Is success good? More specifically, is dominance good?
We are now seeing the stories, questioning whether the outright dominance of the Liga this season by us and EE is a good thing. That plucky, hard-working sides should have a chance to succeed as well, and shame on us for being as excellent as we are.
Statistics don’t lie. The second-place team this season will, at the end of it all, would have had a record-setting points haul, were it not for the winning team.
But anybody who says such a thing is boring, hasn’t been watching La Liga this season.
If you look at all of the national leagues, you just don’t see anything being that much different, La Liga included. This season, the Bundesliga champion in Bayern. (snore! That’s never happened before.) In the Premiership, the champion is Chelsea, with United in second place. In Ligue 1, Marseille
notLyonyoubigdummy has done it again. In Italy, it’s Inter once again (or will be after this weekend). In the Liga, it’s our turn (yes. It will be.) to hoist the cup, and be feted by hordes of screaming cules.
So is success boring? People point to the distance of the third-place side as evidence that the Liga has become lopsided, and that such a thing is boring. And yet, the matches are played. Ask the Almerias or Gijons, who sell out the stadium when the glamor boys come to town, if that’s boring. Or the fans who sit and watch, in the hopes that this will be the week that dog-ass striker of theirs puts one away, or their defense isn’t being a sieve, and holds the mighty Barcelona to a draw and if we’re luckyluckyluckylucky, might even cop a win.
Leagues need a death star. Would as many fans come to El Madrigal to watch Villarreal play us if we were in, say, 5th place? Lie if you want, but the answer is no. Because people want to see the giant fall. Irrespective of what anyone does, all national leagues are the big-city teams, and the regional ones. No matter what anyone does, Gijon and Almeria will always be Gijon and Almeria. Will David Villa or Franck Ribery ever say “Well, I know that Chelsea is calling, but my dream job would be to play for Deportivo. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen. Those kinds of players would still rather risk coming to a 4th-place Barca or EE to be the guy who helped turn it around, than plugging away for Zaragoza or Malaga.
And yet, the gap to Valencia is still sticking out like a sore thumb, right? But is that a problem with us, or a problem with Valencia, who have been erratic at best this season? Is Atletico Madrid’s inability to (once again) meet expectations and play up to the level of its talent a problem with us, or with them? Valencia, with more consistent play, could be right up there with the leaders. Same with Sevilla. So why the big points gaps?
I contend that it is because the Liga is as intensely competitive as any major league in the world, even in light of the immense gap to the top two. How many matches this season have we had to work like dogs to secure the points, or that EE have had to stage late comebacks to pull out? If anything, last season was more boring, because when we rolled into town, the only question was how our Murderers’ Row of Henry, Eto’o, Messi and Xavi were going to kill you. This season, however, has been jam-packed with suspense, and will go right down to the last match.
So I think that people who are saying that the top two teams’ dominance is boring, need to pay closer attention to the Liga, and the matches therein, to the television ratings for El Clasic, to the drumming, horn playing and chanting of fans in Mallorca, or Getafe, who root and believe, right up until that moment when belief is snatched away.
Then tell me dominance is boring.
–So there has been talk of the top teams separating from the general Liga, and forming a sort of SuperLiga, sort of like playing with like. Some have wondered about this. Wonder no more. It has about as much chance of happening as I have of getting a pedicure from Bjork. The debate and discussion over television revenues has been roiling for some time. The smaller clubs want a more equitable distribution, while the bigger clubs are saying “Look, nobody would watch you if you weren’t playing us, so shut up.”
We and EE have our own TV deals, that are a significant source of revenue. The smaller clubs want a piece of that pie, saying that more money would make them more competitive, etc, etc, etc, etc. But would it really? Probably not, because all the money in the world still can’t build a winner without the right management. Just ask Citeh.
More to the point, are the big teams going to split off and do their own thing? No. It’s a simple negotiating ploy that nobody, even the people who are writing the stories about it, believe will come to pass. The hurdles are immense: UEFA acceptance, a revenue sharing system, points system, TV contract, etc, etc. So relax. We will, and always will be part of La Liga. A more equitable TV revenue system will be hashed out because it has to be, and nobody will be satisfied. That’s the nature of compromises.
–Expect an early silly season, thanks to the elections. Laporta will want to pave the way for his chosen one by making a big signing before he leaves. The latest rumor is that David Villa will sign with us, almost immediately after the Liga season is concluded. Details have been all hammered out, and we and Valencia have reached an agreement. Who knows, right, since Sport had him signed last season, as well.
You will hear Villa’s and a host of other names bandied about from now, right up until you can’t hear them being bandied about …. until the winter transfer season. We all know what our needs are: midfield help and strong wing play. So does every other club on the planet. So if anyone comes who will meet those needs, don’t expect them to be cheap, and don’t expect the process to be smooth. Yes, consider that a warning.
UPDATE: The latest on the Villa business is that Laporta has set an actual date for the unveiling, of next Wednesday, as in May 19. Now keep in mind that this has been reported by MARCA, who has all the reliability of a constipated man in a cheese factory.
–The Yaya wants to have his future sorted out, and I don’t blame him. And he would like it done before the World Cup. In the past his agent, Pond Scum Seluk, has been guilty of speaking out when he shouldn’t have been. He and The Yaya had a planet-to-man talk, and that has all been sorted. So when Seluk says that Arsenal is a possibility, and you see the reports that Wenger has to consider soon whether to make a bid the The Yaya before the WC, believe the rumors.
And I will go on the record right now as saying if we sell The Yaya, we are out of our minds. Not because I’m a fan, but because I AM a fan of what he brings to the side. I think that is, ultimately, irreplacable. Of course, someone will bring different skill sets that might in their own right be deemed irreplacable. And so it goes, right?
–We are appealing the Xavi yellow from last week, not surprisingly. Also not surprisingly, expect the league to deny the appeal.
–In the “saving the best for last” category, Ghostface is practicing with the squad today, as normal, and looked great by all reports. And how could I have been remiss in wishing Andres Iniesta a happy 26th birthday. Heck of a way to celebrate it, coming back to be a part of the club that in effect, raised him. Many more, Mini Vampire, and all in the colors, of course!