Bojan and the Case of the Forgotten Pass

Why don't you want him to be happy?

Bojan should go play in traffic.

That was the general consensus at the end of the first half of Barça-Sporting. It was not, in any way, an opinion that I personally shared then or share now. It was at halftime that Ray Hudson—I’m quoting Ray Hudson here, people–made a comment that should have made a bunch of people sit up and take note: after replays of David Villa’s non-pass to the little guy were shown, Ray Hudson said “That was the fourth time today that he didn’t pass to little Bojan in the box.” (my italics, though writing down what Ray Hudson says needs double bold super italics to really come off anywhere near hyper enough.

This is what I wrote to Luke yesterday in a private chat: “In the second [Bojan] became more of a winger and created the goal.” I’m assuming you’ve stopped laughing by now and are paying attention: I’m serious. Watch the goal again. Do it. I’m sure you paid attention to Bojan. If you didn’t, go watch it again and this time pay attention to Bojan. See where he’s standing? See who keeps David Villa onside? If you didn’t notice go watch it again and this time pay attention to Bojan. Sheesh.

I wrote this at Soccernet:

Villa’s goal against Sporting in the match this evening was beautiful in its simplicity and it was something the team had been working on for the previous 50 minutes. Alves, Pedro, and Xavi, played the ball around on the right wing and Villa snuck in behind his defender, who thought he was offside in that position. Alves lifted the ball up and because Bojan was on the left wing holding his defender back, Villa was onside.

Think back to the first half: Bojan tries time and again to get into the box when others have the ball or, if they’re swinging around to his side, he springs wide to receive the ball. That he didn’t have any real support most of the time from the midfield (Dani Alves was over there often) meant that Villa was supported by both Keita and Iniesta, which naturally gained him more space behind Sporting’s disciplined back line. For an example, look no further than the aforementioned moment Villa should have passed to Bojan: the defense was drawn out, a pass between defenders, and Villa was in on a slightly tighter angle to shoot, so he should have passed. Had he, everyone would be claiming Bojangles is the greatest striking option we have coming off the bench.

Instead? Go jump off a bridge. Okay then.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. majatt
    September 23, 2010

    Interesting perspective, I don’t think alot of the venom is based on this one game. He has had enough poor performances to build up a certain level of meh.

    That said, Pep seems to want to stick with him so maybe this will be the season where he breaks the shackles.

  2. Kxevin
    September 23, 2010

    I wouldn’t have, actually, because for me, Krkic isn’t playing up to first team standards. He just isn’t. Will he? Dunno. Good question. If he is ever going to, this is the year that he needs to do so.

    People talk about Krkic in the long-term, like a Treasury bill or something. To me, he is the first forward option off the bench on a club with a short bench. And he needs to perform. He’s been with the first team for four seasons. I’ll insert my own italics here: four seassons!. And he’s getting worse, not better.

    Every unfashionable forward we have had (Henry, Ibrahimovic) has gotten stick for the things that Krkic gets a pass for. People aren’t passing to him? Like that’s any excuse for sucking, as people wrote of Henry. He tracked back and created space for other attackers? So what. He should be scoring goals. He sucks. 21 goals and 9 assists? Dude sucks, yo! Ain’t worth the money. He’s static and offside way too much, and stifles our offense.

    Just because Krkic came floating up the river in a blaugrana papyrus basket doesn’t, for me, ameliorate my tendency to evaluate him as any other first-teamer. He should be ready by now, he should be producing by now, not losing the ball almost every time he gets near a defender.

    Now, I know that people say that I hate Krkic, and have infected other people who are starting to move into the “put up or shut up” camp. But it ain’t so. I don’t hate any Barca player. I do dislike the effect of players who don’t produce as they are supposed to, and Krkic ain’t even close to meeting that standard for me.

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      All of these are actually not really relevant.
      As long as guardiola sticks with him, some of us might not like it , if it was one of your options probably you would have loaned him out , but guardiola puts his faith on him . All Im wishing for is that we all say , well he was right! , at the end.
      He’s got the ability .
      People say that he cracks under pressure – i cant see that.
      He scored these goals at the end of last year;s campaign , in difficult games , when it mattered ,while being the sole striking force we had since henry was shit and ibra was officially benched.
      Now , please enlightent me but thats tremendous pressure to deal with , in comparison to him being present when ibra needed a rest, in the league cup matches or subbed in for 15 minutes.
      There are many complicatons included , but he has both the ability and the potential to be the new pedro.

  3. September 23, 2010

    By the by, note that poipoi’s “First” comment has been deleted. Told ya. I can appreciate the value for some of being first in a thread. But be first with something to say, please. I am not the only one vexed by this “First” business.


    • Alexinho
      September 23, 2010

      Personally the whole “first” thing never bothered me. Now that they’re being deleted, it feels like deleting every comment containing a reference to “Hector pills.” I guess they’re dead now, but as my personal eulogy for the “FIRST!” comments, I’d say they were just one of those cool, unique things you saw on this blog that contributed to the community atmosphere.

  4. ooga aga
    September 23, 2010

    he slipped and fell during one dribble. fuck. poor bojan.

    • blitzen
      September 23, 2010

      That was the fault of the pitch, not him. It actually hurts me to see the field at Camp Nou in such bad shape.

  5. Eduard
    September 23, 2010

    I personally don’t think he’s been playing bad, and I cerntainly haven’t forgotten how well he was playing at the end of last season when Pep was benching Zlatan. I wish he would be a little sharper in front of goals and lost the ball less, but I think his movements are good.

    • Stephen
      September 23, 2010

      “I wish he would be a little sharper in front of goals and lost the ball less”.. but thats not bad how? He does it all the time, so he scores a few times, the bad outdoes the good by miles.

    • Barcelinha
      September 24, 2010

      most people i know have incredibly short memories though. OH HIS GOALS HELPED US WIN LA LIGA last season? omg no way. it makes me want to murder my dead cat.

      he needs to work on his sloppy touch, but otherwise, his positioning is great for his age.

  6. Cesc Pistol
    September 23, 2010

    I honestly think that Kxevin has perhaps subconsciously, atfer defending Henry/Ibra become bitter and biased that he attacks Krkic and would go to lengths to defend the other two.

    Ibra was a complete failure. Period. And so was Henry in his first and last year. And they couldn’t offer anything for the long term. Krkic was a success in his first season. Barely used in the second. Replaced the most expensive buy as a starter for a time in the third.

    To give up on him before he turns 21/22 would be greatly shortsighted. It is the fault of Pep and those incharge of putting the squad together to have Krkic as the first backup.

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      I dont really think pep is gonna sell him.
      If he wanted too , he could have.
      in fact what he did , was to take it one step further and give him time for development in the first team , while the first team is not the place for such.
      Barcelona will not sell bojan for a number of reasons , that could be hurting the club both financially(ibra says hello) and squad wise.
      The most extreme scenario would be him being loaned out.
      However krkic , even if he always sounds very commited ,could leave barcelona.
      Hes got that tag on his back that makes thins very complicated.

    • Cesc Pistol
      September 23, 2010

      (EDIT: That first line comes out excessively harsh, not the way I intended it)

      One thing I do agree with Kxevin is that Bojan is a confidence player NOW and if he can’t change his attitude he should be loaned out to get playing time. However it would be a shame not to give him the opportunity to develop mentally into a supporting role playing wide or as a sub.

    • September 23, 2010

      No worries, CP, but …. wrong-o. Kxevin is about fairness. Evaluate everybody the same way. I don’t do anything subconsciously. And I have no interest in defending ex-Barca players, no matter who they are.

      You say Ibrahimovic was a “complete failure,” however, and this is an example of my craving for fairness. He accounted, by scoring or assists, for 30 goals in the colors. He won the home El Clasic, and his two goals at Emirates were crucial in making that tie a foregone conclusion. As Sid Lowe said, only Higuain gained more points for his side in La Liga than Ibrahimovic.

      I fail to see how that is a complete failure, consciously or unconsciously. Am I a fan of Ibrahimovic? No. Hell no. But I’m not a fan of any player. But as I have said before and will say again, I am a fan of fairness. Your “complete failure” contention proves my point. “Complete failure,” for example, means that we would have won the Liga without him. Statistics don’t bear out that contention.

      Which is why I say that for me, Krkic is a first-team player, and should be evaluated as such. People are cussing and saying he just slipped and fell once. True. On the cut. It doesn’t include the fall in the box where he lost the ball, or a number of other instances.

      I will not evaluate Krkic any differently than any other first-team player. If that means that I hate him, or subconsciously want to defend someone, believe what you like. I can’t control the perception that others have of me.

      • Cesc Pistol
        September 23, 2010

        Regarding Ibra, his contribution barely, if at all, justified his price. That is all. Had he been considered good influence in locker room or gotten along with Pep or contributed to the system in pressuring/off the ball movement/flow of possession or even simply lasted a few years instead of being sold for peanuts; the statistic you wave around might have been slightly impressive. The whole “Ibra project” was a disaster. One of the worst we’ve had. And since Ibra did little to help said disaster he is a failure.

        As you yourself say in your ratings, players are rated by their own personal yardsticks and not a common one. In this regard you apply the same yardstick for Henry/Ibra and Bojan. Yet considering all aspects the yardstick for Ibra was as big as Messi’s of which he fell gravely short and for Bojan the tiniest of the lot which he somewhat measured up to.

        • September 23, 2010

          But price is a different consideration. This might be a semantic quibble, but “complete failure” to me means that however much we paid, he would have sucked. But the fact remains that for the year that he was here, we wouldn’t have won the Liga without him.

          I evaluate not only on personal standard but also contribution to the whole, which factors in importance in the overall match result. It’s why someone like Abidal can earn a 10 yet not score any goals.

          Ibrahimovic had personality issues that precluded a long tenure with this club. That makes him a dick, rather than a complete failure, in my book. Likewise, “disaster” would be if we’d bought him, and finished second or third in the Liga, and got eliminated in the CL quarters or something.

          Fact is, we won the Liga and were a wide header away (a good Krkic match) from repeating as CL winners. And even players who weren’t on the pitch at the time, were instrumental in getting us there, right? Krkic was on the bench smiling sweetly while Ibrahimovic was banging in two against Arsenal, or equalizing against Stuttgart.

          Here’s the real kicker: Even had Ibrahimovic personally destroyed Inter and dominated in the CL final, he would still have been sold. Ain’t that a bitch?

          • Jim
            September 23, 2010

            I agree that Ibra wasn’t a complete disaster- his goals did help the team throughout the season but at the vital point of the season I think it would be just as easy to argue we wouldn’t have won La Liga if he had played.

            No denying Bojan stepped up when Ibra couldn’t. However, I still reckon we’ll know by Christmas if he has a future here or not. I don’t agree that the club wouldn’t sell him. I think Pep has shown himself pretty tough if players aren’t shaping up. It may end up an Ibra situation where Bojan realises himself that he isn’t going to get more chances and makes the decision himself.

      • Culer_Than_Thou
        September 24, 2010

        “I don’t do anything subconsciously.”

        Isn’t that the whole concept of subconscious. That you wouldn’t know it even whilst you’re doing it.

        I find a paradox in that statement you made Kxevin.

        • Kxevin
          September 24, 2010

          You shouldn’t. Every subconscious behavior has its motivation in conscious thought. So when undertaking a task, self-examination should be a constant process, for the precise reason of winnowing out conscious thought that results in subconscious manifestations.

          Every journalist does, and should make this introspection part of their daily work, to preclude things working their way into copy that reveal bias.

          • Culer_Than_Thou
            September 24, 2010

            But I don’t think all subconscious inclinations can be winnowed. For all you know, there might be a subconscious bias ingrained in the winnowing process.

            But to be fair, if you actually do that mental winnowing process then thats about as unbiased as you can be without challenging human limitations.

            Props to you then and i think you can be acquitted of being partial to or against any player.

            But still that statement, “I don’t do anything subconsciously” would still be a little too cocky for my tastes given that the best brains in the world are, till today, perplexed by the dynamics of the human mind.

  7. September 23, 2010

    And for the record, as I noted in another thread, it’s apparent that Krkic has more talent than Pedro!. But he isn’t doing anything approximating as much with it. P! came into the first team and became a star. I don’t think that he is going to get a whole lot better. I think that he has almost maximized his potential. Krkic isn’t even close.

    The club is never, EVER going to part with him because they don’t want to be the ones who sold him, then have to watch him reach that potential with someone else.

    We need Krkic to play up to standard. Nobody will be happier than me if he does, because the better he does, the better the club does. But if he doesn’t, he isn’t getting a pass from me. Not ever. Nobody on the first team does.

    • jnelson
      September 23, 2010

      Well said, Kevin. How can anyone still be claiming Ibra was a “complete failure”? I guess every time you see a rainbow, there has to be a pot of gold at the end.

    • Stephen
      September 23, 2010

      The question is, will he ever play up to standard? Bojan could do 1 good play in 1500 and to some people that’s good enough. Why do 10 men on the field working their ass off have to carry Bojan because we have “faith” in him?
      Plus I agree, if he did good, nobody would complain, NOBODY.

      • Eduard
        September 23, 2010

        Because the coach puts the team together.

  8. MESSI-10
    September 23, 2010

    Kxevin I agree with everything you say COMPLETELY… At this stage Bojan got the no.9 and I think it is the pressure that comes along with it and too many expectations. At this stage he is suppose to be more versatile like pedro. Pedro has no fear and he goes at defenders. Pep has alot of patience with Bojan but is up to Bojan to produce. If he can’t produce I think we should loan him to get more minutes of playing time. Time to put up or shut up

    • Barcelinha
      September 24, 2010

      he didn’t “get” the #9, he ASKED for it. he’s the classical 9 and should he actually get PASSED to, he’d probably score.

      he’s been the #9 in all youth levels, i think he knows full well what the number means and what he’s supposed to do on the pitch.

      the comparison with Pedro is null and void, as far as i’m concerned.

      (PS: he put up, how many goals did he score filling in for Ibra. why don’t you make a memory effort and remember the end of the season. thank you VERY much.)

  9. Vj
    September 23, 2010

    Her/His highness screwed up in the ‘Do it’ link..

    Royal Redo Required..

    • Roz
      September 23, 2010

      I just realized what your avatar logo means. 😀

      • Nik
        September 23, 2010

        Wow, I didn’t pay attention either until you mentioned it. That’s pretty clever Vj.

        • Alexinho
          September 23, 2010

          Dude, I noticed that a looong time ago! Excellent stuff!

          • Diabolics
            September 24, 2010

            or slightly immature if you ask me… 😉

  10. Stephen
    September 23, 2010

    Thank you Kevin.. “four seassons!. And he’s getting worse, not better.” and my addition to your quote Kevin: FOUR !!!!!
    Is his terrible playing producing pity that everybody thinks he’s going to wake up one random day and become a deity on the field??
    Mind you it wasn’t the slip and fall, its that when he gets the minutes we are down to 10 men on the field. If Barça was in the business of babysitting players, we wouldn’t have to get Mascherano, we wouldn’t need Alves or Keita, or Maxwell, and Puyol would be retired and we’d just have a bunch of well-one-day-he-will-be-great’s out on the field !

    • Eduard
      September 23, 2010

      I remember when we could have said the same thing about Xavi.

      • Kari
        September 23, 2010

        Now that’s a blow blow.

        Wenger is building a team for the future.

        • Kari
          September 23, 2010

          *low blow

          so low, it blows twice.

          • Kari
            September 23, 2010

            No worries, I got your joke 😀

            I was referencing this video (freaking hilarious!) /

          • Alexinho
            September 23, 2010

            Kari–very cool video, I hate to say. “They couldn’t even beat the fucking Americans.” Excellent!

            Patrick–Hey! HEY! Come on now. Don’t get me started. But you’re half-right.

  11. Euler
    September 23, 2010

    When playing against a “parked bus” execution becomes of paramount importance. If the opposition makes a mistake in shape you have to take advantage.

    Sporting made a mistake in their execution of the off side trap on the lone goal Barca scored. Credit to Villa and Alves for that. But Bojan was also involved. He made a positive run – a run that the defender over reacted to. That over reaction caused Sporting to lose it’s shape and Barca capitalized.

    Bojan’s situation is complicated by three major factors. First he was brought up to the first team far too soon and this hurt his development. Second he’s facing the challenge of adjusting to playing against much better, more tactically organized talent as all young players do. These two reasons have been widely discussed.

    A third area where less focus has been placed in on the fact that Bojan not only has to adjust to first team opposition/ competition, he has to change his role from being a central striker to a more diverse attacking player.

    It’s often said that Bojan plays better in the center. In some ways he does. But many of the goals he scored centrally in the past have been because he was able to exploit space created by the other Barca strikers for him. He exploits open space very well – that’s part of his skill set – he has good goal poaching skills.

    But that is unlikely to be a reproducible way for him to play and find success. That’s why Pep keeps trying to play him on the wing. It’s part of his development.

    Football has gone through a several years now where teams have tactically tried to reinforce the center of the pitch in terms of how they defend. It’s become progressively more and more difficult for attacking players to make a living centrally. Teams have more ways of countering central threats and marking those players. That’s why so many attacking players are now stationed on the wings and prefer to play from there.

    It seems very unlikely that Bojan is going to be able to be a sustained threat by playing centrally where he will be at minimum double marked. If he drops deep he’ll often have to work in space occupied by two holding players. Given that he plays with Barca he’ll have to constantly play against teams that fall into two banks of 4 and stay narrow and compact. That’s a lot of bodies to contend with.

    Bojan doesn’t use his body well at all right now to protect the ball or stay on his feet. Last season he could come out of nowhere as anarchy built up and teams tried to stop the other Barca attackers. But teams are going to play him differently. They aren’t going to keep giving him space to exploit.

    That’s why if he’s going to succeed he must learn how to become more comfortable and dangerous working from the flank and attacking inwards. The problem is that this isn’t a style of play he’s comfortable with.

    Pep sees what’s going on. He’s playing Bojan in certain ways for a reason. He clearly doesn’t want Bojan to stay predominantly in the center. At the same time Bojan doesn’t look entirely comfortable coming off the flanks to attack.

    Bojan is caught in between right now. In some ways the strengths of his style of play are from a bygone era, particularly given his size and strength. I think scoring all of those goals so young in some ways may have hurt his development. It seems like they were related to a style of play that isn’t going to generalize against world class opposition. But being so prolific also meant there was limited need for him to diversify his skill set.

    He’s very talented. But he’s also facing significant challenges in developing his game to suit world class, first team style of play for a club with goals as high as Barca’s.

    • Stephen
      September 23, 2010

      Great points here, and not to sound like a broken record, but this is where the discussion begins of Bojan being loaned out, playing 5-10 minutes on matches for us, isn’t going to help him develop. He isn’t ready.
      Lastly… “He exploits open space very well – that’s part of his skill set..” Yeah well I could score goals on an empty field too 🙂

    • Barcelinha
      September 24, 2010

      oh yes, him being the classic 9 but without height and strength is what’s hindering his game right now.

      it’s clear that he needs to adapt and i’m disappointed he didn’t carry last season’s end momentum in this season, but i think dropping all hope now is quite premature.

  12. September 23, 2010

    I can’t believe Messi has still been called up by Argentina to travel TO THE FAR EASY and play Japan even tough he is currently injured…

    • Lou
      September 23, 2010

      The Argentinean FA probably would probably lose money if they don’t play him (similar to the Barca friendly in Korea last summer). There are disadvantages to being the recognized best player in the world.

    • Kari
      September 23, 2010

      I can.

      I also know that he won’t be going. How? Can’t say. That was a not-so-subtle threat to the AFA…

  13. Lou
    September 23, 2010

    Hey Kxevin I’m having trouble reconciling this:

    “Every unfashionable forward we have had (Henry, Ibrahimovic) has gotten stick for the things that Krkic gets a pass for. People aren’t passing to him? Like that’s any excuse for sucking, as people wrote of Henry. He tracked back and created space for other attackers? So what. He should be scoring goals. He sucks. 21 goals and 9 assists? Dude sucks, yo! Ain’t worth the money. He’s static and offside way too much, and stifles our offense.”

    with this:

    “I evaluate not only on personal standard but also contribution to the whole, which factors in importance in the overall match result. It’s why someone like Abidal can earn a 10 yet not score any goals.”

    I guess I’m just not clear on whether your criteria in measuring the contribution of a striker just includes goals and assists or whether it includes creating space and getting into good positions like Isaiah discussed in this article. (I haven’t seen the Sporting game yet, so I can’t comment on Bojan’s specific contribution to the game.)

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2010

      All of the above, Lou. I’d rate Henry high for having an all-pitch match: tracking back on defense, creating space with movement, making passes, etc. Others would say “No, he has to score goals, or he sucks.”

      Krkic created space on the Villa goal, as Isaiah mentioned. But I wouldn’t be so quick to cite Ray Ray as my justification for anything. If there were a Krkic chapter of the Man/Boy Love Association, Hudson would be a member. He loves him some Krkic. The Krkic that I saw was, aside from a few moments, almost completely ineffective. Luke rated him a 3 in the match review, which was about right.

  14. blitzen
    September 23, 2010

    It would be nice if we could have just one thread where we didn’t have to discuss Ibra….

  15. Bundy
    September 23, 2010

    Bojan is infact having a terrible time so far this season, but he isn’t the only one having poor performances either.

    So far the start of this season has been lets say hectic with the case of heavy fog. Pep said that the team are short on training quota, I don’t know if it is some kind of excuse, but something is affecting the teams inconsistency. Everyone seems to think the squad is a little on the short side, but that is an illusion, when Pep said the squad is complete, HE MEANS ITS COMPLETE!
    Maybe a lack of consistency and a lack of constant practice and preparation has affected a lot of individual performances.

    For example, Abidal only started playing CB for about a month and a half ago. Puyol didn’t even play in the pre-season, only until the champions league opener. it was only a week ago Alves was still in his long spat of poor form. and the list goes on

    If we look back at Bojan from last season, He did infact start the season with an injury. If he hadn’t been injured I am sure he would have played a fair amount more minutes in the team last season. It was only until the very end of last season he was able to hold down proper minutes which Pep promised he would allow. and we all know he ended up key to winning the league.

    What I think right now at present is that maybe we are jumping to conclusions far too early. I don’t think now is the right time to be flinging opinions of his future. That is not how a football team works. We have to wait for the summer or winter break for that.

    Now what I would do is to wait and see if he does in fact improve or converge to regularity of last season.

    Now I understand the pressures that come out of the high stakes being the best team in the world. But again he has already been labeled as a scape-goat if things don’t go to plan. I just do not think that is justified.

  16. Luis
    September 23, 2010

    Hi everyone. At the risk of sounding completely silly, could someone please educate me as to why Bojan is considered such a talent. THIS is an honest question… for personal reasons I skipped most of his breakout season so was never able to see him at his most promising(or best). From what Ive seen watching him under Pep, I simply cannot see his potential. Hi first touch has never been that good, his dribbling style will never work as the ball is always kicked too far ahead of him so the dfender can get in between, his finishing is obviously been poor and he is predictable mainly due to his tentative left foot.

    So forgive me for being bemused when Kxevin says his touch is better than Pedro’s. For me Pedro is consistently underratted. His control on both feet is the main reason for his breakthrough and enables him to contribute to the frontline. I dont see any analogous potential in Bojan.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2010

      We’re going on a couple of things, Luis: what we see from Krkic when he plays well, and potential. I’ve been watching him for a while now, from when he was the “Boy of 1,000 Goals” to his first-team debut. I’m not sure why he’s been going backward, but he is. The talent and potential are there, in spades. The execution isn’t.

  17. September 23, 2010

    Some points:

    I agree that Bojan was promoted too early. You can probably dig through The Offside archives (or even here, maybe) to find me disagreeing with my own statement, but it’s true that he’s only 20 and perhaps should have been developing in the lower leagues for the last couple of years. However, that situation didn’t allow itself to play out 3 years ago and now we’ve got Bojan in our team and we’re building him that way, rather than in the first team.

    Either we sell him or we keep him. Loaning doesn’t make sense if the problem is that he’s got the talent, but hasn’t been able to fit into the system quite right or if he doesn’t have enough talent. So, we’re left with the question of whether or not he has the talent to be in our squad or not right now and while it’s perfectly valid to say he’s not good enough, I happen to disagree because of some of the things I laid out in the post.

    It’s a fair point to say that doing something good once for every 9 bad things you do is not good enough for us, but I think that it’s false to say that this is what’s happening to Bojan. He generally plays well when he’s on the field but he’s not a winger and he struggles to find time with the starting lineup in a lot of situations (he’s playing without Messi, for instance and was stuck into a hybrid 4-4-2 for the first time–a formation that Villa often finds himself in with the national team).

    If stats absolve Ibra (21 goals, etc), then I don’t see how they don’t absolve Bojan too: he played 1618 minutes over 36 appearances in 2009-10, scoring 12 times for a a goals per minute ratio of 1 every 134.83. Ibra? 1 every 162.19 minutes. Pedro? 1 every 149.39. In fact, only Lionel Messi, who has the greatest year in his career had a better ratio (1 in 97.43). Bojan started 16 matches and I don’t believe (thought I could be wrong) that he ever started twice in a row. Had he played as often as Ibra or Pedro, his ratio suggests he would have scored 25 or 23 goals respectively.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2010

      In other words, he scored 12 goals. I’m not that concerned about goals per minute, because a player can come in when a defense is tired, or pad his stats in the Copa, and get a gaudy goals per minute stat.

      We just don’t know if your last statement is true. Krkic would have been, for example, subbed in against EE. Does anyone really think he would have scored that same goal that was enough to win the match for us? Or he would have been starting matches, tough matches against fresh defenses, primed and ready to shut him down.

      Krkic doesn’t have a talent gap to bridge. He has talent. He has a potential gap to bridge, in that he has to make his performance mate up with his potential.

      • mei
        September 23, 2010

        on the point of ibra winning classico etc .
        Its time to get over this. Zlatan scored 21 goals and gave 8 assists? Good for him. Guess what? He is a forward. Im not gonna jump up and down because our star signign intended for our main CF scores goals.
        Krkic scored 12 goals? Good for him too. The same applies to messi.
        Zlatan was as integral to winning the league as bojan, xavi , pique(what if he hadnt scored these goals? we would not have won the league) when judging them based on their respective roles.

        Pedro’s goals were far more important than zlatan in winning the championship for me. Because he came out of nowhere , and we were really hurt on the wings after henry’s form free fall.Ibra failed at the last part of last season? Bojan replaced him brilliantly. If pedro decided to not show up for the same period, things would not be that charming.

        • barca96
          September 23, 2010

          Exactly! I’m sick too on hearing Ibra’s stats. That’s what I said after Ibra was sold. I thought that was the end of the 21goals and 8 assists. However those stats keep on appearing 😆
          The worst line was “he won us the clasico and at emirates”.
          I find that statement very disrespectful to other players who scored in the other ties. Like what, they are not as good enough to win points in some matches.

      • September 23, 2010

        “In other words, he scored 12 goals.”

        Well, yes, that is what happened, but that’s not the right way to look at it simply because you can’t take totals and compare them to others at face value all the time. Bojan didn’t play as much as Ibra, but when he did play, he was on target more often. And only 2 of his goals were in the Copa del Rey. 1 was in the CL. 8 were in the league. The remaining one was in the Supercopa. That does not, in and of itself, mean that Bojan should have started over Ibra. Not at all. BUT, it should be considered.

        Comparing ONLY league matches, the number is 8 for Bojan, 16 for Ibra, and 12 for Pedro. Of those 7, 13, and 10 were scored respectively as starters. No one scores often as a substitute. Pedro scored twice, Bojan just once; both had 12 substitute appearances. Pedro, however, had 348 minutes as a substitute and Bojan had just 164. If you don’t mention those things, it’s impossible to compare them. Pedro wasn’t twice as effect as a substitute simply because he scored twice as many goals. In fact, he was less effective than Bojan in terms of goals per minute and both were tied on goals per appearance.

        It would be a better comparison if we had assist stats that I trusted, but we don’t (they are notoriously subjective, like NBA assists), so unfortunately we can only compare goals for forwards. It’s by no means perfect and I don’t mean to suggest this is Word of God stuff, but it’s one way of looking at things to help round out the discussion. There are other factors that I’ll be discussing next week and the week after that I think are important as well.

        If you still think Bojan isn’t worthy of playing in the team, that is okay with me, but I disagree. I think I’ve said in previous posts and comments that I was in favor of loaning him out, but as I said above, I don’t think that’s an option at this point based on what the perceived problem is.

        Mei talks about training and that being the reason Bojan didn’t get more starts. I do believe that that is true. However, I’m not talking about starts. I’m comparing effectiveness in front of goal and arguing that Bojan is not, when he’s playing, failing to uphold his end of the bargain. That is all.

        • Kxevin
          September 23, 2010

          Note, Your Highness, that I didn’t say Krkic wasn’t worthy of playing in the team. I said that he isn’t meeting first-team expectations. There’s a difference. Neither did Henry last season, for example, and that’s why he had a paid seat to the Greatest Show On Earth.

          I do, however, think that if Krkic continues to not meet the expectations of a first-teamer, he should have the seat that Henry kept warm last season, until he does.

          As for Krkic upholding his end of the bargain, he didn’t for much of last season, and he isn’t this season. I don’t look at goals per minute and stuff like that. Math makes my head hurt. I look at matches, and in those matches, Krkic has been shit. He has to not be very soon, because his club needs him.

        • Mikel
          September 24, 2010

          ANd in any case, comparing the efectiveness last year of Bojan and Ibrahimovic, we should have more leniency towarss a 19 yo youngster than to a 28 yo grown-man

      • Barcelinha
        September 24, 2010

        do you honestly expect him to score goals when he comes on as a time wasting sub?

        most of La liga last year, he played 6-10 mins at the end of already concluded games. YEAH.

        then he got the start vs. Valencia, since Ibrahimovic had been carded and was suspended. he sucked majorly vs. Valencia, but then came the Stuttgart game in CL and he scored and since that goal, i think he only missed scoring in 2 or 3 games he started/played a substantial part in till the end of the season.

        now excuse me, i think that’s a fair decent amount of goals. especially that we played a host of tough games, not silly copa games.

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      Im sure he started couple of times in a row in the run in of last season.
      You cant compare stats this way though , queen elizabeth (lol:P).
      Its fair to say that the main reason for him not not earning more appearances was that he simply was not good enough. Not better than the team that started regularly anyway.

      Remember the coach trains , watches and evaluates the team 6 times a week , we get to see them for 180 minutes a week ,max.
      Bojan was selected in the final part of last season because he was in good form and delivering , not the other way round.
      Interestingly , that was exactly the timeline that he should have been under tremendous pressure , yet he coped really well.

      On the squad issue :
      Pep stated that the squad is complete. Both him and zubi.
      Thats the squad they want to work with . Period .
      Whether they manage to drive it to the form it is required , and create the right formula to tackle each oppenent while being fluid , fresh and productive enough is a totally different issue.
      There is no quarantee that with 7 more players things would even have a slight chance of being better. Not unless we meet an injury plague.

  18. Lev
    September 23, 2010

    Great discussion, great idea for an article, great points in favor of and against Bojan.

    Although the stats comparison is possibly quite useless, it did raise my eyebrow that Bojan scored more goals per minute than both Ibra and Pedro and it does speak in his favor.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Kxevin’s analysis that he generally plays like shit (paraphrasing here, lol). It is there for all of us to see. And four, FOUR, seasons is a long time for him to play like shit in most the last three of ’em.

    His first season he was awesome. In hindsight inexplicably so. A tenacious goal getter. WTF happened since then? We saw a flash of 16 yr old Bojan end of last season. WTF happened since then?

    So yeah, I too think he sucks. Most of the time. But has the potential to come good. He is 20 yrs old, I do not agree with the notion that it is a make or break season for him (and therefor am disheartened he was given the 9).

    It is unfortunate Ibra left the way he did and Bojan now gets even more stick for not deserving his minutes. I am not saying he plays well enough to earn his minutes, because he doesn’t, but neither is it his fault that that we are stuck with 4.5 forwards. Or 4.75 if we include Jeffren 😉 And it isn’t like Pedro is setting the world alight since the season started either, btw.

    Fact is, he is ours. Barça through and through. Canterano. That might not that mean much to some of you, but to me and a whole legion of your fellow culés it does. And if giving him another four, FOUR, seasons means that he improves and becomes a good forward for Barça I am totally fine with that. It is always preferable to have players who bleed blaugrana (visca Oleguer!).

    As long as he does not cry about playing time but keeps fighting to improve, as long as he does not give up on Barça, I will not give up on him.

    • September 23, 2010

      Just quickly, because I can:


      Those numbers? Appearances and goals by Bojan Krkic in blaugrana, by season, all competitions. Break that down in to goals per appearance: 0.25, 0.23, 0.33. Last year Bojan scored goals more often than he did in his “breakout year”…Funny that his worst year was the year we won the treble (and all 3 of his European goals were in one match against Basel).

      I’m not arguing that Bojan is amazing, I’m arguing that he’s not the black hole of death everyone says he is. Much as I defended Ibra and Henry at times in the past. This does not mean that I think he’s going to score 20+ goals a season starting…NOW, but I do think he will develop into a player that is capable of doing so. The kid is 20 (and barely so). We still call him “the kid”. We still refer to him like he’s an infant. Why is JDS not being run out of town? He’s older than Bojan.

      It makes no sense to me to target Bojan like he’s some terrible player. If he’s got potential, let it grow. Also, Lev is very right that I should love me some Oleguer (who suuuucked) because he bled the colors. And, truth be told, I do. Because he was Barcelona, because he was cule, because he never let us forget that it meant the world to him to be playing for us. We’re not so great that we can discard players who love our club to death, are we? And if we are, why should we anyway?

      • Lev
        September 23, 2010

        And make no mistake, Oleguer did suck*. He was not even good enough to hold down a starting spot for Ajax, and Ajax SUCKS, lol.

        *forgive the blasphemy, VISCA OLEGUER!

      • Barcelinha
        September 24, 2010

        i find it absolutely pathetic how he of all people is considered the weakest link. jeez, why the gangbang, why the epic amount of hatred.

        this really reminds me of the constant flack Valdes used to get. even after 2006 CL final. yep.

  19. Euler
    September 23, 2010

    Pep stated that the squad is complete. Both him and zubi.

    Pep has also said that he’d ideally like to have 20 regular first team players.

    They now have 19 which is a problem because of the issue of depth at forward.

    Of course he’s going to say it’s complete – they have to do damage control on all fronts after the disaster that was Ibra’s last minute departure. No club worth it’s salt is going to go around publicly talking about how it’s short.

    Much of the focus on Bojan is due to the fact that the team only has 5 true forwards, two of who are Bojan and Jeffren.

    For most of the summer it looked like Bojan would be the 5th forward and it looked like that’s the way Pep not only wanted it but had planned it out. The difference between being forard #4 vs. #5 is enormous. Then the Ibra debacle occurred. That meant the opportunity and pressure increased on Bojan. But as it is, it doesn’t seem like this was Pep’s ideal solution for the club.

    I think they wanted Bojan to be the 5th forward to decrease the pressure on him. That way if he suddenly broke out as hoped he could be integrated and given more responsibility as his production warranted. He could be developed in a more controlled fashion. That all fell apart in a big and very anarchic fashion.

    The fundamental issue may not be Bojan at all. It may be that they are simply short a striker and asking more from a 19 year old than he’s able to deliver at this time and more than what the manager was intending on asking him to produce as they planned out the season.

    Sure if Bojan happens to blossom quickly early in this season then they can get away with what they have and the squad can be considered “complete.” But that’s a major risk and that wasn’t the original plan.

    And Bojan just might not be ready to bridge the gap and make up for the club’s disaster with Ibra.

    • Lev
      September 23, 2010

      Yeah I understand what you are saying, but the contradiction is that if Pep planned for him to be 5th striker, why would he have given him the weight of the 9?

      • Euler
        September 23, 2010

        Because once Ibra left in a firestorm it was too late to buy another striker.

        As such Bojan had to step up in a major way. There was no alternative. At that point I guess you can try every tactic to give him more confidence including giving him the 9 shirt, which I don’t think is going to help him in the long run.

        I think the root problem here is that they are a striker short.

        Bojan being striker #4 was not the plan. It was the result of chaos. Giving him that 9 shirt was part of making the best of that chaos.

        • Lev
          September 23, 2010

          Fair enough. Agree with root problem. Not sure giving him no 9 was the smartest thing though. 9 puts unnecessary pressure on him (not from Pep but from the “outside”), due to the great players who have worn that shirt before him. What happens if we decide to get a striker? Bojan keeps the 9 and goes back to being 5th forward? A potentially very awkward situation which could easily have been avoided – he already had no 11, a fine number and wearing it is a vote of confidence in itself.

      • Barcelinha
        September 24, 2010

        Bojan ASKED for the #9. it’s his position and if the shirt was vacant, why not?

        • Lev
          September 24, 2010

          ah he asked for it. didn’t know that. all good then.

  20. ElShowDeJason
    September 24, 2010

    Dear Fellow Cules

  21. Bill
    September 24, 2010

    Good conversation. But first, I have to complain. Kxevin, I don’t see what your problem is with people writing ‘first!’ after every article. Does it waste space on your comp? Waste paper? Or maybe its the ink. It must be the wasted ink. Writing “first!” is unique to this space, it’s something thats kind of fun to see. It’s a little game that people play, and some bloggers want to be recognised as the first to see an article, whats wrong with that? Let them have their little fun. As long as it isn’t insulting to anyone, just scroll down. Just because you have the power of the DELETE button, doesn’t mean you should wield it like a samurai sword. Whats next? Delete anyone who says Henry was shit at barcelona?

    As for the Ibra stats you keep harping, look closely, and the picture becomes clearer. He scored only 16 goals in la liga(like Saviola!). 13 of them before january 1st(impressive btw). But 3 after january. As a matter of fact, he only scored 6 in all competitions after january 1st, including a charity penalty by messi. He scored 2 goals against an arsenal team that we completely over ran in the game before we let them off the hook. The same arsenal team that Man U and Chelsea were pumping 4 goals against all the time. If Bojan starts all the games for Barcelona this season as the striker, I can guarantee 16 goals for him in la liga.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 24, 2010

      “If Bojan starts all the games for Barcelona this season as the striker, I can guarantee 16 goals for him in la liga.”

      It’s easy to make “what-if” claims when you know the dependent will never happen.

      “Writing ‘first!’ is unique to this space”
      Yeah, and 4-3-3 is unique to Barcelona. When did you learn to use the internet? Yesterday?

    • Jnice
      September 24, 2010

      You’re complaining about people not getting to say “first”? LOL.

  22. john
    September 24, 2010

    Meh. Contradictions.

    If stats matter because you keep bringing up 21 goals 9 assists then Bojan’s 7 goals in last 8 La Liga games matter too. During the same approximate period Ibra scored 5 goals in his last 18 La Liga games, including the pity penalty Messi gave him.

    If then stats don’t matter because ‘Bojan plays like shit’ then it was obvious to any moron that we played like total shit the second half of the season with Ibra. Down the wire if we didn’t bench him we might have lost the title. We were struggling to score every single game and we couldn’t break anyone down. Every time we didn’t start Ibra we looked fluid and played well.

    If you don’t want context because you judge everyone the same regardless if they’re a 65 million starting striker or a talented young backup, then Bojan’s superior min/goal rate should matter. Bojan was more efficient scoring than Pedro as well, he just had less than half of the playing time.

    If context does matter because he’s been around for 4 years (actually 3, this is the start of the 4th) & it’s ‘easy to pad stats at the end of games or Copa matches’ then it should matter too that he was 17, 18, 19 in his 3 years and his production actually went up, he just got decreasing playing time each successive season. It should also matter that Iniesta was criticized the same way his first 3 years and didn’t break into the starting lineup until Xavi was injured in his 4th season.

    You keep talking about critiquing the players equally but all I see are a lot of contradictions because it appears you’re hell bent on defending Ibra. If it’s convenient to ignore stats, then stats don’t matter. If it’s convenient to bring up stats, then stats matter. And so on.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 24, 2010

      Here’s some context.
      Bojan’s Goals:

      Sporting Gijon, first goal. 3-0 Final
      Against Osasuna, we were up by an Ibrahimovic goal. 2-0 Final
      Against Bilbao (2 goals), we were already up by 1. 4-1 Final
      Against Deportivo. 3-0 final
      Against Villareal, we were alredy up 1. 4-1 Final
      Against Tenerige, we were already up 1. 4-1 Final
      Against Sevilla, we were already up 1. 3-2 Final

      So, his goals came against shit teams, or were largely in games that were already decided. If you contextualize.

      against Sporting, up 2-0. 3-0 Final.
      against Getafe, OPENING GOAL. 2-0 Final
      against Atletico, OPENING GOAL. 5-2 Final
      against Racing, OPENING GOAL. 4-1 Final
      against Malaga, OPENING GOAL. 2-0 Final
      against Zaragoza (2 goals), already up by 1, 6-1 Final.
      against MADRID, ONLY GOAL. 1-0 FINAL. (!) (!) (!)
      against Xerez, already up 1 goal. 2-0 Final
      against Depor, already up 2 goals. 3-1 Final
      against Espanyol. ONLY GOAL. 1-0 FINAL
      against Atleti. down 2-0. 2-1 Final.
      against Zaragoza. up 3-2. 2-1 Final (killed comeback)
      against Osasuna. OPENING GOAL. 2-0 Final
      against Mallorca. ONLY GOAL. 1-0 Final.
      against Xerez. up 2-1. 3-1 Final

      Contextualize all of that. Real goals. Goals that mattered. Goals that mean that the trophy is in the Camp Nou instead of the Bernabeu.

      The reason he only scored 5 goals toward the end of the season is because he wasn’t playing as much. He got injured. The recovery was slow, as he has had recurrent knee problems, and he isn’t that young anymore. Then he obviously wasn’t going to score from the bench.

      I cannot believe we are still having this conversation, FFS. That list up there doesn’t mean shit. But you have to remember that stats can be spun any way you want them to.

      16 League goals in 29 appearances is a strike rate of .55. How is that disappointing to anyone? And that’s not even taking into account all of the assists.

      and those stats aren’t counting other good passes that lead to assists.

      And then we can talk about why Messi and Pedro! were scoring goals like crazy. Because Ibrahimovic always had 2 or 3 defenders on his back, giving Messi and Pedro! all the space they needed to tear teams apart. And even with those defenders on his ass, with sky-high expectations from stupid fans, with detractors, with injuries, while getting used to a new league, and new team, and new language, and probably the most difficult and demanding system in world Football, manage to bag himself a measly, petty, pitiful, 21 goals. 9 assits.

      If you take nothing from this, just remember this: Messi didn’t carry the team because Ibra failed in any way. He carried the team because Ibra’s presence made it possible. Make no mistake.

      And for all of the people out there that claim he is slow, immobile, and lazy, for every play where he didn’t make a run, I’ll show you one where he made a great run, and a pass was no where to be found. You( not you, john, all th ibra haters) claim that he didn’t fully integrate himself into the system, but its a two way street. At the beginning of the year he dove head first, was humble, and gave his all. Maybe Xavi failed him. What if he had taken some time to learn Ibra’s runs.

      But honestly. I don’t even know why I argue on this point anymore. The fact that anyone can label last season anything but a success for Ibrahimovic is crazy to me. The stats show he was one of the most important players. The highlight reels say he was pure magic. And the game replays showed he worked his ass off. In spite of all of this you people can still dare suggest he “wasn’t cut out”. If at this point you make that claim, I’m not sure I can use logic to appeal to you.

      But I sure hope you are happy with how we are playing these days. Yeah, Villa is making some incredible runs. He is fitting in seamlessly. Lol. I think I’m glad Ibrahimovic left. Not because he couldn’t cut it, but because many of our fans* don’t deserve him.

      *Fans, not supporters. I could care less about you dumbasses who have been following Barca for a couple of months because thy won this or that and suddenly have an opinion. Fuck that.

      • mei
        September 24, 2010

        Fans are fans. Trophies , attractive way of playing , superstars bring fans , and they are many times as important as the long commited ones , or have the potential to become commited too .
        Otherwise the only deserved fans of this club are the catalans , the ones who were born with posessing love for the club.

        I think you are wrong trying to discredit all of bojan’s goals as either against shitty teams , or irrelevant. He bagged these goals against all these teams last year’s end , that took the pressure of a timespan that was the most stressful of last year.
        It was make or break time. What the year would come to ,since slipping even once while madrid was chasing our ass was not an option, it would highlight the whole year as a failure.

        Again , i will stress that players dont get freely handed playing time and bag goals, or perform in any other way than goals in general.
        They work hard in training , the coach evaluates , and then they are given playing time within which they score goals, give assists , open space, dictate tempo/posession , defend . Its never the other way round.
        So its not as if ibra did not score enough in the second part of the season because he was not played, but the other way round, so bojan took his place.
        Or that bojan was better than him ,anyway ,during that time, so he was chosen instead.
        The same logic applied to henry and any other player .
        Bojan was not good enough during the first part of last season so he was benched and was even rarely used as a rotation player that rest others.

        We can all sit and judge stats in whichever way we like too .
        Ibra could score more goals if he was played during the last part of the season. Bojan could too in the first one , by the same logic.

        Picking one stat and comparing it to another player’s is like taking one quote of someones long essay and making it the headline.
        You cant judge a player based on how many goals did he score devided by how many times he played solely .
        Many, many other factors included.
        Such as , how many chances did he create for himself and the players around them, whats the shots to goal conversion rate , how much does he overall contribute to the team other than goals , what aspect do his attributes give to the team , how these attributes help the ones around him etc.

      • September 24, 2010

        Some quibbles. You wrote for Bojan

        “Sporting Gijon, first goal. 3-0 Final”

        Then you wrote for Ibra

        “against Getafe, OPENING GOAL. 2-0 Final”

        You can’t write “OPENING GOAL” for one and “first goal” for the other.

        You then wrote for Bojan:

        “Against Osasuna, we were up by an Ibrahimovic goal. 2-0 Final”

        and then for Ibra you wrote:

        “against Sporting, up 2-0. 3-0 Final.”

        You should have written “against Sporting, we were up by a Bojan goal. 3-0 Final.”

        It is fair to contextualize and those are good points (which I will discuss later in a longer post–I know that sounds like a cop out), but if we’re going to be “fair” and we’re going to be “reasoned” then we have to keep the language similar in both rather than highlighting some accomplishments and not others in order to add weight to a particular argument.

      • Jim
        September 24, 2010

        Oh come on. Look, I’m not saying Ibra was shit because he wasn’t but please save us the tiresome statements from Ibra supporters of last year that somehow he was pulling 3 defenders with him or wasn’t being passed to. We had to put up with that for most of last season. Hello, he was the least effective of our attackers in the second half of the season and just about every goal was made for him. He was benched for a reason and then we saw his real character.

        Can we move on, please? The whole world knows he wasn’t fitting in ! Pep had made up his mind despite the claims made here over and over that “Ibra isn’t going anywhere. Word.”

        I’m not a great Bojan fan as regulars will be aware but he deserves a chance and that chance for me lasts over a stretch of games, not one or two. At the end of that, say Christmas, I’ll be happy to concede that he won’t make it if there is no improvement. However, if that happens I’l always believe that he was spoiled by being promoted too early by Rijkard and that move was supported over at the Offside by many of the regulars now berating Bojan.

  23. BA
    September 24, 2010

    simple fact is that regardless one’s feelings about Bojan, because of our lack of depth up front he’s going to have to play more and more, and thus expectations of him are going to rise as he’s forced to shoulder more of the goalscoring burden.

    it’s a difficult ask of any 19-year-old to do so; nobody can say we placed a similar burden upon even a young player as gifted as a 19-year-old Leo Messi; while Bojan’s “promising” contemporaries, such as Pato, have fared hardly better in the goalscoring stats at a similar age. it’d be difficult to show me a player who seamlessly melds into a front line and scores more than 12 goals a season at this age for a club like ours in a top-flight league (Raúl?), as most players who do so burn out early. i don’t think anyone is asking that Bojan be coddled, just that we have patience and meditate our expectations relative to his age and thus his experience. we can talk all we like about not caring how old he is or how long he’s been with the first team, but on every relevant level age is a huge factor: physically, mentally, emotionally, and (most importantly) in terms of his footballing ability. none of these things are near maturity by 19 from a physiological or coaching standpoint, but he’s in a great environment for them to improve. all we’re asking his detractors is to give him a chance to grow into them, since he’s got an obviously enormous amount of natural talent.

    • mei
      September 24, 2010

      Well to be honest , kevin is approaching this as a journalist , an impartial one .
      Bojan is one of the five main options our trident has and nothing can be an excuse for this. Age , confidence , pressure , experience or whatever. Its not his breakthrough season, its his 4th one and he should do well.
      Whats even more frustrating is that he has done well for periods of time in the past , most notably in the close past.

      Maybe bojan did not ask for this , or its not his “fault” . Its does not really matter .
      Probably thats just an indirect criticism towards guardiola. Because if he is too young to play regularly and handle the burden , or if he is not good/talented/coordinated enough , he should know.
      Unless/Until bojan starts performing and shuts all of us up.

    • Mikel
      September 24, 2010

      The thing is that Bojan has shown in all the youth teams of Barca that he can score goals, breaking records, if Im not mistaken. That fact should point to a player as a special player. Then we have the fact that he is improving his goals/min ratio, as last season proved, and the fact that I think that we wouldnt have won la Liga if Ibrahimovic had played those last games intead of Bojan, i would maybe in favour to selling him if he was 24, but not if he’s only 20

  24. Roz
    September 24, 2010

    I agree with Kxevins “get good or get gone”, but remember what Krkic can do. *

  25. Kxevin
    September 24, 2010

    @john: Not defending Ibrahimovic. No way, no how. I don’t have to. His record speaks for itself. The comparison that Jason put up is vastly more eloquent than I could ever be. But, as I have noted time and again, my sole issue (and defense) is of fairness. If I have a bias, it is toward fairness.

    Now, people keep throwing Krkic’s age around, as in he’s a 19-year-old delicate flower who deserves some slack. No. He doesn’t. Not to me. He’s a fully-vested member of the first team of the best club in the world, a club that would be a damn sight better if he would start playing as though he deserves his roster spot, and the number 9. That is as pure a point as I can put to my Krkic observations. If he performs, nobody will be happier than me.

    The reason goals per minute doesn’t matter to me resides in the point of Jason’s goals scored comment. How many is interesting, how many per minute is something for statisticians. I’d rather know how many, against who and if the goal mattered.

    As mei notes, I have no vested interest in making anyone look better, or seeing Krkic fail, despite the incessant accusations of precisely that. My sole interest is in the success of this club. As someone pointed out, “Why don’t you look at the late part of last season?” Fair enough, if they look at Krkic’s ineffectiveness over the bulk of last season. It’s a double standard that hamstrings Krkic’s development and the club’s success potential. It’s just as easy to say “Awwww, he’s just 22,” as it is to say “Awww, he’s just 19,” right? Ask Gai Assulin about expectations, age and performance potential. If you can find him.

    The Dos Santos comparison isn’t apt because it makes it a purely age-based discussion. Besides, both Krkic and Dos Santos are the same age. 20. But Dos Santos is still a B-teamer, who has gotten some appearances with the first team. He hasn’t been a first-teamer for 4 seasons. Besides, Dos Santos has Xavi standing in his way. Krkic seems to only have Krkic standing in his way.

    –Regarding the “first” business. It is in fact a bit of message board nonsense that is as old as these here Internets. Others have been bothered by it, so it bothers me, as a “manager” of this space. Prima facie, it turns making the first comment in a thread into a race to type “first.” If someone leaves a comment that says “first,” then the next paragraph is a comment related to the post, rock on. No worries at all.

    But for me, this space isn’t a message board. It’s vastly superior to any message board I have ever witnessed or been a part of, in terms of tone, content and quality of discourse. And I don’t see anything wrong with people having a difficulty with one aspect of message board life not finding its way into our space.

    And of course, there are people who are bothered by my being bothered by “first,” probably because it’s me being bothered by it. I’m okay with that, too. Somebody has to be the resident asshole.

    Also as manager, my “job,” so to speak, is to make sure that people aren’t bothered, or that the least number of people are bothered by something. Until now, the people who dislike “first” have been more vocal than the folks who aren’t bothered by it. If that changes, so will my stance on the matter, because this isn’t “my” space, it’s the users’.


    • Lev
      September 24, 2010


      lol was not bothered by “first” comments but I’m not bothered by “first” comments being deleted either…rock on, y’all, rock on

    • September 24, 2010


      And I still hate it when people do the ‘first’ thing. I just figured being vocal about it is just as much of a waste of peoples time.

  26. September 24, 2010

    Well after Jason’s epic rant and with a 90% chance of getting hecktored I hate to post something this funny:


    Mourinho’s gum addiction. Funny shit.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 24, 2010

      Epic rants are the only way I know how to communicate 🙂

  27. mei
    September 24, 2010

    By th way ,I totally disagree with kevins “get good or get gone” approach on bojan, or any other forward we posess at this time.
    The principle its fine , but its not realistic to apply it to bojan ,during this first part of the season.
    Bojan will not be sold . Even if he fails time after time until the end of the year.
    Other than that, the problem is that the squad is closed until january , at least.
    So even if bojan is bad, even completely garbage he will be used .

    There is no way around this , because the squad is short on attackers , injuries will come and even if they dont players will need rest.
    So “get good or get gone” translates into , “get good otherwise you will significantly worsen the general output of the first team and hinder our clubs chances at silverware”, until january at least.

    Im excluding the possibility someone coming out of nowhere that will be counted on as a first teamer , jeffren or a B team attacker.
    The gems of the B team are occupying midfield positions , not suited to be used in our trident frontline.

  28. messi_fan
    September 24, 2010

    Ok, so we all agree that:
    1) Bojan has potential but for whatever reason isn’t living up to it.
    2) Because of a lack of squad depth Bojan has to come good or we’re in trouble.

    Where we differ is on how bad he actually is and what should be done with him. There are a number of statistics being thrown around, which all have merit.

    Kevin said “How many is interesting, how many per minute is something for statisticians. I’d rather know how many, against who and if the goal mattered.”

    I agree with the part about “against who and if the goal mattered”. However those are very subjective. Yes it is easy to see how important a first goal is. But a second goal is nothing to be sneezed at either. It seals the victory, allows us to take off tired players and give others a chance. Quality of opposition is important but then again so is the situation e.g. the pressure of clinging on to a slender lead up top La Liga.

    The reason why goals per minute is important is that it is the most objective way to measure a player’s performance, particularly one who didn’t get much playing time like Bojan. It’s pointless comparing the totals of someone who regularly gets subbed on with 5 minutes left with someone who regularly plays 90.

    I also think its pointless comparing Ibra to Bojan. Ibra is gone, Bojan is here. Neither Ibra or Bojan were as bad as some people think they are. Both are talented. Bojan for example has a cannon of a shot, definitely one of the best on the team.

    I also think that people shouldn’t be so quick to discount Bojan’s age. Fact of the matter is, strikers tend to be at their best when they hit the late 20s and he just turned 20. So in any case Bojan still has a lot of growing to do. A key part of Barca’s identity is our youth system. We shouldn’t be so quick to give up one of our best prospects. Yes like Kevin said, he was with us 4 years, but I think we would all agree that he was mismanaged for some of them and didn’t get much play. So how important is this “4 years”?

  29. Jnice
    September 24, 2010

    Thiago (yay) has been included in the match squad and Abidal returned today, but won’t be traveling with the team.

  30. Lev
    September 24, 2010

    Agreed. Those 4 years are less important as soon as you take in the factor that 4 yrs ago the boy was only 16 (!)

  31. Kxevin
    September 24, 2010

    Messi trained today, apart from the group. Whoa!

    • blitzen
      September 24, 2010

      You can’t keep a good Messi down. Boy just wants to play.

    • September 24, 2010

      already!?! geez! Henry said he is alien and I took it so lightly. LOOK NOW!

    • Nik
      September 24, 2010

      I’m ambivalent about this. I’m glad to see that he’s up and training again, but I hope he’s not rushing back from the injury too fast. I’d rather he take the extra week off to fully rest up before coming back.

  32. September 24, 2010

    @ ElShowDeJason
    AMAZING. THANK YOU. Huge effort in digging out the goals against and when that scored. Thank you.

    For as much as I agree a large part of what you said, I won’t take away the credit of Bojan’s goals either. It is simple. We need another goal after we’ve scored the first one. If we didn’t have the second goal against BILBAO, VILLAREAL, SEVILLA, they could have drew us, and we would have lost the league.

    It is really undeniable that Bojan’s performance at the end of last season was huge to us. But the more important thing to me is the continuation of it. In this season, we can’t see any of it yet. What we could see though, is a regressing player. I can understand some suggested how we would be losing a huge player if we aren’t patient, and I think the managerial level sees the same, otherwise, he would be playing for Gijon or Tenerife or Arsenal or Birmingham. But I just can’t help but to keep my reservation to the possibility of a failing youth product. At least that’s the direction Bojan is going.

    Indeed, we would have spoken the same thing when Xavi was around 22 or so. I am sure fans did say the same thing. How much different would fans be? It’s still the same game we are seeing and discussing. It’s also the same club we are supporting. Again, Xavi did what he did to play for the first team. There must be a toleration of mistakes and errors, but to invest another 2 years in a player who is looking so far a failed product, I am just not positive about it. BUT, he still has this whole season to prove himself. Though I am not confident, I still hope he will do well.
    That’s why I am on the side to think this is his last season to prove himself or we should loan him.

    Selling him is another matter though, I am not so sure how much time the club wanna wait to see if Bojan really is the player we need. We will just have to evaluate things in January and then May.

    • Kxevin
      September 24, 2010

      All true, cliveee. I always wonder what the tipping point for Assulin. I suspect that it was a hyper-inflated sense of his own worth, coupled with not producing the goods in a manner attendant to that self-evaluation.

      Krkic’s contributions at the end of last season were huge. Huge. Had he not pushed that header wide, he would have gone down in history. Fo’ sho’. And I think that talent is what keeps him going, and us believing in him.

      I think that with a full squad (I don’t, unlike Guardiola, think that 19 or even 20 players is a full squad), the pressure on him would be significantly diminished. And pressure, I think, is his problem. The more he is needed, the less he shows up.

      –When he debuted, we had Ronaldinho, and Deco, and some Messi kid running around. The Liga was done, and there was no pressure. He was a delight.

      –He kicks ass in Copa matches, which are throwaway silver for a club such as ours.

      –Ibrahimovic is sent to the bench and again, there’s no pressure. Can’t do any worse than a dude that was just benched, right?

      –This season, we need him. The pressure and weight of expectations are immense. It’s only 3 matches in, but it’s safe to say that his shoulders aren’t carrying the load right now.

      So now, we wait.

      P.S. To the comment that strikers don’t really blossom until their late-20s, no way in hell is Krkic still with this club in his late-20s, if he doens’t start showing some mojo this season. I think he is being watched very closely, by Guardiola and Rosell/the board.

      • Josep
        September 24, 2010

        Agreed on that header.. referring to the one vs. Inter? He doesn’t show up in the big game, he also came on in the first leg of the semis vs. chelsea late and missed a huge header as well. But he did have that match (Stuttgart?) last year where his first touch was a goal. He also slammed home vs. Inter before the handball was called.

        • Jim
          September 24, 2010

          To my way of thinking against inter Bojan found the space for the header when nobody else was finding space and also pounced for the “goal” a lot quicker than a Swede we all know would have done. Not his fault it was called a handball.

          • Kxevin
            September 24, 2010

            No need to defend Krkic for the header. Yes, he missed it. But I merely noted that had he made it, he would have gone down in history, rather than “Krkic sucks for missing that header.” Cules should defend everyone who plays well for the side with such vehemence, in my opinion.

            And it’s impossible, in the interest of fairness, to say what might have happened had Ibrahimovic been in there and that ball came to him. We could play the “maybe” game all day, as in maybe he would have been in the box to turn the trick so that the defender wouldn’t have been able to bang the ball off The Yaya, etc. As we know, strikers can play terribly for almost a whole match, then show up for 5 brilliant minutes. It happens.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 24, 2010

      Clivee, good points.

      but… (and I feared this would happen) I don’t actually hate Bojan, nor did I mean to belittle his contribution which was by all means important.

      I hate ever having to put someone down just to support another player (You can’t like Ibra without hating Eto’o. Ibra vs. Villa, Hleb vs. Bojan, Bojan vs. Ibra) It’s unfair. And there truly is not way of comparing players because the beautiful game is beautiful because of its intricacies and subtleties.

      Stats were being bandied about to show that Ibra doesn’t deserve to wash our training kits and that Bojan should win the Ballon d’or. Even in my post I put that I don’t even care about that list of goals, but I looked it up and posted it only to display that Stats are like the Laws of Physics in Hollywood. They are easy to manipulate, and easier to throw out the window when convenient.

      So, I wasn’t trying to tear down our own little Cuddly Toy. While I’m not rushing to buy a 4.5 Jersey, but I see him with the same excitement I see Jona and Thiago.

      If you notice too, Kxevin isn’t a raving lunatic on the street corner holding a “Bring back Ibra” sign. He’s just another one of us who keeps scrolling through our boards seeing everyone pissing on last season’s Scapegoat. (as if the Spanish League Trophy and 99 points needs a scapegoat). One comment, two comments… after so many someone’s got to say something.

      I don’t know. I’d like to think that I loved Eto’o for his contribution while here. Ronaldinho for his. But I know they had to go. Ibrahimovic had a huge impact. What I don’t understand is why people have to belittle the contribution. Whether you think he should be here or not, instead of giving him a “good riddance”. Why not a “Thank you for what you gave us.” If you weren’t a fan, why not say nothing. Its clearly a dividing hot-topic subject here. And the Pro-Ibra faction really only comes around when he the Anti-Ibra kids are bullying him. Since they got their way, why not enjoy the small victory without throwing stones, after all, bad winners are worse than sore losers.

      (This is my new temporary signature for the time being, considering the mood these days)
      (and I will add IFC to my handle temporarily for the Ibrahimovic Fairness Committee only because I have no more words left to say on the subject that have not been said already.)

  33. Josep
    September 24, 2010

    I love Bojan and hate Ibra. But I was sold on Ibra around November..then his drop in form came and I hated him again. But how come no one has mentioned the fact that you can’t compare Ibra and Bojan?

    Ibra is/was 28 I think? Coming off a top goal scorer in the Italian Serie A, and in the prime of his career after successful stints in Sweden, Netherlands, and several years in Italy.

    Bojan? He did well for us with our youngsters (who are that much more talented than others theres a big talent disparity..) and had a good first season. But how old? 20. Sure, he was brought up too early but who reaches their potential at 20 without mistakes?

    All I’m saying is you can’t compare a player who is in his prime with a young up and comer. Who knows he may bloom late.

    • Kxevin
      September 24, 2010

      You can’t compare them straight up, ’tis true. But both are first-team players for the best team in the world. Krkic shouldn’t get a pass because he’s young. Busquets hit the first team at age 20, and started making a difference right away. In two years, he’s a World Cup starter.

      Lots of people have mentioned that you can’t compare Ibrahimovic and Krkic, and they’re right. But as I said, both are (were) first-teamers, contributing to that club’s effort. It couldn’t have gotten to where it was last season without either of them. But now we’re in this season, and Krkic has the world at his feet, if he can just get those feet to wrap around a ball, and start putting it in the back of the net. But he has to get out of his own way.

      • Josep
        September 24, 2010

        Thats where I somewhat disagree. I see your point and what you’re getting at, but Zlatan has been a first team member and key player for about 8 or 9 years now. Bojan has been a super sub, a bench player, and a starter all randomly for the last four years.

        • Kxevin
          September 24, 2010

          Not for us, though. Our system is complex, which is why attackers always struggle their first year with us (Villa will be no different, by the by). So if anything, Krkic should be even more ready to step up this year, as he was raised in the system, and knows it intimately, right?

          I think it’s all psychological. That, and for some reason he still hasn’t figured out that the stuff that worked in the U-21s doesn’t work against grownups. You can almost see his bewilderment sometimes when the defender just slides up and takes the ball from him, or shoulders him aside and strides up the pitch.

          I believe he will get it all figured out. I’m just not sure that it will be in our colors. I hope that it is.

  34. Josep
    September 24, 2010

    Also, Thiago has stayed to train with the first team squad and is making the trip to Bilbao.

  35. messi_fan
    September 24, 2010

    I’m not proposing nor do I expect the club to keep him till his late 20s if he doesn’t show improvement. My point is this: all the talk about him being first team for 4 years or “get good or get gone” is ignoring a simple fact – The Kid is a kid.

    Would I love him to suddenly become a world beater? Of course. But a much more realistic scenario is that he’ll start off this season playing badly (which he has), then improve as the season goes on (which we hope), then get better each year as he gets more playing time.

    Players developing as quickly as Messi, Pedro or even Higuain is VERY rare. We should remember that.

    Furthermore, we should note that Villa isn’t playing to his full potential either. Yes, some of this can be attributed to him getting used to the system, but is it inconceivable that part of it is due to him trying too hard to impress or thinking too much? And if we accept this as a possibility from an experienced top-5 striker, then is it inconceivable from a 20 yr old?

    • Kxevin
      September 24, 2010

      Yes and no. As I noted just above, Krkic was raised in our system. The biggest problem is that he’s here before he was ready, because of external pressures. Now we have to deal with it, and hope for the best. Or at least the occasional good.

      He isn’t a kid, he’s a young man of 20 years who should be playing better than he is. I think it tears him up far, far more than it does any of us.

  36. messi_fan
    September 24, 2010

    I agree that he should be playing better than he is. Honestly though, I think he’ll improve soon, as long as Pep keeps sending him out there.

    I’m actually more worried about what someone (I think it was either you or Euler) mentioned in an earlier post – our strikers are too similar.

  37. Cam
    September 27, 2010

    Bojan is a lightening rod. Fans who are frustrated by Bojan’s development and lack of impact put his every failure under the microscope. Fans who love him or still believe in his go out of their way to credit every little thing to him, mainly because he isn’t doing any big things.

    This post falls into the latter category and its central premise is bogus. I watched the game in question and I watched the attached You Tube clip several times. Bojan’s marker in this play is 15 yards away from him, alternately ball watching and tracking a possible run from Iniesta. He was slow to step forward when the central backs pushed up and played Villa onside. But to credit this to Bojan, who (admittedly as he should be) is over watching the play on the left wing removed form the action is farcical.

    Bojan could have been getting a drink of water and it wouldn’t have had any affect on the goal. And if Pedro, Maxwell, Adriano or anyone else had been milling around on the left wing the effect would have been the same.

    I can understand being sensitive about the amount of criticism Bojan receives, but saying he created the goal only undermines his status. It is like applauding your child for not picking his nose in the class picture.

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