Note from the author (1):
These here are man thoughts. When it comes to Real M*drid, man has trouble with distinguishing a healthy rivalry from hating the [bleep] [bleep] [bleeeeeeeep]s. If you are easily offended, some passages probably aren’t for you, but if it helps, try not to think of me as a man. I’m more of a caveman, albeit articulate, and one that is into soccer and books. I like to make other cavemen laugh with jokes that my cavewoman slaps me for when our cavebabe is still awake (and sometimes when she’s asleep). I try my best to be a good caveboy, especially on special occasions. I do not always succeed.
Note from author (2):
“Homo,” or “Homines” in plural means “man” or “human.” Halfway through writing this piece, it dawned on the articulate caveman that every time he writes “Homo,” his readers will make the link with “homosexual” and that some passages might reflect an inherent bigotry on the part of the author. The notion of discriminating a group of Homo sapiens because of their sexual orientation should disturb any caveman. Not all cavemen might be created the same, but we are all created equal. Each and every caveman deserves to be loved and respected according to how he treats his fellow Homo sapiens. After all, we are not Neanderthals.
HOMINES IN CRISIS
Long may the crisis last, is exclaimed under gleeful glances as cups are raised from Catalonia the world over, but never forget: less than one Annus ago on a bleak Monday morning the same words were spoken in M*drid. Crisis was on everybody’s lips in the aftermath of Anoeta, but that same crisis, whether real or imagined, ended up being the turning point, as the trainer who would get fired and the star player who would get sold joined forces with the rest of the team and obtained the second triple. Crisis. Why, it was only three months ago that the exact same triple-winning team got massacred by, yes, 4-0, at the paws of a pride of hungry lions. Even less time ago four goals were put passed our very own Homo Germanicus in Galicia. Of course the same group of players responsible for that debacle turned around and gifted culés the Florentinazo at the Bernabeu last weekend. We must be careful with the word crisis. Still, when the populace in the arena wave their white hankies en masse, the Homo Presidiens shifts his butt cheeks from side to side and back again ad continuum.
If you’re the itch being scratched, do you know where you itch?
The answer to the question is that the Homo Presidiens either doesn’t know (Homo Ignoramus) or he knows but doesn’t care (Homo Callous). Either way the Fat Waiter is fucked. I don’t know whether he lost his players’ faith or that he never had it to begin with, but this does not look good. If I may, he increasingly looks like a carefully prepared piñata in the shape of a sitting duck, albeit one that proudly wears the club shield he adores. Not that the shield protects him from getting bashed left and right from all corners of M*dridismo, mind you. Now much can be said of the Fat Waiter, but not that he doesn’t love his club and nor that he is tactically naive. If Real M*drid at times fought (I use this word lightly here) the battle in what looked like a 6-0-4 formation, it was not because their centurion sent them out to fight that way. It’s because at least some of his legionnaires didn’t want to fight for him. Homines Galacticos may earn a thousand times the wages of those who pay high prices to go and watch them in the arena, that does not stop them from acting like Infantes.
I love an I told you so as much as the next Homo sapiens out there but one of the first rules in my cave is “no bull,” because for one, we don’t have a lot of space and two, bullshit upsets our surprisingly refined sense of smell, so here goes: ever since Homo Injurus Eternus left us to play Teutonic tiki taka with the barbarians, Homo of the curls that make the girls in the Camp Nou go aaaaaw has spent the large majority of his minutes not impressing me. That’s right, for three years I’ve been saying, writing and tweeting that the boy does not have what it takes to ever play more than a bit part at FC Barcelona…
I’m happy to admit that on occasion, I love to be proved wrong! Culés scratch their heads – among other things – and wonder how come the boy plays so well all of a sudden. I wonder why he didn’t play like this before. A future midfield starting spot is still a stretch in my mind, but a place at the club of his life no longer makes cavemen grunt and roll their eyes. @Euleri said it best when he wrote that he makes plays this season that he didn’t even make when in Barça B (and also that his future place should be right back). Homo of the curls that make the girls in the Camp Nou go aaaaaw, where did thou come from? A Homo Novus, indeed.
“Next week the Clasico, oh we so horny,” claimed playboy caveman extraordinaire, we’ll call him Homo Erectus, who also happens to be the anchor of our defense. The cautious among us thought the statement imprudent. The polite thought it out of line. The hypocritical tied to make a meal out of it. Homo Exhuberus would later say in an interview that haha, his cavegirlfriend made him horny, but that was completely beside the point. Up by three goals in the second half, Homo Erectus and Homo Squirellus made repeated forays deep into enemy territory with only one thing on their caveman minds: cachondo, indeed.
The tale has a tail, however, as five minutes before the last whistle, Homo Canteranus took it upon himself to squander a sure shot chance on completing the manita instead of leaving the ball for Homo Erectus, who did not hide his frustration. Of course, Homo Erectus is nothing if not a Homo Modernus, so moments after the game he posted a photograph in which he had his arm around the young academy player under which he had etched the words: “Oh, great @homocanteranus next time leave the ball for me!” It must be said that Homo Canteranus had a look on his face like one who has lost his puppy. Indeed, when my cavewoman saw the picture she said, “awwwww, he looks like he’s lost his puppy.” To add insult to injury, three days later Homo Erectus scored from a pass by Homo Extraterrestre, after which he thanked him publicly by way of another message on social media which read: “you pass me the ball, not like @homocanteranus.”
I’m sure you’ll agree, dear readers, that Captain Caveman is sorely missed to smack some sense into Homo Erectus.
Few things make caveculés as happy as seeing him play badly. When he who for the last eight Anni was one of two objects of the who is the best in the world debate that never should have been a debate to begin with starts showing signs of deterioration, we smile, inwardly and outwardly. Besides smiling, the articulate caveman also likes to analyze. Much has been made of the fact that the Homo Deterio has been played out of position for much of these last three months and that he is thus unhappy with the dish the Fat Waiter keeps serving him. The Homo Deterio likes to receive the ball on the left flank, with space to run into and glorious shots to take from 30 yards out. As a lasting testament to Homo Deterio’s physical prowess, a disproportionate amount of these shots are still orbiting our planet.
I’m not a big fan of comparing the beautiful game to other sports, but the Fat Waiter might be onto something that the Homo Deterio, in his capacity of Homo Galactico Incomparable, fails to accept. As the Homo Deterio’s superior athleticism will slowly become, well, less superior, or less explosive to be exact, the benefit of playing him in his preferred position becomes increasingly less clear. A dwindling conversion rate for both long distance shots and successful dribbles harm the team against strong opponents, and even more so when coupled with an emotional need to receive 95 percent of all passes played and a defensive effort that is best described as minimal.
At center forward, however, the drawbacks are less obvious. Not tracking back won’t leave the hole it does at the wings and the position is a natural focal point of the offense, aka “where the passes end up.” Also, he’ll be closer to the goal which plays to his considerable strengths, headers and tap-ins (I say that without mocking, inside the box he’s an incredible finisher). In the U.S., superstars such as Homo Aire and Homo Decisionario adapted their game according to their physical development. The caveman is sure that the Homo Deterio hates being called the Homo Deterio, but he also knows that like his NBA counterparts, the Homo Deterio is a highly competitive athlete who will stop at nothing to pursue his professional goals. If he embraces his new position and dedicates himself to improving his play with the back to the goal, he can prolong the peak of his career for years to come.
HOMINES CUM AMORE
The Homo Sapiens is by nature a communal creature who needs his fellow species for survival, love, entertainment and success. In a team sport it stands to reason that the better the team, the more success they will achieve. The building of a team is not always an easy task, as the individual team members’ skillsets must complement each other. No matter how good or bad the players, the sum is not always equal to its parts. It doesn’t take a genius to know that you don’t pair a striker who excels at heading in crosses with two wingers who always trie to cut inside to shoot. Likewise, a player like Homo Octopus will shine brighter in Barcelona or Munich than at Atlético Madrid. There is, however, another factor which may be underrated by many, and this is Amore.
Amore is when Homo Extraterrestre, frustrated by a two-month injury and starting on the bench for a Clàsico, cheers his team’s goals with the same abundance as the caveculé watching the game from his living room. Amore is when Homo Elastico gives up his penalty to Homo Dente. You can see it in how Homo Cerebrus ran to and embraced Homo Extraterrestre after the goal that capped his own extraterrestrial performance, or in the fiery man-hugs between Homo Maratonus and the rest of the coaching staff. Amore is making that extra pass instead of going for glory. It’s leaving your guts out on the pitch and sacrificing yourself for your teammates even if you come from a club where you used to be the Homo. It’s running up and down your flank for ninety minutes despite the fact that you never get to shoot, and it’s staying back to defend when you prefer to attack. Amore is that run, that pass, that celebration.
There are countless examples in world football where the team was successful while members of its squad couldn’t stand each other. One such team even won a treble some time ago. Futbol Club de Barcelona, however, is not that. Ever since the days of Homo Philosophus, the players that make up Barça’s squad have shown us two defining qualities: their hunger for success and their love, for the game and for each other. The caveman would like to articulate that this last quality might be a big part of their secret. I wish the world would take note.