“The Payroll” Follow up

I would like to thank you all for the compliments and not so kind words equally. The post was meant to initiate a discussion and constructive critique. All of us here are interested to see our beloved Club prosper.
As the case is in every civilized society.

Some issues were brought up. Due to the limited time available, I will address them in a week or so. Some others, I will leave to be judged by common sense. Suggesting that an entity can’t put to use an extra cash lying around is certainly a fresh take on things.

It is somewhat worrisome that the attention was shifted away from some points I was trying to make:
  1. The amortization is what I have the real problem with. A better management in that area will save The Club more money than any potential pay cuts. It was my belief this will be an obvious conclusion to be drawn. Instead, many of you were quick and very passionate in defending our heroes’ self esteem and bank accounts.
  2. The propositions made are, clearly, part of the long-term strategy and geared towards future. A different way of evaluating players, consequent change in pay structure, and better managing of the amortization expense (transfer policy) are intended to have savings as a trend
Being more careful while reading instead of rushing to boost own ego might not be such a bad idea.
To clear any present confusion and set the tone for my future posts:
  • Due to the time constraints and preferred size of the post, the author can only cover as much. Hence, I wasn’t able to discuss the ways of improving revenue, transfer policy, and a potential acquisition as a way of replacing Alves. Each in its own warrants a separate lengthy post sometime in the near future.
  • The pictures are generally intended as a place to rest your eyes on. Some of them will carry a ‘hidden message’. HT to readers Ryan and Blitzen for recognizing ‘the irony’.
  • The Board under Laporta had already been approved an increase in ticket prices. The new management decided not to follow through. It probably has nothing to do with it but the first team shirt will soon have a new logo at the front
  • The most important, as good and prosperous as the period The Club is going through right now, there is always room left for improvement. The Club needs to keep raising the bar regardless of the level competition is on at the moment
Anyway, good job everybody. Keep it up.
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111 Comments

  1. outerspacedout
    January 31, 2011

    Tom, I wasn’t happy with how the previous post presented the side of the argument which you didn’t agree with by basically dismissing it as some silly point, and I’m not happy with the same here.

    In the last post it was ‘on one hand we have people who believe no player is bigger than the club and that salary structure should be honored, and on the other we have people already saying selling our RB would put us in imminent decline and other teams will surely run us down if we sell him’ and such. Pretty much dismissing the entire other viewpoint. Which is hard for me to support even though I agreed about your initial point in that argument.

    Here it is ‘It was my belief this will be an obvious conclusion to be drawn. Instead, many of you were quick and very passionate in defending our heroes’ self esteem and bank accounts’ and ‘suggesting that an entity can’t put to use an extra cash lying around is certainly a fresh take on things’. I said it in the last post and I’ll say it again, presenting an argument and both sides that way isn’t objective or analytical, it’s no worse than a political station that presents ‘either this or that’ in a way where they make their viewpoint sound sensible and phrase the other viewpoint in a way to disregard valid points and dismiss it.

    Your previous post did not focus on amortization itself as the main and major conclusion, it devoted equal weight to other concepts like slashing salaries for people post age 30 (whether in the future or now, the points mentioned against it are still valid) and cutting salaries across the board. I don’t think anybody disagrees with how paying 70m for players who don’t kick a ball for us is wrong. The disagreements brought up were against the cutting salaries after age 30, how slashing salaries across the board for all players may not be feasible for long-term success, the principles of the whole Alves situation, and raising ticket prices, among others.

    Here on this blog people who don’t agree with your viewpoint listen to it and look at your side. Just cos you’re convinced your viewpoint is right doesn’t mean it’s right to demean the arguments mentioned against the whole thing. And that’s something you did both in this post and more in the previous one with sentences like the ones I mentioned above.

    • outerspacedout
      January 31, 2011

      When I say dismissing the entire other viewpoint, I meant that people arguing the other side of the Alves debate also had valid points. I mentioned those at greater length in my comments on the original Payroll post. Simply summarizing one side of the argument to seem sensible and the other side as ‘oh if Alves goes we will go into decline and other teams will run us into the ground’ fear-mongers is not cool.

      They simply have a different opinion of what Alves’ value in making a legendary, best of all time side is worth in financial terms- consider what a rare thing ‘greatest team of all time’ or one of is, how many teams have never had one in their entire histories let alone now, and how much they would be willing to give for it, and to disrupt that balance by taking out a big cog in the side, many people feel, is worth less than paying him even if the other salaries go up especially when we have 50 million lying around every year for transfers anyway which we seem determined to blow on Fabregas, a player who we have no immediate need for and where a swap (Alves out, Cesc in) that is more likely to disrupt a ‘greatest team of all time’ and make them just a ‘very very good team’. It’s not a silly little viewpoint to dismiss, its one that should well be considered.

      Let me again say that I agree with maintaining the salary structure and that Alves should be sold if he wants too much, on principle. However I’m just saying the other side of the coin being dismissed with a flippant wave of the hand is not cool.

  2. Vj
    February 1, 2011

    **Not at all relevant to the discussion if you don’t mind**

    My GAWD do you guys write long posts! I’ve seen theses smaller than what Kari has written over at the EE blog! 😛 😉 Not to say anything about the quality though, absolutely spot on!

    Secondly, we should all thank the reds and blues of the fish an’ chips isle for inflating the transfer market to such an extent that Rosell might froth in his mouth on seeing a certain someone’s price tag.. Good for us..

    Thirdly, I’ve been watching Carroll, he’s a good bloke – tall, physical, wins headers, decent shot – good replacement for Torres in more ways than one, he has a thing in his thigh, regardless of that, I think his transfer makes more sense taking in mind Torres’ recent injuries. IIRC, it was Euler who put the blame of Benfica’s loss squarely on David Luiz. To spend 20 odd mil pounds on him and another bucket load for a injury prone striker seem more of a panic buy than Pools.. The transfer fees leave me gobsmacked!

    Lastly, I find Inter are more of a threat in the CL than Chelsea etc. I don’t how they come up with all the signings. Seems a bit ironic that they sacked Benitez because he asked for players and the loosened their purse etrings for Leonardo..

    • OSBAG
      February 1, 2011

      What a mad rush last night at the transfer market. Benitez was not sacked for wantin more players but for not achieving results

  3. beeeef
    February 1, 2011

    anybody see Tim Weise’s red-card challenge on Thomas Muller in the Bayern-Bremen game? haha some real WWF stuff.

    • outerspacedout
      February 1, 2011

      Poor Mueller, attacked by both Wiese and Robben in the same game.

  4. OSBAG
    February 1, 2011

    In the first payroll post it was mentioned that tv stations should pay more since we play quality soccer.
    In another line i dont know if teams we play away with can be made to part with part of their ticket fee (which could be increased for the match) since we are the ones who ensure their stadia are fully packed.

  5. February 1, 2011

    This is somewhat besides the point, but could be relevant, but I think at some point La Liga needs to think of instituting some sort of parity. NFL implemented it a while back and nearly all franchises are now valued at 1 Billion dollars each. I know it can be a bit of apples to oranges, but the NFL has succeeded at creating a league with limitations but at the same time allowing the top teams to always compete (i.e. Steelers, Patriots, etc.)

    Now, I do agree with Kxevin when says the best thing for La Liga right now is for Barcelona and Real Madrid to keep winning, but in the long run, this can’t be sustainable. As bad as the EPL is in terms of entertaining football, the one thing it has going for it is you don’t know who will win the cup. I mean, we do know it will be Chelsea, Arsenal, ManU, or this season Man City, but there is still much more parity and many more teams to watch I feel (have you ever tried to watch Almeria vs Levante?).

    All I’m saying is at some point, something will need to change to where we actually have a league, and not a two-horse race or eventually we will become the Scottish league. Salary caps? Franchise tags? I don’t know. Right now it’s good for Barca and EE to have success as we are establishing we do have quality teams that can with trophies. But, I think the NFL is a model that should be followed in a modern world for making and maintaining a sustainable product.

    • February 1, 2011

      oh one thing I was going to mention is I feel right now the tv revenue sharing system is fair. there’s no way teams like Mallorca or Malaga are brining in the same proportion of viewers as EE or Barca. But my point is, I think in the long run that does need to change in order for La Liga to become an international brand with teams worth playing. If tv contracts can be shared because teams actually can demand a market then it makes sense to structure it differently, but right now that is certainly not the case.

      • Cesc Pistol
        February 1, 2011

        The TV revenue system in place currently is not in the least bit fair. Hell we wouldn’t even have a league if it weren’t for the other teams.

        If you don’t consider Pep’s reign and the year before that, Sevilla, Valencia, Depor, Atleti and so on have had considerable foreign fan following. Villareal had some too last I checked.

        In my eyes this deal is vital to improve most aspects of La Liga and put pressure on the RFEF collectively.

    • We have to go for somekind of financial parity in the league. Just imagine, if Villareal and Espanyol has the financial might to buy let’s say three high quality players – think about the increase in quality of the league. Its time we all concentrate on the Long term vision of the league.

      I am not sure how we are doing in merchandise sale. I think we still have work to do in that. With Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and a host of other stars this is where we should concentrate to generate more revenue.

    • mei
      February 1, 2011

      I think you ‘ve chosen to propose some points here that are far from being an impartial assesment to what someone would call ” spanish liga a two horse race”.

      First of all ,lets take a look at the over advertised Epl , that is supposed to be quite “competitive”.
      For the last 5 years , 2 teams can be said that they are competing for the title.
      If we go back 10 years , theres a sum of 3 different teams to have actually won it ; 5 man utd , 3 times chelsea and two times arsenal.
      Now lets take a look at la liga.
      For the last 5 years , 2 teams have won it. For the last 10 years , 3 teams have won it : 4 times barca ,4 times madrid 2x valencia.
      If you take a look at the second placed teams as well , youll find an interesting thing : five different teams have been second placed in la liga to four in epl.
      This year , nothing is different to this image.
      I wont even take a look at their european record to see how they do against other teams of “high quality”.
      Plus all these points are taken discounting the quality of football played.
      Who cares about the guys that watch it, right? They’re only on average like 50.000.

      What about money?
      Epl has an “even” distribution system to all the teams participating in the premier division , as far as tv money is concerned .
      I havent really seen any teams making an investment that didnt have a sugar daddy to back them up though , while the tv money was flowing continuously into their pockets.
      Who were those clubs that actually made an investment?
      man city , chelsea , tottenham and lately liverpool.
      Up until now , only chelsea has played for the title in recent years. So why is money the focal point of attention?

      While it certainly plays a part , a big one , this isnt the case in spain.
      Real madrid and Barcelona. A team assembled after spending half a billion , versus another one that has seen its investments via their cantera mostly fall into the right place for the last two years and a half.
      Barcelona has arguably its better team in history.
      It took 25 years and a certain guardiola to make this team work.
      Real madrid has arguably its most expensive team in history , with a renowned coach currently at the helm.It took them “several bank roberries” to assembe their team.
      The actual problem in spain was , that most of the other best teams chose to disappear during a very good time for spain’s traditionally historic teams :
      villareal was fighting against relegation last year , valencia had huge financial problems , sevilla has had its problems since the after ramos era began.
      Atletico has been atletico and I dont really know about deportivo.
      One thing is sure : the two big ones cant really keep this up.
      And even if they do, the out of contention teams will reemerge.
      Villareal for instance ,is putting a show this year , without putting together a very expensive team.

    • Jim
      February 1, 2011

      I feel I need to put in a word for the Scottish league here – goodness knows why but nevermind. . . .

      The situation in Scotland with the two main clubs, Rangers and Celtic, is the way it is because these two clubs are so much bigger than any other club in the league in terms of size of stadia potential level of support ( from Ireland as well as Scotland). smaller teams such as Aberdeen and Dundee Utd – maybe now Hearts – come and go but can’t threaten the domination because if they look like doing so they promptly lose their best players to the two big clubs.

      Although the standard is much better and the whole thing is on a bigger scale, the problem in Spain is essentially the same as I see it. Most years the top two will fill the top two positions, youngsters in towns all over the country will declare affection for one of the big two and smaller teams will come and go in cycles ( Sevilla, Valencia, Villareal).

      Unless you are prepared to carry out fundemental change along the lines of American Football then this will never change and if Scotland is anything to go by the top two will veto any attempt at this.

  6. OSBAG
    February 1, 2011

    Am really anticipating a Sid Lowe write-up about EE’s loss and its implication in the title race

      • blitzen
        February 1, 2011

        This paragraph is genius:

        And Real Madrid had lost.

        You could be forgiven for thinking that the system had gone into meltdown, wires fizzing and sparking, a digitalised voice like a Dalek bleating “malfunction, malfunction” before slumping to a halt with a fading electronic “boooop”; you imagined them running round the control centre, sweat pouring across faces illuminated red by flashing warning lights, screaming: “Shut it down! Shut it down!” while someone sinister simmered in the shadows. Ignore it and it’ll go away; silence it and it never happened. Or maybe it was more basic, more childish than that. The technical equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going: “La, la, la, la, la! I AM NOT LISTENING, la, la, la!”

        😀 😀 😀

        • soccermomof4
          February 1, 2011

          I’m enough of a geek to get the Dr. Who reference. Sad.

      • OSBAG
        February 1, 2011

        Thanks alot, was waiting for sports illustrated. Is there any page all his writtings are placed

      • Blow-Grenade
        February 1, 2011

        Nicely written. Enjoyed the article. Thanks.

  7. barca96
    February 1, 2011

    I’m bitterly disappointed at Pep for only calling up two B-players.
    For goodness sake, some 1st team players really need to have a rest.
    It will benefit the whole club later on.
    What’s the point of them( the 1st team regulars) to play 110% in the first leg only to play the meaningless return leg?
    Didn’t Pep learn from the last round of CdR?

    SOrry for ranting.
    Congrats on your 2nd post Tom.
    Didn’t have time to read your 1st post. Im on holiday.
    Happy Lunar New Year

    • outerspacedout
      February 1, 2011

      It’s lunar new year already? How come I didn’t know of- oh wait, you mean the Chinese calendar not the Hijri lunar calendar right

    • blitzen
      February 1, 2011

      Pep has to take into account the needs of the B team as well, you know. Maybe Luis Enrique asked him not to take certain players so they would be fresh for their own game on the weekend. We have plenty of first-team bench players that need reps too.

    • vicsoc
      February 1, 2011

      To be honest, Pep could easily play a lineup that includes a lot of the fringe players and that would be more beneficial to the team right now than if he played a bunch of B-team players.

      Think:

      Pinto
      Adriano – Milito – Abidal/Pique – Maxwell
      Thiago – Mascherano – Keita
      Bojan – Messi – Afellay

      With a team like this you rest all except two of the team’s Best XI, and at the same time you get reps for the squad players who need to start rounding back into form because they will have a lot to give to the team as we get into the business end of the season.

      • Nik
        February 1, 2011

        If we’re going to rest players, we need to somehow rest the Messiah. Maybe Pep can strap him down to the bench.

  8. Blow-Grenade
    February 1, 2011

    My two cents is that Daniel Alves is already valued too high. Given we have Jeffren, a cantera for the right wing, and we have Adriano at the current moment, I would highly recommend selling him off to pocket the money/pay off some debts. I believe, given enough reps, both Jeffren and Adriano will come good, and, in some situations, even better than Dani.

    • blitzen
      February 1, 2011

      Seriously? You’re counting on Jeffren? Jeffren “Oops, I did it again!” Suarez?

    • soccermomof4
      February 1, 2011

      So you want 2 players to come into a game and take the place of one player, Alves? Alves doesn’t play left wing, he’s a RB who attacks like a winger and gives you width like a winger. Where does P!! play if Alves and Adriano are taking Alves’ place. I’m not trying to be difficult but I get (although don’t agree with) some people’s arguments that Adriano would be a good enough replacement for Alves if given reps. What I don’t get is where Suarez comes into the picture (Jeffren at LB didn’t quite work out last year).

      • soccermomof4
        February 1, 2011

        OK, maybe I am trying to be difficult. There’s ice outside my house, I hate winter, and I’m in a mood!

        • soccermomof4
          February 1, 2011

          more mistakes—Alves doesn’t play right wing- dang, I give up- y’all know where they play- I’m getting more coffee so I can think!

          • February 1, 2011

            I think that the original thought, without getting bogged down in quibbles, is that there are options should Alves choose to leave, and perhaps now is the time to explore them.

            Jeffren has played wing back for the first team, and didn’t do too badly. We also have Montoya on the B team, the pretty much acknowledged successor to Alves, or whomever winds up playing that position for us.

            Given that some over-hyped British striker just sold for 35m, what the heck does that make Alves worth? I’d say 30-35 is not outside the realm of possibility, and that’s a price I’d take in about two seconds, then use 20 of it to buy Van der Wiel, who has a contract that is structured so that his transfer fee won’t be egregious if there’s a team he wants to come to.

            The cost savings are the 15m surplus from the sale, plus a much lower salary from Alves to Van der Wiel.

            I just don’t agree with the notion that losing or selling Alves would signal a decline of the side. I think that Guardiola is a coach of sufficiently high quality that we would adapt. Is Adriano as good as Alves? No. Nobody is asserting that he is. What we are saying is that with consistent first-team reps, just as Maxwell improves immensely with reps, Adriano could learn to actually play one position, rather than being a jack of all trades and master of none.

            Would I want to go an entire season with Adriano as my RB? Probably not. Van der Wiel? Absolutely. Alves isn’t the last RB alive, or the last RB that will fit into our system. Is he the best RB that we’ve had in this particular system? Absolutely, because this system was designed in part with him in mind. So with another RB, you design another system, and the machine rolls on.

          • soccermomof4
            February 1, 2011

            Fair enough but I wasn’t getting the Adriano AND Jeffren thing. I don’t think Jeffren at RB worked last year (maybe with proper training, but if you think he’s fragile now, what’s going to happen if he had the whole right side to patrol). Van der Wiel is good (basing this on WC because I don’t follow Dutch FB) but Alves is much better and better suited for our style. I’d hate to see Alves go JUST BECAUSE we could earn big bucks for him right now. I think it would be a decline, albeit not permanent, in the side as a whole and in production from Messi. Designing a new system around the RB you get seems a little backwards to me when it should be designed around our midfield stars and Messi.Then again, you’re a club-first fan and I get attached to my players.

  9. blitzen
    February 1, 2011

    Here is what I would like to see for the starting lineup tomorrow:

    Pinto
    Alves Pique Milito Adriano
    Thiago Mascherano Keita
    Nolito Bojan Afellay

    We don’t really need Alves, but I think he will play to get back his match fitness. Abidal might start instead of Pique, but frankly, Pique can use the extra practise. Messi should sit, but probably won’t. Villa, Xavi, and Pedro all need the rest, but I suspect Pedro will play at least part of the game. Maybe Keita can play the whole game for a change.

    Prediction: 4-1, goals by Alves, Afellay, Keita & Bojan. Unless Messi plays, in which case no goal for Bobo. 😛

  10. February 1, 2011

    As regards parity (or as I call it, parody) and revenue sharing, there needs to be a more equitable system than “Everything for us.” But I also believe that system has to take into account the fact that people aren’t following La Liga for Mallorca or Gijon. Yes. both sides have their fans, but …. And whether that is a pool that is a payout according to season-end standings (Formula One does this, in addition to race points picked up), or some other ranking system, that’s easy enough to implement. But every club wants more than it deserves, including the big two.

    The larger problem is that because of the RFEF’s braying jackasses, the Liga is not compatible with TV, because they can’t even figure out when the hell matches are going to played in a time frame sufficient to allow broadcasters to plan ahead. The Premiership schedules matches way, way out, so broadcasters know what they want to show. Easy-peasy. It’s a system that accounts for the fact that maybe, just maybe, people want to see your product. Not so with RFEF.

    As far as parity, there are ways to ensure that, such as a supplemental draft, for example, that the top teams contribute to. But here’s the problem with that: Unlike in the NFL, where the players are created by the college system, in football, teams create their future(s), or they should. Does anyone want to see us lose the likes of Muniesa, Fontas and Montoya to a supplemental draft?

    How, then, to ensure parody? You can’t. It’s why the Patriots always make the playoffs in NFL football. Some teams just have better systems, irrespective of the parts (aka players). Messi doesn’t want to play for Villarreal. Where’s the global exposure?

    Further, fans don’t want parity. Would Osasuna sell out its stadium if EE were just another team? No. So we’re back to some equitable way of sharing TV revenues. Or perhaps “equitable” is the wrong word. “Demand-dependent” is a better descriptive.

    • February 1, 2011

      Yeah I think you’re making my argument sound a lot better. I agree RFEF is so insanely dumb, it’s really a wonder how they are a governing body at all. And sure there won’t be ultimate parity (or parody if you will) but steps should be taken I feel for maybe someday people DO want to follow Mallorca or Gijon. A more competitive league with more stars on every team equals more money all around, even if in the end the same teams win the cup.

      And as for EPL, yes ManU always wins the cup, but right now ManU is only ahead of Arsenal by five points and in front of Man City by Six points. Chelsea is in fourth only 10 points behind with new signings and a lot of football left behind. But notice those are the four richest teams in england.

      My only argument is one day I want to be able to turn on ANY la liga game and see a quality match, which is not possible right now. this is just my pipe dream, but I think the NFL has achieved this to some degree and is worth discussing.

      • vicsoc
        February 1, 2011

        I have to vehemently disagree that you can turn on any NFL game and see a quality match.

        There is no doubt that there is a higher percentage of quality matches in the NFL, but who watches a Chiefs-Seahawks game for example (unless you are a fan of one of the teams).

        You also have to remember that most cable providers only show a small subset of the NFL games – chosen specifically because it is believed that they will be quality, exciting matches.

      • mei
        February 1, 2011

        Manchester city have played a match in advance.
        Plus , these teams are the richest because of sugar daddies , not because of some fair system distributing the TV fans.

      • Lev
        February 1, 2011

        You just can’t compare the NFL (or any other American sports league) to la Liga.

        For one, as Kxevin already pointed out, we don’t have a draft.

        Second of all, unlike the NFL, our football clubs also compete with other clubs from other leagues. Were Barça to renegate on TV money in favor of Osasuna and the likes, it will become harder for us to compete with the EPL and Serie A teams.

        I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but the solution for more parity in both la liga and throughout the whole of Europe would be to limit the number of foreigners a club can field.

        • February 1, 2011

          My complexity with limiting the numbers of foreigners, Lev, is that it still won’t bring payrolls down. If anything, it will make them worse because of the fiscal competition for the best native players. I also think that even in a world where there are foreign limits, I’m not sure that would change our present lineup a lot. Seven of our starting XI can be Spanish/Catalan, with more in the pipeline.

          But the REST of the league drifts even farther away from us. Imagine EE with a foreign player restriction, for example.

  11. February 1, 2011

    Mou Mou says EE lost because they aren’t used to playing matches every 3 days. There’s probably something to that psychologically. They went all out against Sevilla in the Copa, and it seemed to cost them against Osasuna. We’re certainly a lot more used to it, and I think that the way we play shows that, even if you acknowledge that we aren’t immune to lulls, either.

    • soccermomof4
      February 1, 2011

      The whole reason he’s there is to keep them in all three competitions and now he’s complaining about it?

      • soccermomof4
        February 1, 2011

        This weather’s got me in a mood—I’d better leave now!

        • vicsoc
          February 1, 2011

          Are you getting feet of snow like I’m about to get?

          • February 1, 2011

            We’re getting a couple of feet of snow, they say. I still don’t believe it. Some Chicken Little predictors say as much as 30 inches. Again, I’ll believe it when I see it, and if I do see it, it will be from behind the windshield of my drifting, snow-tired Subaru. Yes.

    • mei
      February 1, 2011

      They ‘ve lost 5 points against the bottom of the table in the last two weeks.
      If they start complaining now about this, guess what will happen when champion’s league kicks in.
      And when it does kick in , when real has to eventually face teams that stand much much higher in the table , will it be understandable to get slaughtered by that logic?

      • Lev
        February 1, 2011

        no. people play harder against quality opposition and don’t give their 100% against bottom table teams.

        • February 1, 2011

          Lev is right. Everyone plays up to their competition. It’s why keepers have the matches of their lives against us. Yes, some of it is the logic of our attack, but some of it is that they are extremely focused against us. They want a result.

          • vicsoc
            February 1, 2011

            You’ll also notice that keepers have been performing well against EE this season. De Gea put in a phenomenal appearance the last time he played EE, and Ricardo played excellently just last weekend for Osasuna.

            It seems to me that teams are playing the EE much harder this season than they did last season. Last season we had a giant target on our backs throughout the whole season. This season it appears that most teams aren’t giving quite the same effort to beat us as last season. I think this stems from 2 reasons: 1. Teams are more interested and focused on keeping the score down when we play them now, and 2. We have gained respect from other teams for our style of play and how the team carries itself off the field.

            If you contrast that with how EE carries themselves off the field, you’ll see there has been a bit of backlash against Mourinho throughout the league. While in the past this has worked to his advantage, now we are seeing lower level teams coming out and giving their best games against EE.

          • Ryan
            February 1, 2011

            Yeah, and to build up on what you said, last year we were coming from an epic, all-conquering season and that must have had some kind of effect on the teams we played. It would be even greater to beat or even tie a team that won 6 trophies the year before. Shoot, even Almunia had an amazing game against us in the CL!

  12. blitzen
    February 1, 2011

    For those wondering why Pep didn’t call up more Barca B players, it looks like the reason is that their next match is on Friday, not Saturday or Sunday. In fact, I am surprised that Thiago was called up, in that case.

  13. Ryan
    February 1, 2011

    Hooray for my first shout-out in a post!

    I imagine Pep is more concerned with the upcoming Patetico match rather than the 2nd leg of the Copa, but he’ll probably still field quite a strong team. Please sit Xavi and Messi though!

  14. Lev
    February 1, 2011

    Kxev I could well be right about the payroll, but I was thinking more about parity quality-wise. Now in the case of Barça it would not hurt us that much, which is due to our Masía. However, both league-wide and on a European scale it would definitely improve the other teams – less top players available for Barça, Madrid, Manchester, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Inter, Milan, Inter, Bayern, etc. means that more of those top players will go to Valencia, Sevilla, Villareal, Atlético, Athletic de Bilbao (…..psych, well not Atletic de Bilbao of course, bless their Basque souls), but you get my point.

    • Lev
      February 1, 2011

      darn, I meant to say YOU could well be right about the payroll, not “I”

  15. February 1, 2011

    I hope this space never loses the vibe that it has. Over at the EE Offside, it’s just outright hostility. Yes, they lost. It happens. I like to think that if we were to lose, and someone visited from wherever, with a reasonable, respectful post here, that we wouldn’t act as if they’d burst into the party to throw a turd into the punch bowl.

    • February 1, 2011

      I think a bit of that hostility (okay, a lot) had to do with my comment. I don’t think many of them liked the fact a Cule came over to tell him their coach was the issue with their team, though I meant it to be, primarily, a discussion starter and give them a view of things from the outside. I got some great responses and some not so great, but meh. I had actually been thinking what I posted for a long time, but I guess the timing could have been better…

      In any case, they’re welcome to come over. I’d expect the same courtesy to be shown to them as we do with all that comment here.

      • blitzen
        February 1, 2011

        I told you to stop poking the meringues! Don’t you know they are dangerous when cornered? 😛

        • February 1, 2011

          I had heard stories, but I had to verify it for myself. Their symbol of “truth and purity” is not to be trifled with (unless you can back it up)

      • Para
        February 1, 2011

        I looked for your comment when you mentioned it yesterday, but never found it. What post was it on?

        • February 1, 2011

          It was on “Tactics, tactics, tactics”. If you sort by “Best rated”, scroll down a bit and you’ll see it. My name and everything is the same.

          • Eklavya
            February 1, 2011

            Yeah, just look for Euler’s writing style and a massive italics paragraph and you’ll find it!

            LOL, JK, Kari! 😀 😀 I don’t wanna get a Hammer please no! 😛

    • February 1, 2011

      I’m actually glad you dropped by. I’ve been waiting for a while for Corey to throw that “regulations” post out there and this was the perfect reason to do it.

      The blog has grow lately, which one would think is a positive. It wasn’t. We started having new people over that just made the quality of posts dip.

      Anyways, after a loss, even this blog gets chaotic. I remember last season when we pulled ahead of you guys in the league, some people claimed it was over. I was tempted to comment and say “hey, you guys will probably win, stop whining” but i thought that might not go well.

      I’ve learnt something though, the stupid posters can be ignored. Or banned! mwahahhaa.

      Anyways, you are always welcome over Kxevin, along with any other poster here at the offside. With time you will see we can build a pretty good discussion.

      Hala Madrid!

      • mei
        February 1, 2011

        bassam , I love that picture along with the caption you put there!

      • February 1, 2011

        “I was tempted to comment and say “hey, you guys will probably win, stop whining” but i thought that might not go well.”

        Oh, feel free. We had a summer of Arsenal trolls, so anything you say will seem pale in comparison (that was an insult and a compliment in one. Go, me! 😛 ). This blog will only ever get ugly if you talk about the Qatar sponsorship. Or bad mouth Bojan. Ohhh, it gets bad then.

        • February 1, 2011

          Had i said that, I could have been able to come back here and say: I told you so.

          Even though the i told you so would have been for all the wrong reasons. At least for me. See the psychological dilemma i had to deal with?!

  16. Helge
    February 1, 2011

    Watching Arsenal vs Everton, and Cesc has a poor match so far. I think he has a poor season in general. Everytime I see him play, I think againd and again “There’s absolutely no need to buy him” 😀

    ManUtd leading 1-0 in the first minute, assist Van der Sar, and Rooney does manage to score against Friedel in a one-on-one situation. They start to piss me off!

    • Lev
      February 1, 2011

      Then again, one can wonder if his poor season has anything to do with a lack of motivation by not having been allowed to come home last summer…

  17. blitzen
    February 1, 2011

    I have this lovely book on my desk right now called A Beautiful Game: Soccer’s Best Players and How It Changed Their Lives (Tom Watts, HarperCollins), which has players from around the world sharing stories of what football meant to them growing up. Messi is in it, of course, and I love this bit from his section:

    Maybe one thing I brought with me from Argentina was hating to lose! Hating to lose at anything. At everything. I’m always “heated up” on the pitch: we call it “calenton”. Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve never liked losing. I’ve got a feeling that sometimes, when I was playing football in the street with my brother and his friends, they’d lose a game on purpose. They’d let me win because they knew that, if they didn’t, there’d be trouble. It’s a different mentality, perhaps. I remember when I first got here, when I was 13, and we played little matches in training: I hated losing but I’d see local kids who’d lose and it didn’t seem to bother them! I just couldn’t understand that!

    Just wanted to share! Iker Casillas is also in there, as is Figo, and Gudjohnsen has a lovely section where he talks about playing on gravel pitches in Iceland and how he would love to stay in the game long enough to one day play on the same pitch as his son.

    • blitzen
      February 1, 2011

      Damn, my italic tags didn’t work. The middle bit is Messi, in case it isn’t obvious.

      • February 1, 2011

        Whoa! Seems like an awesome book, even if Judas (booo! F*go!) is in there 😛

        I’ll probably check out Chapters sometime to see if it’s available.

        • blitzen
          February 1, 2011

          If you really decide you want it, I can get it for you with a 50% discount.

          • February 1, 2011

            Double whoa! I’m not really sure I want it right now (but I’ll surf the web to check it out), but I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for the offer, blitzen!

    • soccermomof4
      February 1, 2011

      Have that book; love it.

      Just got home and started watching the Arsenal game and now I’m even grumpier than before (I do like Everton( inasmuch as I like any English side) but not as much as Arsenal).

  18. February 1, 2011

    I’m getting a huge winter storm tonight, so that means I’ll free for the next 24 hours. You should all be afraid, very afraid. 😀

    Just a little update on what I’ll be posting:

    –Some of you may not be aware, but I actually split my introductory post in two. The first part was posted, but the second part is coming up at the end of this week. It’s a monologue on how I became a Barca fan (and it’s what I’ve been spending most of my time time, shockingly). Hopefully, you’ll find something that will shock/surprise you. And some lurkers will be outed to share their own stories.

    — If you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a proper news post, it’s because this week’s going to be really busy. All the newbies itching to post (whether it being introductory posts or otherwise) as well as midweek games, which means previews, LBs, and reviews to boot. We want people to comment on those posts, of course, so there won’t be any “important” posts after them (silliness doesn’t count because you can just look at those ones, smile, and go back to the one before it).

    —I have something coming up for Valentine’s Day (yes, that’s right) and the final installment of my Pep-Bojan picture series (until I get by another wave of creativity). I’ll post that much later though as I think some of you might be getting sick of my posting about Bojan. 😉

    • February 1, 2011

      –There is a growing idea in my head, about inflation in the market due to yesterday and the implications it may have on us (not!) getting Cesc Fabregas (first time I may thank it), but it’s nothing definite.

    • soccermomof4
      February 1, 2011

      Did you see the new peanuts pic over at totallygoats?

      • February 1, 2011

        What peanut picture? *Goes and checks totallygoats*

        ….

        Well, that was disturbing. I kinda wish I hadn’t seen that…

        • soccermomof4
          February 1, 2011

          what has been seen, can’t be unseen

    • Eklavya
      February 1, 2011

      Wait are you implying that you told some of us inside info in earlier comments which I missed (impossible, I read everything!)OR are you saying that there are some people who get to have more info than others?
      *eyes someone who’s name starts with J … lalala just a random letter lalala*

      • Eklavya
        February 1, 2011

        And please don’t scare us with that Valentine stuff!
        (Good that you wrote “yes, that’s right” because I definitely couldn’t believe it at first)!

      • February 1, 2011

        Oooooooooohhh, you’re just asking for the Hammer to come out! What with this comment and the Euler one above! You’re walking on thin ice, Mr. Eklavya 😀

        I had actually said in two times: one in my intro post and another time in the comments section of that same post. So you DID in fact miss it. 🙂

        As for the Valentine’s Day stuff, prepared to be scarred for the rest of your life! 😛

        • Eklavya
          February 1, 2011

          Huh? I’ve been preparing for it ever since you became a mod.

          *writes suicide farewell letter*
          Adieu, BFB, it was nice knowing y’all but looks like my time here mesured in seconds now… 😀

  19. Helge
    February 1, 2011

    Quite funny… after Madrid fell 7 points behind, lots of EPL pundits claimed that La Liga is a one-horse race (which MIGHT be true, I’d wait the next 2 weeks though) AND that the EPL this season is the most competitive league ever. But right now, ManUtd is 8 points clear of 2nd-placed team! And the 2nd- and lower-placed teams are worse, pointwise, than Villarreal is 😀

    I just think that the EPL is losing ground on Spain’s la Liga, not only on Real and Barca, and their way to hide a decline of quality is to call it an increase of competition.

    • February 1, 2011

      Oh, it’s been like that for a while, Helge! 😀

      Just replace “La Liga”, “Real”, and “Barca” with Serie A, Milan, and Juventus and you get the last 20 years actually.

    • vicsoc
      February 1, 2011

      I would agree that Ibra was a disaster for us in financial terms.

      However in sporting terms I disagree. He helped us win the league in an extremely close race and generally did well. We can use hindsight and say he just didn’t fit into the system that well, but then it is hard to deny that he was fairly prolific for a striker who so obviously didn’t fit well in the system.

      • Jim
        February 1, 2011

        Not to start another discussion but for many of us it wasn’t hindsight. The difference from the side the previous season was fairly evident at least from Christmas even although, as you say, Ibra scored a reasonable number of goals. The full effect he had I think only became obvious this season as we see the team moving so well together. It’s tempting to say that the way he helped us win the league was by riding pine for the important games at the end of the season but that wouldn’t be fair as in the first half of the season I think he genuinely tried to make it work. The mistake he ( and possibly Pep) made was in thinking that our team should try to fit in with him rather than vice versa.

    • Tom_Johnson
      February 1, 2011

      I wouldn’t get too excited.

      The ‘analysis’ rests on free estimates. Estimates on how long the players will be performing. It is not like he is using a proven model.

      To the point, how many people expected Zlatan to be sold after only one season?

      We know very little about credentials and competency of the author in terms of management and game itself. The way he is trumpeting himself, fact he is an accountant and LFC fan suggests those are likely poor.

      Things that are not even accounted for:
      – number of appearances (cost per appearance, a more appropriate metric, is a lot different if the player is suspended or injured for a long period)
      – salaries (ex. Villa vs Ronaldo)
      – marketability (sales of jersey and endorsements, the differences between specific clubs and from one league to another)

      Couple of gems:
      – How can one book a fee for Zlatan when he is on loan at the moment? Transfer has not even been realized yet.
      – “I can see little downside to waiting until the summer to make this move, and therefore probably saving yourself circa £15 million” What exactly is going to bring his price down, by £15M no less, in just 4 months? He can only score more goals and assists and, more importantly, the number of interested parties is likely to go up spurring a bidding war. Which can only raise his price.

  20. soccermomof4
    February 1, 2011

    Thank you, Arshavin. Can’t stand you but thanks anyway. 1-1

  21. Roz
    February 1, 2011

    Just where is my Almeria preview?
    wow 1-1 Arshavin.

  22. Lev
    February 1, 2011

    “I’m getting a huge winter storm tonight,”

    yup. that’s why i left Canada 🙂

    • February 1, 2011

      Yeah, well, I have the world’s largest skating rink to enjoy! What do you have?! Sun and all around great weather

      • Lev
        February 1, 2011

        That is exactly what I have. Sun and all around great weather. If only it didn’t rain bullets every night, lol.

        Btw Canadians are the world’s most awesome skaters!!! I have seen 95 year old Quebecers do 20 pirouettes in a row, no sweat. Amazing.

  23. Roz
    February 1, 2011

    Italian football=boring. Lazio are holding their own vs. Milan.

  24. Roz
    February 1, 2011

    Somebodys bleeding badly from Milan.

  25. February 1, 2011

    A remuntada from Arsenal. Cue the “We’re different. We’ve finally matured” talk to come out.

  26. gowtham
    February 1, 2011

    revista de la liga anyone????????
    pleassseeeee:D:D:D:D:D:D

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