“Intellectual laziness” and the football supporter

In the previous thread, something interesting occurred, something worth a short post that deals with it a bit.

There was a comment stating that suggesting we don’t yet know about Douglas relied on the laziest of fan assertions, that we don’t know as much as the people whose jobs it is to know these sorts of things. The question of whether that is lazy or just common sense is a pertinent part of this discussion.

If I am at work editing a story, and an electrician walks into the newsroom, reads over my shoulder and decides that he knows better than I do what makes a story work and how to edit it, I am going to question that in the same way that he would question my assertion that I know more about circuits and wiring than he does. It ain’t our job.

Does that mean that people don’t possess knowledge that enables them to be a savant at something, or have a skill set that nobody knows about? Yep. That electrician could have been the best copy editor at his paper, but he just liked electronics. I could be an electronics savant. But prima facie, each person has a job.

It is the job of people to look at talent, and decide whether that talent is good enough to warrant consideration for the FC Barcelona first team. They get it wrong. Every team does. But usually, a player has the opportunity to fail before being deemed a failure. A player like Douglas is a special case, however. He isn’t good enough, period, and we don’t even need to see him play. As a matter of fact, him playing has the potential to make fools out of the “Not good enough and never will be crowd.” So playing him is actually a danger when you have something invested in his failure.

Supporters have an investment in themselves, their opinions and further, an investment in failure. Once a player is deemed “inadequate,” every semantic backflip will be used to ensure that said player remains thus. It’s like the people who insisted, based on not much more than their view of a coach and what they thought that coach was doing, that Barça didn’t have a chance against Atleti. Those people were silent when Barça beat Atleti not once, but three times. It’s easy to knee-jerk your way to a close-hugged opinion.

More difficult is to wait. To sit tight and see what a player or team, or anything ACTUALLY does rather than having an opinion and being unwilling to alter that opinion in any way, or evince any sort of flexibility. That is the purest form of intellectual laziness, because it doesn’t even want to make an effort to consider that something might be different.

We see it all the time, and not just with Douglas. We have seen it with Mathieu, Bravo, Neymar, Mascherano, etc, etc. We have seen it in the case of Andoni Zubizarreta, the man who should be, as some suggested, put in jail for signing Bravo over Ochoa or Keylor Navas. Only we don’t know, really, because neither of those inducements to a criminal act is seeing the light of day at their current teams, both of which are below Barça in the league standings.

This investment in failure and intellectual rigidity won’t stop until football supporters develop the kind of intellectual flexibility that allows them to consider other views, to consider the notion that maybe, just maybe, people who are paid large sums to assess talent might have a clue. If you look at the list of players who are making significant contributions to the success of this year’s team, which is in contention for a Treble, and how many of them were signed by the very man so many supporters claim is incompetent, that reality means that somebody, somewhere has gotten something wrong.

The talent assessors aren’t infallible. They get it wrong, or take a punt on a player who has a skill set that might translate into something interesting all the time. Henrique, Keirrison, Caceres, Hleb, Song, Barça has many players like that in its recent history. That kind of stuff happens. Look at what Txiki B and Soriano are doing with a blank checkbook at Manchester City. Does that mean they are incompetent? These are the guys who presided over the transfer period that brought in players crucial to the best period in Barça’s footballing history. You make signings, and you take a shot.

But patience is sometimes required. And I don’t understand writing a player off just because a supporter needs that player to be poor. Mascherano is a no-passing card magnet. Pique is a poker-playing playboy. Alves isn’t committed to the club any longer. Mathieu is a chain-smoking beanpole who isn’t good enough. And supporter have absolutely nothing invested in the situation. If our team wins or loses, if a player doesn’t cut it, we have nothing to lose or gain. Bragging rights ts the pub, the chance to strut around in the shirt, etc, etc, maybe a bit of money placed on a bet. That’s it. Nothing. Our job isn’t on the line, our future in the game isn’t at risk. Nothing. Yet we carp, argue and deem players who are given a shot at the club we support, “unworthy.” “I’ve seen him play. He sucks. Nowhere near good enough.” Got it. But it isn’t logical.

Douglas isn’t as good as Alves. No player in world football is, which is why Alves is in the catbird’s seat. Danilo? I have watched him play, and see talent. But it isn’t my job to say whether he has the potential to be as good as Alves. I don’t know enough to say that. That isn’t “lazy,” that’s just simple reality.

I don’t care about being right or wrong, mostly because except in the objective sense of a scoreline, such things don’t exist. But if Douglas turns out to be a helpful player for FC Barcelona, that would make me happy as a clam because the team has a need at the position he plays. It’s as simple as that. And in the battle to label, the only label I have for such a potential happenstance is, “Cool!”

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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.

66 Comments

  1. March 30, 2015

    I like this article. As for my opinion on Douglas, I must admit that I’ve been a skeptic since day one and I seriously doubt that he will ever come good for Barça.

    This is not because I know more than our scouts, but what about all the other scouts? Douglas was 24 years old and played for one of the biggest clubs in Brazil. The idea that if at that age, and in this age, he still hadn’t been picked up by the scouts of hundreds of European clubs that roam South America yet is still good enough for a club like FC Barcelona is far fetched to say the least.

    • ciaran
      March 30, 2015

      I agree with the article in regards to people’s assessment of players they haven’t had enough of an opportunity to effectively have an informed opinion on.
      I also agree that if Douglas was good enough to pay play for Barca then he would have most likely have had a number of offers from European clubs before signing for us which would have most likely have happened at 19/20.

      Now there are always exceptions. Thiago Silva made the jump to Europe a lot later than most, as did Miranda. But still, you would imagine that had he lit up the Brazilian league then he would have had offers.

      Danilo is an interesting option. Porto have never been overly impressive defensively but he always looks like a good footballer. Certainly, he would be one that I would be closely looking at.

    • March 31, 2015

      Danilo supposedly has a deal with M*drid already…

  2. georgjorge
    March 30, 2015

    I like the general thoughts outlined in the article, but the case of Douglas just seems too clear to me to put it all down to narrative and the “need” of fans for some player to be bad. In addition to what Levon wrote above, if a player who no-one in the business had ever heard of comes to a club, plays one or two times and then spends the rest of the season almost never even being called up for a match squad then that seems already a pretty clear-cut assessment of his skills by everyone involved. Compare that to your other examples – Pique, Mascherano, Alves, Mathieu – whose skills can be discussed at length, but who at least have a good reputation in the footballing business and were called up for match squads – and got to play on the field! – even in their first years at the club.

    • agar2515
      March 31, 2015

      Nailed it.

  3. Son
    March 30, 2015

    I use to imagine if Douglas was bought from a top club like Bayern, BVB, Arsenal or Liverpool, culers assumptions would have been different irrespective of his talent. Just imagine we bought Cuadrado instead and played him a few games, and he didn’t give our expectations like Douglas, we will still have an excuse for him.

    Just look at him, during training or anytime you saw him with our other players, he looked nervous and silent.
    I believed he knew how bad we have made him. It’s not that I say he is good or will be good, he doesn’t deserve what the fan gave to him. Because it’s not his fault that he comes from Santos, it’s our fault that we keep abusing our own player knowing that he doesn’t even get enough time to prove himself.

    LE played him away against PSG, maybe he trust him atleast at some point.

    My point is, we don’t have enough idea about how bad he is, so lets just give him sometime, atleast he is our player and its not his fault that we hate him.

    • Son
      March 30, 2015

      Btw I’m not a fan of abusing any player untill and unless they repeat the same mistake a hundred times.
      And my comments are not offensive intended to anyone.

    • March 30, 2015

      I’m sorry, did you just say Douglas got abused? Apart from the fact that if he plays his cards well he will be set for life, financially speaking, I was one of many who cheered him on and chanted his name in the Camp Nou. All in good fun, but we chanted his name nevertheless.

  4. March 30, 2015

    For me, I could give two craps about Douglas until such a time as he proves himself useful or not useful to the club. I just think that people need to apply logic and reason to these kinds of situations.

    If he plays and sucks, or becomes another Keirrison, he’s fair game. Another failed transfer. Rock on. And I will be pooh-poohing right along with the rest of them, as Barça are forced to give Dani Alves a chunk of the club, a key to city and a chicken, to keep him from leaving the club with Douglas and Montoya as RBs.

    But for right now, we just don’t know, and should wait until we do. Wonder if the people who wanted Enrique fired feel wronged because they didn’t get their way? Football rewards patience.

    • March 30, 2015

      So are you saying that the arguments layed out by myself and Georgjorge are not based on logic and reason? And are we not already forced to give DA a chunk of the club, a key to the city and a chicken to keep him from leaving the club with Montoya and Douglas?

      He has played two or three games out of a whole season. Most of the times he doesn’t even get to sit on the bench, and that includes games in which Dani Alves is injured/suspended. How long should people wait until they can draw their conclusions? Until we see him play how many games, will those games ever come, and where’s the fun in that?

  5. Jim
    March 31, 2015

    Is the DA situation as bad as all that ? We make him a reasonable two year offer – he wants three we probably wanted one. He takes it or he goes. If he goes, we have Montoya, Bartra ( he wasn’t just good, imo he was very good in his game there), (Pedro to give him minutes?) Adriano and Masche who could all hold down a RB role perfectly well. Douglas is ours and can have another few shots at hacking it next year. Strikes me his technique is reasonable but his brain has been fried whenever he’s played for the firsts but that could improve. Can’t remember what his tackling is like. We choose who depending on whether we want a raiding or stay at home game from them. They have Pique playing beside them and now that Mathieu is playing beside him they are covering better for each other so I worry slightly less about Pique getting drawn wide. If TV comes back into the equation as CB and if he has finally solved the injury and I’ve no reason to doubt our doctors because they know they’ll be held to account if they’re leading U.S. Up the garden path, then we will have one very versatile player desperate to repay the club. Maybe a bit rosy tinted but I don’t think this one is the end of the world. There was a time when our RB spot was crucial to the team but not now. I worry a lot more about our midfield.

  6. agar2515
    March 31, 2015

    If people haven’t read this I suggest they do so, epic chronicle of how we got to where we are: http://lucasammr.com/2015/01/29/from-throne-to-gutter/

    ALSO, note the Douglas segment, fishy indeed:

    August 27th, 2014: Douglas aka Traffic strikes again

    “Only mentioning his signing because it is offensive. Not only did this board sign a player who wasn’t even good enough for the Brazilian League and it’s kick-and-rush football, but he “happened” to have come to the club with the help from the same people who brought us Henrique and Keirrison, players we spent a lot of money on and didn’t play a single second for us.
    Third time is the charm, right? 5,5mi euros for a player who won’t even play 7 matches this season, and while Luis Enrique does defend him from time to time, it’s clear he’s just taking one for the team. No team in Europe chased Douglas. Hell, no other big team in Brazil was even tempted to approach him.
    But we, with Traffic and the people they have close to our club, managed to steal from us again, only this time, they decided to let the player in the squad to remind us of their audacity.
    May our next board never repeat this shameful link between Traffic and FC Barcelona.
    Albert Valentin (ex- head FCB scout) is no longer an employee of the club. May Juan Figer be banned as well.”

    • agar2515
      March 31, 2015

      And I totally get what you’re going for Kevin and would largely agree ( Heck in that first Douglas article Lucas is fretting over Bravo, who has ended up being fantastic), I think Douglas is a clear exception to the ” wait and see” stance you advocate here, for so, so many reasons

  7. March 31, 2015

    After scoring 41 goals a season, even Lionel Messi was termed a failure and many journalists even went far as to say his best is long past him and bla bla. Even in this blog people commented about selling him. (Based on your view point Kevin(which I appreciate), most of this journalists should shut up. Am fully in accord with what Benzema once said about journalists)

    So it is normal for people to doubt a player, who was picked out of no where by us, and then inspite of having problems at the right back position, mostly watches the game from our stands. If he was even anywhere near in quality of Montoya, he would have had more minutes.

    At the same time, all this time in our stands is not really doing any good for Douglas too. Imagine a poor boy in a school meant for only rich students, (my own experience) all what it can help is to create a lot of inferiority complex. I really wish, either he is played with the B team, or is sold right away.

    • March 31, 2015

      You guys really need to read about Thiago Silva, Vietto, Carlos Bacca…

      Thiago Silva was the revelation of Brazil, signed by Porto for 2.5 million, only played with the reserve team, went to Dinamo Moskva, got ill from tuberculosis, went back to Brazil and in two years got much better, which is how we came back to Europe.

      Carlos Bacca was signed for 1.5 million by Brugge, before he was bought by Sevilla for 7 million.

      Lucas Resende´s rants are well-noted. Nothing done by this board is good. Ever. The good things are either exceptions that prove the rule, a broken clock that shows the correct time twice a day, or future disasters that are going to happen.

      I believe the real reason why most fans turn on the hate on Douglas is first because he isn’t their preferred option, and second, because armchair scouting experts who know it all hate it when they don’t know something.

      Personally I don’t think that Douglas is that bad as his haters think he is, and unfortunately I don’t think he’s as good as his well-wishers would like him to be(and I consider myself one of them).

      From what I’ve seen from him in the short videos of daily training, he’s not awesome, but he’s quite good as back-up of a starter. In actual games he’s been very, very nervous, and even so he would’ve had at least a pair of assists in the CdR match, if Munir had paid attention – and he had an assist to Adriano in the return leg against Elche – and that is after four months in Europe, playing against teams that play against Barcelona?

      The guy won’t be a star, but guess what, he doesn’t need to be. He needs to be able to play the grind-out games that need the obligatory victory in order to continue competing, in order for the starters to get some rest so that they are fresh for the big matches that still count as three points in the grand scheme of things. Can he develop to such an extent? I don’t know. Which is why I reserve my judgement. Bravo was bad, Mathieu was an ugly old chain-smoker, AND he was bad and overpriced.

      So what does the crystal ball tell you now?

    • March 31, 2015

      Sorry, this was an answer to agar2515.

    • agar2515
      March 31, 2015

      For the upteenth time, look at where the board has landed us. If you want to go through its history and pull out the good then by all means. Does it change a thing in the present? Nope? You’re just railing against people you view as “overly negative”.

      We have an aging RB that is (most likely) leaving, without a clear backup in a system that highly depends on fullback play and we sign a Douglas? You see nothing wrong with that? Your own POV I guess

      As someone else stated in here Bravo and Mathieu were at least proven talents before coming over, regardless of whether or not people though they were “good enough” for Barca.

    • Son
      April 1, 2015

      And i think they’re the same people cried out at old Mathieu and overpriced grandpa. Nawwww?

    • bcdr
      March 31, 2015

      I don’t know why people take Lucas Resende’s rant as true as Bible. He mostly does baseless claims. His most sources are some non-reliable. He takes benefit of doubt as the board has some serious faults.

    • agar2515
      March 31, 2015

      Instead of being all libelous, go on twitter and tell him this. Give clear examples, don’t just be vague because you dont agree with him.

    • bcdr
      April 2, 2015

      Sure I’ve tried to. And he blocked me instead 🙂

      Let me clear you something. When you judge watching only one side of the coin, then the judgement can’t be correct. And I believe in this philosophy. We all have different views and that’s the best (or worst) part of being a human being.

    • Jim
      March 31, 2015

      I read the article in question. For me, not a great piece of writing. It’s just a whole slew of his opinions put forward as fact with no attempt at balance in which case you make it clear it is just your opinion.

      The board issue is a difficult one for me. There are a whole slew of people here who don’t like them and I’m not delighted about the ban or the fuss over the Neymar transfer but couldn’t care less about the selling of the jersey and actually agree with them that it’s about time Barcelona got a stadium worthy of the club. It’s old and feels old. I think they’ve strengthened the team and I also happen to think Barto himself has done a pretty good job since he took over.

      Although things might come out in any court case to change things, If we are still in for the treble, debt coming down, the best front three in the world ( and the board took a big gamble on Suarez), pinched Neymar from under Madrid’s nose and as a club we are showing Xavi the courtesy of allowing him to make choice of where and when to go, Barto’s not doing too badly, imo. I have to keep telling myself we tend only to hear one side here.

    • FCB16
      March 31, 2015

      So two “maybe” assists against a 3rd division team we beat 12-1 agg and ONE assist against 15th in the league Elche is your evidence for Douglas? Wow. I can’t believe what Im reading

    • bcdr
      April 2, 2015

      Why is “Defending Douglas” a crime? Don’t your examples show Douglas actually has sometime to offer?

      Most of us have watched Douglas’s every simple minutes playing. And In my view, he significantly played better in his last match than at the beginning of the season & that’s positive. Expecting Douglas or Montoya to become next Alves – That’s delusion. But not picking the positives is also delusion.

  8. luisthebeast
    March 31, 2015

    The people who make jokes about Douglas(including me,but i am not a hater and i hope he will find a place in the team)and Vermaelen please dont forget the 14m for Keirison,the 8m for Henrique,25m for Chigrinsky and Hleb,Caseres e.t.c.I critisized Zubi a lot but before him we also made mistakes.Pep s team was not a team made by wonderful transfers.Messi Xavi Iniesta Puyol Busquets Pedro made that team so great.I hate the board but not for the wrong reasons.I hate the corruption,the sponsor on the shirt,the bad situation in La Masia and a lot other reasons.Zubi big mistake was the ban not the transfers.

    • bcdr
      March 31, 2015

      The Ban isn’t completely Zubi’s or this board’s fault. Some of the transfer were happened during Laporta’s region. This board thought FIFA wouldn’t dare because it’s La Masia & it was a mistake. I think, If Laporta board runs right now, they would have similar thought – FIFA wouldn’t dare to La Masia.

  9. luisthebeast
    March 31, 2015

    The club need a new board.A board with young people with fresh ideas,people who will not use the club for political reasons(Laporta)or for business(Rosell).I dont know if i will go to vote but i hope the members will not go to the past.Benedito seems a good candidate but i want to know more about him and his ideas.

  10. March 31, 2015

    I still fail to see how everyone can “know” about a player who hasn’t played all that much, and who both Zubizarreta and Enrique said is a player for next season.

    I understand all of the things that we are supposed to know, but as I have written above, even amid all the assertions that “normally we don’t know, but Douglas is different. It’s a corrupt deal, etc, etc, he’s terrible.”

    But we still don’t know, despite the vehemence of the assertions. My preference is to wait until I know. How will I know? By watching him play. Everything else before that is just rants and speculation, irrespective of the vehemence of the argument presented by someone.

    Dani Alves has been, was, and still is one the best RBs in the world. I wouldn’t expect an easy replacement to be found. Montoya isn’t it. I know this because I have watched him play enough to be able to ascertain that he isn’t it. Is Douglas a replacement for Alves? No. In the same way there will be no replacement for Puyol, or Xavi, or Iniesta. You don’t get to replace once in a lifetime players. That isn’t how it works.

    So what do you hope from in a Barça RB, as the system sits. It starts with pace. You can’t teach pace. By all reports, Douglas has pace. He also has ball skills, because it’s impossible to play football in Brazil and not have ball skills.

    The next question becomes what can be learned. Perhaps this is at the root of the statements that Douglas is a player for next season. Is he learning? Dunno. But at some point we have to take people at what they say, rather than what we want them to say. “Douglas is for next season.” Okay. So we see next season.

    • March 31, 2015

      Fair enough. And of course, if next season proves me wrong, I’ll be all the happier for it.

    • agar2515
      March 31, 2015

      I really have no idea why you’re so adamant on this, that DOuglas is going to be uh fast and then learn how to be a class Barca RB in a year after barely playing? Wiith multitudes to the contrar…ok I guess? Im also shaking my head that you’re taking them at their word for next season, considering the head scout of Douglas AND Zubi are no longer employed. Nope nothing fishy, nothing at all.

    • March 31, 2015

      Because the rush to judgment is something that is illogical. I don’t care who said what. What I am simply saying is it makes no sense to discard a player before we know how he is.

      You ask why am I so vehement in defense of logic? Why are.you so insistent that Douglas is not Barça quality? If the people who knew better were runnimg things, we would have Ochoa sitting on the bench behind someone, Mangala making silly challenges and providing 40m of value on the bench, and lord knows who else.

      As for Zubizarreta, you look at his transfers and explain why he was fired, except as the sacrificial lamb? Have a good, hard look. I will help:

      Failures: Song
      Unknowns: Douglas, Vermaelen
      Successes: Neymar, Suarez, Bravo, Ter Stegen, Mathieu, Rakitic, Alba, Sanchez, Adriano, Mascherano

      He essentially helped reshape a team that is now in contention for a Treble. Bartomeu tossed him over the side in the effort to save his ass. Okay. Meanwhile he watches his transfers do well and giggles his ass off.

      So you know what? If Douglas plays and is crap, we can run him out of town on a rail. For now, his only crime is existing, and having run afoul of keyboard warriors.

    • georgjorge
      April 1, 2015

      I would love to judge him after watching him play – though discussions about other players show that even that isn’t as simple as it sounds – but he’s apparently not deemed good enough to play by the people who make that kind of decisions. That tells me more than him playing badly would tell me.

      I’m not a “Douglas hater” (as someone else termed people with my opinion above) and I’ll be glad if he turns out to be a spectacular players, but there’s a very high chance he’ll not turn out that way, and it’s totally fine to say so. It’s not as if Douglas logs on here after training and his self-esteem is lowered by what we type here in any way.

    • phunky
      April 1, 2015

      Kxevin, look at the successful transfers Zubizarreta has made. All the successes are players that were one of the top players in their team or in the world.

      His exploration into the unknown is where he fails.

      I’ve just pointed out a trend here; I don’t mean to diss Zubi in any way. He’s clearly just a sacrificial lamb here.

    • April 1, 2015

      True, phunky. But I reckon that most technical directors would fall short there. I think that every team wants that diamond in the rough, the buy low player who plays way above his fee. Caceres, Henrique and Keirrison are a few of those shots in the dark that didn’t pan out.

      We’ll see about Douglas, I reckon.

    • April 1, 2015

      That is both true and not.

      See, when you are in a top team by default you will be looking at the best players that could fulfil your needs. By definition these are normally very good players, who are above the average in their teams, the key players. But even then that’s not a bullet-proof guarantee that you’ve bought the suitable player.
      Because suitable is not always “the best”. You need a player whose skills will complement the rest of the team and whose deficiencies will be compensated for by the rest of the team. You also need the right attitude.

      Ibra didn’t work out in Pep’s Barça. It’s not that he was bad, far from it, but it was the attitude. Neymar was stated to be incompatible with Barcelona, due to his flashiness, his attitude off the pitch and the fact that he would have to play in the shadow of Messi. Johann Cruyff said that two cocks can’t share the same dunghill. Well, now there are actually three cocks, and he didn’t know how these three would be able to combine, because they’re too individualistic.

  11. luisthebeast
    March 31, 2015

    And dont forget that with Douglas we did not spend 40m for Cuadrado.Thank god!!!!

  12. luisthebeast
    March 31, 2015

    Pedro as a RB in my opinion will be a great move.The problem is that he the 4th forward and we dont have anyone to replace him.The other problem is that he want to be in Spain NT for the EURO16 and as a RB in Barca it will be very difficult.If Alves leave Lucho must change the philosophy of our defense until Jan16

    • xris
      April 1, 2015

      what about youngsters?
      i was impressed with adama twice i saw him play. munir also wasn’t bad.

  13. lovell
    April 1, 2015

    @Jim
    “I’m not delighted about the ban or
    the fuss over the Neymar transfer .”

    Really ??. You really think its a FUSS. Do you have a clue what this kind of sh*t does to the psychology of players?. Imaging playing in a team where everyone turns to look at you twice (not because you are good/ great in neymars case) because you’r transfer brought down the PRESIDENT.
    Not to talk about the sums in question.

    • April 1, 2015

      Neymar is sufficiently well grounded to understand that he simply made demands. He didn’t tell Barça to structure a deal in any way, or do business in a way that attracts the attention of the tax authorities. And if he doesn’t fully understand that, his professional advisers will ensure that he does.

      What is important to note is that Neymar’s transfer didn’t bring down Rosell. The way that the board chose to handle the transfer brought down Rosell. They didn’t want to just pony up the cash, so they tried some stuff. All’s fair in love, war and business, but now the club is dealing with the consequences, for which Neymar’s culpability is exactly zero.

    • Jim
      April 1, 2015

      I wasn’t really talking about Neymar all. I was talking about the way the board structured his transfer which may or may not have been at Neymar’s behest. And no, I don’t think it affects Neymar at all. I’m sure he’d rather it hadn’t been dragged through the courts but he has been welcomed warmly by the players and looks completely at ease at Barcelona.

      And no, I wouldn’t put it at any more than a fuss because I’m sure that many/ most? transfers from Latin American countries will have various side bits, deals and other things that the clubs would rather didn’t see the light of day. I remember vividly my first amateur contract was illegally accompanied by a brand new pair of kangaroo leather Hummel boots – anyone remember them?) This happens all the time. Talk to Harry Redknap about deals !

      They have only come to light because of the actions of one of our own socios ( although tbh I’ve a lot more time for Barto than I do him and the guiding hands behind him because I don’t reckon this was as innocent as it seems). For the record I would also gladly have paid 100m Euros for Neymar up front. He’s way better than Bale and a better player, although maybe not goal scorer, than Ronaldo. Where Messi is a once in a lifetime player I reckon Neymar will be the player of his generation and that’s worth the money.

    • April 1, 2015

      That is exactly right, Jim. Pay the 90m and get it done. But there was so much worry about the fee and soci perceptions, structuring the deal in a particular way, etc. That has proven to be problematic.

      RM paid 100m for Bale. Total cost of the deal? No idea. Nobody does, and RM isn’t saying. Put the Bale deal to the same scrutiny as the Neymar deal and who knows what you find.

      There are no problems with the Suarez deal, because the club said “Here’s 82m. Send him.” That’s it.

      The problem with the Neymar deal isn’t the desl, but the structure. Some for you, not as much for you, some for him, that isn’t income but that is, that isn’t salary but that is, etc, etc. Now DIS is raising their hand, in addition to the Spanish courts, saying we still haven’t received our pound of flesh from this deal, if these new numbers are the real numbers.

      Jordi Cases brought about the mechanisms that brought down a president. He has also brought about the mechanisms that might potentially damage the club that he supports. Not sure how he feels about that, but at the end of it all is a target: a complex deal that might or might not be illegal as regards taxes owed.

    • Inamess
      April 2, 2015

      This is a good summary. However the statement about Cases that he he “might potentially damage the club that he supports” is factually misleading. The guy has inflicted massive damage to the club by pursuing his personal vendetta whether through unintended consequences or not.

  14. April 1, 2015

    RM has signed Danilo. For 31.5m. I’m sure there are enough old-schoolers here to remember when culers shat kittens because the club signed Dani Alves for 29+6m. Del Nido crowed about the deal and counted his Euros while Barça counted trophies.

    Porto knows how to do business, but given how shackled they are by third-party ownership demands, they have to drive a hard bargain. If teams are willing to pay the price, there you go. Barça wasn’t. Should it have been? Time will tell.

  15. Humphrey Bogart
    April 1, 2015

    Hm, i think you have a point re too early judgment and lacking knowledge of behind the scenes on going. So i rely on the judgement of one who should be in the know: LE. Why can we not judge Douglas on how he plays? Because we never see him playing. And that tells me all i have to know. Question is not that we think Douglas is not good enough, it is clear that LE thinks that he is not good enough. With Dani’s likely impending departure he has not given Douglas any minutes, if needed he is still relying on Monty or Adriano, that, more than anything else, is clear inditement of his lack of quality. You are right, coaching team knows best about our player, so taking this rule to their last consequence: Douglas lacks quality because LE clearly thinks he lacks quality (interpreted from his actions a ka not playing him, not even in CdR games beside some mintues)

    • Jim
      April 1, 2015

      Is a middle point not possible though? Maybe he hasn’t been great, maybe LE doesn’t rate him but all our other players get a season to adjust. It wouldn’t hurt to just wait and see. If he doesn’t work out its not a fortune and like I said before I reckon he has decent ball skills. It’s more his thinking I wasn’t impressed by but he’s learning our system every day.

    • April 1, 2015

      The question remains: What’s the hurry?

      Douglas is clearly a punt taken by the technical staff. That will take time to assess.

  16. Jim
    April 1, 2015

    Nice to see there are still some sportsmen out there. From Barcastuff :

    Guus Hiddink (coach NED): “Iniesta is not only an amazing player, but also a great person. Those who booed him should feel bad.”

  17. Son
    April 1, 2015

    Yes! Lets just wait and see. If he doesn’t get a playtime or have sufficient enough time to prove himself in the coming season or two and fails, we’ll judge him. I’m talking about Douglas. Before that, its very interesting to know how LE will manage our rb if incase Alves leaves. I wish Douglas proves us all wrong. That will be the best one can wish for.

    And about Don, I think the Dutch still feel the pain of his 2010 crucial goal. But Iniesta is not a player you could booed for.
    The guy is a gift from heaven.

  18. April 1, 2015

    Some of you may not remember what happened this silly season.

    Back in the summer, there were these two awesomest and bestest CBs on the market, Mangala and Benatia. Benatia was this strong, athletic all-seeing and scoring central, revelation of Serie A, whose weak foot was thought to be worth 30 million Euro.

    Mangala was this terrific rising star of centrals, coveted by every big club and by countless armchair scouts.

    Only a rambling fool would’ve let those two get away when there’s a dire CB crisis, right? Zubi was that fool. He signed Mathieu and Vermaelen. Vermaelen is still recovering from his operation, but what about Mathieu?

    Mangala was flown in a private jet to City for his medical in a deal reported at 32 million GBP, or 44 million Euro. As of today his best game according to squawka was against West Bromich Albion. That was after City got eliminated by Barcelona, with Mangala watching the first leg from the bench, and the second on TV.

    Benatia’s price dwindled during the summer, falling first to reported 45 million Euro, then 38 million guaranteed-deal from Chelsea, then 30 million, then just before the end of August Bayern’s starting defender Javi Martinez suffered a season-ending injury and Bayern swooped in and bought Benatia for reported 26 million Euro.
    Benatia has played a total of 12 Bundesliga games and five Champions League games, scored one goal in his best game in the tough 4-0 victory of Bayern over Augsburg, and gifted Manchester City the second place of the CL group after getting himself sent off, and letting Aguero score the first goal of his eventual hat-trick against Bayern Munchen.

    Mathieu’s best game this season(played 20 games in La Liga, 4 Champions, 4 Copa del Rey) was in El Clasico, scoring the first goal and having a good game against Real Madrid.

    There was today a small debate on twitter about the relative merits of Mathieu and Benatia(“Benatia still better than donkey Mathieu, y’all!”), which is what prompted me to use squawka’s comparison matrix to look at their relative contribution.
    Here is a nice comparison between Benatia’s domestic and Champions League performance, and Mathieu’s, with Pique’s La Liga performance thrown in.
    http://tiny.cc/5iqfwx

    And here is the comparison between the domestic performance of Mathieu, Benatia, Mangala, Pique and Bartra:
    *http://tiny.cc/benatia-mangala-barca

    It would also be nice to compare the games against European competition – after all Benatia played against City…of sorts, Mangala against Bayern, and Mathieu against City and also against PSG.
    *http://bit.ly/1EGM9oM

    Stats don’t show the whole picture, I know. Still, they paint an interesting one, don’t you think?

    • FCB16
      April 2, 2015

      Doesnt change that Benatia was the best defender in Serie A last season and has all the tools for FCB. Just because Mathieu has been good doesnt mean the others are wank.

    • FCB16
      April 2, 2015

      Plus he is younger, that was a big point from people as well. Also not constantly broken like TV. Don’t think he’s been done many favor either by going from traditional Serie A defense and team layout to whatever formation Pep wants to deploy on a given day, that sort of adjustment takes time.

    • April 2, 2015

      My point is that if Javi Martinez hadn’t torn his ACL, Benatia would still be “the best defender in Serie A”.

      But you miss my point by looking at it from the other way:

      It’s not that those two suck, but rather they aren’t that much better, if at all, than the much-mocked and ridiculed Mathieu, who was considerably cheaper than either of them.

      Mathieu went from a traditional defence in Valencia to playing a hybrid left-centerback-defensive-midfielder with half the pitch empty behind his back. It’s not as suicidally difficult as it was before, but it’s still a very… unnatural way for a defender to play.

    • Inamess
      April 2, 2015

      I am still a agnostic when it comes to football statistics but here is a really good article on a recent book on the subject:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/sports/soccer/with-new-book-seeking-truth-in-statistics-of-soccer.html?_r=0

      A few highlights that really get at the importance of the defenders:

      “Possession has become the stat of the millennium, but in the opinion of the authors, it is abused and misused. From Spain to Barcelona to the local under-10 team, they say, the more important metric is managing turnovers. And the most damaging turnovers occur in a team’s defensive third of the field.”

      “Championships are won by the lunch-bucket guys on defense, who are often undervalued and misunderstood. The glamour boys garner all the attention for what they make happen, but it is defenders who keep things from happening. Sally said soccer “is not a game of superstars, it’s a game of galoots and a game of mistakes.”

      While this may sound like some of Jose Mourinho’s core philosophy it might be part of our success this year as well. CBs are the new the new glamor position and hopefully Pique and Mathieu will pick up the rest of their seasons right where they left off in the classico.

  19. bhed
    April 1, 2015

    Most of the assistant principals and principals I’ve worked under, and they come and go like tourists, haven’t been fit to manage a school of fish, much less judge career classroom teachers. Having also worked in business, there was also often an inverse relationship between one’s altitude in the organizational chart, and competence.

    You think I’m being a crank? Exhibit B – watch “The Wire” (especially seasons 3 and 4) – a scathing indictment of the venality and cluelessness of those at the top of large organizations, as opposed to dedicated worker bees in the trenches.

    What does this have to do with the price of milk? Electrician vs editor comparisons notwithstanding, a title does not equal skill or judgment, and those involved at a high level are sure as hell more invested in their decisions than any fan. Career/financial fallout trumps the desire to say “I told you so.”

  20. Inamess
    April 2, 2015

    Since its international week, here are some of thoughts and questions on some recent topics:

    1) In the case of Douglas, I don’t think it had that much to do with scouting as it just being a case of a mediocre player and a desperate club. Santos needed to raise money and our club felt it needed to buy a right back in the wake of not getting Cuadrado. Traffic was more than happy to serve as the middleman in this bit of business. In the big scheme of things, the deal is unlikely to hurt the club and I imagine the new board will sell him back to a Brazilian club by the summer of 2006. The deal does, however, highlight Barca’s relative weakness in scouting in South America in comparison to those clubs that do it well.

    2) Is La Masia in the middle of a huge crisis? As much as we like to talk about the irresponsibility of the board in the transfer ban, I think that its most important implication has been overlooked. The laws on the transfer of minors probably hurt our club more than anyone else in world football. Where before we could take our pick of the most talented youth products in the world, we now are just another club that will try to recruit prima donna 16 year olds from the EU and 18 year-olds from everywhere else. Also, with Barca B now in the relegation zone and Martin Odegaard recently getting huge wages from Real, the signs are troubling. The best thing to help this situation is to make sure that Barca B stays in the Segunda and this generation of La Masia ends up being an exceptional one.

    3) How should we define success for this season? I often look to betting markets to get an idea of the expectations for the club’s success at any given time. By my estimation, here is where we stand:

    Odds of winning La Liga: 70% Odds of winning the CL: 25%
    Odds of winning the Copa: 85% Odds for a Treble: 15%

    If we can win two of these trophies, then I would say we it will be a great year!

    • Inamess
      April 2, 2015

      *Sorry, meant to day São Paulo not Santos

      **Yikes, don’t know how a potential Messi foot injury will change the odds above.

  21. luisthebeast
    April 2, 2015

    I want to ask something from the always whining cules on twitter:Please when u want to make ur point that our board management on transfers is bad,dont mention Madrid and try to tell us that they are good at it.I saw a conversatin between Peter and a barca fan and i was like:wtf??Isco for 30m was a bargain?Danilo is a bargain?And how we want La Masia to be the core of the team but also we always want transfers??From 2009 until now Mr Perez spend over a billion and won a CL and A Liga.How a Barca fan use this as a case against our transfers policy?I have no idea.

  22. luisthebeast
    April 2, 2015

    Wanna make a number??Bale 100m Ronaldo 94m Rodriguez 90m Benzema 40m Illaramendi 40m Isco 30m Kroos 25m Khedira 15m Coentrao 30m Pepe 30m Ramos 30m Navas 10m Arbeloa 5m Carvajal 6m Varane 10m Modric 36m + salarier the number is almost Greece debt:-P

    • April 2, 2015

      You also need to add another 10 million for Bale for winning the Champions League. I wonder how much did United get because of Ronaldo winning the Champions after so much time as well.

      Ramos was already in the team when Perez came for his second stint, so personally I wouldn’t add his price, so that’s -30m
      On the other hand, you have to add also Kaka’s 69 million and five years’ worth of wages, Carvalho’s 8 million, Lass Diarra’s 20 million, Nuri Sahin’s 10 million, Lucas Silva’s 14 million, Casemiro’s 6 million, Chicharito’s 2.5 million(that’s a loan), so that’s another 100 million Euro more in the overall expenses(wages apart).

      Don’t forget, of course, the two Copa del Rey that Real won as well during that period.

  23. luisthebeast
    April 2, 2015

    They say Barca must be proactive and all that.But we have a budget of 50-60m every summer and Madrid have an Unlimited budget.They can buy whoever they want.In the summer of 2009 they spend around 250m!!!!Barca is another story.We have La Masia and i am proud that we have S Roberto Pedro Bartra e.t.c.We dont buy trophies,we build teams to win trophies.And thats why We are Barca…..Madrid maybe win something this season.But it s not the samestory the same joy.Money can.t buy people s love;-)

  24. luisthebeast
    April 2, 2015

    I read that we are interested in Matteo.Forget about Danilo,Matteo is the real deal.I hope we can get him.

  25. luisthebeast
    April 2, 2015

    I am sory,Matteo Darmian,Italian play for Torino.

    • barca96
      April 2, 2015

      Try to make use of the reply button.

  26. luisthebeast
    April 2, 2015

    My team for next season:Bravo Mark Masip Darmian Montoya Pique Bartra Mathieu Vermaelen Alba Grimaldo Busquets Macherano Samper Iniesta Pogba Rakitic D.Suarez Rafhinia S.Roberto Leo Ney Luis Vietto Munir:-)Not bad heh;-)

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