Barça 1, Valencia 2, aka “Whatever could go wrong … “

Once upon a time, there was a kid, and that kid was happy. There was Mommy, and Daddy, and toys.

And then one day, all on the same day, the kid found out that Santa wasn’t real, there was no Easter Bunny either, and by the by, notice how the milk man has red hair like yours, and Daddy doesn’t? Well …

Too much of the Barça fanbase is acting like that kid, and it’s kinda charming to witness. Adversity builds love. It’s easy to love a team when it’s kicking the crap out of everybody. Harder to love is a group that is struggling, a bunch for whom everything that can go wrong, will. It hasn’t been since the last days of Frank Rijkaard that Barça has been so ingenious at finding ways to screw up. It’s almost impressive in a perverse sort of way, when you think about it. Let’s take the Valencia match as just an example.

The chances created were many, but one of the most glaring was Neymar’s early chance, that was parried, volleyball-style, by Diego Alves. Most fascinating about that chance is how much time Neymar had to make the right decision, something that also points to one of the complexities of this current Barça malaise.

Neymar could have stayed on the ground with the shot, going left or right of Alves. He had time for another touch or two, time to make a calm, killer decision. A month ago, he makes the right call. When a player is in form, they say that time stretches out, that plays and events seem to be occurring almost in slow motion. When a player, when a team is in a trough, time is accelerated. This syndrome was most in evidence in that fateful Champions League tie against Chelsea, where there were chances galore, but also so much seeming pressure that the team felt like they had less time than was available.

We saw it again vs Atleti in the recent Champions League quarterfinal, as Suarez again had the chance to make the difference, but skewered his chances by shooting them directly at the keeper. We saw it yet again on Sunday. Neymar shot at the keeper. Messi forced a save that was pretty easy because it was right in Alves’ range. Rakitic had a glorious chance, and hit it … right at Alves. Pique had the draw on his boot, and shot wide of the net, perhaps thinking that he needed to cut the shot finer than he in fact did. Or maybe he just screwed the pooch. Neymar danced and dribbled, Iniesta cut passes too fine, missing the target. Messi would make one dribble too many, in an effort to be certain, absolutely certain of the move, a mindset that led only to failure.

The single time that Barça functioned like it should have, a goal resulted. Alba played the ball, paused and made the correct cross and Messi took the correct action, hitting the shot where Alves wasn’t. Bang. Everything else was the rush, the hurry of a team pressing, of a team that is feeling the pressure and reacting in a way that only serves to exacerbate that pressure. La pausa can also be psychic, and it’s absent right now — which is a problem.

The talk has been fascinating in the wake of a third consecutive Liga loss. Fire Lucho, sell Neymar, the team has been found out tactically, the bench sucks, they will bottle it, we’re doomed.

This fan base also needs some psychic la pausa. Let’s deal with each item individually:

Lucho out!

Memories are short. The season after Barça won the treble under one Pep Guardiola, the team went out in the Champions League semis, and Copa round of 16(!). It did in Liga. And nobody called for Guardiola to be fired. Why? There were a number of reasons. Guardiola hadn’t become a deity by then, but winning in that kind of giddy rush was still very new, instead of the norm. People were actually (shudder!) happy about winning Liga. What’s the difference now? The team, coming off a treble, was on a 39-match winning streak, and if not laying waste to all that came along, it was finding ways to win. Then came internationals.

Gabriele Marcotti did the math. Messi, Suarez and Neymar have played almost three thousand more minutes than the next heaviest load (16058, vs 13593 for Bayern front 3, 11274 for City, 10249 for RM and 9843 for Atleti). Probably worth asking how expensive that international break was, as three hammered lions returned to the Barça fold. It’s been downhill from there.

Lucho out? Barça was, until very recently, in with a shout at the double treble. The team could still do the double. And people want to fire that guy?

Sell Neymar

Yeah, it’s all his fault. He has been dribbling too much, not making the incisive decisions that he was when roaring like a lion and acting an ineffective shadow of his former self. Kinda like Messi. Should we sell them both? No. Breathe. Neymar is the second-best player in world football, behind Messi. He’s in the same crapalicious form as Messi, and Suarez for that matter. Yes, Neymar is the One People Don’t Like. So his errors count for a lot more. He dribbles too far, loses the ball and people say, “Dammit, Ney!” Messi dribbles too far, loses the ball and there is silence, or “Oooh! Almost!” Neymar has, and will always have, a different standard. Fair? No. Reality? Yep.

What if the club does sell him? Who do you buy who can have that same sort of effect on a match, who has the same set of skills? The people waiting for an answer will be easy to spot, as they will have faces blue from holding their breath. There isn’t a player in world football who could be purchased, who can do what Neymar does. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Tactical “discovery”

During that awful season when Malaga had Barça’s number, one match had zero shots on goal, the other match, a Barça loss, had one shot on goal. Now that is being found out tactically. There has not been a single negative Barça result this season in which the team has not had excellent chances. Recall the Classic, when Suarez strolled past a cross with the net gaping, and other chances missed. Chances misses against Villarreal. Chances missed against Atleti. Stunning chances missed against Valencia, and lots of chances against La Real. When a team isn’t sharp, the first thing to go is finishing. The next is decision making. We’re seeing evidence of both. What’s curious is that Messi was the coal mine canary, as he suddenly lost sharpness and began going a dribble too far, or not making passes that a month previous, he would have made. Suarez was next, and finally Neymar. Now it’s just a mess.

Overreliance on the best attack in world football? Sure, but who do you replace them with? Munir? Sandro? Could the club have bought someone? Nolito. Does anyone think Nolito is going to have anything approaching the same level as Messi, Suarez or Neymar? Don’t hold your breath while you prepare to answer. Pedro has found out how easy a seemingly difficult life at Barça was, where an attacker gets space because they aren’t Messi or Neymar. Is some of it that they resist being managed, which is why they have such an astounding accumulation of minutes? It is if you ask some folks. But man, if you have a Ferrari and a Skoda, which one are you going to drive?

The team will have been found out tactically when chances aren’t created. But as a collective, it is finishing like crap because it is a physical and (now) mental mess.

The bench sucks

Do you want the best XI in world football, or not? Put another way, pick the superstar on the Bayern or Atleti rosters. Theirs is a very tight sine wave of quality. Barça’s quality graph from starters to subs is like the Pyrenees. Want to buy someone? They won’t want to sit and watch others play football. Turan only did it because he wanted to get that Champions League medal. Some of it is bad luck, with injuries and suspensions. Turan would have been useful against Valencia, as would have Rafinha. Neither was available. It’s time for everyone, including journalists who should know better, to stop acting as though Barça should have ready and willing replacements for players such as Iniesta, Busquets, Messi, Neymar and Suarez. There aren’t any. The trick is to manage the roster so that those players get to the meat of the season with powder dry. Last season was possible because the summer wasn’t a shit show. That wasn’t the case this summer, where the team didn’t really have a proper pre-season. We’re now seeing the effects.

They will bottle it

So what if they do? Now matter how bad you feel about the Valencia loss, you don’t feel anywhere near as bad as the players. It’s their job, their livelihood, the thing that they love and are better at than pretty much anyone else in the world. And they screwed up. How long must that trip home have been for Pique, never mind having to duck those Arbeloa Tweets. And do you know what? They might bottle it. But it isn’t anything to worry about because the team’s future is still in its hands. Get the same number of points over the last five matches is the goal. Do that, and win the Liga. Gain one less, and fail. Easy peasy. Even the math-impaired can work out that equation.

We’re doomed

A giant meteor headed for Earth means we’re doomed. Dependent upon your age, and view of global climate change, we might be doomed. When a team doesn’t win enough championships to sate an insatiable fan base? That ain’t exactly doom.

Not to bring back unpleasant memories, but some of us were hoping the Rijkaard team would get it done, right up until the time that it didn’t. In the Tata Martino season, there was hope until that last match, when there wasn’t. It isn’t anyone’s place to tell anyone how to deal with adversity, or how to be a supporter. The Camp Nou was dazzling, and extraordinary in its support of a team that needed it, yelling and screaming right up until the end. It was awesome.

What will happen the rest of this crazy season? Who the hell knows, but it’s clear that the team needs a nap (still). But it also needs some psychic la pausa. What do we as supporters need? I’m going with chocolate milkshakes. The rest of your are on your own.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

33 Comments

  1. April 18, 2016

    Neymar danced and dribbled, Iniesta cut passes too fine, missing the target. Messi would make one dribble too many, — that must have been a different game, am afraid.
    I saw Iniesta, Messi, PIque and Masche playing a very good game yesterday, with Masche being the MOM (what a state of affair when a defender becomes the best player in the worlds so called best attacking team!) .
    But there was no Neymar amongst the list of players who were trying good things. I cant recall Messi or INiesta ever playing such a horrible game as Neymar y’day. But going through this article, am afraid it is trying to save the blushes of Neymar. Iniesta did a lot of good y’day, and Messi created pass after pass – especially in the second half – of which only one was dealt properly and ended up in goal (Like some one said, even in a poor team if Marcelo was at the receiving end of those Messi passes, Marcelo would become a big goal scorer and assist maker!). More than dribbling, Messi was looking to find his compatriots. It was only Neymar who thought he could do it all by himself and Suarez who played as if he missed that lesson in which he was supposed to learn how to avoid off side.
    Am not in the sell Neymar brigade and never will be because I know he is an excellent player, a future Balon dor winner. I also know that he is not Messi or Iniesta and have some attitude issues. But I will say that there is a lot wrong with his mind set and sometimes he does seem to think he alone can solve problems, Inspite of having Suarez and Messi around, y’day he was absolutely poor, even wasting time (more so in the final minutes), as if he was competing with Valencia’s time wasting. He should be trying to support his team mates in these kind of crunch games rather than showing out his tricks.
    Add to all this, there is a sword of suspension hanging over him, which can further affect our remaining 5 finals, which could have been prevented, if he had thought about the team rather than himself,, I feel really sorry for this kid.

    Sorry, if this is the first comment for this article.
    I keep on hoping that we will win the remaining five.

    • April 18, 2016

      What part of this sentence is “trying to save his blushes?”
      He has been dribbling too much, not making the incisive decisions that he was when roaring like a lion and acting an ineffective shadow of his former self.
      Messi was on a 5-match streak with no goals or assists. More than 500 minutes. And for that time, his decision making has been suspect. Suarez has also been poor. Quite so. Neymar is the target, and he always will be. Neymar wasn’t just poor yesterday. He’s been on an extended run.
      I don’t presume to have the inside knowledge of his psychology, so anyone who wants to claim that he has an attitude problem can feel free.
      From my seat, Neymar is the new Henry, which is an interesting development.

    • April 19, 2016

      Sorry Kevin, the sentence I picked was just to show that Neymar didnt dance or dribble. But through out in the article I felt Neymar wasnt getting any slack, inspite of being the worst player, arguably, for us. Even Alba did whatever little he could, which was more than what Neymar could from the left flank.
      As I said, am not in the Neymar sell or hate brigade. I like him for what he is capable of doing when he is on form. But I also accept that he has many negatives, when he is not on form (of course every player, including Messi has that, but no player would waste the time, when we were craving for time during those last minutes. that was very poor)
      He does seem to take defeat unprofessionally, if not he wouldn’t be throwing a water bottle at an opposition player in the tunnel And this act alone, if at all liga decides to punish him, can further impede our season.
      Whatever, am not the one to turn my back to our players, nor am I comparing him to Henri or Alexis or any one. He did have a terrible match for sure.

  2. Jim
    April 18, 2016

    I must have hit the post button in the last article’s comments for the following at exactly the same time as Kxevin did for this article. I had assumed there wouldn’t be a review so apologies for reposting.

    It’s maybe just another way of looking at it but I don’t consider it playing well when your defence loses two bad goals, your midfield is posted largely missing and your forwards miss as many,and as good, chances as we did. I do, though, understand and support our desire to put a positive spin on things and get behind the team.

    What I would say is we fought really hard to get out of the trough we have been in for some time and just weren’t able. However, if we can’t improve in these areas we run the risk of the same thing happening again. I just find it hard to believe we can show our second half spirit again and not get a result.

    I can’t argue with LE’s decision to leave the eleven starters on ( maybe Alves for Rakitic would’ve added some invention to the midfield, especially with Messi) when you look at the bench. Messi, to me, is still playing reasonably well but to me Neymar looks done for this season. He’s not moving towards the ball ( started way back in the match where Alba played his two “poor passes”) so he’s getting caught from the back risking injury, he’s dithering on the ball and any dribbler who allows the ball to stand still makes his job twice as hard and he isn’t making the runs hewas doing and when he does get a chance he’s overthinking it. . None of this is intended to slag him. Im one of his biggest admirers but he needs rest. It speaks volumes that Alba created more from there than he did. Well done to the club for sticking to their guns about the summer events. It’s nonsense to talk about selling him. We need him to be ready to take over from Messi and he is capable. Maybe we need to give him a more central role midweek. Just a different look at things sometimes works wonders in refreshing the mind. Part of our problem is that he and Messi seem to be unable to connect at the moment

    Whatever, he decides to do I reckon the one thing LE doesn’t do is send the team out without a tweak of some sort just to freshen things up. Options are limited but I’d like to see something that makes me think he’s not just sending them out again hoping for the best.

    Btw, to finish on a positive note, Pique completed three out of three dribbles in their half ! Pity he didn’t also sink the chance after bringing it down brilliantly. I also liked his determination that the team stick together and lift their spirits after the first goal. Although it’s probably unfair to judge by outward appearances, his and Masche’s exhortations at various points were good to see. Mind you, I’ve just remembered he’s not available for midweek 🙁

  3. mr.undercover
    April 18, 2016

    Spot on really!
    I got pissed whenever the ball went to his side, he seems clueless and overdo things, someone mentioned that he was crowded with 3 to 4 players, yes that was obvious, but his lack of motion and simplicity when receiving passes and holding onto the ball more than necessary could easily make it tough for him.
    Now its a matter of wether we sink or swim, our fate lies in our hands, any slight mistake and it would be the nail on the coffin

  4. Davour
    April 18, 2016

    Yes. But if we view the bench from a pre-season perspective, we’d have a healthy Rafinha and an Arda who would contribute well, like Suarez did last season, as would Vidal. This didn’t happen. Hell, the sale of Pedro doesn’t seem so wise now, though there was nothing to do about that as he wanted to leave. We had a transfer ban on our hands and things were difficult to handle. Now the bench does not look fantastic, though Sergi Roberto’s quality is a definite addition to expectations. Mathieu had an outing or two as left back that looked ok before his injury, etc. etc. Actually, consider of MSN were rested two games each (more is unrealistic to even imagine) – would it have made much of a difference? (I’m still proposing those subs in the final 15-20 minutes, or starting on the bench, coming on). Maybe if those games meant not flying to internationals, which this year seems to represent our Waterloo.

    If we try really hard to view things as they are – players are not unengaged, not shit, etc. But they are worn down to the bone. Then a double this season would be a phenomenal achievement, really – heroic. Perhaps this would be a more healthy take on things?

    • Jim
      April 18, 2016

      I think most folk here have been pretty sympathetic to what is going on with the players. Elsewhere it is pretty wild.

      To look at the possible reinforcements, I think for me the difference is that Suarez is a world class striker whereas we are hoping the others will be adequate subs for the starters. I think we need to b careful not to build them up too much or they won’t come up to our expectations. Sergio Roberto is great on the ball but the last two games have exposed his current limitations defensively. I thought Rafinha was showing signs of being able to travel with th ball and avoid easy giveaways but it was probably only in the last couple of games before his injury. I thought Turan had a chance of slotting in quickly because of his talent but it hasn’t happened so far and it isn’t reasonable to expect it yet. Vidal looks a little unsure just no. Mathieu could step in at any point for CB but I’m still not totally convinced with him at LB. To me, barring his injury we could have moved Samper up now to the firsts given that the Bs have nothing to play for and hewouldn’t let us down. So if we’re doing anything other than trying to see a win out they maybe aren’t gonna lift us at the moment.

  5. dl
    April 18, 2016

    I read a funny comment on the guardian yesterday:

    Mes que un collapse

    I think they’ll put something out of the season. I really hope it’s a double, failing that it would be nice to win the league. And even if they don’t get any silverware, there’ve been some really great games that I’ve enjoyed a lot. The season isn’t over yet!

  6. ciaran
    April 18, 2016

    Lucho out; that’s ridiculous and overkill. Should the unthinkable happen and we finish with nothing then we need to give Lucho support both in the press and in the transfer market. He took a bunch of underperforming but talented players and won them a treble. Those who blame him for losing but don’t credit him for winning are the ultimate hypocrites. Without his management we’d possibly have had another Tata season.

    Sell Neymar; a lot of fans have incredibly short memories. Neymar was the primary reason that we got to this stage of the season in the position that we are, forget the last few matches. Each of the front three have massively underperformed in the past month but Neymar was never the goalscorer that Messi and Suarez are but without the mental freshness of earlier in the season he’s not producing the defense splitting runs and passes that he could. He was abused in the match last night and the referee allowed it, he was kicked around and it obviously affected him.

    The bench sucks; I can’t agree with you here Kxevin. The bench does suck and the argument that it’s because the first XI is so strong doesn’t fly. Bar the front three any top notch player could come and expect to play a lot of minutes.
    Rakitic, Iniesta, Alves, Alba and Masch are all players that could badly do with competition both for the starting place and just to keep up their form. Seydou Keita was never a starter with a significantly better midfield trio than the current one ahead of him but he played a truck load of matches every season. There’s just no comparing our current bench options to the likes of him.
    Millions have been spent on Vermaelen, Vidal, Mathieu, Arda etc and come the business end of the season we can’t even rest our first team or look to the beach to change things.
    A proper preseason would help the fitness but it wouldn’t fix looking at the bench for inspiration and seeing ter Stegen as your best option.

  7. kosby
    April 18, 2016

    Imagine you have a squad of players with the 3 best strikers in your team. Imagine that you just won the treble, meaning you went ALL THE WAY in all tournaments, played essentially every single game you could’ve played. All those minutes from last season. You have a transfer ban and the number of players you could call upon just went down (Pedro left, Xavi left). The additions to your squad cant play till January.

    Would you rotate them at the start of the season when you already have less players to choose from, and take the risk of dropping points in the beginning of the season and try and make them up later in the season ? Who would you rotate them with exactly ? Messi was out injured for 2 months.

    Would I have preferred LE to rotate more ? Hell yeah. Did he really have options ? I don’t think so. I do think some dead weight needs to be cleared out. But Im hoping we didn’t because of the transfer ban. Anyways, Im pretty sure EE and AM are going to drop more points. So lets no give up yet. They didn’t when they were behind. And we shouldn’t either.

    PS – MrUnderCover, sorry couldn’t respond to you earlier. Neymar does seem to have a crisis of confidence at this moment. But he’ll come good, he’s too good a player not to.

  8. TITO
    April 18, 2016

    How can i post a picture?
    It is from the game and it shows why Alba made me mad as hell the other night.

    • PPos
      April 18, 2016

      Post it to imgur.com and send us the link

  9. lala10
    April 19, 2016

    Enter Your Comment… Neymar and Suarez were both bad vs Valencia. The difference being that Suarez was more anonymous than bad. Neymar on the other hand was prominent but in a bad manner.

    On this forum Neymar has, to my eye at least, not been made a scapegoat.

    • Jim
      April 19, 2016

      Is that not an almost exact copy of our only goal?

    • mr.undercover
      April 19, 2016

      Yes jim, but valencia’s defence figured it out, and knew that same thing gonna happen that’s why they crowded leo in the box, anticipating alba’s pass must cut back to leo, and that what happened

    • TITO
      April 19, 2016

      Yup, this was few minutes after we scored, and i was fucking sreaming at Alba to pass the ball to either Ney or Suarez cause it was much simpler and a certain goal, but no, the Messi chip in Alba’s head had a different idea.

  10. mr.undercover
    April 19, 2016

    I don’t know what the hell he was thinking there, alba always turned blank whenever he receive the ball in the box, he should have made a simple pass for neymar or suarez to tap it in, but instead he cut it back to leo who was crowded with more than 3 players, and that evinced his really low football IQ.

    • Davour
      April 19, 2016

      What’s with the insults? Can’t we have a balanced discussion without dismissing the players completely? Alba certainly does not have “really low football IQ”, or he wouldn’t play for Barca, or any other top team. He has weaknesses, of course, and has not been in last year’s form. But please appreciate the difficulty of playing for this team, and also how he was key last year. Memory should not be too short.

    • Jim
      April 19, 2016

      Agreed.
      Guys, a bit of perspective. Both the goals we lost against Valencia came from failures on our right side and in the ClasicoMarcello ran riot down our right not left. On Sunday Alba, acc to the stats created four chances which was equal top on the pitch. I don’t remember him getting beaten at all during the game so if we want to insult him please give us something to look at that backs it up .

      With regard to the picture it stops the game at a point where Alba has taken a touch and doesn’t have the ball at his feet to hit any pass. By the time he takes the couple of steps to hit it the nearest defender has slid in to block any ball across goal and the keeper is already off his line to block it as well. It was never on. Don’t take my word for it. It’s at 76: 08. In addition to that Messi’s run is illegally blocked by the defender or he would have been there. The point of the cut back is that it usually takes the back four out as they are too deep so it’s up to the mids to cover Messi’s late run. Yes, he used it again but do we really want Messi to stop using the diagonal ball because it has worked before so won’t next time ? Do we remember Iniesta floating a ball from only a few yards wider straight into the keeper’s arms or are there different rules for him.?

      I’ve just watched the whole second half to answer this because I didn’t remember him having a bad game. Well, he didn’t. He was actually pretty damn good, at least in the second half. He was probably our best attacker after Messi, continually keeping width and doing the shuttles up and down the pitch. If you want to slag him show me something he did wrong. Or show me something the right hand side did that was as dangerous.

  11. mr.undercover
    April 19, 2016

    Maybe I was too emotionally harsh on alba to use those words above, but that won’t hide the fact that he is becoming a major liability/concern to our team. Yes the team is in a dire condition and we have the right to criticise anyone and sometimes justify there bad performance when they couldn’t deliver, but alba’s case is getting out of hands really, he need a competition in his position.

  12. Tata2
    April 19, 2016

    After seeing that picture I am finding it difficult disagreeing with Mr. Undercover about Alba’s low football I.Q albeit momentarily. We expect better from a top class footballer playing for the best team in the world and I concur that Alba definitely needs competition. Now if there’s anything I have come to learn about football is that no one has a divine right to win a treble every season, infact winning even a copa del Rey means alot of things including luck must fall in place for you. I have also learnt that a team always experiences a dip in form at least once in a season (ours came a little too late) so no need calling for the sack of LE or sale of Messi or Iniesta. As fans, we owe our players the support through thick and thin. Yes, the team isn’t playing well at the moment and may even go trophy-less but that’s football, no one has a divine right to win trophies every season. Does that mean we shouldn’t criticize our players and coach at this period? no of cos, but criticism should be constructive not outrageous like calling for the sale of Neymar or sacking L.E BTW I read on barcablaugranes that we have reached a verbal agreement with Kevin Gameiro for next season, how true is this?

  13. hong
    April 19, 2016

    I suppose the experts here should hold a roundtable discussion with enrique and his assistants on how to improve this barcelona team which has won 2 trebles.

    Really. I don’t think our football knowledge is better than these professionals.

    • Davour
      April 19, 2016

      Pretty sure you are right. But I assume we discuss these things for our own sake, because we enjoy the phantasy that our opinions matter, and that we like to understand what goes on, and to digest painful losses. As old as human kind, this couch-coaching behaviour…

      Professionals are not always right, of course, but they seldom have the luxury of hindsight, or not having to be be responsible for failure. That needs to be remembered when discussing their decisions.

  14. PPos
    April 19, 2016

    This is what I think the team needs:
    A vacation
    A stronger bench
    Rotations

    • dl
      April 19, 2016

      I concur. Great team, great coaching and support staff, and they are competing against any number of other teams that want to win just as much. It’s only natural that someone else succeeds. If we never failed to reach our goals, how boring would that be?

  15. horlahlehk
    April 19, 2016

    I’m not trying to reduce a game of 90minutes to just this; but please listen…
    The fullbacks role of our opponent seems to be increasing…the right backs put Neymar on lock! And the left backs goes forward to do damage…
    Starting from the El-classico till last game against Valencia…
    How so?

  16. ChaoticReaper
    April 19, 2016

    Lucho threw away the season by being a coward. He should have left the entire first team on vacation against Real Madrid. Just say “sorry we don’t have the squad depth to play CL and El Clasico, good bye”

  17. April 19, 2016

    I think Gary Neville was a perfect example that you can be a great ex-footballer, a really good pundit and analyst, and suck as a coach.

    The lack of hindsight is just one thing that a coach lacks. The coach can prepare an awesome plan, and that plan can then crash like a water balloon against a bed of nails because it is reliant on 23 variables just in the case of the players and ref, plus the pitch, the weather and sheer damn luck.

    The coach has to deal with real live humans, not 3D avatars of computer calculations. The coach has to deal with bouts of bad form, self-doubt, egoism, exhaustion, lingering pains from knocks and fouls and injuries from two seasons ago. The coach doesn’t see the game from the perfect seat, doesn’t see the ten repetitions of the play from five different angles. The coach cannot decide when to make the pass, cannot control the player.

    Instead, the coach has to inspire, motivate, cajole and then train, train, train the team till the team knows the set pieces in their muscle memory, until the plays are no longer thought, but executed automatically, until the players know where they will find their fellow players without looking.

    And then the coach has to deal with the fact that there will be things forgotten, there will be lapses of judgement, lapses of concentration… There could be injuries that could cripple the whole team at the most inopportune moment. There could be injuries from players landing badly, Injuries from exhaustion setting in after 30 matches without rotation, injuries from simple malchance or overexertion.

    And when all that has been accounted for, there remain the variables presented by the other team, the other side, the other eleven starters and three subs and the coaching staff, who often have spent the whole week designing tactics to stop Barça, to stop them with all means available, be they fouls, time-wasting, bus parking, exhaustive man-marking, taking advantage of physique or tactics or a play that has been repeated two hundred times in training and has been kept for this moment… There are two dozen talented individuals on the other side, who try their best, their utmost to win, who have wracked their brains to find a way to stop this juggernaut of a team.

    That’s what a coach faces. That´s why good coaches are a rare and sought commodity. That’s why great coaches are sometimes paid what not even the star of the team isn´t.

    An armchair expert or a talkative pundit on TV doesn’t have to face that. Just like the critic, his “job” is to point out the less brighter spots on the masterpiece painting, the parts the painter should’ve made brighter. Because the expert/pundit knows, and we forget that very often until someone like Neville shows it, if they really knew how it’s done, they’d be on the other side of the TV screen and THEIR actions and mistakes would be analysed to death.

  18. Manita2010
    April 19, 2016

    it is really a trying time being a cule this week in Ghana, everywhere i pass people mock Barca but i am calm and hopeful , come the end of the season I know i’ll have the last laugh Starting from tomorrow against Deportivo.

  19. mr.undercover
    April 19, 2016

    Its easy criticise a coach at hindsight especially when things didn’t get tour way! And I find it so naïve to blame enrique for the teams disaster, fingers needs to be pointed at the board really. Many bad and knee-jerk decisions that crippled the team in disguise

  20. TITO
    April 20, 2016

    Anybody knows about this?
    I read that the club saved around 25 mill euros of bonuses not given to the players. This in case we would have won the CL.
    Not a bad math.

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