This is a guest post from Davour, who you can follow on Twitter as @Davour10 and who has previously appeared in this space. If you are interested in guest posting, just write something up, and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not long ago I decided to finally join Twitter. I found myself visiting anyway, and thought I might as well establish a timeline of my own, with selected (primarily) Barça accounts. Limiting the amount and trying to carefully select who to follow enabled me to enjoy a relatively balanced and interesting feed of thoughts and opinions.
Even so, thoughts from the more chaotic parts of the culerverse slip through, via comments and likes and whatnot, and it is fascinating to follow the minds of people so ingrained with hostility and bile, and inability to discuss an issue in a civil manner. The humor is sometimes spot on funny, Twitter’s perhaps greatest appeal. But more it is often crude – bantering derailed into simplistic attacks, bouncing off each other without anyone listening or trying to understand.
My way, or f**k you.
But the perhaps most prominent feature of all I have encountered so far is the iknowbetter. These voices always seem to see the truth that escapes the coach: “if only…so.. Why doesn’t he understand”. It would certainly be interesting to watch a team being coached by the average sum of Barca Twitter’s opinions!
The Czech author Milan Kundera has written a novel called Life is Elsewhere, about a posturing poet with political ambitions. The title came to mind in this context. The Answer is Elsewhere would, I think, be an apt way of naming the predominant attitude of Twitters posturing pundit-wannabes with coaching ambitions. And the answer at the moment, for many, is Denis Suarez; the self-appointed heir to Iniesta himself. But who isn’t playing.
It seems a few promising cameos from earlier in the season have elevated Denis to suddenly become some kind of answer to our woes: to our lack of control and creativity; to Messi’s lack of playmates (well, Paulinho…); of a continuation of “The Barça Way” (he has Xavi’s shirt number, for crissake!), La Masia credentials that he has, if rather thin.
To my mind, Denis is a good player who has potential yet to be fully developed. He has
purpose and alacrity, sprinting around making himself available, even scoring one or two goals from a LW position. Then suddenly, he is gone. He has made way for Gomes, or should play instead of Rakitic, or Luis Suarez, or… Just get him on the pitch, goddamn it!
So, why isn’t he playing? Personally, I don’t think he will ever be consistent enough to command a place in Barça’s first eleven, but then again – I am no coach. Valverde, however, is – and with a few years under his belt at that. And he seems to agree. Denis
seems to be lacking in… substance? There is something flimsy to his game, some lack of proper command and solid end product. But he looks right, and seems to do the right things that a Barça mid should – in contrast to Gomes and Rakitic, say. And there is a
rumoured connecting with Messi (that’s stems from last pre-season, I think).
All in all, opinions might differ, and he should get his chances, but there is little to suggest Denis would make any big waves. Reports have it that Carles Alena outshone him in the copa.
So, why has he suddenly received this status, then? You guessed it. He is not playing, so he is the elsewhere upon which one can project one’s iknowbetter-ideals. He is proof Valverde does not go for youth or La Masia or short, technical players, the Barca way, etc. etc. We win, sure, but something ain’t right!
In a sense, I think he functions as a surrogate for the Coutinho so many hoped for. Or Thiago. Or…
At least until he plays.