At the end for Barça, what could have been different

It all came to a conclusion on a Sunday when as usual for this season it seems, the team did all that it could and came up short, a hard-fought victory over Eibar that wasn’t enough.

We can congratulate Real Madrid for finally getting over their hump, thanks to a manager who in many ways understands the game better than so many supporters, an athlete who understands that it doesn’t matter how things are drawn up and what kind of tactics someone employs. A team deoends on its players to get the job done in the scramble of the dictates of reality.

Their team did the job. Our team didn’t. Is it as simple as that? No. It never is. But at the end of a season fraught with difficulty, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that this fanbase got the team and the results it deserves just as the players deserved more — from fate, from themselves, from us.

We have never understood how hard it is, week after week, to deal with a game in which everyone is at their best against you. We have never understood human imperfection as we race to apportion blame for things not being perfect, or at least our vision of perfect. We have never understood the mental energy required to always be fantastic, to have people snarl and demand why when they weren’t.

We have never understood this even as we have, for yet another season, seen it in person, seen the mental and physical effects of the unrelenting grind — in Guardiola’s last season, in Vilanova’s first, in Tata Martino’s only and now in Luis Enrique’s last. From treble to double to … ?

The team, this season is what we deserve even as the team — the whole team from players to mangers — deserved better than what they got from us. Fighting, backbiting, incessant blame and rampant hostility, outrage that humans don’t perform like automatons, that things such as injuries and form don’t matter as so many race to lay ot all at the feet of a man to whom history will be kinder than a supporter base was this season. The favored are absolved, the unfavored excoriated and through it all, players and coaches are just struggling to their jobs the best they can.

There are, for many, numerous answers to the same question, which is: why isn’t FC Barcelona preparing its party bus for yet another Liga championship instead of hoping that a Copa championship will at least be somethimg? Pick one, pick ’em all.

— Coach sucks
— Transfers sucked
— Board sucks
— Sunspots
— Neymar let the team down
— Referees
— Andre Gomes
— Arda Turan

Speculation about cause and effect is fun, but aside from consoling those who want to apportion blame, accomplishes nothing. People hate Luis Enrique, hate Gomes, Turan, Rakitic, Neymar, hate this or that. None of it matters to the state that the team is in at this moment, a state achieved as a collective. A coach sets up the team. He doesn’t tell his striker to hit balls right at the opposition keeper. He doesn’t tell his players to stand there and let someone shoot, or not cover a runner coming in at the tail end of a break. This is true even as he dictates what players will be playing, how they set themselves initially even as external stimuli wreak havoc with plans and notions.

We are intolerant of that frailty, those errors and moments of humanity even as we should understand them because who among us is perfect. Zidane empowered his players, made a group that was sick and tired of losing understand what it had to do to win. They got late goals because they never stopped fighting because they were hungry.

There won’t be lots of tactical analyses of what Zidane did even as he worked wonders, the same kinds of wonders that Guardiola and Luis Enrique did in letting great athletes see and understand what could happen when they did what they were supposed to, were capable of. We culers have seen that before as well, in season after glorious season. We talk of tactics, of playing the right way, then we get the vapors when Messi does something that doesn’t care about tactics, human possibilities or capabilities. Everything becomes magic.

People don’t diffrentiate between tactics and execution. Perfect tactics can run afoul of poor execution just as poor tactics can be elevated by exceptional execution. It’s safe to say that the coaches didn’t draw up what Neymar did in the last seven minutes against PSG. They also didn’t tell the players, “Now when Dybala gets the ball, because he has such a pretty shot, stand there and check out that form. Got it?”

Tactics can certainly aid execution, but folks still have to do the work, even as any conclusion anyone likes can be drawn from what happens. Just depends on what people want to see. “The ref screwed us this season. Betis alone.” Yet what if the team had executed, played to its level against a team that it should have been able to deal with easily? The ref wouldn’t have mattered. The team underperformed because they are human. The refs made errors because they, too are human. But the most effective way to remove human error from an equation is to get the job done, even as we struggle to understand how they couldn’t get the job done.

We struggle with understanding and accepting humanity — simple, flawed humanity — in our heroes. Suarez hits a ball at the keeper, Neymar scuffs a chance, Messi isn’t his usual cruel, assassin self. We struggle to understand that so we seek external factors. One person on Tweeted at me that “Luis Enrique is destroying the club.” Another Tweeted that almost all of the blame for this season lies with Luis Enrique.

Another group believes that Barça would be relegation fodder without Messi, who has been astonishing this season, as usual. Does he struggle with the expectation of greatness, constant, continual greatness for club and country, a country adpted by many culers because of him? How hard must all of that be, and do we care and understand?

We watch, we see, but we don’t understand. We’re all too busy fighting — perception, humanity, frailty, each other, a real world that isn’t perfect and a team that can’t win everything. And we will fight some more because that is what our fanbase does, what it excelled at in a season that made it so hard to be a culer because of all the petulance, hostility and nonsense. The team deserved better, and we failed them just as they failed us.

The players, athletes, understand what happened, understand the crazy flight of a ball, the ups and downs, unpredictability and being mentally tired. They understand the effect of key injuries and players underperforming at key times just as they undersstand the focus that has created a season filled with fantastic memories.

Alaves, Deportivo, Malaga. Dependent upon who you ask, the answers to the first is rotation, the second tactics, the third because the coach sucks.

Barça lost at home to Alaves in a rotation XI that should have been good enough to win. It wasn’t. Whose fault was it? Should Messi and Suarez, still getting rest from a busy summer, have been included? What would have been the cost of that, physically and psychologically? Hindsight is always easy. It makes everyone a genius. “Rotation. It was the wrong XI.” What was the right XI? Would a tired Suarez have been better than Alcacer? Unknown, like so many things in this game.

Coaches made errors, players made errors. There were decisions, substitutions, plays made or not made that every person who made them, just as we all do, wish were different. “Why did stupid Lucho keep playing Gomes.” Maybe if Rafinha and Iniesta had been able to stay fit, he wouldn’t have as much. Maybe if Turan had been able to stay fit there would have been shuffles to be made.

“Stupid Lucho didn’t get an RB.” Belatedly, he did when Aleix Vidal suddenly burst into life. Just as that happened, he was scythed down. Stuff happens.

Reality is that things are as they because a collective wasn’t good enough. Gomes didn’t really start showing signs of real life until after the Classic. And that, assuredly, explains why Suarez was missing Messi setups or batting the ball right into the arms of the keeper. It explains why Neymar missed shots that he normally makes, why Jordi Alba got punked at Deportivo for the winning goal. Why did all of this happen? Who knows? PSG hangover? Good quality of play from an opponent compared to a down trough in the cycle for Barça? Sure. Why not.

It’s hard for us to admit we don’t know anything. When this season ends the summer window will be almost upon us and everyone will have their ideas of what the team needs, who they would sell, give away, get the bastinado, etc. Part of the fun of spending a summer for those who don’t care about yet another international tournament, is transfer speculation. This is true even as, for the most part and certainly as it pertains to Barça, we don’t know. As with the Tata Martino year and for very different seeming reasons, this team was a but a few goals away from being in for yet another treble. If one of the aforementioned matches is different, any host of things could have made reults quite different. Instead we are where we are, and now comes the transfer window.

Barça is getting a new coach this season. We don’t know what that coach wants, personnel-wise, or how he will choose to line up his players. We don’t even know how he plays, because coaches react to the personnel they have more than they come in with a standard way of playing.

People think we need an RB, LB, CM. Okay. What if that new coach goes 3 at the back with Pique, Marlon and Umtiti, moves Messi to midfield, returns Sergi Roberto to his normal hunting ground while adding Sergi Samper and deciding to experiment with Busquets farther forward. That same coach chooses to keep Deulofeu? What do we need then? There are too many possibilities to know what Barça might or might not need. A case could be made, given that Mathieu will be leaving and Mascherano is into his athletic dotage, that a CB is needed as much as anything else, even if Marlon stays with the first team.

We don’t know anything except what we have now, which is that our team tried and fought as hard as it could. It deserved better than what it got, deserved better from us. We can hope there will be some silver, and we can choose to or not congratulate them for that achievement, just as we can choose to or not congratulate them for a hard-fought season even as they fell short of the mark.

Perhaps most crucially for the comimg future and days of uncertainty, we can strive to understand, to not only watch but to see, see what a remarkable team — a group in its entirety — we have had the pleasure of witnessing this season. The coach is leaving, players will be leaving, things will be different. For now, what we have is our team, a group of humans who did the best that they could. Sometimes that isn’t enough, which doesn’t diminish the tears we shed, the exultation we felt, the triumph we shared.

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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.

28 Comments

  1. ChaoticReaper
    May 22, 2017

    Some say Lucho was a success. I have some shocking stats that beg to differ. Lucho let Penaldo win 2 CL, 2 Balloon Dor, and 1 Liga while having Messi, Suarez, Neymar in their prime. I hope the door slams his face out

    • georgjorge
      May 22, 2017

      If I understand it correctly, your argument is that no team should ever be able to win a major trophy that Barcelona could win because Messi, Suarez and Neymar are at Barcelona together? And if we don’t win everything, our coach sucks? Did you take a look at the players that RM have in their squad (but Juventus or Bayern would probably do as well)? Was Guardiola an idiot because he had Xavi, Iniesta and Messi together and didn’t win everything all the time? Do coaches which don’t suck even exist?

      • omoh
        May 23, 2017

        Nope. Absolutely wrong. People seem to get critics of lucho wrong.

        The simple criticism is this. A good coach with the likes of neymar, Suarez & Messi should not be losing games the way lucho does. You already have a huge part of your job reduced with the presence of those three up front. All you need do is build a fairly great supply chain(midfield) for them to keep banging in goals. The last time barca had this type of attacking beasts was the 1st treble winning season. Henry, Eto’o, Messi. The second season, they were disbanded and barca still nearly got to The CL final.

        Lucho has had them for 3 consecutive seasons and managed a treble only once which coincidentally was when the greatest midfielder in the history of the club was still present. Xavi.

        Madrid dropped points more than 3 times this season and none of those times was Lucho able to capitalize. People are quick to compare this season to Peps last season in charge but the comparism is even absurd to say the least.

        1. Peps last season team lost the league to a beast of a Madrid team that set an 100point record and never dropped point at any crucial time.

        2. Peps last season team had won it all. It was understandable to have a low morale yet they still managed to Chase the league consistently and have 93point at the end of the league.

        3. Peps last season team consisted of an old David vila, a not so insync Sanchez and out of form Pedro.

        Ever since the coming together of the MSN, the Pichichi and Golden boot had been customized by Messi and Suarez with the 3 of them scoring a minimum of 20 goals per season. This goes to testify the beastly form those 3 are in but yet Barca seem to choke at the crucial moments. This shows that scoring for the MSN attack was not the problem but the coach was unable to provide a tactical set up for them to score in crucial games.

        A good example is messi scoring 11 goals in the group stages of the CL only for the team to start choking from the second leg against Man city.

        Lucho like he already admitted is a kind of coach that says give me whatever you have, I will play with it and that is the trait of a coach with no Identity, an average middle table coach of a low budget, low expectation team not Barca. With this attitude, he has managed to destroy this team more than people would readily agree.

        1. No recognised first choice world class right full back because he never demanded for it cos he thought he doesnt need it. That he can make do with SR.

        2. No real central midfielder because he never demanded for it cos he thought he doesnt need it. That he can make do with Old iniesta, a non creative Rakitic(but still very good), a very poor S.Gomez(don’t tell he didn’t know this guy is poor and if he truly doesn’t know them he really is not a good coach), an inexperienced but good Denis Suarez and absolutely no back up for Busquets(the engine room).

        Effectively, barca don’t even have a complete first eleven let alone a capable back up.

        • Davour
          May 23, 2017

          “Treble only once” – man, it has only been done ONCE before in the history of La Liga! RM have NEVER achieved it, and if they manage the double – Liga + CL – it will be their first in like 60 years. Let’s have some perspective. And sure, Pep did not ahve the fire power up front, but as Georgjorge pointed out: he had Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Dani and some other pretty decent players.

          I do agree that he has not ben successful in renewing the squad, though this will always be hard following a golden generation. Losing Thiago (pre-Lucho) was a lost opportunity of managing this transition, and from there it became difficult. La Masia has produced few wonders lately, and the transfer market is insane. Let’s be critical, but let’s not go crazy. Lucho had an overall successful tenure, though he probably should have left last year.

        • May 23, 2017

          (clears throat)

          “Lucho has had them for 3 consecutive seasons and managed a treble only once which coincidentally was when the greatest midfielder in the history of the club was still present. Xavi.”

          Guardiola won how many trebles? Exactly. Why? Because it’s hard. Because you get every team’s best game, because your mental energy flags, because any one of a thousand things that we have zero understanding of. Coaches lose matches, players win them is one of the most bizarre notions in football. It also defies logic.

          I repeat: We don’t deserve this team. And is it a team. It isn’t something you can separate or parse, as in “Well, I like that part, but that part sucks.” You take the whole thing.

          • omoh
            May 23, 2017

            Nobody is suggesting that you win treble every season and no one in suggesting you win the CL or the League or even any trophy any season but you don’t go on and set ugly records with that form of attack and expect praises. Sorry not from someone like me.

            Ugly record: Last season Barca went out of CL in quarter final yes it happens even with the greatest team on earth. this season again we even needed miracle to get to the Quarter final. maybe next season of he stayed on we would be praying to qualify from the group stage. All this with MSN in front and some people will still come and say he had a great season.

            I am not here to discuss what the team has achieved in the past decade I’m talking about what the coach has been able to achieve with arguably the deadliest attack in the history of the sport.

            I’m saying it is no coincidence that the team went on a downward spiral the moment a certain player left the midfield.

            I’m here saying that hell Barca don’t even have a competitive first eleven(that can go 10games straight) presently.

            I’m here to ask that how low does this team have to go for is to know that the coach was terrible?

            I repeat, I am not talking about what the team has achieved over the years. No doubt we are one of the best teams of the past decade but then this present attack is the deadliest of the decade. We need to ask what the coach achieved with it and in what shape has he left the squad?

            Lucho won what he did because he met a full first eleven squad but he is handing over a squad without a recognised barca standard player in a number of positions.

  2. Yaredinho
    May 22, 2017

    You are so much desperate that you even stopped checking your facts! Ronaldo win 2 CL during Lucho’s time? when? So much so that you tell people Neymar was in his prime in those years! Have actual stats, differentiate facts from opinions, or have life man!

  3. georgjorge
    May 22, 2017

    I agree that there are too many uncertainties about the future coach and his tactics for assumptions about the team. And I’m not bitter at all about this season. But I take some joy in debates about cause and effect regarding this team (whereas, if I interpret your point correctly, many experience despair and hate through them yet continue to have them).

    I wouldn’t go as far as Kxevin in saying we don’t know anything – statements like “Messi had a better season than Andre Gomes” seem pretty logical to me. On the other hand, it’s obvious none of our little debates will make any difference, at least not until the popular vote of supporters for personnel discussion is introduced.

    It was an interesting season. Thanks a lot to all the writers on here for making it even more interesting, and for often being a voice of calm and reason. Let’s hope for some nice little transfers in the summer, and some brilliance during the next season.

  4. Víctor
    May 22, 2017

    Both teams did their job… it just happens that just 1 of them can be champions… Barca and Madrid are teams that can dominate any league… perhaps only Juventus and Bayern can be at their level…

    Barca’s season was great… as it has been for the last 14 years (yes, I even include the seasons from Rijkaard’s era)… Barca’s supporters should be proud of this team… yes, there were some crappy games but the players gave it all for the team and they were just a little short for having the expected success…

    Remember, even if Madrid wins CL they still have yet to accomplish a treble… something that Barca has done TWICE, no other team in Europe has achieved that.

  5. Half and Half
    May 23, 2017

    A Treble, A Double, and yet tbh Lucho, whilst the word ‘fraud’ is too harsh, never really gave the impression he was on top of what he was doing. Far too many games, good results or bad, where things were just too chaotic and Barca systems and patterns of play, and control, were absent whilst we relied on the billion dollar front three to get the job done.

    I think the best Coach we could get now for the ethos of the club would be Pochettino, but that wont happen for obvious reasons.

    Personally I don’t think this team deserved to win this season, so justice has been done. However, maybe its not such a bad end to the season…… I see our old friend Rosell has been arrested so every cloud and all that…. LOL

  6. omoh
    May 23, 2017

    I understand your point but by the standard of a team that has three of the 4 best attackers in the world, I disagree.

    Lucho had a fairly successful time overall because of the materials he met on ground (even Suarez was bought for him and not on his request) not because he built anything. That is why he is leaving the team in a poorer state than he met it.

    Pep had a more successful time because of what he built. Xavi and iniesta might have been in the team before he came on board but they were not sure starters. same goes for busquets and a host of others that defined peps era.

    When I hear people say he had a great season I tend to ask, By who’s standard? Lucho’s? or Barca’s? and I’m not talking in terms of trophy. I’m talking in terms of the shape and onfield play of the team.

    Lets not celebrate mediocrity, Lucho was poor. Simple. He had more freedom to shape the team to a better team but did a very poor job. He is only lucky because Madrid too were not so great and ATMD is declining. if not, the gulf in difference would have been too great to dismiss.

    Portugal won the Euro not because they were great but because they were lucky. Lets see them play the same way and get to the Quarter finals of the next Euro. Argentina got to 3finals in 3years and never won any because they were not lucky not because the were poor.

    Bullshit can take you to the top but can never keep you there.

    Pep once said it is easier to get to the top than to maintain the top level. he maintained top level for the 4seasons he was coach. Mourinho knows this that is why he leaves after wining CL.

  7. squeen
    May 23, 2017

    Remember when we had trouble beating Atletico Madrid for any game in the season?

    Remember when teams “parked the bus” and we couldn’t score—people blamed tiki-taka and called it boring?

    Remember losing the CL to a weak Chelsea team?

    I’d like to think Barca planned to go 0-2 against Eibar so that Real Madrid would become over-confident and blow their second half. Too bad it didn’t work. At least they gave their fans some more drama—I was riveted to the game, shouting nonsense at Suarez every time he missed a 1v1 with the keeper. And darned if I didn’t want to see Iniesta score a brace! Hilarious that the camera was focus on Saurez when Messi was making an amazing last-second run to goal. Highly entertaining. 😉

    On the first goal, there were three Eibar players in the box. The back three (Umtiti, Marlon & Roberto) had them covered, but one shifted to the near-post so that Marlo and Roberto ended up double-covering a man. All the while, the fourth Eibar RB was out wide unmarked. Who should of had him? I think Rackitic—and he realized it too, but it was too late. I think it is unfair to Roberto to blame him for the goal. I actually think he’s grown into the RB roll nicely. He’s got the ball control and Barca DNA. I’d just like to see him attack a bit more aggressively when he goes forward. Pretty sweet through-ball Messi handed him, right? I’m also disappointed that Messi cheeky (off-sides) back-footed pass through the goal keepers legs didn’t make the highlight reel. Loved it.

    • May 23, 2017

      That Messi moment lives on in GIF form. It was fantastic. Pure joy of football.

  8. Tata2
    May 23, 2017

    Madrid just had a few reffing decisions go their way, not forgetting Neymar’s miss in the home classico and Arda’s bone-headed tackle. That’s all it took, and nope! Zidane didn’t do any wonders, he was just plain lucky. And that’s why I don’t blame lucho much. Yes the signings where underwhelming and probably he might have got his rotations wrong but there are other factors too like luck that zidane had in abundance

  9. TITO
    May 23, 2017

    Blasphemy.
    Just someone with a short memory would suggest or think that we are obliged to be the best of Spain every season or to win a treble for that matter.
    What Bayern is in Germany, or Juventus in Italy, it should be RM in Spain, but it is not, it is Barca the last 20 years that is rulling. We should be grateful to.what the team/s have achieved during this time cause it wont last for long. Successes come in cycles, let’s hope it will last a little bit longer, even after Messi is gone.

  10. Dar_vincy
    May 23, 2017

    Lucho may not possess the same tactical virtuoso as Guardiola, Allegri (which this dude was out next manager) or Conte but it is a given that he’s done a great job considering the mess we were in prior to his coming. Could he have done more? Most certainly. Ditto the players. Were his decisions totally satisfactory? Absolutely not. Gomes being one. That would continue to defy logic for me. That said, the opprobrium directed at him seem plethoric. In any case, he’s gone and sure deserves our gratitude. I, for one, would elect to remember helping Sergi Roberto reignite his potential.

    • georgjorge
      May 23, 2017

      I do not believe there is another football forum on the internet where the words “opprobrium” and “plethoric” are connected in a meaningful sentence. Well done ; )

  11. georgjorge
    May 23, 2017

    Since we are talking transfers and RM already – am I understanding correctly that RM just signed a 16-year-old from Flamengo (Brazil) who has ONE senior appearance so far and will only arrive in Madrid in July 2019 for 46 million Euro? Because unless I’m missing something crucial here that sounds completely crazy even by their standards. Seems like Perez is done with the restraint he showed on transfers the last season.

    I got it from https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/23/real-madrid-vinicius-junior-flamengo-46m-16-year-old-transfer

    • Dar_vincy
      May 24, 2017

      Can’t wrap my head around why they’d fork out such an amount for a player that is a prospect at best. Then again, they may know something we don’t. Reminds of one Brazilian lad we bought from Palmeiras, Keirrison de Souza, The only difference is we paid 14 million euros…and never played him,

    • Mishti
      May 24, 2017

      That is indeed correct. They are looking for the next Neymar, having missed out on the original 😉 Vinicius is a breakout youth player, his sensational performances in the South American U17 Championship earlier this year triggered interest from European clubs. I believe Barca too had made enquiries (so Perez had to buy him up ;)). His Flamengo senior team debut actually came after the deal with RM was agreed on, so they literally signed a youth player for that much money. The kid is undoubtedly talented, but there is of course no guaruntee that teenage sensations would pan out at the senior level. He does have similarities with Neymar in playing style, who is his idol. He cannot move till he turns 18 next July, and will be 19 when he moves if that happens in 2019. Neymar at 19 had already won the Copa Libertadores and was one of the youngest to be crowned South American Player of the Year. So, we shall see. The payment is supposed to be in installments, so I think there is likely a hedging mechanism in case things don’t develop as expected.

  12. Dar_vincy
    May 24, 2017

    Since it’s Ernesto Valverde, this piece, published in March though, could give us a deep insight as to what to expect from our new manager.

    http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11827/10788275/ernesto-valverde-to-barcelona-why-he-could-replace-luis-enrique

    One bit of comforting news for me has to be the way he sets up his team defensively. Still and all, Barca is an entirely different territory to Atletico Bilbao. and the obsessive demand for attacking football may make him compromise on his philosophy. We’ll see.

  13. May 24, 2017

    Lucho is a failure? Pull the other one, OMOH.

    When you compare him with Guardiola, you forget a few important details: Guardiola had Puyol, Abidal, young Dani Alves, young Mascherano, young Iniesta, younger Xavi, young Busquets, Valdes, he had he even had young and in form David Villa, he had a very young and very fit and determined Messi.. But much more importantly, he had something else:
    He had opponents, who played Barca openly. Teams used to play Barcelona the way nobody plays Barcelona. Opponents left spaces open, hadn´t learned to triple-team Messi, didn’t habitually close the space between the lines, didn’t habitually put all the team behind the ball. Opponents didn;t rely on lots of fouls and mad pressing.

    The last time a team that wasn;t a top team tried to play Barca that way was Gary Neville’s Valencia in CdR, which ended 7-0. Rayo Vallecano and Paco Jemez aren’t around anymore.

    Lucho’s Barcelona had/has a much tougher task – win routinely against evolved defences, while being demanded to win “beautifully” (and beautiful will mean whatever those that don;t like this coach or that player decide), while at the same time deal with the inevitable retirement of once-in-a-lifetime players, deal with the needed rejuvenation of the the team at large – which must be cheap, has to be of world-class+Barça quality, and also must be from La Masia, and click in the system immediately and shine, but not shine too brightly, lest we grumble about the not-Guardiola coach rejecting the legends.

    Thrice damned if you do, thrice damned if you don’t.

    • Víctor
      May 24, 2017

      That’s not entirely true, Peter… Barcelona under Pep Guardiola had many opponents that relied on “parking the bus” and hope to snatch a goal against Barcelona on a counter; also many teams played to constantly foul Barcelona’s players… take Inter on 2010 or Chelsea on 2012 for example.

      Not to mention those “endless” encounters against Mourinho’s Real Madrid.

      I think that just Pep’s first year was the one were opponents played more openly against Barcelona. But after Pep’s Treble most teams adopted very defensive tactics against Barca. Even big teams like Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid. I’m guessing that only Bayern Munich were the ones that didn’t abandon their offensive tactics.

      You are right on one important thing, though… Pep had the golden masia generation at their best at his disposal, which makes a big difference because almost every player of his best XI were trained and drilled for Barca’s style. And even then, he got criticism… albeit not as much as LE because Mourinho also diverted a lot of Barca supporters’ attention.

      Luis Enrique got that Barcelona without Puyol and Valdes. An old Xavi and a aging Iniesta and Alves. Sure thing, he also had Neymar & Suarez, the team is still damn great… but not the same under Pep’s era… the mere fact that Luis Enrique won a Treble and then a Double is enough to consider that he was a good coach.

      We have discussed this on the blog previously, but it is almost a fact that we are not gonna see another golden masia generation for quite a time. Pep’s XI included 8 masia players that are/were world class at the same time (Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Pedro)… it is almost impossible to something like that happen again in a meanwhile…

    • Sorry Peter, towards the latter stages of 09/10 seasons Barca routinely came across parked bus, especially against big teams. And since Mourinho showed, for Inter, that a way to stop Messi was a trivolte, we came across double decker bus almost always. Even Mourinho’s Real, except for manita classico, was defending against us all time. Only MUnited, in those finals, played us with an open mind in a big game.
      And finally at the end of the 11/12 season, even if we didnt win the liga or the CL, world still considered us as the best team in the world, inspite of Chelse winning the CL. That was a huge appreciation for that team.

  14. TITO
    May 24, 2017

    According to this logic only couple of managers throughout our history have been successful.

  15. ooga aga
    May 24, 2017

    Thank you Lucho!

    OMOH, chaoticreaper: this isnt FantasyFootball or some computer game. You don’t automatically win because you have certain players on your team. In fact, if they are as great as you say, why didnt, say, Luis Suarez finish a couple more chances this year? That could have won us titles as easily as anything LE couldve done. Im not blaming Luis SuArez. But neither should LE receive such stick. Winning is hard. Have you played any top level sports to know what it is all about?

  16. Jim
    May 24, 2017

    Was fed up watching Man Utd so was gonna respond to this article but as I sat down my Sky box started recording and I remembered I’d set it to record the documentary on BBC 1 , Glasgow 1967: The Lisbon Lions to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Celtic’s European Cup win.

    So I sat and watched it and what an emotional roller coaster as well as a fabulous slice of time in Glasgow. Beautifully crafted by sitting back and letting the fans and players have centre stage. Very funny as well. My favourite moment was the dilemma faced by the three Glasgow priests who couldn’t get a flight until one of them discovered the last three seats on a charter run by a Porn mag !! Or the old Glasgow worthy who announced that Glasgow was a hard place but it was also very nice. “You didn’t get a doing unless you deserved it ! ” Well worth a watch if you can manage it and still relevant as attacking football took on the worst excesses of Catenaccio .And with the whole eleven born within 30 miles of Celtic Park ?

    Btw, Rogers has built a decent side there at the moment. They’ve gone undefeated all season – not a great feat considering the state of Scottish football but still hard to do and no sign of winning fatigue for them. They’ll be a lot harder to beat next season.

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