Barça 1, Real Madrid 3, aka “Everything right now forever”

Welcome to another day at FC Everything is the Worst, a moniker that is, increasingly, becoming less sarcastic.

A lot of things can be true at the same time. Football, like life, is rarely binary. On a day that Barça played like collective dog crap against its eternal rival, a great many other things happened, none of whice serves to negate the others.

Three mental errors of the type that we saw entirely too much of last season defined this match. Pique gave away an own goal, sticking his leg out at a ball that his keeper had covered, demonstrating poor sitautional awareness and, frankly, panic. Then a pair of ridiculous giveaways sent Real Madrid off to the races, with breaks that had at their terminus goals from Ronaldo and then Asensio.

In both cases, the eventual scorers weren’t tracked as everyone looked around at each other, expecting someone else to solve the problem. Nobody did. Barça was outplayed, outrun, outthought and outhustled. If watching that doesn’t make you angry as a culer, not sure what will.

Suarez rolled a ridiculous pass into space, and the team was like, “Hey, looka that.” Madrid pounced, ran and made the right pass to the unmarked Asensio. Boom. Golazo? Dunno. Maybe if he was marked. But that was a shot players make in training all the time, again when unmarked.

The same mental and physical lapses that defined last season defined this SuperCopa. It was a mess.

On the same day as this shitshow, the impending arrival of Paulino from Guangzhou Evergrande was confirmed by his coach, Phil Scolari. This is a baffling transfer, a player who failed spectacularly at Tottenham, then fled to the Chinese Super League as part of that first wave of big-money departures. He spent two years over there, and through his play there, worked his way back into the Selecao, where precious little about his game made anyone say, “I want HIM at Barça.”

And yet he is coming, for 40 million Euros. Nobody understands it. The profile is clear, that Keita type that, along with Abidal, the club has been missing for a very long time. What is unclear is how an overpriced journeyman is going to fill one of those profiles.

This signing was made by a technical staff and board, the latter of which has been so busy chasing money and record profits that they have let the very thing that they need to sell, deteriorate. It would be like Paris breaking the Eiffel Tower, deciding to not pick up trash in the Marais then wondering why people have stopped visiting the city.

This current condition comes at the terminus of an arc of neglect that began when Sandro Rosell won election, and immediately began pursuing personal vendettas. He started a responsibility action against Joan Laporta, sold the CB that Guardiola expressly asked for then dropped the austerity hammer, lifting it only when it was time to acquire his dream signing in Neymar. We all know what happened here, from press conferences to lawyers and days in court.

Fittingly, Rosell is watching from a jail cell as the wreckage grows, record profits and a damaaged product.

On social media the world exploded into a burst of “Paulinho!” The player must be wondering why his name is trending on Twitter. Hope he doesn’t investigate. There are people crowing “Told ya!” as they gleefully gloat about the condition the club is in, because it’s more valuable to right than bummed. There are people who aren’t bothering with the result, instead making it all the fault of the board. Because yeah, Bartomeu was making crap passes then watching Real Madrid run down to the other end. Cardoner was stranding Pique on the right wing, because of being too positionally inept and sluggish at right back.

Or wait … maybe that was the players. Maybe everything can be true at once and blaming the gas company for the electricity not working isn’t the most sound approach to things.

Paulinho is a weird-ass transfer. But that transfer isn’t why the team got its butt handed to it today. The board has been neglecting some things that it should, but that isn’t why the team lost today. One of the reasons? Sure. But if Pique notices his keeper in perfect position, and possession is controlled instead of pissed away, it’s a 1-0 win, even if that sole goal came off a dive.

Compounding matters is that the club’s general manager, Pep Segura, the appointment of whom made aware culers groan in anticipatory exasperation, in effect laid the blame for the debacle on Pique, saying that his error in effect messed up the world. To say this, you would have to ignore the wandering crapshow that was Vidal and everything else that transpired, so that you can blame the gas company because your TV is broken. But that doesn’t make everything less true.

At the moment, at Barça, everything is happening at once. Sporting project errors made by the board are coming home to roost as key players are aging. Iniesta looked bad today, Suarez looked lost without someone to play off. The left wing disaster that was Deulofeu performed exactly as expected, as he discovered that Real Madrid isn’t Chapecoense and that yes, he still wilts under pressure, which is why Luis Enrique sent him away in the first place. The club spent 12m to discover that he is the same player, yet another error from a technical staff that, to be fair, has also had a bounty of hits.

Everything is going on, and supporters are running around like villagers with pitchforks and torches instead of identifying the basic reality of everything happening. For some, the team is ignored and all of the ire is aimed at the mystifying Paulinho signing. For others, certain players are singled out for scorn rather than the collective, which underperformed as a unit.

After the match, Busquets said, simply enough, signings are needed. And he’s correct. But while the club was eschewing color copies and not thinking about key slots because who the hell knows why, but hey, record profits! Iniesta was aging. Busquets was aging. But the XI required them, which meant no rest, which means the signs of their impending dotage become clearer.

Everything all at once, and all of it is true. The team didn’t play well enough, the board has made significant errors in how it has managed the club and Paulinho is a head-scratcher of a signing. Are all of them related? Yep, even as they can all exist on their own. The weird signing doesn’t excuse the team and how it played. The board’s sporting mismanagement doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t have played better. The players are who the players are, and Ernesto Valverde, standing on the sidelines looking like a man wishing for death rays for eyes, has a lot of work to do.

Everyone does. The technical staff has to solve many problems. The board has to understand the human side of managing humans, even as for so long the team has seemed superhuman. And supporters have to understand the value of calm, and the reality of how a transfer market functions. So much to do, and seemingly so little time to do it.

There are 17 days left in the transfer window. In that time, the club must not only idenfity but acquire a controller, a left winger and a creative midfielder. Three players who fit those profiles are Jean Seri, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho. The first is just waiting for Barça to call. The other two have effectively destroyed their relationship with their current club to force a move to Barça. This is just another plank in the falling dominoes of a club that needs to get its act together, another part of the everything all at once.

It’s okay to be disappointed, even angry. But unless we understand what we’re angry about, what that particular thing is affecting and possible ways to fix it, it’s all just ranting, narrative and tantrums. And that helps nothing.

By Kxevin

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.


  1. That was crushing to witness. Pique had one of his worst games in the shirt that I remember in recent memory. The own goal really took his head out of the game. You know me, I hate the board, but Kevin is right, this was a monumental collapse from our players. I just saw the replay for the Asensio goal. The kid ran 30 yards behind the ball, past 3 Barca players to get in position to score his goal. Did you guys know that that kid was a childhood Barca fan? And that we couldn’t come up with 3 million Euros to sign him when we just paid 40 million for Paulinho? Seriously WTF!!!!!!
    I love this club, I really go. I’ve grown too spoiled by the Guardiola years. Its really difficult to see us like this. Just it seems like no one gives a fuck at FC Barcelona anymore. No one can be bothered to defend. Why did we buy Semedo? Vidal can’t defend. He’s a winger by nature. We are our own worst enemy.
    What do we need to turn it around, a 3 – 0 victory at the Bernabeu, playing like this? That has about a 1 % chance of happening.
    Busquets is right, bring the new signings now! We need Dembele, and Coutinho and hopefully Seri but I doubt it. This board is 200% useless.

    1. Not a fan of Pique, but I thought he had a good game until the hapless yet madcap OG. Considering Vidal was AWOL in the position he ought to be, Pique had no option but to cover for incompetence that was Vidal. And no way he escapes being burned with the trickery and pace of Ronaldo, as with other times where I cringe mightily anytime he is in a one on one situation with players who possess the skillset to expose his shortcomings.

  2. Gotta respect Ronaldo & Ascensio. Feels like the era of Barca dominance is truly over now. But this seems to happen in cycles. Madrid was motivated to improve when Pep was crushing them and they are now enjoying those fruits. Now we must improve. But I don’t think paying $150M on any one player is the answer. We must invest wisely.

  3. I am one of those who do not wish to overpay for a Coutinho or a Dembele or a Paulinho. The Neymar saga can be an outlier that does not really set the price for the market as a whole. However, Barca will be perpetuating this pricing structure if we start paying 9 figures for players who would not have cost that much before Neymar. In a market where national treasures of oil nations can be used as personal piggy banks, FCB does not and can not play in this gamesmanship of extreme wealth, power and corruption.

    This defeat will sorely tempt the board to battle for their survival by behaving desperately in the transfer market. And all the other clubs with players to sell know that.

    The club is in a hard place. This was a pre-season game and we did look rusty and will look different once everyone has their sea legs. But RM outclassed us in a manner that they have not done in the last ten years. Part of it is also RM players’ confidence level in which they current;y feel like they are the best team in the world. You can see it in their eyes. And our players looked confused by comparison. Under a brand new coach and very recenty losing the threat posed by a Neymar plus the “feeling” between MSN, this was not a good time for a clasico when we are at a low and they are at a high. The gap should be less even if we do not make any major signings but definitely a betting man would not bet in our direction for the Liga title or an improvement over the quarters in CL.

    Even though we won the ICC, the US tour including the PSG distraction was probably not one of our better pre-seasons for training. If I’m not mistaken RM started their pre-season earlier and played more games plus it seemed like they were getting any player they wanted in the transfer market and not losing anyone whereas we were the opposite. Alba and Stegen were the only ones who looked ready to compete. Deulofeu seemed to shrink from the spotlight. Vidal and Denis showed their well known weaknesses in defence. We again expected too much from Busquets, Pique, Messi and Iniesta in that order and their mileage again showed. Luis was not in season form. Roberto still can not replace Ini even though I have high hopes that he can eventually. How many times did Alcacer even touch the ball? This is the time to tinker and I hope the coach tries Semedo in the Madrid game and has a private conversation with Deulofeu to tell him he has to play with the aggression that he is capable. We really don’t have many other options which again brings up the dilemma of desperately spending the Neymar money for quick fix solutions.

  4. In a nutshell, we played like the same crap (against big teams) without Neymar like we did with Neymar on the list last season. And that’s the essence of the problem. The problem is the lack of control in midfield. And the way we currently is set up we are not gonna solve any of those. I am not sure of Semedo. But he need to start in second leg for us to see what he is truly capable of. Unless we change the current setup we won’t be solving any of this problem. With Xavi no longer there, to control teh pace of game we may be better to move to a traditional 4-4-2 role for at least get the transition right. Otherwise we need to stop this disaster attempts with two flying full backs.

    Also it’s easy to pin the problems on the youngsters but is Saurez doing enough in these big matches lately. Also someone need to get Messi fit as early as possible. He is miles away from Ronaldo and is slipping further. There is no passion him in anymore.

  5. By this article I now underatand KXEVIN has never played the sport he so much loved and doesn’t understand what it means to have a complete team and a compatible team mate.

    The article could have being perfect except for some contradicting paragraphs and everything was summarised in the last paragraph. Kxevin doesn’t really know where to place the genesis of the team’s problem or perhaps he does, but have a soft sympathy for the board hence cannot totally come out to put the blame at it’s door step without including the players that have bled for the club inspite the poor people at the upper echelon. At one point, the article is blaming the board for not making the right signing and at another point, the he is blaming pique for the in ability of Vidal(a winger) to do his club imposed job of a full back.

    Except for a few players like messi who probably can exist in their own world, a team is as strong as it’s weakest link. Madrid knew the weakest link in the barca defence was the right back and all their 3goals and basically all their threatening attack came from there. Coincidentally and unfortunately for barca, the greatest attacking treat from the Madrid defence happened to be on the same flank(Marcelo). They get the ball in the middle(another barca weak link) and they send it to barca’s right back.

    Another coincidence and unfortunate thing was that, the weakest link in the Madrid defence happens to be the weakest link in the barca attack(our left wing/their right back).

    Like I said, a team is as strong as it’s weakest link. This also means every player on the team raises the quality of the other when they themselves posses a great quality. A good example is what is being taught in the US navy SEAL training. You have to be able to trust your fellow SEAL cos you survival depends on him and vice versa. Same goes for football if the right back is poor, the CB is exposed. If the collective midfield is poor, then the defence is exposed. If the defence is poor, then the keeper is exposed.

    The board has been poor in handling the team affairs ever since rosell took over but then the core players has been there winning(2 CL and a host of other trophies). When a rot goes on for too long a time, unchecked, even the strongest can appear weak.

    So I ask, is it the fault of the Pique that the club signed a winger to play the position of a full back?

    Is it the fault of Pique that Busquets had to abandon his duty post to break up attack from it’s source(job of agile attacking midfielders that press the opponents) thereby giving out the space from where the two other goals were assisted.

    The team is like a Chain liking each other. The whole chain is as strong as it’s weakest link. Madrid found out the weakest link on the barca team was between Pique and the right back.

  6. Sure, it could have been the players.
    But it could also have been the demoralizing effect of a terrible summer transfer window, and several ones before that.
    I don’t think there are people more acutely aware of the state of the club, both on and off the field, than the players.
    It’s their reputation and livelihood on the line, after all.

  7. Not sure Carvajal is Madrid’s weakest link, nor does any name readily comes to mind. If there is, it surely isn’t as pronounced as ours.

    That said, seems a tad harsh to undermine Kxevin’s football knowledge with a supposition.
    While he explores the reasons for the catastrophe that was yesterday’s match independently, there is no gainsaying that the bottom line of his argument was that it was a collective failure, as evinced in the excerpt below:

    “Everything all at once, and all of it is true. The team didn’t play well enough, the board has made significant errors in how it has managed the club and Paulinho is a head-scratcher of a signing. Are all of them related? Yep, even as they can all exist on their own. The weird signing doesn’t excuse the team and how it played. The board’s sporting mismanagement doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t have played better. The players are who the players are, and Ernesto Valverde, standing on the sidelines looking like a man wishing for death rays for eyes, has a lot of work to do.”

    I strongly agree with you on Barca’s preposterous proclivity of buying wingers as full backs, especially when they possess zero competence on their primary duty – defending. Only Abidal and Digne comes to mind as the traditional fullbacks we’ve bought in recent memory. Like Ppos rightly opined, we are our own worst enemy.

  8. I posted in the last article about the game itself ( a rather lengthy one I’m afraid) just as Kxevin was writing this so reposted it here as nobody would look at an old article but it has gone so I’m guessing Kxevin felt that reading it twice for him was a bit much ! No problem.

    With regard to this article I agree with some of it but cant go along with the Pique error bit. There’s no way Pique should let that ball come across his box if he has a chance of stopping it. That’d be madness. Nine times out of ten that’s a simple slide to put the ball out. This time he had to make up ground to get back and the ball arrived too close to him.

    Just a couple of points on replies to Kxevin. I’m not the sharpest pencil at times but even I have got the message that Kxevin hates this board with a passion ( and gets a bit cranky when others accuse him of supporting them ! ) if you need to have a go at a board ” supporter” then it’s probably me here. I make the distinction between Rosell and Barto and don’t think they’ve done much wrong and have had a few curve balls thrown at them.

    I do think LE was a dubious choice because of his vertical philosophy and lack of belief in youngsters, I would rather have had Unzue this time but that was just an unsubstantiated hunch rather than well thought out. Aside from these most of our ills are attributable to the sporting team. For me, its the board’s job to secure the club’s finances and set the general direction but not to meddle in sporting decisions. Also, some of the daftest things I’ve ever heard have come in conversations with my pals about football and we’ve all played football at varying levels for ( well in my case) over 50 years ! So while there are some things playing the game can give you an insight on you can learn a lot watching and listening and NOBODY watches more footie than Kxevin so I think that’s a little unfair. Mourinho was no player after all . . . . Although maybe that’s not the best example I could have thought of.

    It’s just the first meaningless game for a trophy none of us really care about. If we can use it to make decisions, great, but it’s not much more than that. It’s the league and CL we are after. I do agree there are large issues to be sorted but Valverde will now be more aware of them so let’s trust him and give him some time.

  9. A couple of other things occur as I’m rewatching the game. I said in the last article I wasn’t sure about TS’ starting position for Ronaldo’s goal. Well, I’m even less sure about his position for Asensio’s. What was that ? He is beaten at his near post from an angle at the edge of the box? I know both were great shots but that’s not good. Because of that I’ve gone back to the Pique OG. Now I’m not sure about that either. His starting position is good, near his front post but as Marcello goes to hit the ball TS sees both Pique and Umtiti in correct positions ready to clear it but dives one handed anyway. Best that happens with that is he spills it out to the penalty spot. If he stays it’s no goal. I thought last year he had grown into the job pretty well but I’ve always had a gnawing feeling that he saves all of what he should but seldom makes the great saves you’re not expecting. Don’t know, maybe that’s a bit hard.

    The other point I’d like to make regards Suarez. He fought as hard as anyone last night and had two or three decent attempts at goal as well as out muscling Ramos, no easy task, and winning the penalty ( soft but a beautiful first touch from him to take it over the keeper). We had a discussion about this last season and I encouraged folks to have a look at the end.

    Well, Messi ended up with 37 goals, 9 assists in the league and Suarez had 29 and 13 assists. Not bad, is it, and well ahead of Ronaldo in third whose team won the league. In case anyone wants to make the case that he misses too many he had 59% of his shots on target, the same as Messi. So can we pause and draw breath before we slag him over and over again ? There was a fellow on the front line who let us down in these depts and it wasn’t Suarez.

    We are so fortunate to have him. His work rate was excellent and he was raging last night at the times he was in position but the ball didn’t come, an echo of last year when our shortcomings led to him being isolated for long periods on end. He looks sharp to me and leaner but needs some good football played to create chances given that we play against packed defences where he is marked by both CBs. Neymar’s absence may hurt him in that our new LW maybe won’t draw the same attention away from him.

    1. I was going to comment, but read you post in the previous article, Jim, and agreed more or less 100%. But still, a few more things:

      -How in the hell can Piqué be taking the blame for this loss? Beyond me. On Ronaldo’s goal, he tracked back full speed like 50 meters, competing with a fresh-legged CR. Problem for me was Vidal not getting back in time to cover. Gerard, to my mind, is class and wouldn’t trade him for any other CB in the world, not even close.
      -Busquets even mentioning the need of transfers should cause some alarm, with regards to the state of things.
      -First half I think we were the better team, showing clearly that Barca are at least on the same level as RM, though much more fragile and uneven in terms of quality and depth. Iniesta did not have great game, but he, Messi and Busquets are carrying this team, together with the CBs. Alba did well, too.
      -For me, Vidal should be nowhere near a big game, Deloufeu will be an ok sub at best (Denis did much better) and Rakitic is not good enough to be an undisputed starter at Barca (despite having an ok game and good enough for the squad). And SR is not the answer.
      -We are very, very fragile, I’m afraid. We cannot rely on a masterclass from Messi every game. And signing Dembele, Coutinho and Seri (even if any of the happen) will not fix this immediately. Brace yourselves for a tough season, but don’t lose perspective. This team can still give us great joy, Messi is by far the greatest player in the game, and let’s wait until the transfer window closes before we rage.

  10. My comment on KXEVIN being sympathetic to the board could have been far stretched but I think it’s becoming more of a cliche for him to try to sound “politically correct” with the statement of “collective poor show”. He tries to balance things up even If it means dragging blameless players/names into the mix.

    Unless you’re a barca coach, the barca president, barca official(who would not want to appear to blame a particular player) or a sympathizer of the board, we all have the right and duty to say the truth as we see it without the fear of appearing to condemn someone. We are fans who directly or indirectly contribute to the income/funding of the club through tv subscriptions, merchandise purchases etc. If pique, messi, Ter stegen, Iniesta, the board, coach etc was poor in deliverying their duties, we should come out and say it and mention them directly without jamming them together as a “collective poor showing”. It will be largely unfair to the actual hard working members of the club. This is how I believe every fan of the club should approach issues.

    By saying it was a “collective poor showing”, it is the same as Donald trump’s statement on the Charlottesvilles violence. Instead of him to condemn the actual trouble makers, he choose to condemn “violence in all places”. Of course he is now facing a backlash of the vague statement that shows an underlying sympathy he has for the white supremacists.

    On another hand, the statement makes it hard to approach the real cause of the problem and then resolving it.

    By making that statement and going to single out a name is also contradictory.

    Having said all this, the present problem is the fault of the board through and through. No need dragging the players into the mix. If the wall is not cracked, there’s absolutely no way a lizard can gain entry. If the board has done it’s homework properly, we won’t even be here talking about the board let alone the players. The only thing we would be saying is that the players tried but real were superior. But in this case, not only was real superior, we were also inferior.

    On the carvajal case, yes he is the weakest link in the Madrid defence. atleast so far those season. Against Man U, rashford came in and turned him inside out, against barca, Suarez came in and dazzled(a bit) on his flank. Even most of barca’s first half attacking threats were from his flank. This is despite the poor quality of players on that flank. Imagine having a player of neymar quality(or even close) on that flank.

  11. Continuing my quest for shallowness, 5 match ban for Ronaldo ! No, I will not laugh . . . .

  12. And Hunter sticks the boot in. Makes some good points but overall a little harsh for me. On rewatching the match I reckon we had about five or six chances we didn’t convert plus a couple of deflections of players round the six yard box which didn’t end up in their net whereas one find at the other end.

    Not saying we haven’t a lot of thinking to do but it’s almost as much in terms of structure and tactics as it is in player quality, although a couple of quality players would be good.

  13. Jim i hope you’re sitting down for this…
    According to reports Samper has been told he has no place in the team anymore and has been asked to leave.

    1. TBH that wouldnt surprise me. If we’re going after the likes of Paulinho and keeping Gomes there is no place for Samper and there’ll be more to follow. Big error for me. We’re keeping average players and giving the one with the best chance of coming good a couple of halves after sending him to hell on loan. That’ll help morale at La Masia. Not sure what style of play Valverde is after. Samper is one of the best passers in the team, doesn’t lose possession, has excellent control under duress and has improved his defending ( not completely). All he needs is someone to believe and time on the pitch to recover confidence. Can’t keep the ball without the top technicians in that area.

      Still , nobody died. ..

    2. As it is now, we are “drowning” in squad players. Players who can fill in nicely but not carry a team or initiate brilliant moves. Gomes, Turan, Rakitic, Denis Suarez, Rafinha. We also just got another one with Paulinho (unless he surprises big time). How many of those do we need? I’d say maybe half of what we have. I don’t understand it at all, not from a sporting perspective, not from a PR perspective.

      Pity about Samper. It must be very hard to be sent packing while the midfield isn’t exactly in spectacular shape. Completely agree about the message to La Masia.

    3. That says it all, doesn’t it…

      In case people have forgotten, none of our legendary midfielders just walked into the squad and started bossing it.

      That (midfielder for Barca) is the hardest position to play in all of football, there are so many intricacies to learn about positioning, timing, decision making, etc.

      Yes, it is true that we have bought ready-made players such as Deco, Rakitic, etc. to play in those positions, but it is also true that the midfield has been at its best when we have not been doing that, relying on homegrown players instead.

      But each of those players took a long time to develop. Xavi got his first minutes way back in 1998, he wasn’t the undisputed starter until several years later (and established himself through the years of the Gaspart presidency when the club was at its lowest point).

      Same with Iniesta — many years spent rotating between the bench and the starting lineup.

      Busquets was a personal Pep project that worked out fabulously in the end, but it still took him close to two years to iron out all the wrinkles in his game.

      None of these young players has been given anything remotely like those chances.

    4. Very good point, but we also need to put that into context. When Xavi and Iniesta were first starting their careers, Barca were in a completely different place sporting wise. The demands on the club were wildly different to what they are now. Pep’s era completely changed the expectations on the team to produce insane results every single year without fail. That allows very little time for bedding in of home grown talents. As you rightly pointed out it took years for Xavi and Iniesta to get anywhere near their peak, but this was done at a time when Barca were just starting to taste real success again so there was a lot more patience in the fan base. That is not the same anymore.

      I am definitely not a fan of this board, although like Jim I do think they have done some things well, and certainly are not quite as bad as some people like to make out. However, as with ANY elected entity, they will act and react based on what they feel will get them re-elected to keep them in power. Would anyone who was in power now, given the insatiable demands the fans have, be in a position to set a policy of building youth? The reason why I ask this question is because the concept of bringing through youth players and winning everything every year are diametrically opposed. You cannot really have both, People forget that prior to the Rijkaard years Barcelona won very little for a very long time. Would the fan base really accept a lull in trophies for several years (possibly more) in order to allow the amount of time it would need to really develop the youth prospects? Let’s not forget, these are prospects, that may or may not become the players we want them to. In most cases it goes the way we do not want, for every Xavi there are 10 Bojan’s. It puts into perspective how insane it was that we ended up with almost 11 absolutely world class players all home grown. Frankly I think we could go another 20-30 years without seeing anything like that again. La Masia has been around a long time, and it has never produced a crop like that.

      Samper has not been given a fair stab at things in this team, but one has to ask why? Is it because he isn’t good enough? I doubt it, he certainly has the capacity to become an exceptional player. The real question in my mind is how realistic will it be that he gets the minutes he needs to develop as a player at Barca. A team that has to win every game it plays, in a league that (despite the EPL fanbaoys view) is the most competitive in the world and getting even more so. Will a manager risk playing Samper in many games where the result is not a forgone conclusion? Do those games even exist anymore? (last season would suggest not)

      Young players will always make mistakes, and those mistakes will invariably cost the team (especially in Sampers position). It would take a very brave coach to take those sorts of risks when competing with a team like Madrid who will barely drop any points. With the amount of pressure the coaching job at Barca entails these days I doubt we will find many (if any) coaches out there who would take the sort of risk required to give youth the chance they need. One might point to Pep, but the expectations on the team were different when he arrived, he had a lot more leeway and even then I remember a LOT of discontent when Busi was given playing time ahead of Yaya and even more so when Yaya was sold to make way for him. Players like Busi and Pedro were given substantial minutes over the course of their first few seasons in order to allow them to grow into the players they are today. I just do not think the fan base is patient enough to allow for that anymore, as sad as that is, I fear it is the reality. The system is very much a victim of its own success.

      Personally I would be willing to sacrifice more than a few years of success in order to develop the youth more, but I feel like I am certainly in the minority. Most fans want to win and they want to win all the time.

    5. Great comment. So if what you say is true, I guess the club will have to come full circle, having another period of misery and failure, before coaches and players are not subjected to such an insane pressure to win anymore…?

  14. Honestly I am done for now. This Paulinho madness is the straw that has broken the camels back. Even if he turns out to be a wondrous success, it doesn’t matter. I will never think it was what the club should have done and fundamentally disagree with it. It just symbolises the madness and short term crap that has descended on Barca. Money, power, and image over identity.

    I will always love the club, it has deep personal ties for me and my family, but I’m not giving the current set-up any more of my time, money and support until they (or most probably, their successors) convince me there has been change.

    I just don’t enjoy it currently.

  15. I would not believe rumors about Samper leaving. He will be loaned out which I think is the right move for his career at this stage. Spain may not have the best option for him right now, so perhaps Holland or some other team elsewhere that follows the Cruyff philosophy.

  16. Xkevin, I think Paulinho signing actually make perfect sense.

    First, the club is without a Brazilian since Neymar departure. Who is going to sell shirt in Brazil? Enter Paulinho of course.

    Second, Paulinho gained quite a following in China during his two years stint in the country. Buying Paulinho allow the club to sell shirt in China too. That’s a billion people market right there.

    The board is actually making quite a shrewd signing there.

    1. It would be, if people would be content to buy shirts from a player that didn’t play much. As it is, I don’t think he will become a starter.

  17. Apparently Sergi Roberto is the one planning his future away from the club. It makes sense. He probably feels insulted by the signing of Paulinho. Apparently Cristiano got a 5 match ban for his dive. This is all unraveling very quickly. Messi posted on instagram, today is a fucked up day but we gotta get up and keep going, this just starts. People keep saying that this trophy is just a meaningless preseason friendly, but it really isn’t. We are the only thing standing between Madrid getting 6 cups in a year. That was the greatest achievement of the Guardiola times. If we can’t stop them, who can?

  18. I personally don’t see a reason for alarm or despair at this point. Given our current state, losing the Supercopa to the best team in the world should not come as a shock. As Kxevin pointed out, so many things are happening right now: a new coach, a key-player departure, new signings (some confirmed, others in the works), current players pending transfer, upcoming board elections, etc. The team is definitely fragile and presents the same frailties as last year. Here is my wish list for the new season:
    – I hope that Valverde figures out a way to avoid the panic mood that sets in each time we lose the ball. The scene is so recurring now that it is just depressingly amusing. As it was noted in some comments, Piqué should have been provided timely cover and not left in one-vs-one situations against quick and fresh players. Btw, totally agree with Jim that TS positioning for goals 2 & 3 was not ideal. He could have done better.
    – I hope that our new signing efforts continue to focus on our weakest links. Semedo was definitely the right choice and Paulinho might just be the guy we need to provide that strength, physicality and speed that our midfield lacks at the moment. Add in Seri and we might include control to the mix.
    – I hope that we don’t get dragged into the current madness of the transfer market and overpay for either Dembele or Coutinho. They are good players but not 150-million good.
    – I hope that we give our young players the chance and time they need to learn and excel. This also means giving the new coach time to lay out a project and not fire him if we end the season without a trophy.
    – I finally hope that we turn the Neymar page as soon as possible. He did serve us well and while the circumstances of his leaving were far from ideal, we have enough talent to compensate for his loss and move on.

  19. I am not sure the club will ever revert back to pre Rijkaard days, or at least I really hope not. At least in the next 3-4 years Messi will continue to carry the team and ensure they remain competitive. I suspect beyond that will depend very much on what sort of players are invested in now and in the next year or two. We will never replace Messi, as good as Neymar is, he never would have come anywhere close to Messis level. In that sense I do not think the team will ever be able to o replicate the same level of success it has over the past decade. I would very much hope that the next few years sees a mix of young players coming through the youth system and bought in that would keep the club competitive at the highest levels.

    Eventually the fan base will adjust to a reality without Messi and the expectations that reality brought with it, and that should hopefully lead to more patience allowing the team to develop young players more and have a healthy balance. Balance being the key word, because I think developing youth will always need to be balanced with buying in talent.

  20. We had 61.5% possession, just had too many interceptions and mis-passes. I thought we outplayed RM for the first half—seriously, outplayed! I second the notion that I would be willing to see losses a bit if it meant some decent player development and awesome positional play—the only fear would be if it triggered an exodus of talent who can’t stand losing (Messi!).

    The golden La Masia generation played together for years—give the players some time to start clicking. Turing to transfers every time we don’t win a game is absurd, that’s just chaos heaped on chaos.

    That said, perhaps Paulinho was brought in as a sub for Rakitic.

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