Laporta on Rijkaard; new deals for Puyol, Messi; Henry speaks (update!)


Yes, just because it’s a holiday here in the ‘States, doesn’t mean that we stop working. Here’s the news, Labor Day edition:

Thierry Henry says in effect, “We’re bored and we’re clueless,” in one of the strongest statements yet against the regime of Ruh-Roh Dumbenech. To wit: Speaking to Domenech last Friday at France’s training camp, Henry was quoted by daily Le Parisien as saying to Domenech: “Coach, we have something to tell you. I am speaking in the name of the squad.

“We are getting bored during your training sessions. In 12 years with the French team, I have never been in such a situation.

“We do not know how to play, where to be on the pitch, how to organise. We do not know what to do. We have no style, no guidelines. It is not working,” said Henry, France’s top scorer with 49 goals from 112 caps.

Wow. That’s heavy, because Henry is also squad captain. Imagine Puyol walking up to Guardiola and in effect saying “Dude, you suck.”

I will add, however, that it won’t do anything to threaten DB’s position, however, because we now know that the compromising photos that he has of France Football officials also involve a number of yak.

UPDATE–Henry and Dumbenech are now circling the wagons. Henry has now denied criticizing Les Bleus steward, admitting that “We had a discussion as often happens between a team and their coach but it was a rather constructive discussion.” Further, Ruh-Roh said, in a video update at the FFF site, that the atmosphere on the team and between the players and coaches is “super.” Yeah. Right. Whatever, dude. My view is that in light of the comments, and the FFF decision to keep Dumbenech, a couple of phone calls were made, and all is (in public, anyhow) good in the ‘hood. Because Le Parisien isn’t like Sport or EMD. They don’t make stuff up.

UPDATE–Oh, crap. The Robinho stuff just won’t go away. In his most recent comments to the press, he’s said “It’s not easy to say no to a club like Barcelona….they’re a great club.” He added that any player in his right mind would be giddy about the prospect of playing with Messi, Ibrahimovic, Xavi, Iniesta and Henry.

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water. I’d still take Willian over Robinho. In two seconds.

UPDATE–Long-gone defender Gaby Milito has returned to Spain to complete his rehab. Surgery over the summer was successful, and he has had no further pain. But, being wary of the previous time, no real date has been set for the mop-topped defender to return to the squad. We have to cheer for his return, only so that just for one match, Guardiola can roll out the “Devil Horn” metal band back line, with Puyol on the right, Chygnasty and Milito in the middle, and Muniesa (the roadie) at left back.

Joan Laporta in more self-contratuatory back-patting, said to newspaper La Vanguardia that “Frank [Rijkaard] lost his authority in the dressing room,” citing that as one of the principal reasons that he decided to take a shot on some dude named Guardiola. Apparently the reports of locker room dissent, players coming and going as they pleased and other training nonsense, were true. Heavy stuff.

–There is a very thoughtful piece over at Four Four Two about our plans to improve on perfection. Paul Simpson suggests that the wet blanket that Shakhtar tried to put on the proceedings in the UEFA Super Cup, and the way that we dealt with it, suggests that Guardiola is right in seeking to rebuild.

So Ibra comes in to pull defenders out, leaving space for Xavi and Iniesta to exploit, and we move closer to Total Football, and the 3-4-3 of Cruijffian fame.

A very nice read, even if he didn’t have nice things to say about Piquenbauer.

–Sporting director Jaume Ferrer speaks for all of us when he said to Sport, “Txiki Begiristain is now on a well-deserved holiday, but this must be done soon. Carles Puyol is a symbol of Barca. He’s a player who is part of the club and has always shown his commitment. He is a great professional.

“The technical staff should work to make sure Carles Puyol finishes his career at FC Barcelona.” Word.

And with that very thing in mind, club VP Rafael Yuste says, in effect, “Never you mind the natterings of stupid agents. Our talks with Puyol are going just fine, and will be done. We’re going to rock this shit, yo. Word.”

–Remember this name: Gael Etock. The legacy of Samuel Eto’o isn’t just goals scored in staggering numbers. He’s also ensured a flow of young African talent into the club’s youth ranks. Etock, who even wears the number 9, is one of those players. The 16-year-old Cameroonian is kicking ass and taking names, then burning the notepad. He’s even worked out with the first squad.

If you aren’t impressed now, you should be.

–The spectre of Robinho has been staved off, hopefully permanently, as the pouty Brazilian says that he wants glory in the Prem, not a one-way ticket to Barcelona. So shut it.

–$175,000 and a house for a kid’s parents were used as bait to sign French hotshot Paul Pogba, is the most recent allegation being leveled against Manchester United. What this shows, for those wondering what the hell this has to do with us, is that there are many levels of enticement in getting youth players in the ranks. You could, say, move a kid’s parents to Barcelona, and offer to pay for his medical services, in effect outbidding South American suitors for his services. And what if that kid grows into the best player in the world? Every big club has a similar situation. Chelsea’s actions are one thing, but let’s hope that this “young’un nabbing” witch hunt doesn’t get silly.

El Mundo Deportivo says that Willian is still in the picture for us in January, because the left wing still needs buttressing for league duty (since he is effectively Cup tied). The Shakhtar Brazilian winger looked very good against us, and his price might be right. Don’t forget that Shakhtar Donetsk’s coach hinted that his club and Barca weren’t finished doing business.

Marc Muniesa is even more one for the future, with the arrival of Chygnasty. But he’s okay with that, preferring to focus on being excellent with the B squad, and earning his way up with the big boys. Those of us who have watched him, know that arrival will be but a matter of time. “The important thing is to play and settle in the Barca ‘B’,” said Muniesa in Sport. Hey, a young player willing to wait his turn and do the work necessary to move up. How ’bout that?

–Quote of the day: “The problem in Argentina is not Messi,” said Johan Cruijff I know. Duh, right?

–And speaking of The Great One, Cruijff also says that Ibrahimovic has dramatically increased the possibilities that the club has as regards scoring and offensive structure.

–“Put me in, coach,” says Leo Messi in anticipation of Saturday’s match against Getafe. It remains to be seen what Guardiola does, but he is undefeated in six matches that come after a break, for Internationals or any other reason, with 4 wins and 2 draws. I’d guess that we might see Argy Bargy in the second half, if the match is in doubt.

UPDATE–In the “Lord, why won’t you make it stop” category, Aleksandr Hleb was talking to Chygnasty about his change of scenery. In particular, says Sport, His Hlebness said that Catalans are very patriotic, and that you would have to learn Catalan before they fully accept you, no matter what you do on the field. “The exploits on the pitch do not guarantee that they will accept him,” nattered Hleb. Perhaps not. But they sure help. And the fact that Chygrynskiy is already learning Spanish, something that you couldn’t be bothered to do, tells me that he won’t have any difficulties working in at our glorious club.

His Hlebness also admits that moving to Stuttgart was a step back in his career, but that sometimes you have to take one step back, to take two forward. Whatever, dude.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Thanks Kevin. you tell them Cruyff! I bet Messi can’t wait to play in a real team. some of the Messi comments are ridiculous. I read one suggesting Maradona don’t have the guts to bench Messi.

  2. Haha, I just wanted to write a comment about Henry’s rant about Domenech 🙂

    But you’ve been faster, Kxevin. So, you’re really trying to succeed Pep as newsposter #1 about Barca and I like that.

    I don’t know who is actually more to blame for the bad position of France in this qualifer. The president of the French FA wants to stick to Domenech until the very end of the qualifiers (including relegations), at least reports so:
    Argentina doesn’t fire Maradona (yet) because he is a God for their people, but Domenech is nothing in France. So why is the FA so blind to see that they are threatening the hope of a whole nation? The World Cup only takes place every 4 years, so there is no direct way of correcting this error, they should react now!

    And props to Henry, I wish Messi dared saying something similiar about Maradona.

  3. Just came across a word called “Pique” in english, which means irritating. I hail Piquenbauer’s parents for choosing the apt name for the dude, because even the el capitan is not spared from being the butt of his jokes 😛

  4. mmmm….more than just that. pique more commonly used this way:

    to excite or arouse especially by a provocation, challenge, or rebuff

  5. fun read from a self-professed madrid fan who worries about his team’s chances this year:


  6. So, this Gael Etock thing is something for Hector or Isaiah, but I wonder about, in the wake of the Eto’o business, whether the same quality and quantity of African players will be coming our way.

    But this kid sure looks the business, in a way that is different from Krkic, I think. Very Eto’o like in his movement and nose for goal.

    Of course, the deities only know if he will stay in our system, or get poached.

  7. Re: Dumbenech, I just don’t get it. The message from the players is clear.

    Now, I do think Henry is right when he says that France will qualify. I’m not even sure if it will be in the playoffs. If Les Bleus win out, and Serbia draws at some point, voila, so to speak.

  8. Etock definitely catches your eye. Back in the days of BarcaTV Online, I remember seeing a few goals he scored against non-League Spanish sides. I’m not terribly impressed, but just maybe. Advance his age three years, and I’d still probably take Bojan over him. But for players his age it’s always a guessing game.

  9. The article that Belch links to has some interesting points about Real Madrid that I had not known. Sure, I assumed that the coach would have problems maintaining control of his team while fending off a strong-willed president and a bevy of advisors,

    But since I had not been watching the Real Madrid games, I was unaware that their formation was collapsing into a counter-attack dominated “6-4”, i.e. defensive mids flattened down to the defensive line and a bunch of attacking mids and a forward who couldn’t be bothered to track back.

    Has anyone been watching the Real Madrid games? Do you agree with the espn writer from Belch’s link.

  10. ex-Barcelonista Efrain Juarez into lime-light… Chosen for the team of internationals last round 🙂

  11. i saw the replay of te game last night (RM – La Coruna) on goltv, it did seem there was plenty of space for depor to pass into on the counters. sure RM had lots of good chances and were superior, but their problems at the back were exposed in depor’s two goals, and you could see the look on casillas face.

    plus they wont have the ball nearly so much when they face us or some other top team. therefore they wont get the type of chances that they did against depor.

    still, kaka is quality. CR9 looks all roid puffy

  12. I think that the Cameroonians have been in the youth ranks for some time, so hopefully they’re ingrained enough in the Barca style to resist the temptation of the poaching clubs. If its legally possible, FIFA and / or UEFA need to step in and set a uniform rule for youth transfers and contracts. Just like the tax code, loopholes only help the extremely wealthy at everyone else’s expense.

    I also think that is just a classless move by Laporta. There is absolutely no need to speak poorly of a coach who brought Barca back to glory. I’ll never understand the need of some to stab certain players and coaches in the back, especially legends who brought titles to the club.

  13. 18th.

    I couldn’t help but smile at Chelsea’s predicament, but it does leave me wondering about the precedent it sets. It seems many, many clubs could be found guilty of the same thing. I bet it gets reduced, and I hope we don’t get caught up in any of it at any point.

    I don’t have any problem with Laporta being honest, yet vague, about Rijkaard. It’s a far cry from saying “the guy was trash, we’re lucky he’s gone.”

  14. By the way, is there any chance that Xavi gets a rest against Estonia?

    He could be replaced by Cesc Fabregas at least for one half and it would be a very nice gesture from del Bosque, in particular with regards to our schedule…

    The comment from Laporta about Rijkaard is nothing to worry about. He didn’t say anything offending and you could even see it as a excuse for him, in the way of “the players didn’t listen to him anymore, it’s not that he has lost his capability of being a coach”.

  15. Kxevin, 2 more from cameroon are due soon. 1’s name is Nelson Mandela actually, as per sport. 11 years old.Even with Eto’o gone, i thik the contract with his foundation will still stay in place Much longer i feel.He does want them to have futures, and whats the best club to come to, to do so?

  16. Whats the story with Barca Tv?Why can’t we get in the uk and Ireland?I have Real Madrid Tv and have to admit watch extra time on it(sorry but sid lowe and Tim stannard are top notch experts).Why can’t barca give a channel like real does for free?

  17. Good question, Keano. They tried to sell BarcaTV, but that didn’t go so well.

    I just don’t understand why Laporta felt compelled to say anything. Rijkaard is gone, we’ve won 5 trophies in his absence, everyone knows that you were right, and everyone else was wrong. It’s some of why people don’t like him all that much.

  18. Just a pain is all,has anyone seen Extra time on RMTV?Its very good even thou its about real they also show highlights from the barca game at the weekend. If you can withsatand the expected bias from a couple of panelists, (especially the french hack called frederick hermel, he is a character to rival that roncero chap) the show is quite entertaining.Sid lowe is exceptional and very shrewd.He and Graham Hunter are the best .Balague is good but has become a bit too corporate for me(christ have you seen his site, its like the argos website selling this and that) and also he seems to be a chief advocate for benitez whenever he has a problem(there close you see).You americans prob won’t know any of these.shame.

  19. Agree on Balague. But that’s what ego does for you. Or maybe he doesn’t read his comments, like we do. When enough people call you “Jackass,” it keeps you humble. 😀

  20. So with news updates, everyone, is it better for your needs to update the initial post, or deal with them in the comments? I’ll do both right now, but everyone can let me know.

    –Oh, crap. The Robinho stuff just won’t go away. In his most recent comments to the press, he’s said “It’s not easy to say no to a club like Barcelona….they’re a great club.”

    Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water. I’d still take Willian over Robinho. In two seconds.

    –Henry and Dumbenech are circling the wagons. Henry has now denied criticizing Les Bleus steward, admitting that “We had a discussion as often happens between a team and their coach but it was a rather constructive discussion.”

    –Long-gone defender Gaby Milito has returned to Spain to complete his rehab. Surgery over the summer was successful, and he has had no further pain. But, being wary of the previous time, no real date has been set for the mop-topped defender to return to the squad.

  21. In regards to why Laporta felt the need to discuss Rijkaard, I was imagining he was just answering a question. In which case, I don’t have a problem with it. If he’s issuing press releases about how out-of-control he let things become behind the scenes, or drunkenly banging on journalist doors at 3AM to give them a piece of his mind, that’s where I would have an issue with it.

  22. I think it was already established that Rijkaard started losing the locker room when henk ten cate left? Rijkaards management style was to be buddies with the players, a tendency probably carried over from his playing days. Ten cate was responsible in ensuring order and discipline amongst squad members, and Rijkaard was shrewed enough to defer to him. Once he was gone it was free for all.

    As for Eto’o, I don’t think he would be vengeful soo much to jeorpadise the youngsters’ futures just to drive a point, thatll be stupid of him. I think they already made a statement sometime ago that the youngsters will continue at barca? There is no better cantera out there, and he should let the young ones continue.

  23. All true, Bill, but I don’t think that any such negative implication about Eto’o was there, tacit or otherwise. No need to defend him. 😀 My meaning was because Eto’o was no longer playing for Barca, would the inactive link, so to speak, jeopardise a further influx of talent? That is, without an active player to look up to, would youth players from Cameroon be as interested in coming?

    And I think that even if Laporta was posed a direct question about Rijkaard, he could have simply said “He had good years here, blah, blah, blah,” and left it at that.

  24. I didnt even know it was gabi’s birthday today.What an awful 16 months its been for him.Especially with his countryman Valdano using his situation as a source of gloating.

  25. “drunkenly banging on journalist doors at 3AM to give them a piece of his mind, that’s where I would have an issue with it.” HAHA i can see that

    I like the post UPDATE feature better. Sometimes the posts can pile up over 150 comments and it becomes easy to miss if you have been out all day or longer.

    I am thinking about killing myself if we sign Robinho. Kxevin’s comment about him not tracking back to chase a ball covered in diamonds is very scary. Maybe he’d just be afraid of a Dani Alves diamond ball free kick. ouch

  26. I never hear any news regarding the development of Ruben Rochina. Our cantera is overloaded with talent, its pretty ridiculous. Rochina always caught my eye, the tall left footed youngun spaniard. And i still mourn the fact that Victor Vasquez was injured so bad, he was developing at the rate of our own Pedrito until that disaster of an injury.

  27. I agree with jnelson: updates in the post. But maybe put the updates at the end, because right now the updates for some topics (e.g. Robinho) come before the original news piece.

  28. Recall, jordi, that Valdano backtracked on that one, claiming that he was misquoted, as predicted by Txiki B. who essentially said “Dude’s talkin’ out his ass. Once he realizes how stupid he was, he’ll recant.” And so he did.

    UPDATE it is, everyone. I put them up top this time, and marked them with a bold UPDATE rather than re-arranging everything to keep the new stuff contexutal.

    And we have a humdinger coming up, that will analyze The Kid. Yes, that’s Mr. LOL himself, Bojan Krkic.

  29. Kxevin, my bad, I wasn’t defending Eto’o, was just saying it would be stupid if he interfered with the young cameroonians at the youth camps

  30. Updates should be on the post, not in comments (as you’ve done). Also, any chance you guys can translate the front pages of EMD and Sport the way Pep did? Those posts were always fun…

  31. His Hlebness – haha 😀

    I like that nickname, it matches perfectly to the way he sees himself. That comment is sooo ridiculous… it implies for instance that Henry is not accepted by the fans. As far as I know, he speaks Spanish but not Catalan. And I bet there are a few more…

  32. Anyone who has something negative to say about Pique is delusional. He’s the best. The Best. Plus it’s fun to say piquenbauer ten times fast.

    I’m with the culé who hung out this banner at FR’s last Camp Nou game: ‘You’ll Never Smoke Alone’. Thanks for the memories … la la la …

    I think LaPorta is classless. I understand it might be hard to contain your joy at a goleada in the Bernabeu, but is it so hard to stop smirking when your world-class team just scored another unsurprising goal against an opponent in relegation? Chiding FR is uncool. And reports that Pep is pissed at the directiva for not getting all the fichajes he wants. Take your gazillion euros and buy some grace, Joan.

  33. Helge, even Messi and Iniesta don’t speak Catalan in public , although they understand it and take questions during interviews and press conferences in it. All the foreign players speak Spanish and not Catalan except rare cases like Sylvinho. I think Hleb is confused. He should just focus on his new team.

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