So much, too much of everything involved with FC Barcelona is full of shit. High-minded, justified shit, but shit nonetheless, entitled blathering in the service of something that should be entertainment but has become the Football Crusades.
We’re mad at a kid who’s getting bad advice. So to hell with him.
We’re mad at a player who chose not to get his knee sliced open so that he could more effectively entertain us. To hell with him, as well.
We’re mad at a manager who has a collection of geezers, kids and mid-table talent.
The team we support is a mess, a pile of crap that sits at a nexus of neglect, bad decisions, idiocy and just plain bad luck. It’s a group that hung on for too long and we were fine with it. Still are in the cases of select darlings, built to give a great player one last go at a title, a running project like Stalin’s Seven-Year plan that 10 years later, still has hungry people and dead crops.
They played Getafe today, a match that went about as expected, given the options that the manager has at his disposal. The XI begins with the premise that Busquets has to start. That means that a lineup compromised to be in the thrall of an immobile player who is increasingly sloppy on the ball is never going to satisfy us.
But how can it? Braithwaite, a mid-table talent who, despite moments where we might think otherwise, isn’t anywhere near good enough to start for Barça. The team also has no adequate fullbacks. But because the supporters like wingers instead of fullbacks, we love Dest, who gets punked in possession and abused in defense. But he runs forward, so yay!
On the other side is another wing … fullback, fond of the same blind pass. He keeps hitting them, every now and again a squirrel finds the nut and people say, “He still has it.”
There is also the 120m man, an upper mid-table talent elevated by luck and circumstance, prancing around, batting balls around and overall having about as much effect on proceedings as any one of us.
That Dutch diamond in midfield is compromised because everything around him isn’t up to standard. The German keeper isn’t what he once was but how do we know, with a defense in front of him that lets shots happen that few keepers have a chance of stopping.
And that blithering fool of a manager who can’t spin straw into gold. No plan, no ideas and not a lot of talent with which to work. Could he do better? Maybe. Probably. Give Tuchel this collection of players and what happens? More structure, same results. Are we happier? Nope. Because we’ve become addicted to gloom and misery, wearing it like a scarf of which we are proud. Everything sucks, don’t you know?
Ernesto Valverde was right when he said, famously, “It is what it is.” Yes, it would be awesome if the team had more talent, if the manager had the nous to effectively array the inadequacies into something usable. But Valverde did that, and we wanted him out. And the crap goes on, on and off the pitch.
Put yourself in the scenario in which Samuel Umtiti finds himself. You had a great few months at work, so good that your boss comes to you and says, “Hey, how about a 75 percent raise.” And you say, “Why no, I don’t know if I will be able to sustain this level of excellence. And what if I get carpal tunnel, and can’t be as good as I am now? Why, you should take that raise and maybe bank it, or give it to someone more deserving than I.”
AHAHA, right. We’d take that money and run. And people who should know better excoriate him, then justify it when the rhetoric turns ugly, when he’s whistled just for warming up. And imagine the racist horrorshow his social media accounts must be like. “Well, racism is bad, and we didn’t do it, and he’s stealing money from the club and he won’t leave. So he brought it on himself.”
The club needs to understand a responsibility that it has with certain players, Black players, given the reflexive actions that too much of the club’s fanbase have when it comes to reaching into the closet for the old racism luggage. Yeah. Nobody wants to hear that. But it should. Pronouncements come out that are echoed by pliant media outlets and the rancor builds. Ilaix Moriba chasing that big contract? He’s getting terrible advice. You know what else he’s getting? Sure you do. And people are okay with it because “Well, he should have taken the club’s offer.”
Increasingly my view is that we deserve all of this. The ugly halves of football, the European beatdowns. Everything around the club is ugly, so why shouldn’t the football also be ugly?
We focus on individual things — this player, that player, manager, board, sunspots — but the fact of the matter is that hardly anytihng involved at the men’s first team level is good enough. Depay, Pedri, De Jong. That’s all ya got. The rest? Sitting in the stands is a kid who has had three knee injuries, who we will be fine with until his next contract negotiation. A player who has so far had one whole, unbroken season, forever doomed to be a shell of himself. He’s in negotiations now. If he stays, he’s stealing money. If he leaves, screw him, who does he think wants his broken ass?
Life is hopes, dreams and a boot in a crotch from reality. Why shouldn’t football be that way? We had a delightful period, and we enjoyed the hell out of it. Fools, fate and football have given us a new reality, an entertainment that should be fun to watch, and chatter about and throw away when we’re done with it. And in full honesty this team isn’t worth much more.
There was a time when we had more than hope, more than the notion that if everything aligns perfectly this group can do something good. Really good. But hope is what we have now. So we watch, and wait, and whine and argue, making an increasingly ugly spectacle even more so. Are we okay with it? No idea. But we sure do seem to enjoy it.
Getafe grabbed the match by the neck and proceeded to wrestle it into a mud pit. Getafe things. Could the club have played out of it? Maybe. Maybe not. But that match was what that match was, inadequate players in a mess of a system working against a team more inclined to play rugby than football. Of course it was ugly. The win was nice, ugly as it was, a win that hides none of the problems that the team has, problems that aren’t going to go away no matter how much we tie them into bundles of birch rods and self-flagellate.
This is going to be a season. Long, fun at times, ugly at other times. The outcome of it all? Who knows. Buf if we don’t at least try to extract something good, something worth continuing to come to, how much worse will it all seem? And if it’s that bad, misery-inducing and utterly bereft of entertainment, why bother at all?