Bartomeu, hashtags and real problems

The hashtag #bartomedudimiteya is trending on Twitter, the kind of hashtag activism we see all the time. It gets a topic trending, but rarely has the effect that the people who ginned it up have, which is to effect meaningful change.

Bartomeu leave now. But why should he? There are legitimate reasons to desire a board change, but from this chair, all of them have to do with basic management tenets, including that being a successful manager is about dealing with peoople and their problems. The FC Barcelona football team has all the looks of unhappy employees — making the same mistakes, unusual moments of lethargy, at times working like there is a lack of dedication.

If any of my employees evinced those behavior patterns, it would be time to find out why, and fix the problems. Happy workers don’t leave a manager any worries about their quality. It is always high because they are happy. In looking at the Barça teams over time, the biggest quality about the Guardiola sides, even the Rijkaard sides before they started finding new ways to lose, was the joy with which they played. The same was true of the treble season under Luis Enrique. The team played like happy workers — selfless, composed, understanding their role in the success matrix of the whole and how to keep that success going.

People are screaming about the signing of Paulinho, and what it represents. Very few of them have seen him play. His principal sins are that he is 29 years old, cost 40m, same price as a desired player, and comes from the Chinese Super League. That’s it. Paulinho is more than a signing, if you will, just as the errors are more than simple errors.

And a hashtag is born.

— Viagogo ticketing boondoggles
— Fiscal shenanigans
— Conga line of court appearances related to a shady transfer
— Boixos

That is just a few of the legitimately disturbing things that involve the club, vs the team, even as people conflate the two. All of them are more worthy of generating hashtags than grabbing a 29-year-old Brazilian. But no.

Barça is a company being managed by people who have their own way of doing things, and a way that, from this chair, is damaging the product. When you stop managing humans, problems arise and you get unhappy workers. Is Neymar an example? What did he want? More money. Could the club have given that to him? Unlikely. Not the same money as Messi, nor should it have. But what else could the club have given him to make him happy? Did anyone try to find out? What might have kept Thiago? People poing to this or that signing, but what was it, really? What could it have been?

Dani Alves left on a free, surfing a sea of rancor. And whatever else you want to say about him in the wake of his depature, his words, that the board doesn’t know how to treat people, is underscored by the image of a weeping Abidal sitting at a table alongside Rosell. It is also underscored by the club telling Sergi Samper that there isn’t a place for him in the first team, and trying to send him on loan. Again. That Samper is or isn’t good enough for the first team at this time is immaterial — Barça is his boyhood club. There is a better way to handle that situation, just as there were better ways to handle Alves and Neymar. Happy employees don’t mind taking a bit less money for a fantastic work environment, because work is joyful.

But when money managers run a place where humans work, the atmosphere changes. People start feeling like they aren’t valued and begin to speak the language that money managers know — more money. Alves wanted security and money because he no longer had joy? Neymar wanted more money because what else was there? Sergo Roberto is rumored to want to leave because he believes that Paulinho is going to affect his playing time and team status. Okay. That happens in business all the time. But a happy employee never leaves a company they are happy at.

What this board has done is successfully managed the club to a point where this season there were record revenues. And that is fantastic. But have they neglected the human side to the extent that people are now unhappy? For all of Laporta’s dubious actions, from spying on board members to his Great Uzbek Adventure, he and his board were able to create an atmosphere of joy. That feeling is what people remember, a feeling that came more from how people were treated, like humans, rather than names on a balance sheet, parts of an equation.

It’s silly to stomp around talking about how Bartomeu and his board are destroying La Masia, or signing “old” Brazilians because there is a bigger picture here — people and their problems. “Does the check cash? Good.” isn’t the way to treat workers. Busquets’ plea for signings was very clear. The players want to be best equipped to fight the battles that they need to fight, and the first leg of that SuperCopa match showed that they aren’t. Why are some clubs better at transfers than others? Could it have something to do with how the people in question approach business? If you stomp into a city, saying, “We’re Barça and we’re here to sign your best player, so stand back,” what will happen. How do money managers approach a negotiation, vs human managers. Barça right now is a club being fiscally well run, but is bankrupt in the tender that people understand and desire as much as money: humanity.

But it’s business, right? Barça is now a global superclub. Under Laporta, for all of its success, it was still getting there. Now that it is there, how was the clinb to that lofty perch managed? In using the backs of the workers to climb to an exaltet status, did anyone pat those backs? Football is passion and we love it. It’s also business. The trick is to balance the two and employees will respond to how you do that.

Masia talents are leaving the club, and few are asking about their ultimate quality because of how they are leaving. “You. Out. You aren’t good enough.” One person found out they weren’t being kept on Twitter. There is rage and outrage because basic human tasks aren’t being tended to, and that’s the problem, a much bigger problem than a dubious Brazilian signing. The Selecao coach, Tite, has made Paulinho one of the featured players. He might actually not suck. But that ship has sailed, because Paulinho represents everything about the club that people don’t like. And that is wrong. The signing is mystifying, confusing and extremely odd. In this day and age, whenever there is a signing viewed as bogus, people start ranting about money laundering and illegal activity, which is absurd. What is the context. Why is the money being laundered and who for? Who stands to benefit? Those are all questions that would start any proper investigation into burdens of proof in any proper newsroom.

But on social media, all they need is someone to Tweet them, and someone else to say “Yeah!”

I have no idea if anything is shady, illegal or eyebrow-raising, other than the way that humans are being managed, and that has a price. Being so busy building a revenue model that can exist independent of sporting success, a desired result of this board, can bring about the “Be careful what you wish for” reality if the humans aren’t tended to.

Again, it’s everything all at once, that all points to the stuff that any manager learns on the first day of proper training: if the people aren’t happy, your enterprise, whatever it is, isn’t going to succeed. Hashtag activism doesn’t work. People who have the power to effect meaningful change does. Some 18k socis will have to affix their names to a petition that will then set in motion new elections. And then tens of thousands of socis will have to vote for their next president. It’s as simple as that. The Twitter arrogance that socis don’t know what is going on is precisely that. But different socis have different needs from the club. There are many who are more thrilled by 700m revenues than any signing. They vote, too. The club’s health is more crucial than trebles for them. Others want a sense of something, a feeling. Still others want sporting success.

These different reasons are why hashtag activism rarely works, even when it is trending on Twitter. Because people know what they know, and don’t care about the rest of the stuff. And at the end of it all, it comes down to people — whether those people are players or socis or fans. How the Barcelona board manages this firestorm will show a lot, even as it has already failed in its most significant chore of creating a space in which joyful work, high-quality work, can thrive at the feet of happy humams.

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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.

41 Comments

  1. Rami
    August 14, 2017

    You’re absolutely right, The human side of running a club is neglected by this board, And i can’t see any reason why we can’t have a board that caters to both the human side and the financial side, FCB deserve better, It deserves the best.

    But, I do have quite the unpopular opinion, And i laid it out on twitter, And i’ll do it again in here.
    Throwing this board out now, With no sight of any truly competent candidates, Isn’t the right thing to do in my view, Having elections now, Means the same faces we saw two years will appear again for candidacy, Benedito Laporta, toni freixa.
    And those three gave such an unremarkable impressions and campaigns, That barto with any ordinary campaign, Managed to squash in elections, 54% of votes to barto, 33% to laporta, 7% benedito (Heading the current No Confidence campaign), And 4% for freixa.
    Clubs presidency is a very big deal, With long lasting consequences, Gaspart in less than 3 years managed to run this club into the ground and made damages we still felt a decade later! Throwing a current board,must mean that it reached a point where it can’t get any worse,Any other board can do better, The risk of further damage from a current board is greater than the risk of it continuing or being worsened by a new one.
    Barto and his gang are miles away from being what FCB deserves, But for me it hasn’t reached the point of doing a Russian roulette with those others potential faces waiting to take their place.
    Having idealistic standards is admirable,But this is the real world, I’d rather have an evil i know, Then take a chance with an evil i don’t, Idealism is why bernie sanders supporters didn’t eventually vote for hillary, And in the end trump won, Reality doesn’t care about idealism, If the census was led by someone who i thought is deserving of an FCB presidency or i felt there potential candidate looming around that is worthy, Then i would’ve said yes immediately, But that’s maybe not the case, Unfortunately, Despite how much I love this club is, It’s environment doesn’t house the kind of people it deserves.
    So i’m quite reluctant (That’s putting it mildly) in joining this crusade against the current board.

    And let’s remember, Two consecutive seasons with ZERO trophies, And a camp nou filled with supporters waving white napkins, And it couldn’t remove laporta from the office in 2008.
    So the chances of the removal of this current board, At this current time, Is non-existent, Almost futile, But no harm in trying, Worst case scenario they’ll at least try to make amends after seeing the back-lash.

  2. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2017

    2015 elections happened.When Benedito and Laporta had the chance to unite their powers and have a solid campaign,they did nt.
    There were a lot of things that they could use vs the board and if they were prepared even the treble would nt make Bartomeu win.
    But they were unprepared,poor campaigns,poor result.
    Lets see now,if Benedito colltect the 16.5k signatures and there is a vote,how they will unite their powers so members vote vs the board.

  3. behold666
    August 14, 2017

    I’m not sure you really do justice to what we’re seeing today.

    The hashtag campaign is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: demonstrate significant dissatisfaction with the way the club is being run. The campaign is not about Paulinho, per se; more about what that signing represents. The news about Samper today was the last straw for a lot of folks.

  4. Half and Half
    August 15, 2017

    Agree that the power and blame ultimately is with the socis, these are the ones who went with Rosell and now his proxy – inexplicably in my eyes but there you go. It is not about results, win or lose, it is about what we are as a club.

    Getting to the global superpower status shouldn’t change us…….. Around the world people choose to follow us, but that doesn’t mean we have to change to what they want and become just another club.

    I don’t know who I’d vote for, but despite all of the dodgy things he did, I’d take Laporta back in a heartbeat ahead of these muppets. His vision and outlook, influenced by Cruyff, is closest to mine.

    • Half and Half
      August 15, 2017

      * Last sentence – I meant ‘relatively close to mine.

      • Hristo
        August 16, 2017

        Half & Half, why don’t name yourself “One” instead?

        • Half and Half
          August 16, 2017

          My lineage – half English, half Catalan

  5. omoh
    August 16, 2017

    Very great article. Its like an MRI scan of the board. The diagnosis was apt and straight forward.

    • omoh
      August 16, 2017

      Except for the hashtag part. The hashtag is already doing what it was meant to do -create awareness about the cluelessness of the board and generate enough anger in people.

  6. Jim
    August 16, 2017

    Wow! Looks like 4-4-2 tonight. If we can’t control the midfield with this, and I don’t know if we can, we are in trouble. Could be a frustrating night for Suarez if we can’t get mids forward to help. I’m intrigued . . .

    • Jim
      August 16, 2017

      3-5-2 ???? And we can’t get the ball. Think I may go to bed . . . And dream of becoming Barcelona’s new goalie !

  7. tunde_campnou
    August 16, 2017

    we’re in serious trouble, EE still managed to outplay us in the middle of the park despite fielding 5 midfielders. We are in for a really long season folks.

  8. TITO
    August 16, 2017

    How are we doing? I cant watch the game but i see we are already 2 goals down.

    • Rokke30
      August 16, 2017

      The gap in level of play between us and RM is almost comparable to them playing a relegation threatened side. That should give you an indication of how we’re doing.

  9. lala10
    August 16, 2017

    Forget Sunday when we were in the game. Today we have absolutely been shellacled first half. We look half cooked. They are beatingbus for pace and power. Our players first touch is horrible and all we do is cough the ball again and again. And whe they have the ball they are fast and incisive in their passing. Forget the numbers in midfield. Its their energy thats killing us because they are creating overloads there by having players constantly on the move.

    Alba poor. Umtiti poor. Gomes poor. And whoever thought the Pailinho transfer is a genius. Into this maelstrom you bring on this guy? When ee have Gomes and Raktic? Pure genius.

  10. TITO
    August 16, 2017

    And earlier today i rewatched the CL final against MU in Rome 2009.
    What a game from us, that midfield control with Xavi, Iniesta, Busi and partially Messi and Yaya (though he played as RB), something that will never be replicated, surely not by this generation.

  11. lala10
    August 16, 2017

    Raktic is as good as useless as a Barca midfielder. Put a bit of pressure on him and he will lose the ball. His first touch is crap. All he looks for after the poor touch is a foul from the opposing player. We are in serious trouble.

  12. Davour
    August 16, 2017

    Well, the fun is definitely over. If this is any indication, we are not going to be able to challenge RM at all. They have what must be one of the best squads ever (well, maybe AC Milan in the early 90s), and look horribly strong. I can’t see them NOT dominating La Liga, as well as the CL. They have the chance of a lifetime to get themselves a first treble, unless we find our passing and scoring boots in at least one of the competitions. But Barca don’t look good at all. The indications from early pre-season are nowhere to be seen, which is worrying from a Valverde perspective. Without Iniesta, the team collapsed. Seldom seen Messi so alone in trying to do something, looking in vain for channels; Busi looking despondent and distracted; Suarez lost somewhere. etc etc.

    Seems there is only one way now, with Paulinho arriving: go for signings. Pay whatever necessary to get Dembélé and Coutinho (who have both, it seems, made a real effort to make themselves unwanted by their current club), dig into next season’s budget, sell Rakitic, whatever. Mind you, this will not save the season, but at least it will show some intent. And Neymar would not have saved us (but would have helped…).

    We will have to accept that the glory days are passed and hope for something else to emerge, sooner or later. 2-3 years, minimum, RM will be monstrous.

  13. tunde_campnou
    August 16, 2017

    I’ve probably never seen Rakitic this poor in a barca shirt, Gomes should have his contract terminated. Semedo put in a decent shift after coming on. I’m really sorry for Roberto, he’s the only guy willing to put his body on the line for us in the middle. Messi and Suarez were starved of service, I don’t blame them much as they both managed to hit the woodwork. Overall, the 2nd half was much better than the 1st but even at that is well below the required standard. Serious work needs to be done both in training and the transfer market. Our players looked lethargic all through. Their players were faster, fitter and more mobile. Our first few Liga fixtures maybe used to improve the team as they go

  14. Jim
    August 16, 2017

    Hmm, liked Semedo when he came on and everyone should have a better appreciation of what Iniesta gives us with his ability to pass, turn and move with the ball Unlike at least three of our mids tonight. I have only just resisted a temptation to start typing out a list of players I never want to see in the shirt again – and it wouldn’t have been a short one !

    Btw, is TS the elephant in the room or can I talk about him ? I suppose it’s too much to ask him to at least move his feet when a shot is hit from fully thirty yards ?

    • barca96
      August 16, 2017

      Hi Jim. Wanted to drop by BFB and leave a message to ask you if you enjoyed the Federer final knowing how big of a fan you are.

      Can you please name me the players that are on your mind? To me, the likes of Rakitic, Gomes, Paulinho are not the types of names you would associate with a Barca midfield. Poor, heavy first touch. Don’t know how to find space.

      If I was the manager, I would rather give the Masia grads a chance to slowly take over the midfield. Samper, Alena and Roberto as the main midfielders along with Busi and Iniesta. That is the only forward for the club to me. We need to have a strong recognizable midfield again. We have to start with giving trust to the youngsters.

      Rakitic has been here for 3 seasons but is yet to improve on anything really. Likewise with Gomes. Paulinho is 29 years old. He’s not going to all of a sudden have magical feet.

      Once again, it’s Asensio. I just can’t help seeing Douglas’ face whenever I see or hear Asensio. 4m!! 4m!! It’s a crime!

      I too have a problem with TS. He doesn’t want to even attempt. He had the same problem early last season. His feet seems to be planted. He needs to do more agility test for quicker feet and sort of tip toe instead of planting his feet into the ground.

  15. omoh
    August 16, 2017

    Suddenly I don’t fancy Valverde turning anything around. even if given the best talents.

    I’m starting to see him as a very poor version of LE(give me whatever you have even if it is crap) at the same time an opportunist jumping at the slightest chance of coaching “barca”.

    What we need now is A coach that can look straight into bartomeu’s eye and tell him to sign the player he wants or go to tell with his job. A coach with a very strong character and personality. Not some wannabe puppet coach.

    A coach that will tell the board that why waste money on two players that plays on the same flank when you have arguably the worst midfield in the coming champion’s league.

    If the coach doesn’t put his feet down on the kind of players he needs, this board will keep buying players that don’t fit as long as they make economic sense. In the long run, barca will be like Madrid of the past when coaches had little or no say in the signing and sale of players.

    Though unlike the Madrid of then(Only 2 CL winners in the team, one with the team and the other new comer without the team), we still have a better core than that real Madrid because we have players that knows What it feels like to win at the highest level with the team and can transmit the spirit to the new comers but first, we need a winning coach.

    People might say I wrong or it’s too early or I’m being a perssimist but this is a fact and unless Verlverde turns around tomorrow to become someone with strong character and personality, I don’t see barca turning round good anytime soon. We might start to play good football, but to challenge Madrid, I doubt it.

    • kneowell
      August 26, 2017

      I completely agree with your concerns about valverde. As horrible as lucho may be for some of us he still had the balls to hand pick his own signings in his first season. Valverde has been mute, he hasn’t mentioned a single player he would love to have. Even if he has same inclinations with the board as regards to players wanted he should at least be vocal about it as a sign of authority to his new team. He doesn’t inspire any confidence what so ever, his attitude this far has been nothing short of cowardly.

    • hereiam
      August 17, 2017

      I’m not so sure about that.
      Looks like Liverpool owners are prepared to burn Coutinho to the ground rather than let him leave under such an insulting manner.
      Remember that while Barca is a big football club, Liverpool is no slouch either. The club is owned by Fenway Sports Group, which is worth a cool $2.5 billion.
      You don’t just waltz into their office and demand them selling you their best asset at a cut rate price just because of your status.
      It’s insulting, demeaning, and if unchallenged will unsettle other players.
      Just as in real life hostile takeovers where people are prepared to burn things to the ground rather than letting you have your way, it seems like Liverpool are prepared to do the same.

  16. PPos
    August 16, 2017

    Daaaamn, i haven’t seen us play this bad against Madrid for over 10 years ago in Rijkaard’s and Ronaldinho’s last season at the Bernabeu when we had to do a pasillo and got smashed 4-1. I was rooting for Andre Gomes to play well because we needed him too badly. This was coming folks. I know its just a stupid sport but man, I am so sad today. I went to bed at 9 PM

  17. August 17, 2017

    Our midfield problems have gone down to a pit from worse.
    I think its all in the mind. The Neymar drama have really taken a toll on the team’s mentality.

    Jim, am with you. TS is either in a very very poor form or whatever. His position for both the goals on Sunday, was poor. And yday too, it looks like he is convinced its a goal the moment the ball is hit!

    I really wonder, if the Dembele and Coutinho signings would solve our problems. I dont know much about both. All what we need is an intelligent and talented central midfielder who can complement Busquets, ahead of him.

    Very sad how the team is now. With La masia no more a priority for the board, we are like Madrid of few seasons before.

    • Ivan Milicevic
      August 17, 2017

      Man, this is so true. I don’t know what’s happening there but it seems that Barca is losing it.

      “With La masia no more a priority for the board, we are like Madrid of few seasons before.”

  18. August 17, 2017

    Ok come on people, lets not go overboard. Yes we sucked ass yesterday, but lets put things into context before we burn everything to the ground!

    1) This was a glorified pre season friendly and had we beaten RM instead of the other way around most people would be saying “don’t get too excited, this was just a friendly”. Like they did last month, when we beat Madrid.

    2) Valverde is literally just starting, he has barely had a chance to get to know his players, or how to play them. This was an experiment that flopped, but that is the whole point of pre season, to experiment and to learn about the players and the best ways to play them. This process will take time.

    3) The team has clearly had a big hit to morale with the exit of Neymar, you can see it in the difference in energy on the pitch a few weeks ago vs the last two matches. I expect this to improve with the arrival of Coutinho and/or Dembele.

    4) Madrid have had a few years now under Zidane. The players, the system, the chemistry, it is all there, in perfect sync. They are at their peak. This is their time, as we had ours. Still we were not quite as far off as people are making out. I remember after the hammering we got from Bayern a few years ago everyone was losing their shit, as they are now, but we came back and won a treble.

    Let’s all calm down and give Valverde a bit of time to build the system and team he wants, then we can judge.

  19. Jim
    August 17, 2017

    First of all in reply to Barca 96. If you’re referring to Wimbledon then yes, I watched every minute of every match and there was a lump in my throat from the end of the first set till the end of the match. I posted here that I am even more proud of my daughter who once again went down to London, camped overnight and was sitting on the hill for the match waving her Swiss flag. All the more impressive as all her friends think she is daft for not having Murray or Nadal as her favourite.

    For me, it also leaks into other areas such as football. I’m constantly depressed by the ageist brigade who want to cast someone aside as soon as they turn thirty. If someone like Federer can, in an individual sport still be the best player on the planet in his mid thirties we need to reassess the relative balance of skill vs power. Federer’s pace of movement has dropped but because of his unbelievable balance and skill you wouldn’t know it. It’s the same with football. If he wanted Xavi could still be playing in our midfield today impact wise because you can’t get the ball off him. It’s about a supreme level of skill. Seen it all my footballing life. As long as the ball moves quicker than the man, as Pep said, power is not the most important feature.

    We saw that yesterday. Without Iniesta our midfield looked as clueless as any Barca midfield I’ve ever seen. There were two elements to this. One, Real Madrid have a bloody good midfield – the irony as we’ve said here before is that while LE took us down a care and maintenance route for midfield they realised why we were gubbing them and made the decision to play more football. That last night was embarrassing and you can only imagine what it took for Pique to come out and say he felt inferior. He doesn’t do that if it’s a close run thing.

    It’s easy for anyone to make lists of players they want rid of and they’ll all be different. My main thrust is has always been that we need the right skills in the right places, not the crowd favourite. So, for me, in defence, you need CBs who can read the game like Pique and not those who act impulsively, I’m afraid like Masche who could have cost two or three goals with his reckless hunting of the ball. You need Alba at LB not midfield because his killer skill for his position IS his pace. In midfield what WE need to play our passing game is the ability (and mindset) to show patience in moving the ball around while doing this at such a pace that you are tiring the opposition not allowing them to shuffle back and forward which doesn’t tire anyone out. You need to be able to take a pass in without it coming off you at all and you need to have the vision and ability to turn the right way on a sixpence. All this requires playing with head up. In our current midfield only Busi has the required skill set.

    The rest are just taking up time before the coaching staff discover this and move them on but tbh you can see it after watching about half a dozen games. Gomes, Suarez, Rafinha, Rakitic and yes, I’m sorry, SR don’t have the skill set needed. Now, small caveat on SR. I’ll never claim that I don’t have a soft spot for certain skills or players and SR is one of them. For all sorts of reasons he deserves a little more time to see what he makes of things. His ball carrying and breaking lines is a good skill for a midfielder but his technical skills just ain’t there at a high enough level. I come back to the killer skill. Some like Messi, Xavi, Pique, Busi have probably more than one and we can’t expect their sort again but the aforementioned mids could play their best game and you still wouldn’t see a skill at which they are better than most in the world.

    Hilal, I agree with you that talk of Valverde failing is ridiculous. He is trying things out and might well turn out to be great. He has also inherited big problems as you’ve highlighted. What I would say is that, for me, sensible option forming doesn’t happen overnight. It comes from a build up of small things you notice which eventually start to weigh more. With LE I didn’t like the macho way he started, picking a fight with Pique, then his handling of the Anoeta debacle, moving on to his easy way out approach by hoofing the ball to the front three and ignoring the midfield. Some of us said at the time it would come back to haunt us although because MSN were new it would work for a while. Eventually I added that to the fact that he preferred physical players and seemed unable to adapt tactics even on a most basic level during games and I came to feel that he wasn’t for us.

    Just now, with Valverde I’m not impressed by the idea of Paulinho, the casting aside of Samper after less than two halves of play where his passing and control were obvious and having been sent to Hell at Granada, add that to a formation and particularly a midfield such as he fielded last night and it’s hard not to cast a side eye at him. Dembele, Paulinho and maybe even Coutinho won’t sort our midfield problem ( although two of them would be of use going forward) and I would genuinely like to talk to Valverde to ask him what he’s looking for..

    Lest I throw stones without sticking my neck out and offering an alternative I would pay over the odds for someone who can glue the passing game ( bonus if they’re mobile! ) I’d buy a tricky winger type ( folk tell me Dembele can provide this ) I’d grab Coutinho because Messi ain’t gonna stay fit if he has his current workload, I’d give Paco time as Suarez’ rotation because the guy was way overplayed last year and I’d retain Samper to give him every minute that Busi doesn’t play. If he can’t hack it after half a season ( not the full season the current crop have had) then at least have the courage to let him go rather than loan him to keep the fan base happy. I’d keep Alena and give him a few minutes here and there. I’d want to see what he can create before judging him. Looked good pre season but I can’t remember him going past folk or hitting killer passes. Just want more time to assess him. I’d be giving Deulofeu more minutes just in case. He was good in preseason, awful in the first leg but added a bit of pace and energy when he came on last night. He’s struggling slightly with the quality of opponent in the last two games and needs to up his speed of thinking and passing. However, that’s easier than trying to give him a skill he doesn’t have.

    This would then mean moving on three or four mids. I’d keep Masche till the end of the season because of his experience but he wouldn’t get near the first eleven without injuries.

    And I’d be going over the goals we lost in the last two games in detail on video with several players which I hope is happening as I write this. And it’s not just the mids here. TS took up wrong position on more than one occasion in both matches, Umtiti had wobbly bits in both concerning readjusting his position although I’m not worried at all about him if he keeps listening, Alba last night looked totally uncomfortable. He’s not a mid and needs the space LB offers when coming forward.

    A final word on the board. Most of what I’ve talked about are matters dealt with by the sporting team not the board . Purchases are presumably ones asked for by the manager – if we have anything that suggests otherwise I’d like to hear it – tactics, formations etc are the same. Where the board need to be involved is when they feel we are losing our way. Again, for me, there should have been a word with LE over his man management,over his neglect of the midfield and his lack of interest in La Masia. Now I’d hope there were conversations with Valverde about giving him time to give young players a chance and removing some of the pressure for an instant team. Other than that they need to manage the finances to enable us to buy when we need to and improve the stadium at some point.

    I’m less comfortable in some of these since the dropping of Samper and the latest signing but I’ve only seen him play in England so can’t really give a final opinion. I’m heartened by the black look on Barto’s face last night. That is an angry man. Now he needs to get involved. I’d start by heading down to the changing rooms and tell Valverde that when he has a midfield who can all pass, control, turn and move as well as Samper he can move him on.

    The last thought I would add is to agree with Hereiam in that just because we want to buy one or two of only half a dozen in the world who fit our requirements doesn’t mean other clubs have to roll over. For them it’s maybe not just a question of money. Anyway, if I keep going the next article will be up already so enough !

    • Davour
      August 17, 2017

      Indeed! I also feel slightly ambivalent with regards to ter Stegen. I believe Cillessen did really well during pre-season and should get his chance if Marc does not improve his ball stopping. For me, Jasper had some great, unexpected saves that I rarely see from Mats – though I would say he is a good keeper, and I supported the choice of him over Bravo. In the current situation, he is far from a problem…

      And I have to say that I, too, have trouble accepting the Samper situation, again seeing Gomes and Rakitic (and SR) being unable to run a midfield. I know different coaches haven’t rated him, but I don’t know if that is the whole truth. Samper has the touch and vision and should get a real chance to show his worth.

    • barca96
      August 17, 2017

      Thanks for the lengthy reply and post Jim. Always enjoyed it.

      Is fotobirajesh still around?

      • Jim
        August 17, 2017

        Don’t want to answer for him but yeah he is still around and dispensing calm 🙂

    • kneowell
      August 26, 2017

      Seri to me appears to be that player that will calm the midfield storm with Messi playing ahead and busquests slightly behind. He has all the qualities you mentioned about a mid, wonder why the board backed out on him, wonder why valverde isn’t insistent on him. If the purpose of paulinho is to deputise busquet then it’s useless, gomes is horrible but not when he plays as a dm. But without prejudice of any sort I’ll like to see what more paulinho can offer. Stegen’s performance for me was just a reflection of the whole teams performance, he simply lost the will to act after watching his team mates get eviscerated in front of him, but that’s no excuse as I believe he should be leading from behind.
      I am not a proponent of the current crop of youngsters we have save samper and Alena, I wouldn’t blame a lucho who failed to look at that direction because really they have nothing to offer, they got themselves relegated to third division. The onus is on the board to revive la masia treating it same way as they would the first team, sack our current scouts, hire the ones that has a nack for talents, get someone with real barca ideals (xavi?) to nurture these talents into players good enough for the first team so the first team coach won’t have much headache selecting a youngster they could count on.

  20. hereiam
    August 17, 2017

    For me, it seems we have two choices.
    1 – Give up a few years, like half a decade or more, accept a trophy drought and give youth signings and La Masia a chance. Like if you are good, you will be guaranteed minutes, regardless of performance, since youth players will fuck up bad, at least one season or two. Remember when Luka Moudric was the worst signing of the season? EE stuck with him, and now he is one of their most important player.
    2 – Sign big bucks players who came for the money and leave for the money. Yeah we can get trophies, but big spending is like drugs: you’ll get addicted, and it destroys your inner core.

    • Davour
      August 17, 2017

      Thing is, I think we tend to put too much trust into La Masia being THE answer. Don’t get me wrong, the club should spend money and time and effort building a great youth system who can provide players – but it will only rarely be big stars. It should be able to provide squad players, though, and starters every now and then. But it will never again be as it has been this past decade.

      And Modric, to me, is not a good comparison. He was a major star who had proven himself in PL as well as in the NT. He was deemed “worst signing” because of the price and expectation.

      • hereiam
        August 17, 2017

        I thing a club like us need La Masia a lot more than other clubs do. We are a club that expect its players to play in a certain way, and from what I’ve seen, that’s something that you can only be born into, not adapted.
        About Modric, he sucked pretty badly in his first season. But EE sold their best player, Xabi Alonso, to make space for him. Di Maria, Ozil are also sold, even when the later wasn’t a flop at all. Just to make space for Modric and Kroos.
        We also got proven PL and NT player. Fabregas was the best player in a league winning team, yet he flopped badly in ours. Thats also the problem of buying: different leagues have diffirent playing styles and adapting will be a challenge not everyone can overcome.

        • G6O
          August 17, 2017

          Modric was also badly exposed as recently as late 2016 when we trashed them 4-0 at the Bernabeu without Messi. The midfield was still working somewhat at the time and Modric being out of position was a prime reason for some of the goals we scored and for how we dominated that game.

          That was before Zidane though.

          And it shows you how much context matters for midfield players.

          Which is why I would not be quick to give up on Samper, Alena or any of our other La Masia players before giving them extended runs in their optimal positions.

          • G6O
            August 17, 2017

            Correction: I meant late 2015, not 2016

  21. georgjorge
    August 17, 2017

    Wait, what…Suarez out for some weeks because of injury, Iniesta as well? So very little creativity in midfield, and very little threat upfront. Well at least we have an abundance of midfield “squad players” and defenders. 5-5-0, anyone?

    Just kidding. If Valverde is to succeed here in the long term, he’ll have to rebuild the team radically in some ways. Can’t wait to see what his ideas are, and whether he will get the personnel to put them into action.

    • G6O
      August 17, 2017

      That may turn out to be enough to lose La Liga

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