Random Thursday Thoughts

So there I was in the Congo in my cubicle. Just minding my own business. Well, sort of. I was surfing the internets (is that the opposite of minding my own business?) and I ran across an interesting headline on Marca: “Messi: ‘I asked to play for 90 minutes, it’s my responsibility'” it read. Damn, I thought, having tweeted this yesterday:

So why is Messi still playing in this meaningless friendly? Same goes for the other starters.

Now, the first rule is to never take headlines in the daily rags at face value, so I dutifully clicked to read the whole quote. What I met with wasn’t the usual rearranging of words with a vague spot of truth them, but instead:

Leo no tuvo descanso: “Yo pedí jugar los 90 minutos”. Y sobre el lanzamiento del penalti manifestó: “Suelo tirarlos, es mi responsabilidad y la asumo”.

In case you don’t speak Spanish,

Leo didn’t get a rest: “I asked to play 90 minutes.” And about taking the penalty, he declared: “It fell to me to take it, it’s my responsibility, and I undertook it.”

So the headline mixed two separate quotes about two separate things. Okay then. With great journalism comes great responsibility is the original Stan Lee quote, I think, but Marca is a bit behind on their required reading. Not that Sport or MD are anywhere near completing their 3rd grade summer list. They’re stuck on that part in Say Cheese and Die where you learn that the camera kills people. Also, what kind of teacher would assign that? Spain is so crazy.

It’s not like I’m not acutely aware of the failings of the Barça-based press. They’re often more egregious than the capitaleños, though I don’t read AS anymore because they’re not even worth my time and my time includes lots of things like this post. Tells you something, doesn’t it? The point is, they’ve been just as stupid lately as always. Surprise!

This time around it’s a lot of hoohaw about Chelsea or Real Madrid or maybe the Boston Celtics putting up money for Cesc Fabregas. Headlines like “Madrid is negotiating for Cesc” make no sense in February, but there they are. £60m coming from Abramovich for little ol’ #4. These things, these statements, are all bullshit. Messi claiming he wanted to play, Valdes saying Fabs would never play for the whites. None of it matters and none of it is real. Maybe they actually said these things, but then again, maybe they didn’t. And it doesn’t matter at all because Abidal can say he wants Ribery all he wants—“He’s my best mateypoo on the national team!” or “I detest that guy!”—and it doesn’t mean anything.

What’s interesting, however, is the number that was quoted. £60m is a lot of cashola and while it’s doubtful that anyone will pony up that kind of money next summer, Arsenal fans who claim they can demand that kind of money have a pretty decent point considering Fernando Torres’ price tag just a few days ago and Andy Carroll’s replacement move immediately afterwards.

These moves are especially interesting because of the (im)pending regulations on financial solvency, which Tom has previously covered and which appear in one-off mentions like this one all over the Internet. I won’t get into their specifics because that’s not particularly interesting, but I will get into some of it in a rather general way.

My own thoughts on Cesc are pretty well known—don’t want him mainly for non-footballing reasons and because I stand by my thinking that any canterano who leaves Barça should stay gone from Barça or come home on a free*—but I think it’s worth noting a few things that sometimes slip through the cracks. With Thiago officially on his way up next season, are we looking for a Xavi replacement or a different style? At £60m+ (or, really, even at £30m+), any player must provide either something we don’t have or improve something we do have. Cesc is not Xavi. That’s not a knock on him, of course, because he’s quite good, but he’s certainly not going to directly replace Xavi when the latter retires. Cesc, Iniesta, and Thiago all seem to enjoy playing much higher than Xavi and none of the 3 have really ever shown the ability to control a game like the maestro.

And a note to anyone who feels that they should comment about Cesc being as good as Xavi at controlling a game: he’s not. But that merely makes him like every single other person in the history of time. So that’s pretty decent company. The wider point of that is that Cesc and Thiago play so similarly—that is, unlike Xavi—in my mind that there’s no real reason to bring in both. Squad depth is important, of course, but rotations seem to destroy Barça’s attack more than alleviate fatigue. It’s Iniesta that will replace Xavi and it’s Messi that will further develop his already formidable passing skills.

Obviously Keita’s eventual departure is important too and that could be the way that this squad goes. Keita is very obviously not Xavi or Iniesta. He’s very obviously not a game controller, a metronome, or whatever other descriptor you’d like to use. He’s very obviously a “box-to-box” midfielder who plays defense with equal fervor as he attacks. And that is something that none of the other midfielders I’ve mentioned so far have. He’s a great defense against opposing metronomes and while I fully appreciate Iniesta and Xavi’s contributions, there’s something perfectly Guardiola in Keita’s contributions. Something completely at ease with the system as a whole in a way that having extra metronomes can’t replicate.

And none of this is an insult to Cesc, who really did open my eyes to his ability to play with Iniesta and Xavi by putting in some great performances in the WC. Thiago may not be as good as he is, but I personally don’t care. I prefer Thiago because he stayed. Arsenalites may claim to have raised Cesc (or at least matured him), but unlike many cules, I agree with them and I say they should keep their best player. And that’s said not with an air of superiority, but rather because I don’t think dishing out dozens of millions of euros on a sufficiently complete position is a good investment in our future, just as Arsenal has assumed for quite some time now. Arshavin was a big purchase and Nasri wasn’t cheap either, but they’ve generally been more prudent than we have and I think that’s pretty cool. So I hope they reap the benefits, keep Cesc, and also, sort of incidentally, get their asses blown off in the Champions League by us.

So anyway–take none of what the rags have to say worth a grain of salt and instead, err, turn to me for The Truth. It’s kinda the only way to go. Or something. I’m back tomorrow with a preview of Sporting Gijon that you won’t want to miss and then again on Tuesday with a Champions League super duper uber OH SHIIIIT preview of magnificently decadent proportions. Or at least that’s the plan.

If you’re in Philly this weekend, perhaps I’ll tweet a location where I’ll be, but I can’t promise anything since I might just end up on on the ‘net looking for a stream like everyone else. Or maybe I won’t. Suggestions for locations to watch are quite welcome.

*I’m opposed, in retrospect, to the €5m we paid for Piqué. Despite his obviously talents—and Cesc has very obvious talents—Gerard should have come home for free or stayed in Manchester, whatever the consequences for the team. Perhaps that’s too harsh a line, but it’s one that I stand by; it’s my only real kowtowing to the concepts of loyalty that everyone else appears to take such pride in.

Categorized as Thoughts

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. you really wanna trade one of the best defenders in the world, who will be a future captian of barca and part of the club for many years for the 5 million we paid for him and the principle of that we are some kind of cult that once you leave you can never come back???? sounds extremely harsh… that sounds like some of the nonsense that we dont like about the catalan holier than thou stuff from rosell and the new rules about being a member. Nobody else has a problem with it at barca including the people that know and love the club the most, like guardiola, xavi, messi, everyone would love to see cesc there and nobody holds any ill feelings for him leaving. You cant understand what its like to be 16 and in his shoes over there. Theres plenty of people who would love for us to buy botia back, the club can send players out for experience that he wouldn’t get here, the same will probably happen to dos santos and rochina. Pique is great because of the time he spent at united, he wouldn’t be the same defender maybe if he was only at barca. he says that his time in england was extremely valuable and adds another element to his game in spain. Now im in total agreement with you about that i dont feel we have a need for him especially at the price it would cost but i would love to see him play for barca at some point.

  2. I agree very much with what you say, Isaiah, and they reflect mostly my view on the subject. Perhaps it’s my weakness for not taking extremes talking, though, when I say that our ex-canteranos should either not come back, or come back on the relative cheap (like Pique). I don’t think we should be paying upwards of 35M euros for an ex-canterano, period. If Cesc is valued up to the point where our entire transfer budget would be blown on a player that isn’t good enough to start yet, then we have no business going there. If that makes Cesc unhappy, then he really shouldn’t have signed such a long contract.

    So I hope they reap the benefits, keep Cesc, and also, sort of incidentally, get their asses blown off in the Champions League by us.

    Me too. As much as it’s been fun to see Wenger ride his philosophy to 5 years of failure, they’re still the only club that could win the Premiership that is easy on the eyes. Also, as bad as people think cules can be, the collective smugness of Arsenal fans were they to win anything meaningful (the 2nd English Cup wouldn’t cut it, I think) would be a wonder to behold 😛

    1. Lol I’m more than happy with 5 million Euros to Man United for basically developing Pique for us hahaha. And if his time in Arsenal did do better for him than if he had spent the same time here, I wouldn’t mind him coming for cheap when his contract is closer to running down, for 10-15 mil euros. That much is a worthy ‘development fee’ for me (lol’ing at Arsenal)

      I do like Arsenal though. Like a little brother

    2. They didnt “develop him for us”.
      Pique’s qualities were pretty much a given before he shipped out to manchester and he did so because our club was a mess at the time.
      Much like fabregas went to arsenal invincibles that declined shortly afterwards.
      Afterall he didnt play that much with united and had to be loaned out to a la liga club .
      However I cant really blame him , because he came back as a true cule for a cheap price and at a time difficult and not really promising.

    3. He developed facets of his game in England and training with a defensively brilliant side under a well known for defensive training coach (Quieroz) and even he has said that his time in England added a lot to his game. And having qualities picked uo from elsewhere is important as well cos it brings something extra to our game and style. How good he got I think 5m was worth it for him coming back that good.

    4. “I do like Arsenal though. Like a little brother.

      I like Arsenal in the same way I like Bojan. And I think of Bojan as Cuddly Toy.

    5. Sorry, I like Arsenal (although I wasn’t around for the trouble you had with trolls over the summer. I might think differently had I been) as my second team. It gives me something to watch on Saturday mornings while I’m waited for the Spanish football in the afternoon. Picking a team (and it was the only EPL team with a style approaching what I liked) also allows me more meaningful interaction with my friends who like the EPL (Liverpool fans, sadly). No, I don’t want Cesc here until he’s free or nearly so!

  3. I just want to make sure that no-one takes offense to this, especially Isiah as I mean none by my comment and really do respect what both the talented crew and the regular posters do around here.

    I think the way you are going about this is a bit elitist, by that I am referring to the Pique thing. He left the club, and went to Manchester United (SCUM). He came back much better and we payed 5m for it. You are saying that he should have come back for free… Thats called a loan, and is nothing like a sale and resale. We SOLD him, and bought him back. Much like Robbie Keane with Tottenham-Liverpool-Tottenham. Sometimes it works, sometimes no.

    But to think that just because he is from Catalunya and is from the Barca youth team that we can just order him or Cesc or Merida, or any other player that has gone elsewhere is a bit silly if you ask me.

    What if Albacete wanted Iniesta back? He was raised in their Cantera from age 10-13, very formative years, would we give him back on a free transfer? Or even Thiago with Flamengo, or Messi with Old Boys?

    The list could go on. We need to get rid of this elitist attitude or we are going to become the next EE. If we want Cesc, we will pay for him. If Merida turns into a superstar, and we want him back, we will pay for him like we would pay for any other. The fact that we raised him will probably make him more likely to move, but in no way entitles us to a free transfer.

    My $0.02

    1. “You are saying that he should have come back for free…”

      I think you misunderstand what he is saying. In his view, the club’s attitude would be that Pique doesn’t get transferred until the end of his contract, on a free transfer. Not that the club should have demanded/ordered nothing less than a free transfer from Manchester United for Pique.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, Isaiah.

    1. Xavi has been the source of embarrassment for the Daily Fail the past few years. I bet they’re just sick of pundits linking that article to illustrate their utter and complete failure every damn time someone talks about the maestro’s brilliance.

    2. “we might have been a little harsh” ????

      How ’bout- we were complete idiots, totally ignorant about football, and we apologize

    3. Fantastic interview! Thanks for the links!
      Xavi’s love for Barça is clear every time he speaks, I couldn’t imagine him in other colors.

    4. Ya know what, if I weren’t old, respectable, and very in love with my hubby, I could go all fangirl over Xavi. Just sayin’

    1. Halfway through but just to say-

      I bet my house that the Ronaldo brigade will crow on Goal.com or Soccernet ‘look even Xavi says Messi gets annoyed when he doesn’t get a pass, he is so selfish, Ronaldo as amazing hair and is the paragon of virtue’ or something along those lines

    2. hahaha… I havent thought about that…

      My mind was fantasizing something else, another World War created by garbage.com…

      look at these sentences :

      “That’s upside down. It’s not that we were boring, it is the other team that was. What did Holland look for? Penalties. Or [Arjen] Robben on the break. Bam, bam, bam. Of course we were boring – the opposition made it that way.”

      “last year we were better than Inter Milan – but did not win. There’s something greater than the result, more lasting. A legacy. Inter won the Champions League but no one talks about them.”

      garbage.com can easily create a war from that statement, and make headlines like :
      “Spain’s Opponents are Bboring.”
      “We Were Better Than Inter Last Year”
      “No one Interested to Talk About Inter”

      they will ignore other statements and answers, pick the most “controversial” ones… 😀

    3. Ooooooohh!! I forget this one!!

      “If I’d ever gone to another club, I’d have been thinking about Barcelona – the link is strong. The same is happening to him. But now there’s a problem: now he’s expensive. But I think that a footballer ends up playing where he wants. Cesc has to end up here.”

    4. Jajaja, and they’ll completely overlook this one:

      Last summer there were so many remarks supposedly coming out of Barcelona …

      “Really? I hardly spoke then. I imagine they wouldn’t have liked that.”

      But again, people will believe what they most want to true.

    5. Thanks Indo and Jnice! I just fell in love with Xavi again.

      He speaks his mind, which I like… I’d love to see a video of the interview, if there is one.

    6. that’s what I said on twitter to SidLowe, LOL…

      Sid wrote his gesture/expression and I wish we can see it…

      Xavi is a really outspoken person, no?

    7. Haha I just realized you’re nanda59 on twitter. I’m dumb.

      And yes, I too wish there’s a video of the interview. Xavi is such an eloquent speaker.

    8. First thing this morning before I got to work was to make a stop at my newspaper store to get my copy of the Guardian. Now the paper is laying right in front of me and teasing me with the picture of Xavi on the front, but I will wait to read it after finishing work just to reward myself. Cant wait.

  4. My personal theory is that Wenger hired some London folks with the sniffles to follow van Persie around sneezing on him in time for the international break.

  5. no surprise here… controversial headlines..
    more to come…

    “Xavi: Cesc destined for Barca”

    ” ‘Selfish’ Xavi claims Fabregas ‘has to end up’ at Barca”

    “Barcelona are selfish in calling for Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas, says Xavi”

  6. On a completely unrelated note:
    I was all excited when the new kid in my class started talking about Spanish football, since around here the EPL is the be all and end all of football.
    Then she mentioned how in love she was with TB and the EE, and how much she hated my Barca pencil case.

    1. Feel your pain… when I did my A’ levels everyone in school who followed football followed EPL clubs except this one dude who was a big EE fan and happened to be the younger brother of the girl I liked.

      This isn’t counting one guy who nominally supported Barca until he switched his allegiances to Liverpool somewhere in 2008.. (little snicker at his expense)

  7. Cesc is not Xavi. That’s not a knock on him, of course, because he’s quite good, but he’s certainly not going to directly replace Xavi when the latter retires. Cesc, Iniesta, and Thiago all seem to enjoy playing much higher than Xavi and none of the 3 have really ever shown the ability to control a game like the maestro

    I don’t remember exactly when, it was in a press conference some weeks ago, but Pep especifically spoke of Busi as the ‘natural heir of Xavi’. IMO Busi has the vision and knows how to make himself available, but could he control the game Xavi-style,or make those killer final passes? What do you think?

    1. Ugh! Barca Girls version 5.0?
      OK I’ve hunted down the old list, and if you are not on the list AND do not have a Y chromosome, post and you will make it into the Barca Girls version 5.0!

      Barca Girls version 4.0
      Humphrey Bogart
      me (soccermomof4, AKA SoMa4, AKA somomo, AKA any and all combos of so+mo+4)

    2. Outer, screen names can be ambiguous. I’m not adding anyone until they give me confirmation, themselves.
      “Registration” for version 5.0 will be “open” until next thread.

      Besides, I’m mad at you for not having a “picture of me” in the last thread! JK 😀

    3. I only have a mental image of some people, didn’t have any of you or Blitzen or Lev or Isaiah. Dunno a certain mental picture only pops up in your head for only some characters. Like in the Soccernet forums I always picture Detorittheanswer as looking like the rapper Mathlete from Mean Girls.

    4. Ps. Tell us yours too! The mental picture you have of the BFB folks of whom you do have a mental image in your head I mean.

    5. Outer, I kinda do it by both avatar and name. Jose looks like whoever that is on his picture, Kxevin like Lilian Thuram, Jnice like Thiago etc. How do I picture you? Because of your screen name, I picture you as a college-aged Dr. Who.

    6. Yeah, count me in. It’s an honour to feature on the list with all these great names and Barca in the header 😉

  8. Nice interview with Xavi.

    I am probably one of the few commenters on BfB who wants Cesc to come back home. Maybe not this summer, and definitely not for €60 million, but were we to spend roughly half of that, I would be ok with it.

    Cesc grew up in La Masía, the Barça players want him to come, the coach would want him to come, Catalunya would want him to come. Sure, Xavi and Iniesta are better than him, but I don’t think Xavi was as good as Fabregas at his age.

    Also interesting to note that Xavi always credits La Masia and his teammates. He himself said that he would not be so good playing at a team like Real Madrid, for example, and I suspect he is right. Now I am not saying he is not a great player, because he is, obviously. But it does make you think if he would be as great if he had moved to another club.

    1. I want Cesc, too. Not because we need him (we don’t really), but because he is a great player who can bring something to the team. And because Xavi wants him. And because it will be fun watching Pique prank him on a daily basis. 😛

      I don’t want him at any price, though. Something reasonable, throw in Henrique, Keirrison, or Hleb as a sweetener. Well, maybe not Hleb. I doubt Wenger would want him back, although at this point Hleb would probably be willing to play for peanuts just to get out of Birmingham and back into an Arsenal shirt!

    1. Blitzen, we are apparently doin’ it all wrong by keeping our avatars football related. Maybe we need to find some hot, actress/entertainer avatars.

    2. That was a temporary gravatar problem. Changed to a more soccermarmish pic, but only temporarily, I’ll go back to Xaviniestleo soon.

    3. Hurtful! hey it’s only temporary. Consider it payback for “only flipping me off” yesterday! BTW, please don’t chage Titi because of this!

    4. oops too late. love to Pique choice. The gauze in the mouth won’t shut him up on twitter though! Bring Titi back soon! Waka waka moc moc!

    5. I blame outer for all this avatar thing – before he went and posted that list of how do people look in his head, my choice of an avatar would’ve been Xavi (cause he is one hot piece of footballer and I am always going into fangirl mode on him 😀 )

      Still outer is to blame for my avatar! 😉

    6. Hey, I really really have a weakness for Milla Jovovich. And even not any other actress. Your name just had to be Mila, its not my fault!

  9. This fabregas issue again. No comments from me.
    An interesting fact from barcastuff
    bararcelona have a
    goal difference of +32 away
    from home in the Liga this
    season #fcblive The next
    best is Real Madrid with +4.
    Has anyone noticed that tom johnson and isaiah barely comment on their posts.

    1. It’s a problem (for me) that I’m trying to fix. Time is an issue these last few weeks. There are things I’d like to address that I think are worth doing, but it’s kind of tough when you’re pressed for time as it is and there’s another post to write.

      I’m certainly not ignoring the commenters here. They provide great insight and show me the way forward both as a writer and a thinker.

    2. Okay. Sometimes i myself only read and dont have time to comment. Where else do you write so i can read.

    3. I haven’t written there recently, but I also write at ESPN Soccernet in the blogs section. It’s similar stuff, but with a few different details. I need to write for them tonight, actually.

      I meant, though, that I had posts to write for this site. It’s just that life keeps getting in the way of my world domination via BFB.

  10. “Since Pep has been the coach, more 17 to 18-year-olds have trained with the first team than in the entire 32-year history of La Masia. He is the first to correct them and advise them.

    “The first thing Guardiola, their youth coach and I tell them when they come back is, ‘Listen. Now when you return to the youth team you have to be the one who works harder than anyone else. Don’t get carried away’.”


    “Xavi comes here all the time to talk, listen and advise the youngsters. Andres comes when the kids are away at school and brings boots and all kinds of equipment. They all do. They still feel part of the family.”


    1. wow the time difference really does me in..whenever I am online and all the blog’s empty and now that its reaching night time here, the blog fills up with activity..not fair..time to move to CET soon

  11. Isaiah – the Dark Horse Pub in Society Hill is reputed to play La Liga matches in addition to the EPL matches. I watch at home so I can’t speak to the atmosphere there.

  12. I join in the sentiment that I don’t want Cesc to come back if he is Arsenal’s best player, we have the talent, bringing Cesc back is just the “selfish” way to say “we raised the best, they should play here.” He CHOSE to leave and not wait, and thats good for him and all but don’t damage another team just because you NOW feel the barça back in your blood (if this makes any sense). Bojan for instance is a player that regardless of the sh*t he gets from the fans, the press, and other teams, still chooses to stay and I respect that, I’m pretty sure when he benched Ibrahimovic, he got a lot of tempting offers, and he chose to stay (with Guardiola getting his back of course.)
    I’m sure Cesc will come back, but I hope its at a better time, not this summer, Thiago can handle the position of bench until Xavi can’t play anymore.

  13. If we want cesc back on a free, when does his contract expire. Wiki doesnt say.
    Are there two soccermom here. I have always thought soccermom the admin and soccermomof4 the commenter are the same.

    1. Thats too far away but at the same time would happen at a time when xavi would be at the exit door. Which also makes me say that thiago and afellay might be shining stars them.

  14. Barcelona are not interested in signing Santos attacker and Brazilian youth international Neymar (19) this summer. [el mundo deportivo]

    Also, if you haven’t read that Xavi interview with Sid Lowe you must. Amazing, one of the best footie interviews I’ve ever read.

  15. A few things:

    –That Xavi interview is spectacular, and not just because it’s one of ours. It is rare that you hear a player open up in such a thoughtful, revealing manner. And his admiration of Scholes is very cool, because Scholes was, and is one hell of a midfielder.

    –Yes on Busquets as the Xavi heir apparent. And because he’s taller, he’ll even have the vision to see in places that Xavi can’t. You can already see it. Very interesting.

    –Welcome to the new voices, and many, many thanks for the Afellay link, lea_terzi. Increasingly, short of mani/pedis for the entire club and a new team bus, it’s hard to think of a better way that we could have spent 3m.

    –Yes, Isaiah has a job. It speaks directly to the appalling desperation of United States employers, frankly. 😀

    1. Yes, Scholes would probably bench many of the fish an’ chips MFs but the fact remains that he’s one of the worst tacklers, seems to have taken a liking to Keane. His tackle at the end of the CL final was shocking and utterly malicious, could’ve lead to serious damage to the player. ‘Hell’ seems an apt description of what should be broken on him..

      The last point is gold!

  16. Oh, on Pique: I view it as us paying United 5m for their training him, building his strength and making him into a better defender. It looks to have been an exceptionally cheap transaction.

    –Fabregas is a brilliant player, but a luxury for us. La Masia is exceptionally skilled at turning out what Fabregas is. At present, we have Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Thiago, Afellay. Jury is still out on Dos Santos.

    It isn’t that I think Fabregas should come to us for a plugged nickel, or some pittance. I just think that we don’t, and won’t for the foreseeable future, need him enough to spend what his price will be. It further rouses my hackles when I think that he will be, if he comes, a vanity purchase for RoSELL.

    Tactically, I rather imagine that Afellay’s quality has changed matters on the Fabregas front. We can afford to wait. He’s under contract until 2015, which means that 2014 is sellin’ time. That’s three years from now at which time Xavi will be all but done. It also gives us plenty of time to find out about Dos Santos and Thiago, fully develop Afellay in The Way and let Busquets become the player he is more than capable of.

    We might not need him then, either.

    1. On Pique: Exactly, I think I even used similar phrase ‘development fee to United’, cos its exactly that and was to me a huge bargain.

      On Fabregas: Exactly yes, agree. Feel the same way- great player but not needed right now especially for big money and in front of Thiago, esp with the signing of Afellay.

    2. I have a feeling Xavi can maintain a high level for more than 3 years. His touch, passing and decision making has has improved with age, and might continue to do so. Also Xavi has quiet exceptional stamina(I believe he covers more ground than even Keita and sometimes Alves) and the kind of running he has to do isn’t sprinting like Alves. I don’t know. If he is smart about his tendonitis he could like Maldini.

    3. You and some people seem to think Busquets will somehow evolve into something else(more like Xavi). I don’t know… I think he has found his niche, his perfect role which matches his skillset perfectly, at dm. Even though his speed of play is Xavi-like, I don’t think he has the passing technique for the final third.

      Im not saying he will not improve inot something even better. I just think dm is his optimum position.

  17. Preciado (coach Sporting): “They kick Messi less than Ronaldo because nobody can catch him. He’s like the wind.”

    Of course, now I have that song stuck in my head. 🙁

  18. How that Xavi interview makes him appear ‘cocky’ is beyond me but that is what I have heard today! haters gonna hate

  19. @ everyone—apologies for the avatar. It’s only temporary and Xaxiniestleo will go back up soon!

    @ Blitzen —Ooooooooh waka waka moc moc! I did it!

    1. Why don’t we go back to Xaviniestleo and Titi. Then we can be friends again! With any luck, we’ll manita Gigon tomorrow and my manita avatar will go back up! 😀

    2. Speaking of manitas, I picked up the grenadine and curacao and will be attempting a test batch this weekend. Ooooohhh!!!

    3. Post a pic. Maybe I’ll try my version this weekend. For the clasicos I won’t deviate from what we ate/drank in November, just for good luck. Hubby reminded me that he drank an Estrella Damm and I drank this cheap but decent Catalan wine we found locally (thought I remembered making sangria, I was wrong). Don’t forget the garnish!

  20. I can’t stand soccernet and to think that was the first place I used to go to back in the day. Its funny us Barca fans are praising Xavi’s interview as a rare true glimpse into a footballer’s mind, through brutal honesty.

    Everyone on soccernet (mostly Gooners) are all “OMG LEAVE HIM A LONE TAPPER UPPERS”

    In their defense, the writers picking a few quotes and twisting them up for their headlines..

    1. Ahem! Almost every newsroom in creation works this way:

      –The writer writes
      –The editor edits, and writes an appropriate headline. That headline is designed to do one thing: get people to read or click on the story. If every headline for every online publication could justifiably read “Britney Spears nude!”, it would be so.
      –In the case of pull quotes, those are also chosen by editors.

      Just wanted to be clear on the “the writers picking a few quotes and twisting them up for their headlines..”

    2. ‘Britney Spears nude!’?

      I thought you said headlines would be designed to try get people to read or click on the story…

    3. Thats cheap journalism kxevin and not many people follow that kind of stories anymore.
      Nude britney spears? Where??? 😛

    4. Hahaha we don’t mind. Going by avatars she’s the class hottie in BFBland and us juvenile guys won’t mind being told off when its a Milla Jovovich thumbnail right there.

      On an unrelated note, back to Xaviniestleo gravatar?

    1. Ok didn’t see your second comment at the time.

      You sure you’re not just picking on me for the Mental Picture snub? :p

  21. More (bad) news: Guardiola confirms Puyol to miss Arsenal tie

    While that still leaves us with very capable CBs, it is a huge loss on the left side of the pitch with the pace and solidity Abidal provides there.

    1. Damn!

      Theoretically, Pep could play Busi as CB and keep Abidal on the left (with Mascherano as DM), but I doubt he will.

    2. Gaby wasn’t that bad on Wednesday. At least it was a rep.
      Alves, Pique, Milito, Abidal
      Xavi, Masche,Iniesta
      P!!, Messi, Villa

      use Busi as DM and Abidal as CB against Arsenal???

      One of these days, though, we are gonna have to find a way to rest Abidal!

    3. I do like it when Busi and Mascherano play together. Milito has to be included sometimes though!

    4. Hm, Pep could try out with Busi as CB, King Eric as LB and SMash in the midfield, I would feel more secure like that compared to Maxwell against Walcott, which is callig for disaster.

    5. Walcott does complicate matters. I definately want Abidal on Walcott. I definately want Abidal at CB for Arsenal. Cloning technology anyone?

  22. This is an old rant of mine (from this past summer before we signed, or even knew about, Afellay), but I think it still sums up my feeling well.

    First, this is a great post (from the Bleacher Report of all places) and I refer to it later: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/429003-loyal-to-the-crest-why-fc-barcelona-dont-need-cesc-fabregas

    I call this rant: The Cantera Gamble

    [..]It’s true that not every canterano will make the trade and that we are spoiled by the recent exploits of Pedro! and Busi, and are subsequently putting a lot of pressure/expectation on the likes of JDS and Thiago. Because we don’t know the full extent of their abilities or play under pressure, we’re taking a gamble by promoting them and not signing other players.

    I believe Pedro! and Busi flourished because no-one was expecting anything from them. This year, that wouldn’t be the case with JDS, Thiago, Fontas, Muniesa, etc., etc, because all the neural and Barca fans will be thinking “Who will be the next Busi/Pedro! this year?” and that could have an adverse affect on their development.

    However, not any player can play for us. We have a system and the players need to conform to that system. A Mascherano or an Ozil are fantastic where they play, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’d play well with us. Some players might even play in a system that mimics ours and not do well (see Hleb). We’d be taking another, more expensive, gamble. Proven players, but not proven with us. As opposed to canteranos, which cost nothing and have played in the system for x amount of time.

    I personally favor canteranos. Loyalty goes a long way and while the likes of Fabregas are good right now, I believe we have players that could be better later. I understand the view that some cules are jumping on the back of JDS and Thiago just to spite the Fabregas transfer (I’m somewhat guilty of that too) and that when personal biases are put aside, the cold hard truth is that Fabregas is a better player. Honestly, I believe he’s just a “better” player right now because he got more playing time, not because he’s more talented than them. The only way if we can see if JDS or Thiago or -insertcanteranohere- is the business is the play ‘em. Plain and simple.

    Since the issue is playing time, we don’t need to buy more attacking/central midfield because we can blood the youngsters and give them a chance. We owe them that much. Only after we give them regular playing time, can we determine whether or not we even need to buy Fabregas. Call me old school and bitter, but last time I checked he left us––we shouldn’t even need to go to him. He should come to us. For us to break the bank from a guy who left us is nonsensical IMO (although, sadly, so is modern football) and a slap in the face of all the players that swallowed their egos and stayed. I remember reading a quote way back when Txiki B said something similar. The rest of my feelings are eloquently stated in a link provided above.

    Right now, what we need are CBs and DMs. However, because finding DMs and CBs that fit our system are hard to come by, the most logical (and financially savvy) thing to do is turn to our youth who know the system and have a better chance at doing well. Who knows, there could or could not be a gem, but I’m all for taking The Cantera Gamble. If we buy, we could either be Hlebbed or Yaya’d, and, personally, I’d rather not take that gamble.

  23. Unrelated but absolutely hilarious. From Soccernet’s Off the Ball:

    Carew goes menstrual

    When he’s not scoring offside goals against Sunderland, Stoke City striker John Carew likes to head down to the local tattoo parlour, but unfortunately for the Norwegian international his latest bit of ink is proving to be a pain in the neck.

    The striker’s new daubing reads ‘Ma Vie, Mes Régles’, which in theory translate as ‘My Life, My Rules’. However, a French professor at the University of Oslo has pointed out that the use of the acute accent over the word ‘Régles’, rather than the grave accent (è), dramatically changes the meaning to ‘My Life, My Period’ or ‘My Life, My Menstruation’.

    “He has a spelling mistake in the neck and it is embarrassing,” Professor Christine Meklenborg Salvesen told Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang.

    Before any member of the Stoke squad breaks the news to the 6’5″ colossus we suggest they bear in mind that it’s Carew’s life and Carew’s rules so Carew can spell it however the hell he likes.’

    1. His life , his rules . But unless he can actually see his neck , the tatoo isnt actually for him , but for the people that can actually see it and when they will try to translate it , he will just look like an idiot.

  24. I always forgot to bring this up but do you guys think that Busi is starting to make the same mistakes he used to do in the beginning of last season? Like giving the ball away cheaply and holding on the ball for too long.

    I think nobody noticed it because he does 100 other better things but just want to point that out.
    I find it quite unfair to Pique because he hardly makes any mistakes and even if he does, it is just like those diagonal balls that end up nowhere but is always highlighted. But they are far less dangerous than Busi’s mistakes.

    1. No.

      Oh, wait. You want elaboration. 😀

      He had a few Bad Busi moments in the past couple of matches, that I noted in the reviews. But overall, he’s vastly improved and is still improving. No worries about him from this end, and as you know, I hate him. 😀

  25. Just my two cents.

    Next season, Pep will begin to use different combinations in the midfield. The midfield of the future is Masch, Busi, Iniesta. Busi has all of the tools to take over from Xavi, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to play farther forward. Busi has more experience at 22 than Xavi did. Xavi started out playing a lot in the dm role with Cocu playing where Xavi does now.

    After Cocu left, Xavi moved to the midfield and players like Edmilson (who is maligned now, but was fantastic before the injuries piled up) and Marquez played dm. Similarly, when Xavi needs to be rested for small games (like Scholes and Giggs have been for the last 5 years) then we Busi to step into that role.

    Fabregas is quite similar to Iniesta, except he tends to drift to the right, where Iniesta drifts to the left. Iniesta plays killer through balls in tight spaces and can hold the ball better than anyone in the world (including Messi, Xavi, and Ozil is pretty good as it too). Fabregas plays some of the best balls over the top and is always looking for it. He plays much riskier than Xavi, who prefers to hold the ball unless the percentages of a through ball are ridiculously high.

    The real winners of a Fabregas signing would be Villa and Pedro. Villa is criticized a lot here because his first touch is not quite up to standard (which is often the reason his finishing hasn’t been as good as it should). That said, Villa makes run after run, looking to get beyond the last defender but 95% of the runs come to nothing. Pedro often does the same. Having a player like Fabregas would let Villa get the two touches he needs before finishing instead of the one touch he gets now (because he usually receives the ball inside the 18).

    But, the price is ridiculous. We have the players we need.

    Maybe another central defender.

    Resign Alves.

    Bring the kids through (Thiago, Fontas, Barta).

    Afellay can play when Pedro is injured.

    Please, don’t buy Neymar. Please, only get Cesc if he is less than 30m euros.

    The only player we would really have trouble replacing is Messi. But, there is only one of those.

  26. Some great quotes from posters on soccernet.

    barak82 (2/11/2011 at 12:16 PM) Report Violation lets just hope that someone (yes i am talking about diaby) grabs messi/xavi/iniesta by the neck, and hurt him. a 6 month ban wouldn’t be too bad if one of them is actually hurt in the process. are you reading this arsene!? take them out! be as dirty as my arsenal winning eleven team! lol!

    20manutdfan11 (2/11/2011 at 12:18 PM) Report Violation
    barca fans are still high off our champions league rubbish performance.
    i will be laughing when arsenal beat you guys in the coming weeks.
    why dont you pick up your team and move to a real league you frauds

    that last i took word for word from tosh.0
    daniel tosh was referring TCU to move a conference where they face actual competition
    like im saying barca should move to a league where they can face some actual competition

    Yes the guy just quoted Tosh.0 for a football argument.

  27. Am I the only one thinking that Xavi’s successor, if we are indeed to maintain the pass-dictated 4-3-3 formation, is neither Thiago nor Iniesta, Busquets won’t cut it either, and Fabregas I don’t know. From what I’ve seen there are only two players that can play like Xavi. Modric is one and Messi is the other. I don’t think Tottenham will let their midfielder go for cheap. Which leaves us with Messi. As the years progress and particularly if Guardiola remains coach, I think Messi will drop further and further back playing where Xavi should be. I’ve thought about it. Messi’s pass conversion is lower, obviously, than Xavi’s, but that is because Messi plays further up the pitch and has to make more speculative passes. Whenever he has dropped back his percentages have dramatically increased, to come close to Xavi. That’s at least what I would do if I were coach–instead of playing Messi as the false #9 I’d place him in the same line as Iniesta and Busquets with Thiago in the false #9 position.
    We don’t need extravagant signings–the true mark of champions is the ability to use what you do have in different positions.

  28. Naaah, Messi will be a number 10 for years to come.

    Like I said, Fabregas, like Iniesta, is better than Xavi was at their age. He is from the Masía and will fit in. It will make a lot of sense for him to come home, as long as both Cesc and Rosell can wait a season or two until the price drops.

    Personally I find Busi perfect for the DM anchor role he is currently playing. He reminds me more of Guardiola then of Xavi.

    In a couple of seasons we could see Busi – Fabregas – Iniesta, Afellay – Messi – Pedro

  29. with regards to Pique…I really really doubt that he would be the player he is right now if it wasn’t for the school of Sir Alex Ferguson he went through. He is what he is in most parts thanks to Sir Alex so see the 5 Million as an investment that the boy got a decent education.

    With regards to Cesc, see it as money spent on a pretty damn expensive education for the kid. Nowhere in the world Cesc would be the leader of men he is today if he had stayed at Barca.

  30. I personally have no problem with Cesc coming back…for the right price. Like others have said, it makes no sense to pay so much money for a position that we are secure in at the moment. And I’m positive that if Andy Carroll can generate a price tag of 35m, Arsenal is going to generate >50m for their captain. It makes more financial sense for us to just wait until his contract expires.

    Also, based on how Pep (reportedly) really wants Cesc at Barca, then I hope Cesc doesn’t come for a while. It’ll force Pep to stay here in anticipation. 🙂

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