at the same time as EPL, the result being in India the TV give priority to EPL and we miss liga match. I dont know if this is the same in China and other East Asian countries. I really doubt, if liga get any benefit from this.

    • Jim
      February 20, 2015

      Yeah, another delayed transmission for me, tomorrow. Means I have to stay off TV and Internet. Bummer. ( I do know btw, that I’m exceedingly fortunate with Sky’s HD coverage so it’s really just a spoiled child’s moan ! )

  13. Dar_vincy
    February 20, 2015

    To the post; like Fabian4barca, I was and still am- albeit less fervent- a fan of Pedro. His goals in crucial matches especially the last minute goal against Estudiantes still inundates my soul with mirth. That said, Pedro’s lamentable decline is a compendium of factors that are worth dedicated consideration. In addition to Kexvin’s thoughts, it could be argued, space deprivation aside, that there has been a significant nose-dive in confidence- either due to poor form or influx of Marquee signings. It’s also pertinent to note that goals good ol’ Pedro buries with aplomb is inexplicably fluffed with bungling miscaculation. A good option is to experiment Pedro in the midfield considering his work rate. Then again, his creative ability doesn’t possess sufficient potency to create opportunities. That said, I don’t believe any player is irredeemable. Atletico’s Tiago is a classic example. Even has Pedro’s output and productivity continue to intermittently frustrate in colossal measure, I’m of the belief that the right coaching approach can restore a player that seems nothing more than a reproach.

    • Inamess
      February 20, 2015

      Awesome writing and points made!

    • Dar_vincy
      February 21, 2015

      Thank you, Inamess.

  14. February 20, 2015

    Just getting to this post now, but I couldn’t have said it better myself. Pedro is not Messi, or Neymar, or Suarez, or even Villa. He’s Pedro, with his own set of skills that have been perfect for the way this team has played over the last few years. People overlook the work he does off the ball, and the numerous ways he helps players like Messi and Dani find space. There is a reason none of his coaches have ever wanted to sell him, even when they can’t find a lot of minutes to give him.

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      Agree to disagree, as soon as Villa left I saw teams again and again converge on Measi daring Alexis or Pedro to beat them, too often they didn’t. Now they cannot. Like stated above, just because I’m not leading the charge for Pedro doesn’t mean I am “overlooking” anything. He’s a decent player with a high work ethic that ruffles no feathers and does what he is told, no reason to get rid of a player like that If no upgrade can be bought.

    • stefan2k
      February 21, 2015

      I’m with blitzen and Kx on this one. This is after all a player who kills it every time he plays for the national team. A player with a kick-ass personality and professionalism who even accepts less playing time and still gives his all every time he gets the chance. Can’t wish for a better sub.

  15. Inamess
    February 20, 2015

    Wow, I never thought Pedro would create so much discussion. Great thoughts so far. A few to add:

    1) Why is Pedro such a polarizing figure? Here I think it is that he is a La Masia product that was integral to the great Guardiola side and is clearly not making the contribution that he used to or many would have expected over the last 2 or 3 years. He has scored some iconic goals but there is no way he will ever be a Barca Legend.

    This raises the question of whether a La Masia product can in this day and age play for the team for his entire career and not be an automatic starter or “star”. Current players in this boat could be Deloufeu, Bartra, Munir, Montoya, etc. The answer is maybe not. Players and agents have too much to lose in settling for a position on the Barca bench or in the “rotation”. Rich English teams will always beckon with promises of instant fortune and fame.

    2) What is Pedro’s role on the team and would a different player make greater contribution? Pedro is currently the fourth striker and is it is his job to sub for “rotation” purposes or to fill in if one of MSN gets hurt. So what does he bring to the table in terms of the team’s effort to score goals against mid-table or weak opponents? If teams “park the bus” then his contribution is limited. He doesn’t draw or take on defenders or create his own shot. If we can play on the counter, then he can definitely score goals but will weak teams do this.

    Also, how much does his “donkey work” really help the team in terms of his tracking back and pressing. It certainly is appreciated but hard to know how much his “effort” is helping. Is it worth giving up the potential of one of our up and coming prospects to keep Pedro? Also, isn’t he worth more to another team such as PSG or an EPL team that would pay us well for his services?

    If a fan base has to argue whether a player is “good” anymore isn’t that answer enough. The guy is not a charity case and will make a fortune playing for another team that he will really appreciate him. I think it’s best if the club cashes in now and let Deloufeu and Munir fight for his place next season. If neither work out and we need to bring in a more seasoned player then market opens next January.

    In the end, Pedro should be remembered for his iconic goals not as a problem to be debated. Here is one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7ShBwNO8uE

    • Jim
      February 20, 2015

      Problem for me is that I’d probably still take Pedro over Deulofeu, Munir or Sandro even next season. There’s even a part of me that thinks that we’re now moving buses around much better which ( just) result in a bit more space in the box and Pedro getting a new lease of life. I’d like to think so anyway.

    • February 20, 2015

      And ultimately, the coaches have a greater word than any fan base, it must be added, as fond as we are of debating the merits of players.

      This post came from, like my Keita post of a while back, of me screaming “Goddammit Pedro, do you have to vex me all the time!?” Then I started thinking about it: Guardiola, Vilanova, Martino and now Enrique. No matter who comes or goes and who rears their head, Pedro always plays when a slot is free. And I got to thinking about why that is. So as with Keita, I tracked him for a match viewing, and it was absurd.

      The question of “what is the value of his donkey work,” I think, can be answered by the times he helped with the press, helped break up attacks, bailed out Alves on defense right outside the Barça box, etc. Nobody will argue for an instant that Messi, Neymar and Suarez aren’t spectacular players. That same person would agree that while Neymar is working like a dog to improve his defending and Suarez has an excellent work rate, neither of them come within a dog’s eyelash of Pedro and his Sanchez-like work rate.

      What is the value of that work rate? If I am a coach who attacks and defends with 11, I would be thinking, as I suspect our coaches do and have (which is why he isn’t sold, loaned or benched), that against certain teams, particularly those at a certain level that love to play off the counter, Pedro is a very effective player when I want to rest a starter. He’s also an effective defensive sub.

      Ultimately we can debate Pedro until we’re blue in the face, but the coaches have the ultimate decision. And all of them so far have said “Make mine Pedro.” Are they right all the time? Nope. But I can’t think of a better way to explain why a player whom so few seem to like is still with the squad, and still gets playing time.

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      Again, for my part I understand that. I just am not inclined to draw some sort of legendary picture about him because of his work rate.I can be thankful for what is given us, I can acknowledge the positives of the present, but I still am not anywhere near as big a fan of some people here seem to be.

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      Well put Ina, couldn’t possibly agree with you more

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2015

      “If a fan base has to argue whether a player is “good” anymore isn’t that answer enough.”

      No.

      What you are arguing here, essentially, is that once any player’s “goodness” is debated by fans of a club, that player really should be going.

      That doesnt add up for me.

      By your argument, Iniesta’s performances earlier in the season mean he should be sold, simply because some fans said he was past it.

    • Inamess
      February 20, 2015

      That’s not really my what I was trying to argue. Perhaps “value” is a better word than “good”. Iniesta is not a bad analogy because his future “value” for Barca is open to question given his current form and injury record. So if Arsenal offered 45 million Euros for Iniesta this summer would you take the deal knowing we have Denis Suarez or whomever you want to buy for the 45 mil coming in as back up?

    • FCB16
      February 20, 2015

      In fairness, people have been questioning (rightly, imo) Pedro for years, he’s far from a victim of any kneejerk reactions

    • Dar_vincy
      February 21, 2015

      Good questions to ponder on…
      The video is poignant.

  16. Jim
    February 20, 2015

    Bit off topic but maybe not. Pop over to Total Barca and have a reminder of R10’s goal against Sevilla. Defence was back but it really didn’t matter. And just look at his speed. Still the most naturally gifted player, bar none, that I’ve ever seen.

    • agar2515
      February 20, 2015

      So many ” what if’s” with Ronnie :/

  17. dl
    February 20, 2015

    Lots of decent comments on all sides of the fence. I think the voices we should be paying the most attention to are the ‘silent’ ones — the long string of coaches who have held tightly to Pedro in spite of many apparent alternatives.
    There are so many intangibles in evaluating a player, and also whether a player will fit a system. As pointed out above, Cesc, Sanchez, and many others looked like sure things on paper, but in fact it just didn’t work. Pedro has many strengths — work rate, maturity, smarts, ball skills, selflessness, understanding of the barca system, connection with teammates. Some of these attributes can be found in other players, but I haven’t heard any player suggested who has them all in equal measure to Pedro. If that is true, getting rid of Pedro in favor of someone else represents a big gamble, and there are too many other projects underway to add yet another to the pile.
    That’s not to say that he’s perfect, or at the same level as MSN, or anything else. But he’s the best choice I can think of for a difficult role. In that regard, because teams morph gradually, the role he currently fills will also change, or maybe even disappear. When that happens, he’ll either change such that he remains the best choice to fill that role, or he’ll be sold. So far he looks to be a gritty survivor — he’s done what it takes to keep a place on the team, mostly, it seems, by making sure the coach feels he’s the best option. I have a lot respect for players with that kind of drive. They know they aren’t on the level of MSN, Xavi, Iniesta, etc. but they are grimly determined to keep their place on the best team we know. He really really wants to play at barca, and works to make sure it happens. Hats off to him.

  18. luisthebeast
    February 20, 2015

    We are not madrid.We must have players from la masia in the squad even if they are not top class.People say in twitter that madrid will buy Pogba and they are so good at it blah blah.THEY spend billions and they won so little.I am proud that my team have 13 la masia players in squad and we can be so good.I dont want Pogba,Reus,Danilo e.t.c.I want Samper,Suarez,Traore,Grimaldo.Thats Barca.

    • bcdr
      February 21, 2015

      Actually I’m not totally agree with you. Most of the player of the Squad will come from La Masia obviously. But that’s incomplete, we need to buy the type of player which La Masia usually can’t product. For example, “Mascherano”. He is a type player La Masia rarely “bred”. This is why Neymar & Luis Suarez were necessary buy. Currently, if we look through, we have no good RB except Alves. If Alves leaves, a RB is necessary. But La Masia can’t supply this, then we buying a top class RB is necessary.

      Of course I agree we are not Madrid. It’ll be abuse to sell someone who isn’t performing badly & buying another player. i.e. selling Rakitic & buying Pogba. Or buying a new player not to give chance La Masia products. i.e. buying Reus or Mata & not giving proper chance to Rafinha or Denis Suarez.

  19. TITO
    February 21, 2015

    All these assumptions for Pedro are related to the fact that he will surely stay.
    What if, and i think is quite possible, that he will ask to leave. Should the board do enough to keep him or just cash on him, comes next January?

  20. Tata2
    February 21, 2015

    I use to like Pedro a lot back in the days when you make a mistake in the box and he’s right there to punish you. I recall the UCL final goal against Man-U and that long range effort against Depor way from our half and more so, with the left foot if I recall. I also recall how he bailed us out against Almeria in the Pep era with a long range shot. He was a clinical finisher and we could always count him to finish and he was also a hard worker then too. Then things changed after his injury? he has been declining since then and now the only thing he offers is running. One of the reasons why we declined for some seasons now was because we had attackers who could only run but didn’t carry a threat save Messi. So teams strategy where simple, put 4-5 men on Messi and ignore the rest. As good as running and working hard is, what is expected of a striker is goals and not that. I haven’t heard of where a coach signed a player because he runs a lot. The barca coaches have kept him cos of first his great attitude in accepting a squad rotation role without making a fuss and two cos he’s from LA masia. Many of us would have rather Alexis stayed and Pedro left. In the opening stages of this season someone was trying to be objective about the Pedro situation and asked why Pedro was still starting games if he really sucked? I promptly replied that it was cause Suarez was serving a ban and once he was cleared to play Pedro would assume his place on the bench and I think several months later now I am as correct. Pedro lacks confidence and is now working hard and over thinking things in a bid to fight for a place among the other two guys (Ney and Suarez) and it just gets worse for him. He’s 27 now and I doubt if he’s ever going to be better. Question is, when we are chasing a game or need a game changing sub, can we count on Pedro? We appreciate everything he has done for the club and all that but the unfair thing about this sport is, you are only as good as your form in your position. We should probably try him at RB where he can run his longs out , he’s even a better crosser than Alves and he doesn’t complain about game time

  21. georgjorge
    February 21, 2015

    Bravo

    Alves Pique Mathieu Alba

    Rafinha Busquets Iniesta

    Messi Suarez Neymar

    Hoping for some beautiful trickery from our midfield and attackers…

  22. ibbe
    February 21, 2015

    The thing about me as a Barca fan is that whoever plays in our colors autmatically gets my full support and 100% backing. Pedro was part of the barca attack during the best time I had as a fan, and I won’t mind waiting more for him to have another stellar season (not necessarily as a starter). I think with time all the pieces will fall into their place and next season will be even better than this one.

    Maybe football is not fair but I’d like to believe that we are still “more than a club” and that we wouldn’t just sell a player who has shown true loyality, love for the club and proffesionalism for over 8 years for a new toy which we wouldn’t really need IMO. He might never reach his top form again or he might explode into form like RVP who spent most of his twenties in the hospital in london.

    Also, never in my life have I seen a football team consisting of 25 megastars, half of which are happy staying on the bench. If we take a look at our rivals’ benches across all of europe, do most of them really have a Reus or Alexis on their bench? We are blessed to have the 3 best attackers in the world, and I highly doubt any team ever had that amount of talent in attack at the same time. But we realistically can’t just have all our players at that standard, that’s ridiculous.

    So my point is that I appriciate the services Pedro has given our team and I know many will disagree but I see him as a club legend. Because in 30 years when I look back at this era I will remember Pedro’s goal at the bernabeu when we won the league with 99 pts. I will remember Pedro’s goal in the CL final and many other memorable momnets. He doesn’t have to be the GOAT or 80+M worth player. But he was at barca at the right time and he brought us happy moments, therefore he’s a BARCA legend.

    • FCB16
      February 21, 2015

      Cruyff, Leo, Puyol, Xavi, Kubala,Pep,VV,Dani, Ronnie… THESE are legends, come on now

    • georgjorge
      February 21, 2015

      I’ll have to agree – a legend seems to be more like someone who either does extraordinary things for the club, or someone who spends a long, long time playing as a starter. Pedro is 27 now and already being played as a sub, which I don’t think is going to put him on the path of club legend. The meaning of “Legend” would have to be extended so wide as to be nearly meaningless if it were to be applied here, I think.

  23. Gekko64
    February 21, 2015

    Classy assist by Alves

  24. Ryan
    February 21, 2015

    We are getting pretty frustrated out there. Malaga look to be more likely to score the next goal, considering the number of counters they’re getting.

  25. G6O
    February 21, 2015

    Rule #1 when playing against a parked bus – no own goals…

    • barca96
      February 21, 2015

      Or at least don’t concede a goal early. That’s just a recipe for disaster. That said, Malaga did venture out but they just got back in numbers very very quickly and our transition just wasn’t fast enough. I wouldn’t really call Malaga parking the bus. They played well and attacked and held the ball well.

  26. FCB16
    February 21, 2015

    Remember when Pedro came on today and changed the game and didn’t piss away his only chance on goal? Oh wait, me neither, lovely timing

    • Davour
      February 21, 2015

      Cheap shot; Pedro contributed energy and running. He’s hardly at fault here. The team sucked, simply.

    • agar2515
      February 21, 2015

      Not cheap at all, speaks to the point made here: Pedro is ok at flat track bullying lesser teams, but if we need to rely on him when we’re down, as if he’s going to turn the tide…he’s not, no matter how much he “moves”

    • FCB16
      February 21, 2015

      Im hardly “blaming” him, just reiterating how underwhelmed I am with him. Decent role player at this point, nothing more.

    • Davour
      February 22, 2015

      Right. I think the sarcasm is pretty telling, but I understand the frustration. Just don’t see the point in racking down on him; how many subs out there are good enough to “turn the tide” in a situation like this, anyway?

  27. Davour
    February 21, 2015

    That was a painful 90 minutes… team did not manage to rise to the occasion this time. Can’t think of one player who did well. The CBs were ok – the rest awful. Messi had the worst game I can remember; Neymar fell flat; Suarez was lost offside constantly. One could mention a terrible match by the referees, and frustrating time wasting by Malaga (which should have been punished more), but there is no escaping that this is another Anoeta, only much much worse. All the stars and at home. Lack of proper attitude. So unbearably annoying. Hopefully a wake-up call for next game. Hlebruary came late this year…

    • georgjorge
      February 21, 2015

      It wasn’t a great game by any means, but I couldn’t see much problem with the “proper attitude” as you call it. The team tried, and tried, and tried to score a goal with all the means available to them. They didn’t manage, but I didn’t see anyone losing heart after 60 minutes or just walking around the pitch not bothering to attack or defend.

      Malaga also defends VERY well – when we played them earlier this season we didn’t even manage a shot at goal. If you start the game one goal down (as Alves ensured we did) against a team that defends really well, it’s bound to be difficult. Not saying Barca couldn’t have been better, but I think it’s actually not too bad for a team to win eleven in a row and then lose one.

    • Davour
      February 22, 2015

      Sure – nobody lost heart, I agree. I simply had the feeling the team didn’t believe themselves that this was going to work. But perhaps i’m projecting. The comment was written in great distress… 🙂

  28. Neel
    February 21, 2015

    Yes, we lost today. Yes I am right now on the veryge of smashing anything in my reach. However, I think today for a change Enrique made smart substitutions when things did not work out. So far, what happened was that he got in the streak of 11 wins since he started doing the obvious which any of us would do. Yes, with some diagonal balls sprayed in to tiki taka which was again long called for and obvious. But the players really just did not have any answer today other than the fact that the wrong offsides really could have helped. MOTM has to be Dani Alves.

  29. Neel
    February 21, 2015

    Also, its a funny coincidence that our last two defeats have come when Messi and Enrique have gone in to a match with completely opposing statements, no matter how subtly or brashly it is put.

  30. Tata2
    February 21, 2015

    Isn’t it interesting that save the el classico, anytime I didn’t watch our liga match we ended losing? Enrique right now should be thinking of how to ensure I watch all of our renaining liga matches. Lol! Well, you win some and lose some but if there’s anytihing our defense should be conversant with now is never losing the first goal. Life is hard enough for us at 0-0 it only gets worse when we have to chase a game. The moment I checked live scores at 32mons and saw that we were a goal down, I knew we were losing.

  31. barca96
    February 21, 2015

    I haven’t had the time to read this article which I suspect is in favor Pedro and funnily enough me and my little brother had a big argument 3 days ago about Pedro. I was defending Pedro while on the other hand wanted Pedro to be sold countering my argument that he is only good in tracking back which isn’t supposed to be his main job. I said he can score too, always scored in big occasions.

    When Pedro sliced his shot, our only clear chance on goal tonight, I did not dare look the other way. What a disappointment. At least hit it on target. Too much time in fact but he decided to blast it.

    And thank you Alves but I think it broke the camels back for me. He doesn’t defend well and doesn’t contribute to the attack but now he gifts goals away too. The team already didn’t click before that and that just made it so much tougher. The loss can’t be blamed on him alone as they had 80mins to recover but they just never had any chance. The team just didn’t look sharp and Alves’ mistake is just an evidence of it, not focused. Were their minds on Manchester City already?

    Man I never like it when players are interviewed and a big deal is made out of a good run and how and why there was a turn around. It’s like a jinx.

  32. barca96
    February 21, 2015

    What is up with all the crossing? Clearly it doesn’t work when the CB’s attack every incoming ball. Why on earth would you continue trying it until the end?

    This crowd is really something else. Tupac would say that they’re quiet as a church mouse. Why can’t they sing and push the players on? Isn’t that what people do in the stadium? Whenever the camera shows the crowd, it looks like they’re sitting in the cinema.

    People always say that there are a lot tourists. I mean c’mon don’t tell me that they make up more than 50% of the crowd. Even at 50%, isn’t the other 50% of real fans enough to generate some kind of noise? That’s gotta be 30-40k people at least if it really is only 50%. Yet it is quiet. The only advantage the team has playing at home is the good grass.

  33. barca96
    February 21, 2015

    I actually thought it was Iniesta who should’ve come off first. He didn’t offer us anything extra. Not offense no defense.

    I predicted quite well before Isco went to Madrid that Iniesta will start declining and Isco will outperform Iniesta. I’m not really sure actually as Iniesta isn’t that old and he doesn’t really rely on pace but he just doesn’t look like he’s up for it anymore. He looks like he lost the hunger.

    Matthieu is another up who I thought should’ve come off for Mascherano. He just doesn’t look like a team player. He just walks around like meh. I don’t see any fighting spirit in him, poor passing out the back, poor positioning.

    I’m glad Lucho tried the 3-4-3 again. It looked good and Matthieu is needed if he wants to play that formation.

    But seriously, Bartra should be over Matthieu now. The former has outperformed the Frenchman almost every single time he plays.

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