Cost Management

Some of you were wondering whether the cost cuts referenced in part one, are really necessary. “One of these Catalan banks would bail us out,” quipped one comrade. And if the management can get the players to oblige to, is it something we should try to make our policy from this point on?

Regardless, what I proposed should be viewed as “trimming the fat.” rather than “diluting the product.” One thing is certain, the sooner ‘we’ start the better.

For one, there is the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations initiative. This set of reforms was passed in May 2010, with the task of ensuring clubs’ fiscal prudence and financial parity. The focal point is the ‘break even’ requirement. In short, a club can only spend the revenue it generates (a buffer is included for the initial 3-year period). If there is profit left it should be invested smartly.

Contrary to popular opinion, accounting is not an exact science. If you were to ask “El Presi” about The Club’s finances, you are in for a pleasant conversation and a free lunch. Try asking Senyor Rosell the very same question and you are most likely to end up writing a check, and waving your fist at Laporta’s picture:

(audit conducted by Deloitte)

Those pencil pushers in Nyon are not to be messed with. The need to be within the UEFA’s guidelines ties nicely into what I believe is necessary: A new way of thinking of and evaluating players. It all has to come together — smaller base salaries, smaller expenditure in terms of transfer fees and increased revenue. But it has to be a joint effort on the part of players, management and fans.

Let me be clear, “across the board” cost reductions are almost always unproductive. In the business environment such cuts are almost guaranteed to reduce morale, promote short-sighted choices and encourage accounting gimmicks that send people looking for loopholes instead of creative solutions.

However, at no point in my piece last week did I say that the cuts need to be implemented right away, solely in the base salary of the senior players, and to a drastic degree.

What is important is to allow no exceptions. To drive a truly effective restructuring program, everything must be on the table. There can be no sacred cows — no part of the organization that is exempt from scrutiny. Every unit of the organization may not face a cut but every unit needs to be rethought. The suggestions I made are only a logical step to take. As it often happens, those parts of an organization that might be excepted are often the most costly. Excusing them a priori diminishes the potential value of the whole reinvention program.

Senior players

The suggestion to reduce the base salary of our senior players has caused quite an uproar. The age of 30 has been given as a loose benchmark. A reader noted that “Puyol ‘almost’ left before his last contract extension and I’m sure he could be making more money elsewhere.”

How close was he to actually leaving we don’t know. What we do know is that it happened some time ago. Right now, Puyol is almost 33. Xavi and Abidal are both 31. The Club should use its stature as a leverage in negotiating with senior players, much as it does when dealing with youth players who are about to sign their first professional contract. Let’s examine the facts in regards to the situation senior players are in:

a. How much is money really important to them. These guys have at least 4-6 years of high salaries. They have earned a comfortable life for their families and then some. As long as the valuation is based on common sense, a million or two is hardly going to mean much to them.

b. If they (he) indeed decide to leave, how many teams out there are as competitive as Barca? How many teams are contenders on as many fronts, year after year?

c. Going to a new team means new system (responsibilities), new teammates, new coach, new fans. There is a lot of risk involved that things might not work out. Should I remind you all that there are few, if any, teams that play the way Barca does? How wise then it would be for a senior player to assume all this risk, at that age?

Also, many believe that Xavi wasn’t so instrumental in the title won in Paris, or that team in general. It was only with arrival of Guardiola that he reached new heights. It’s far from certain that he would enjoy the same status, and be as effective if he goes somewhere else. Hell, don’t take my word for it:

“Let me say one thing: I depend on my team-mates. My football and my passing would be worthless without my team’s help. That’s something which is very clear to me. Sometimes I start thinking and I look at Madrid for example, who have truly great players, but I’d struggle with them. They play through the middle and I need players who open the play down the flanks, who make diagonal runs, who leave space for me in the center and who never stop moving.”

d. Lastly, how much more they can really get? Other big clubs are not dumb. These players spent their whole lives in a different system, and are getting old. Smart managers understand the risk and are likely to use our valuation as a starting point in negotiations. Only teams like Manchester City (a model that is about to falter due to the aforementioned UEFA regulations), and one from Qatar are going to pay huge premiums. And the latter is not exactly a highly competitive place, and the player would be more of a mascot then anything else.

A rational fan comes to the conclusion that those senior players don’t have that much leverage after all. Is “a few dollars more” really worth abandoning a roster spot at The Best Club in the World, trophies, opportunity to work with one of the best coaches of this generation, witness first-hand the growing of potentially The Best Player ever, breaking the bond with fans and genuine camaraderie in the locker room?

Let’s assume for a second that they might get significantly more somewhere else. The likelihood of bonuses at such a place would be smaller than is the case is at Barcelona. Here’s a simple illustration: Lets say we decide to pay them $4m that, with bonuses, can go up to $6.5m. Somewhere else they might be paid $5.5m, but the likelihood of bonuses is smaller. It is hard to assign weight to each category since there are a lot of factors involved, but the probability of winning a trophy at Barca is big enough to offset a potentially larger base salary somewhere else. The monetary gain (by moving elsewhere) is not likely to be a meaningful one. Meanwhile, they stand to lose a lot in sporting terms.

The deteriorating physical condition of aging players is the main reason for the proposed salary reduction. As a counterargument, some pointed to the level of play Xavi is exhibiting. Xavi’s level of play might stay high but the number of appearances is likely to go down, making the cost per appearance go up in the process. Management needs to react, and make a proper adjustment.

Also, we have players like Affelay, Thiago, and possibly Cesc, coming through the ranks and maturing . We don’t really need Xavi for ‘regular’ games, such as the recent Copa del Rey game at Almeria, as long as the newcomers keep the intensity, commitment and preparation for the game at the required level. Xavi’s experience is likely to make a meaningful difference only for the limited number of high-stakes games.

Abidal has been instrumental in the low number of goals that we have allowed. Truth is, he has been better than Puyol this year. I would like readers to answer this question: If Abidal is fine with his salary, and realizes what a roster spot on this team means as well as what his alternatives are, what is stopping Puyol from adopting the same approach? How much sense does it make to keep paying Puyol so much more? Not a lot, says this observer.

Frankly, I am not sure where the idea that the salary is the only way for The Club to express its respect and appreciation toward players is coming from. Far from it. There are bonuses, there is they day-to-day communication, treatment in media and publicity. Do not forget, all the senior players have the best retirement party in the world scheduled, a mic in hand, in front of a full Camp Nou. A retirement party every Canterano and successfully integrated outsider dreams of. Rightfully so.


The money saved by implementing my suggested measures needs to be allocated to help Club’s interests, both short and long term.

1. Long term, the money would serve:

  • ‘Higher cause’. This group of players with Pep at the helm, has an historic opportunity to match and surpass what Madrid did in the 1950s and ’60s. Once in a century is how often an opportunity like this one presents itself. Everybody needs to recognize how special the moment is and put the strongest of forces behind the project. It has to be a joint effort, players, management and fans. All three parties need to make concessions in order to make the most out of it.

2. The short term focus should be on the improvement and growth:

  • New acquisitions. The money saved by salary cuts would go for smart acquisitions to make this team even better in terms of both quality and depth. The easiest way to look at it is instead of Bojan, Keita, Maxwell and Jeffren on the bench we can have, say, Fabregas, Forlan and Coentrao/Bastos/Van der Wiel next to Mascherano, Affelay and Milito. Better quality and more depth if injuries and suspensions align themselves in unfavorable manner. There can’t be any more mistakes in the scouting process (ex. Zlatan).
  • Stadium remodeling. A project put on hold. Not only for the aesthetic value and improvement of the fan experience, but the creation of a certain number of luxury boxes (and accompanying services) to bring new revenue to The Club.
  • Social area. Increased media presence, aggressive advertising and marketing campaign trying to better position The Club in developed and emerging markets likewise.
  • Fan clubs. More resources should be made available for the most popular ones to help them grow the fan base. Richer press material, exclusive information and seasonal trips to Camp Nou would go a long way in spreading the ‘Mes que un Club’ idea.

The management’s integrity is absolutely essential for this effort. There has to be not a single doubt that the money will go for the proper cause. Nobody is asking the players and staff to comply with austerity measures so that the money saved can be gambled away or used to support an addiction. It will go for a ‘greater cause’.


Finally, a sense of shared sacrifice, a common purpose of reinvention for all members of an organization, is completely lost when some are allowed to opt out. Restructuring, reinvention, transformation — whatever you want to call it — is hard and joyless work, and successfully convincing people to stand by this vision can only be done when there is a shared sense of urgency and commitment.

The Club already has the best players, the style is the most entertaining one and trophies are being won.  We now need to become an undisputed champion in managing the club’s finances, to take the last argument out of the hands of the envious, so that we have smart, effective cost management with record-setting revenue, all while winning trophies.

Armed with ‘it’s not all about the money’ attitude and the right improvements, this team has the opportunity to dominate the next decade.

Tom Johnson is studying finance at an US institution.

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  1. mei
    February 7, 2011

    I havent read the whole post , will do so later.
    However, from what I saw an off-point would be to start contract renewals/negotiations after the uefa rules have kicked in.
    Predators would have much less ammunition , and the obvious ones would start thinking about how to meet those rules by cutting down on their own staff.

    • ooga aga
      February 7, 2011

      great post tom johnson. i hope you get school credit for this.

    • roja_n
      February 8, 2011

      How is it that nobody noticed Tom _Johnson has very cunningly HLEBBED US ….AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH

      • February 8, 2011

        I was going to point that out, he’s just grinning away in that corner…
        although with cost management and finances in question it makes sense for him to come cropping up.

  2. culeZim
    February 7, 2011

    There are parts I dont agree with, but I like the idea that someone is putting the matter into discussion.
    Since u seem to believe Cesc is likely to be purchased at a reasonable price, how much do u believe is financially reasonable for him. Note that he is very good but we have more pressing need for a backup striker. Its not as if we have a shortage in midfield.

  3. February 7, 2011

    Busquets would like to play in the U21 Euro Championships. Frankly, I forgot that he was that young!

    • barca96
      February 7, 2011

      I wish Pep would stop him from going. The boy could use some rest but I fully understand why he wants to go. He wants to win some MORE trophies and he knows the Spain u-21 has a high chance of winning silverware.

    • Helge
      February 7, 2011

      Well, he’s not under 21, but there are several players above x years of age playing in Uxx tournaments. Sense where?!?

      • outerspacedout
        February 7, 2011

        The age limit isn’t as ambiguous as ‘age at time of tournament’ or even clear-set as ‘age at time of a certain date near the start of the tournament, like 1 June’, it’s set in a ‘born after a certain year’ way. So someone who was 21 at January 1st of the year in which the tournament is, is still eligible even if he has turned 22 by the time of the tournament. Same for 19 year olds in the U19 cups and so on. Which is why Mata plays for the U21s too.

  4. poipoi
    February 7, 2011

    Higher cause oh yesss! 🙂 that why alves is staying. Although I wouldn’t mind that much if he left.

  5. barca96
    February 7, 2011

    Just read half of your post Tom. Gotta sleep now.
    I’ll finish it up tomorrow morning but I have a few things to say;

    -Pep said that our best transfer this season was Iniesta, I would like to disagree with Pep.
    Actually, there are three reasons why we improved this season.
    1) Iniesta
    2) Abidal
    3) Ibra/Villa

    -Please tell me that this image is not photoshopped..

    -Why can’t we see the name of the poster on the homepage?
    I know it’s obvious that Tom is the one writing this piece but why is it gone? Before we could see who the author was.

    • Helge
      February 7, 2011

      It’s not photoshopped, I just watched the scene again (I downloaded the GolTV HD broadcast of el Clasico, a MUST for all Culé’s who speak English and have a fast internet connection!):
      Dani Alves steals the ball from CR, with a slightest contact of bodies, so CR complains to the ref about a possible foul and freekick, but the ref turns away from him 😀

      • February 7, 2011

        That picture is about 913,473 kinds of awesome. Shows his commitment to tracking back on defense, doesn’t it?

      • Extreme barca fan
        February 7, 2011

        @Helge, link please, i want to download it

        • Helge
          February 7, 2011

          Well, in general Jnice is posting lots of links to download Revista de la Liga and complete matches.

          I just found a torrent link, you can download the torrent file (plus UEFA CL anthem, whyever…) here:

          Also, if you don’t like torrent, you can try the links provided by Jnice
          But I dunno if the files are still uploaded to the filesharing sites.

  6. blitzen
    February 7, 2011

    Well, I’ve already expressed my objections to your “slash the old guys’ salaries” policy, so I won’t go into it again, but I would just like to respond to this:

    The deterioriating physical condition is the leading reason for the proposed salary reduction.

    So experience and skill count for nothing then? What about leadership, you know, the kind that Puyol and Xavi provide both on and off the field? There is a reason that the captaincy usually goes to the ones who have been around the longest (not the most talented, or the fastest, or the highest goalscorer). That’s not worth anything?

    Now, since you are a Finance student, let me put this in terms you might understand better. You are working for a company, a very successful, Fortune 500 sort of company. You are great at your job and earn an excellent salary. You gain raises and promotions and look forward to retiring with this company. Now you are told that the company has decided to invest in some hot young talents and will be slashing your salary to compensate. After all, you have been earning a top salary for several years now. That should be enough, shouldn’t it? Face it, you just don’t have the same drive as the new recruits do. Would this make you happy? It’s what is best for the company, isn’t it? And if you had known this was the company policy before you signed up, would you be more or less likely to reconsider joining in the first place?

    • barca96
      February 7, 2011

      Good argument Blitz, but I don’t think your comparisons are that good.
      With professionals, it’s the experience that counts. With footballers, it’s their bodies. The older they get, the less productive they get.

      But Xavi & Puyol totally deserve a high salary as they have been here since young. For them, it’s a different case. And they provide good leadership to the other guys.
      It’s a different case with Marquez, Pinto, Abidal, Keita, Henry etc. They don’t have the qualities that Xavi & Puyol have.

      • blitzen
        February 7, 2011

        With footballers, it’s their bodies. The older they get, the less productive they get.

        I disagree. It depends how you define “productive”. They may get slower, but they still have the skills they have acquired over the years and the intelligence and experience to read the game. Xavi at 23 was certainly in better physical shape than he is now. But he wasn’t nearly as good of a player. And at 31, he is mentoring younger players and passing along his skills. He should get extra money for that, not less!

          • blitzen
            February 7, 2011

            I had no idea what this meant, so I googled it. I learned something new. 🙂

          • outerspacedout
            February 7, 2011

            Haha yeah I think tutomate also, said ’10 char’ on something I wrote a while ago as well and I had to google it to find out what it meant and learn somehting new.

  7. y2k156
    February 7, 2011

    Somehow this article comes across as morally preaching and for me, utter tosh. Not that i question the aim but the things suggested do seem more acedemic then practical.

    As for UEFA rules, i am pretty sure that none of the big clubs will fail them. Accounting is funny and there is too much proof out there that big companies can prove whatever numbers that they need to. I am not worried at all by the new rules.

    As for salary and stuff, its a question of supply and demand. After all Mascherano did accept paycut to come and play for us, that too as reserve player. But this has to be from player. If we try to institutionalize such concessions, we will lose more than we shall gain.

  8. Extreme barca fan
    February 7, 2011

    Very interesting article Tom, with lots to debate.
    However i find it very hard for a player to accept a pay cut, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. instead, cost cutting measures can include having a policy of not making expensive signings like zlatan or villa (villa is 29 and came for 40 mil euros) and make more Maxwell and afellay like signings.
    Also there can be a salary cap for new players, players can be offered more performance based incentives and less basic salary.
    As for the trophy haul potential, i have to disagree, yes this Barcelona team has more chances of winning any tournament than any other team, but we all know that form is temporary, after 3 or 4 years will we still be this great, i dont know and no one can tell what the future hides/holds.
    What i cant understand is that players like alves (for example), make most of their income from sponsorship deals and not from their salaries, so i dont get it that he might leave for the extra 2 mil, when he is making much more from other sources.
    Finally i agree with Y2k156, the big clubs will twist and turn their books around the UEFA rules as messi does with defenders, i.e with ease.
    Tom, thank you very much for this writing and BFB is the best.

  9. February 7, 2011

    I think what’s also important to note here is that Tom is able to write about this matter from a bloodless worldview that also dovetails neatly with his real-life area(s) of expertise.

    Sometimes, in the passionate world of this beautiful game of ours, bloodlessness isn’t that much of a virtue. 😀

    Obviously, player salary cuts will never happen. But I do think that increasingly, teams will be looking at sponsorships to augment the cost of player salaries. I suspect that the Alves deal with Adidas was done and sourced with the club’s full blessing.

    Personally, I don’t believe in pay cuts. I think that once a player’s salary is earned, there it sits. Part of why we’re paying Xavi what he’s being paid is for an accumulation of experience. Look at Arsenal, who are run extraordinarily cost effectively. What’s their trophy count? Once you give a player that money, you can’t go back. If you do, you not only damage the relationship with that player, you also damage the club’s potential relationship with potential transfers. After all, who would want to come to a club where, if you have the luck to achieve veteran status, the entity would say “Um, we’ve fallen on hard times, so give us a pay cut, please. Thank you.”

    Not a one.

    And finally, given the fiscal boondoggle that accountants do so well, I’m not even sure how much in debt the club is. Laporta said we had a surplus, using his numbers. Rosell said “We’re DOOMED!” using his numbers. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and in light of the UEFA fiscal fair play strictures, the only sure thing is that the club can’t keep living the way that it is, even as I confess to not having the analytical knowledge to be able to suss out and offer my own suggestions on what to do.

    • chaospheory
      February 7, 2011

      Tom, thanks again for a well written piece and continuing this interesting line of discussion. I agree with your premise, that fiscal responsibility must be shared and enforced, and I mostly agree with your conclusions and even with the methods that you suggest. However, I do believe that a fundamental flaw in the solutions your propose lies in this idea that Kxevin states:

      “I think what’s also important to note here is that Tom is able to write about this matter from a bloodless worldview that also dovetails neatly with his real-life area(s) of expertise.”

      You can say, ” As long as the valuation is based on common sense, a million or two is hardly going to mean so much to them”, but the players are human beings like us (exceping their footballing skills, of course), then “a million or two” WILL mean much to them. To my mind, the question is (in each INDIVIDUAL player’s case): what is their priority, how much value do they assign to material compensation versus sentimental reward?

      I believe that we can safely say that our Masia triumvirate would put more of a premium on sentiment, and you do too I suspect, else you would not be so sure that a pay cut for Xavi makes such good, sure sense. But we suspect that it is not entirely sentiment that rules Dani Alves’ career decison making.

      What you propose makes such good sense, is practical and proportional and defines a mutually beneficial, equitable and sustainable model. Too bad you’re dealing with people, who are impractical, like making lots of money, have ego issues and personality conflicts.

  10. BA
    February 7, 2011

    “Xavi’s level of play might stay high but the number of apperances is likely to go down making the cost per appearance go up in the process. The management needs to react and make a proper adjustment. Also, we have players like Affelay, Thiago, and possibly Cesc, coming through the ranks and maturing . We don’t really need Xavi for ‘regular’ games, such as the recent Copa del Rey game at Almeria, as long as the ‘newcomers’ keep the intensity, commitment and preparation for the game at the required level. Xavi’s experience is likely to make a meaningful difference only for the limited number of high stakes games.”

    “You may be right, but the thing is, you don’t know anything about football.” – Vicente Feola, to Brazil’s team psychologist after the latter had ruled Garrincha psychologically unfit for the 1958 World Cup.

  11. Blow-Grenade
    February 7, 2011

    Loved the article. Agree with all your points.

  12. Eklavya
    February 7, 2011

    Diego Milito got injured. Damn, I was hoping to see him.

  13. olbucky
    February 7, 2011

    Asking Xavi or Puyol to take a pay cut….no way. Not cool. Not while they’re still performing. It’s simply not fair. Maybe due to conditioning these guys could play at this level for years. Xavi has been coddled and given the best nutrition and conditioning in the world since the age of 11. Once his production declines I’m sure he’ll be the first one to suggest he take a pay cut. Mes que un club means acting ethically even more so with a youth product like Xavi.

    The answer to at least some of the clubs financial problems lies in the marketing. What this club is accomplishing is astonishing in the world of sports yet they are still largely unknown in the U.S.? I beg my friends to watch the games but most of them don’t have Goltv or FSC so they get almost no exposure. ESPN should be all over these guys with what they’re doing. ESPN has to do better than ESPN3 and deportes. Barca games should be on at least ESPN2.

    I know they’re touring this summer the U.S. this summer but the club can still do more. Why haven’t we seen them on Bryant Gumball? Even 60 Minutes should be on these guys. The product is great. They’re a bunch of clean cut courteous, humble, guys that gel as a team almost perfectly. They’re story is bigger than anything that occurred in sports since Michael Jordan or Ali. This coach and this team is redefining and completely reinventing a game. A game that’s been meticulously and analytically studied by generations of coaches and thinkers. The way they play is the evolution of a generation of thinking and training and it’s proven utterly dominant. All with a bunch of guys that are 5’7″!!!!! They’ve exploited these little guys talents in a world of giants and dominate a sport in a way never before done. Surely the club could promote their story to the biggest market in the world a little better?
    They need television deals where everyone can see them. As wide exposure as possible. Get Guardiola, Pique, Affellay and any of the other English speaking pretty boys out there. It equals jersey’s sold! Tell Pique to keep it up with Shakhira, it’s good for business, just don’t let the job suffer.

    This team really is the best opportunity to bring the game to the U.S. They defeat all of the traditional arguments about soccer. There’s almost always scoring, lots of shots, lots of action, give and go’s, everything traditional soccer is not. It’s an uphill battle spreading the gospel of this club. Every Culé that lives in the U.S. can appreciate just how frustrating Monday’s are when all you want to talk about is What Barca did over the weekend…and you get nothing. Nobody cares in Maryland, but that can change. Visca el Barca

    • outerspacedout
      February 7, 2011

      The secret to taking over the US market…

      The man who will sell a million shirts…

      Be the next tween phenomenon…

      Make the cover of Vogue AND The New York Times…

      Turn fans of hockey AND fans of Beiber into fans of Barca…

      Our secret weapon, our marketing Golden Goose…

      The secret to increasing marketing revenues, taking over the US and Asian markets, becoming financially stable…


    • mei
      February 7, 2011

      I think , thats the best approach.
      As I have already told in the previous post talking about barca’s finances , companies that take the road of cutting down on salaries , they follow with cutting down on stuff too, lowering the quality of the product in the process and end up shrinking.
      Every huge empire had to aggresively expand.Even when the product was not as good. Barca has a golden opportunity to do so too , and the answer might be as simple as the one you suggested in a humorous way.
      You got a great product? sell it , dont cheapen it just because its “too expensive”.

    • olbucky
      February 7, 2011

      Oh yeah, I forgot, sign Guisseppe Rossi. He’s from New Jersey….

      • Ryan
        February 7, 2011

        I don’t think he’d actually be a plus for US soccer fans. Choosing his other nationality and scoring 2 against the US and all.

  14. flyzowee
    February 7, 2011

    Man is it great to be out or what, ive been stuck in regestration world since we manita’d Madrid, God knows how many are trapped there. Anyway Great post.

      • flyzowee
        February 7, 2011

        It was crazy, first time i tried i kept on being told that my email was already in use, so i tried again and again and still the same.
        I only received my password an hour or so ago when ive been at this registration thing for months.
        I even tried to send an email to management of this blog but to no avail.
        Maybe im just unlucky.

        • Eklavya
          February 7, 2011

          That’s weird. An email to this Blog should have worked…

          • Jim
            February 7, 2011

            I had a similar problem but Isaiah replied almost immediately and it was sorted.

  15. mei
    February 7, 2011

    also OT but it would be great to post the toolbar of the site on the bottom of every post too. 😛

  16. Lev
    February 7, 2011

    One thing that is interesting is that maybe the salary issue will straighten itself out once the new UEFA regulations are in place, since the competition of the likes of Manchester City will not be able to offer salaries that are so much higher than ours…

    Btw am I the only one who is puzzled by Alves latest quotes of (paraphrasing) “I will do everything I can to sign a deal with Barça”.

    Huh???? What???? Then how come you haven’t signed a deal already? Put your pen where your mouth is!

  17. February 7, 2011

    Ahoy, the comrade speaking! When you copy and use pictures from other blogs/people, as in this case with Swiss Ramble, at least give the credit.
    Besides, Swiss Ramble has already, much better, explained the parts about UEFA financial fair play and what not.
    And you still don’t know the difference between a “asociacion deportivo no mercantil” and a “sociedad anonima deportiva” and that’s just bad. Back to the books.

  18. Eklavya
    February 7, 2011

    The Portugal NT trained today, pretty close to where I live. There was a buzz all round at class. Some of my friends went and told me that Thong Boy only did 3 laps and went back lol 🙂

    It seems Argentina NT isn’t going to train. They trained yesterday but in another town. Wth?

    • Diego
      February 7, 2011

      I love how you didn’t do it just because everyone was doing it.

      You wanted your first time to be special 😀

    • Nav
      February 7, 2011

      While that sounds awesome, but these friendlies always make me nervous.

  19. Diego
    February 7, 2011

    In the last picture of the post.

    Keita is looking directly to the Camera while everyone else is looking at the Other camera.

    Pep is going to hammer Puyol on the Head.

  20. gowtham
    February 7, 2011

    hey guys???
    links for the revista de la liga anyone????

    • February 7, 2011

      Well, Revista airs tomorrow, so this week’s won’t be out until Wednesday at the earliest.

      If you’re looking for last week’s:


      / De La Liga – 01-02-11.avi


      Credit: Packman at fbtz

  21. February 7, 2011

    Marketing is complex. Look at it this way: Thierry Henry rides the train to Red Bulls matches. Think he could do that with Arsenal?

    We know how amazing our club is, but the game has zero profile in the States, and any profile is the Premiership.

    Beckham sold shirts because he was photogenic, a jet-setter, and English. He has the highest profile of any world footballer in the U.S.

    But try marketing Xavi, or Iniesta. The ladies aren’t exactly going to be swooning over Ghostface, or Messi. Ronaldinho had a very high profile among U,S. football fans, but not the vox populi.

    Marketing areas that present the greatest growth are in Asia and the Mideast. It explains the friendlies in those regions.

    Getting the club on the right fiscal track strikes me as easy, because of the enormous revenue that the club has coming in. The complexity is player salaries.

    Winning is expensive. Messi is expensive. So is Xaviniesta. It’s why fiscal prudence dictated selling The Yaya. Huge profit, and you dump the salary.

    It’s also why an Alves sale makes sense for a club looking to cut costs. With Van der Wiel as the most likely replacement, figure he will cost around 20. His salary will be well under 3m per. So you have the 10-15m surplus left from the Alves sale. plus the salary savings.

    Bingo. That’s huge.

    Now fan love and notions of Alves’ irreplacability say pay the man, and let’s keep on winning. But what if we could keep on winning without Alves, and make those huge profits.

    This is a difficult one for me. The FIFA strictures say that we have to get tight. The question is how.

    • mei
      February 7, 2011

      Marketing is an area barcelona is lacking for the moment being.
      I mean , come on Real Madrid is miles above us in that area.
      And they are selling something not even comparable to hours for the moment being.
      Qatar deal , as much as I despise of it for the obvious reasons , was a step in the right direction for marketing.
      Theyre in the spotlight for the world cup they’re gonna host.

      Yet the picture isnt as dark as people are willing to paint it;
      They have their reasons for doing so though, as well.
      Some are matching an agenda including a vendetta perhaps.
      Nevertheless in economics , if you want to make good deals , you cant be bragging about your great earnings and cutting low on new deals at the same time.
      If you have money and you are showing it , people are gonna ask for their merit of the loot.

      The positive note is , that now we can succeed in making transfer deals better than the past.
      Ibrahimovic was a disaster.
      Villa was pricy enough too , for his age. He had to come though.
      Anyway these are behind us.
      Now we have the adrianos and afellays as examples.
      Good deals dont overrule big spending though ,too.
      As long as its an investment , i’m up for it .
      Spending 35 million for a right back of dani’s age and potential , was a great move by the club.
      Spending 50 for a young midfielder , with great potential , worldwide known , as much as I dont want him to come , is a promising investment too.

    • El Kun
      February 8, 2011

      About Van der Wiel:

      The Ajax fans are creaming their pants at the thought of us buying their right-back for 20M. VdW is not the player he was last season. Back then, he was making forward runs, acting as an extra attacker, while being back in time to fulfill his (limited) defensive duties.

      This season, he is nowhere near that level. He runs around aimlessly, just standing there, way too high up the pitch. So he isn’t contributing in attack nor defense. He will never ever be able to fill in Dani’s spot in the team. He just doesn’t cut it. Paying 20M for him would make us the laughing stock of Europe.

      I understand he may sound like a wonderful prospect for the future if you don’t see him play that often, but he is incredibly over hyped. I watch him regularly and, trust me, he isn’t Barcelona material.

      I understand that selling Dani might sound positive, financially. But it will a sportive disaster.

  22. jnelson
    February 8, 2011

    Was Ibra really a disaster? The guy contributed, helped us win another Liga, and showed flashes of brilliance. I still think the ultimate front line for us would have been Suarez-Ibra-Messi with Ibra withdrawn a bit somewhere between the false-9 and striker. But…some people never change and others bite people. When the bad publicity was over, we ended up with a front line of Villa-Messi-P! and no one can complain, really. What I don’t understand is why Pep kept P! on the bench in the first matches of the year.

    • mei
      February 8, 2011

      Financially jnelson he was. Thats why im referring to villas price as high for his age , too.

    • Lev
      February 8, 2011

      I’m sorry, but imo Villa > Ibra and P! > Suarez.

      Now, if Ibra had been willing to work his ass off and earn his spot in the starting line up under the coach’s conditions it might be a different story, but that was not the case…

      Instead what we got was a disaster: a 70 mil transfer earning 12 mil a season sitting on the bench during the business end of last season, airballing a ninja heel instead of what would have been a fairly easy header in the first 5 minutes of a must win semi-final against his previous club and forcing us to rent him out for peanuts two days before this season started. Honestly, despite his obvious talent, idk why people still defend this guy.

      • Extreme barca fan
        February 8, 2011

        Lev you summed up my thoughts exactly, Ibra was a mistake (Cruyff said this not me).

  23. February 8, 2011

    Lev is exactly right about the willingness of Ibrahimovic to stay and play by the coach’s rules. The same was true of The Yaya, lest we forget.

    Part of why Cruijff is saying that Ibrahimovic was a failure is the “I told you so” revisionism that he’s notorious for. But it’s also true, from a fiscal and sporting worldview, but only partly.

    This was supposed to be the payoff year for the Ibrahimovic investment, after he spent the first year learning the system, as Villa is doing now.

    Then he went jackass on us.

    Big transfers are always a risk. We rolled the dice, and didnt ultimately make the number. It happens. We still won the Liga. And if blame is to be assigned for the Inter tie, there is plenty to go around, from Messi, who let himself be marked out of the match, and Krkic, with the wide header, and Busquets, whose shameful dive facilitated their playing turtle, and Alves’ poor marking, and a defense that conceded three at their house.

    No, Ibrahimovic was a failure because the fiscal risk didn’t pay off when he went rogue.

    Value is complex. So is defining success. Is the Liga no longer good enough? What if that’s all that we win with Villa? Is he a failure? We just renewed Krkic. Is the club getting value for salary from him?

    Transfers are always a risk. We got lucky with Afellay, but we also have a successful nucleus. Labels such as “success” or “failure” are equally risky. Context is crucial.

    • Lev
      February 8, 2011

      I did not mean to blame Ibra for losing the tie, it is just that the ninja heel error I referred to links directly to his attitude. Had he taken the header and missed it, it would not have upset me at all, but the fact that he put his own needs of being a superstar-and-then-some before the teams’ need of winning the 2nd leg was pretty infuriorating.

      And like you said Messi failed to step up, Krkic missed his chance, Alves and the Barça defense as a whole messed up in the San Siro.

      I would say that winning La Liga is more than enough, as long as EE don’t win anything else*. Maybe it is just me being petty. Imo, and opinions can differ, the transfer price for Villa was reasonable, as far as reasonable goes. I fail to see why Ibra was worth that much more than Villa. Krkic is more tricky, first of all I don’t know how much he makes, but I imagine he is one of the low-earners. Second he is cantera and is long-term contract would allow us to sell him for a better price should we be so inclined.

      Btw, You are right – Cruijff pretty much invented “I told you so”, but can you explain what you are referring to in regards to Ibra? I recall reading a column of Cruijff not too long ago in which he said that both Guardiola and himself made the mistake of thinking Ikeamovic would be a good buy.

      Also you are right about the Yaya no longer playing by Pep’s rules aka being benched by an excellent Busquets. However in his favor is the fact that he gnerally played his heart out, was crucial during the triple season, learned Catalan, and when he did go he made Barça a lot of money in order to be the man in man city and play with his brother. Btw he only left after it became obvious over the course of a whole season that Busi would be the starter in his position. I would have like him to stay bc I think that coming off the bench he is more versatile than Smasch, but I do not begrudge the manner of his departure.

      Speaking of smasch, how long will the Argentinian captain be OK with the bit-role that he has been playing, me wonders?

      *I would be ok with EE winning the Copa since I don’t care about the Copa other than giving our non starters more reps, except for the fact that we are playing them in the final, now of course I care a lot lol. Mmmm scratch that, since Mourinho is coaching them, I don’t want them to win anything!

      • February 8, 2011

        Oh, I don’t think that anyone begrudges The Yaya his departure. It also made perfect sense for the club, fiscally and in sporting terms.

        Mascherano wants silver. I do think that one thing that Guardiola is going to do is turn his mind to ways to get Mascherano more time. His quality is clear. I have never seen a Barca DM who made everything so difficult for an opponent. Note the number of long balls when he’s in there, as attacks try to bypass him. This in turn makes the defense’s life easy, because they just have to scoop them up and feed them back into the mixer.

        Is the Mascherano transfer poor value? Right now, shockingly so. But who’s to say about the future, right? Same with Fabregas, as much as it pains me to say it, because I think that we will overspend for him if he comes.

        • Lev
          February 8, 2011

          Let’s hope Pep does. If there is one thing about Guardiola that kind of worries me this season it is that for all the virtues of a smaller squad he seems to be relying on his first 11 a lot more than during previous seasons.

          You are so right about smasch’ value – then again I remember one of the main arguments for getting him was to have a replacement for if Xavi, Iniesta or Busi would get injured this season. Fortunately this has not happened so far.

      • Extreme barca fan
        February 8, 2011

        @ Lev: Also the yaya went with honor, he (to the best of my knowledge) left without saying pep is a philosopher or any thing remotely disrespectful.
        @ Kxevin: yes cruyff does this “i told you so” thing, but in Ibra’s case he said that he was the one who advised (or when consulted gave his full blessing of) the purchase and later discovered that he was wrong.
        For the inter tie, i think everyone gets a share of the responsibility, mostly for me is messi, because he is our best player, but messi is loyal, works his socks off on most days and he has better human qualities than ibra, Ibra already had the reputation of being a big game flop, so no surprise there that he disappeared.
        Regardless of what we win or dont, Villa; if he keeps his head straight, do what his boss asks him to do, score goals then next year he will be here and we will see what happens then. Ibra on the other hand, made it extremely difficult for everyone to keep his place in this team.

  24. Mila
    February 8, 2011

    This article is what makes this blog a gold vein. Intelligent, deep, well researched and well argued. As a long time reader and first time contributer, if I had a hat, I’d be taking it off saluting this article, the blog, the people who run it and the people who contribute to its greatness with their daily comments.

    We all agree that money is tight, that things need to change, that sacrifices will be made, that if we are to make it into the bright lights of financially sane and healthy future we need wholesale changes across the board…

    That is why it grates me to no end that RoSELL tried to go and splash over 30 million on Cesc last summer. The reports about our club going guns blazing after Cesc circulated wildly, how true they were, nobody really knows, but the feeling that the club will throw the house out of the window come June is strong and rings scary true.

    So why, oh why, oh why, in the times of financial trouble, in the times of scarce resources, would our beloved club go after an undoubtedly great, but such an unnecessary player as Cesc?

    We need someone for our left flank, we need to look into the right flank if Alves leaves, but to halt Thiago’s and potentially Affelay’s progress by spending 30mil+ on an excellent bench-warmer is beyond me.

    I understand the Catalan and canterano argument, I comprehend the talent reasons and the Pep loves him bit, but it still sounds so financially unsavy and so blatantly irresponsible…

    I may not be making many Catalan friends with this post, but surely, 30mil+ could be better invested!

    • February 8, 2011

      I’ll give you an “Aw, shucks!” for Tom, Mila. Thank you so much for the praise. As I always say, if the readers didn’t demand this quality from us, who knows how things would be. So thanks to all of you, as well. It’s a pleasure writing for a family that appreciates what we do, and makes us better with insightful commentary.

  25. February 8, 2011

    And I admit that I just caught the “luxury boxes” thing. Whoa, dude! The Camp Nou will never have luxury boxes. It flies in the face of everything that they believe in. Heck, the Tribuna side where all the fat cats sit is bad enough. The cules like it how when they’re cold, so are the bosses. When it’s raining, it’s also raining on the bosses. I sure did, watching a Champions League match one year during a crazy-ass rainstorm, and seeing Laporta there, getting just as soaked as I was. It was the year of the last-second, specTACular Ronaldinho free kick goal. It was also the night that I lost my car, but that’s another story.

    • barca96
      February 8, 2011

      Hope it’s the rental car that was stolen and not YOUR car back in NY.

      • February 8, 2011

        No, I actually lost it, as in forgot where I parked it. I was running late for the match, found a parking spot, jammed the car in and ran to the Camp. After the match, a Biblical rainstorm started, and I …. um …. lost my car. It got be pretty funny after a while. I knew that it was on the downhill side of Avignuda Diagonal, on the west side of the Princess Sofia hotel. That’s about it.

        Long story short, I remembered that I used a dumpster as my touch parking rear bumper guide, and that solved the problem. Yes, it’s still funny.

  26. February 8, 2011

    This just in:

    Barcelona official Raul Sanllehi says he’s shocked by Chelsea’s 50-million-pound ($80 million; ?58.6 million) purchase of Fernando Torres from Liverpool last week.

    Sanllehi, Barcelona’s director of football, says the Spanish champion “would not even consider” paying such a high fee.

    Kinda puts those Fabregas fee rumors in perspective, doesn’t it?

    • blitzen
      February 8, 2011

      Latest rumour is Chelsea is going to bid 50 million pounds for Fabregas.

      • Lev
        February 8, 2011

        I think Cesc loves Arsenal enough not to go to another club in England, let alone Chelsea. Time will tell though, if he cannot go back to Barça he might start to feel that he wants a trophy. Btw imo the wanting a trophy so I will go to an ever bigger team is a bitch move on the part of so many players. Liverpool is already a big team – Torres should have done like Gerard and fight to win something with ‘Pool – any trophy that he would get for them would mean so much more than the trophies he might win with Chelsea.

        • Mila
          February 8, 2011

          Lev, all this “love the club too much” has been really tested lately, of the top of my head:
          Rooney kissing United’s badge, only to claim they have no “perspective”,
          Tevez getting all lonely in Manchester and claiming to be homesick only to profess his undying love to City after a strict talking to,
          Torres – teaching his daughter to speak scouse – only to leave to a club winning “trophies”…

          Just saying… If Arsenal only win the Carling Cup and Barcelona unable to pay the price for him, will Cesc stick around the Emirates?

          • Lev
            February 8, 2011

            True, but Arsenal was Cesc’ first professional club, and he always gives Wenger (and Arsenal) a lot of credit when referring to his own career and to the way of football that they play. I just find it difficult to imagine him chosing to play at Chelsea.

    • barca96
      February 8, 2011

      Torres looked so poor the other night against Liverpool.
      What ever happened to ROoney? Is he injured or what?

      Regarding Cesc, probably he knows Cesc would cost cheaper this year. Maybe an agreement was made last season.

  27. February 8, 2011

    Interesting, but not surprising:

    Barcelona defender Dani Alves has claimed that he remains a victim of racial abuse in Spanish football, and has learned to live with being insulted on the pitch.

    The Brazilian full-back was discussing life with the Camp Nou club in an interview with publication Folha de Sao Paulo, and added that he refrains from making an official complaint because he prefers to distance himself from the incidents.

    The 27-year-old was subject to racial taunting during the derby clash with Espanyol in April 2010, but Alves claims that the problem is more widespread, saying: “I have lived with a lot of racism in Spain. Unfortunately, I have had to learn to deal with it. Fans insult me and call me ‘monkey’. At first I was quite shocked, but now I do not give it importance.

    “My family also feels sad when I am a victim of racist chanting, but I attempt to distance myself because I feel those fans are uneducated. The situation is uncontrollable in Spanish stadiums.

    “It will never end, although the Spanish league clubs have to do something about it in order to eradicate it from the pitch.”

    • blitzen
      February 8, 2011

      It will never end until the Spanish FA adopts a zero tolerance policy and penalize clubs (eg. playing matches with no crowds) and until the clubs are willing to penalize their own fans (eg. banning repeat offenders from the stadium). Actions speak louder than anti-racism soundbites.

    • Camero
      February 8, 2011

      All other indications-literature, art, architecture, lifestyle, etc- suggest that Spain is a highly progressive and civilised culture, which makes the racism there hard to understand. Did they not have enough exposure to migrants, or is it one of those developments that just passed them by.

    • soccermomof4
      February 8, 2011

      Did he say it was a problem at Camp Nou? You answered a similar question for me during a Lilian Thuram discussion but I thought you had implied that it was getting better at our club. I thought Dani was very much (at least before the dragging his heals at signing thing) loved and I’ve heard fans chanting for King Eric.

  28. February 8, 2011

    Looks like Mazinho has calmed down:

    “Indeed, my son was interesting these clubs. Sevilla directly appealed to me about an offer, but Barcelona did not want to negotiate. I also know that the management and coaching staff of Barca want Thiago to stay. The issue has been solved properly,” said Mazinho.

    • Mila
      February 8, 2011

      Thiago is a gem of a player, if only his agent/father would keep his opinions to himself…

      Just shows that mixing family with business never works out in the end 🙂

  29. February 8, 2011

    Oh, a stat says that Thong Boy has been on the receiving end of 84 fouls, vs 48 for Messi. Maybe that’s because when Messi gets kicked, he usually keeps on running, rather than collapsing in a heap, shrieking “Oh, Lawd, we gon’ die! I’m dead! I’m dead!”

    • barca96
      February 8, 2011

      “Mourinho demands the rival players to tackle more on him.”

      No wonder Mourinho said that.
      What kind of person is this guy wishing these kind of things on another human being. No class at all.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        February 8, 2011

        That actually made me so angry. Normaly I do not give a damn about Mou and his antics regarding refs, other teams rolling over for us, penaltys for us who are no penaltys,… I see and find it quite amusing, but this is taking it too far, in particular after the disgraceful behaviour of his players (Arbeloa and Ramos I am looking at you) in the last classico.

    • mei
      February 8, 2011

      Its a hazy mystery isnt it?
      Maybe because…
      -messi releases the ball quicker.More passes completed , more assists.
      -messi stays on his feet when tackled , and doesnt dive.
      Staying on his feet is obvious , play mot times carries on.Diving , aka ronaldo’s thing , sometimes gets you carded , most times gets you something.
      -messi doesnt provoke the opposition. No need for useless trickes. Just gets past those defenders.

    • soccermomof4
      February 8, 2011

      “Oh, Lawd, we gon’ die! I’m dead! I’m dead!”

      Thanks, Kxevin! Almost ruined keyboard because of a laughing while drinking coffee situation!

      foul differential=half/ one-touch football vs. one two many stepovers

      • Soto
        February 9, 2011

        >“Oh, Lawd, we gon’ die! I’m dead! I’m dead!”

        >Thanks, Kxevin! Almost ruined keyboard because of a laughing while >drinking coffee situation!

        Same here!

  30. Dave
    February 8, 2011

    Hello all
    Mourinho is scum.If he’d his way defenders would be putting in Sergio Ramos tackles on Messi, yet when his own cheats ,like Di Maria, go to ground for the millionth time hes silent.
    Honestly I can’t think of any reason to support Real Madrid. They have zero redeemable qualities(apart from their hatred of Barca). Manager is poisonous and squad apart from Iker is rotten. They are like Chelsea, but with a history.
    Mourinho is just frustrated he doesn’t have the players to do his usual bus parking tactics for Barca. In the meantime he’ll copy every other team to develop a philosophy that Madristas are crying out for.

    And another thing, it was mentioned by one poster to this blog that they do not like Barca’s football. REALLY. Smacks of the same hogwash Valdano was trying to peddle last year saying ‘the Madrid public prefer a more direct style’. The same Valdano the year previous in his role of a tv commentator, continuously eulogised the Barca style.
    Nonsense. And to suggest Villareal as an alternative is also wrong, Garrido and co make no secret of their wish to replicate Barca’s style.
    Rant over

    • Dave
      February 8, 2011

      *by hatred of Barca I mean that fans of other teams eg Chelsea and Arsenal who are sore over something would decide to support EE

    • Extreme barca fan
      February 8, 2011

      “They are like Chelsea, but with a history”, this is the highlight of my day, BRILLIANT thank you Dave.

  31. Lev
    February 8, 2011

    “They are like Chelsea, but with a history.”
    hahaha this cracked me up!

    But I can easily find 2 redeemable qualities.

    1. Their fans demand attractive football. Even if they win they will fire an excellent coach if they deem the football unattractive. Capello being a prime example.

    2. More importantly, we need Madrid. There is no light without darkness, no ying without yang, no Barça without EE. A league without EE would be unimaginable, and there is no football match on the planet which can replace the clasico.

  32. barca96
    February 8, 2011

    Wow. And now Reina might leave Liverpool too for Man U.
    It would be a great move for him!

  33. soccermomof4
    February 8, 2011

    A thought just occurred to me. I remember reading somewhere (no clue where) that the French coach has left Evra off the squad for the friendly and will play Abidal as a LB. This means that Dani Alves and King Eric will be directly opposing each other. This could be fun!

  34. K_legit
    February 8, 2011

    Official: FC Barcelona and their coach Pep Guardiola have reached an agreement to extend his contract until the 30th of June 2012

    So we have Pep for another season at the least 😀

    • February 8, 2011

      hopefully they cut his salary. his hair-line is receding at a much too rapid rate.

  35. February 8, 2011

    “‘Impacto!’ yells Tuesday’s front cover with the paper reporting that Piqué has used the photo to ‘out’ his relationship with the booty-shakin’ beauty – an action that will surely result in LLL’s next trip to see Barcelona involving security and a distraught blog shouting ‘she’s too good for you!’ whilst being thrown out of the stadium.”

    -ha! it’s true.

  36. Josep
    February 8, 2011

    Official: Guardiola will formally sign his new contract in the coming days #fcblive

  37. Eklavya
    February 8, 2011

    That was unexpected!

  38. soccermomof4
    February 8, 2011

    Hey, Ek. It’s getting closer!!!! Looks like Messi will be playing FOR YOU tomorrow!

    “After the rumors that were spread in the media about the possibility of a muscle injury that Leo Messi caught recently, Catalan based newspaper Sport reported that the Argentinean national is fine as he normally trained this afternoon with the Argentinean national team in Switzerland.”
    Read more:

  39. beeeef
    February 8, 2011

    hmmm why does totalbarca keep on redirecting me to twitter? lol.

    maybe a restart is in order.

  40. BA
    February 8, 2011

    nice Pep!

    i just really hope he knows when it’s time to take a break and not let this team/job kill him.

    btw does anyone have this week’s Revista de la Liga or is that tomorrow?

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