Presidents, Managers, and the Significance of Style (on El Clasico)

Sports media spends a lot of time searching for narrative. Which is fine – they make it easier to write stories, and they enrich our enjoyment of the game. In the case of Spain’s most famous rivalry, the clichés are so well worn that some of them no longer ring true. So let’s not talk about them.

For neutrals, especially those who support Spanish teams not named Barcelona or Real Madrid, the big two must seem like two sides of the same revenue-hogging, dominating, and just plain annoying coin. And they’re right. It may seem counter-intuitive that we have more common interests in terms of market share, TV deals, and even legal regulation of youth transfers with the old enemy than anyone else, but it’s true. I can’t blame those who have decided to go with “a pox on both your houses” as their default attitude towards both sides of the divide.

There are undoubted similarities between the behaviour of the two clubs as institutions. Therefore, it’s even more curious that there are still substantial differences, largely resulting from the personalities and behaviours of a few men.

All the President’s Men

For example, take Florentino Perez and Sandro Rosell. All presidents of Spanish clubs are some variety of similar in their megalomania, conceit, and manifestation of the intense desire for attention only felt by the most natural of drama queens. But dig a little deeper, and these are two men with very different modus operandi. Mr Perez is an unique figure, one whose actions have shaped the history of European football for the past decade. Even more impressively, he has dominated at an institution where the institution itself is far bigger than any individual could ever hope to be. There will be a Real Madrid after Florentino, just like there was before, and it will continue to mean more than anything he imposes on it. But in the meantime, the only man who could even compete with Perez in the battle to shape Real’s identity is a wolf he invited into his own den. (More on him later.)

Florentino doesn’t have – has not allowed – the development of a nemesis. The rapid downfall of Ramon Calderon served as a testament to that. On the other hand, Sandro Rosell has defined himself as someone else’s nemesis. When that man is Joan Laporta, who is oftentimes his own worst enemy, perhaps it’s no bad thing. However, by defining himself in opposition to the previous president, Rosell has ensured that Laporta’s ghost will continue to hang over his tenure. And for all his PR disasters and ill-advised policies, Laporta’s sporting record – mostly, one could argue, due to a wise policy of non-interference – is quite remarkable. Then there’s the complicating factor of Pep Guardiola, arguably the defining figure of the current era. It’s hard to imagine Perez being rebuked (even gently, as Rosell was) by the manager of his team over stupid, boastful comments made about the old enemy. It’s also hard to imagine the Osasuna travel fiasco unfolding in quite the same way had it been Real instead of Barça. (By which I don’t mean to imply bias, only agreement with the El Pais article arguing that the incident calls into question just who is responsible for what at Barça. But I digress.)

The management of Barcelona and Real have both been called into question by all the major English-speaking journalists covering La Liga at various times this season. It’s fair to say that as a result of different problems, both clubs are not run as well as they could be, a state of affairs which has persisted for longer than the present group of players on both sides has been alive. At times, both clubs have appeared to succeed in spite of institutional chaos. Some would argue that what is needed in these times is the deployment of a strong personality which the entire environment (entorno for the Cruyffistas amongst us) could rally around. Which brings us to our illustrious managers.

The Philosopher and the Magician

It’s fun to accentuate the differences between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. There have been some particularly fine articles written on the topic. I usually prefer to stress the similarities, because I’m just that much of a contrarian, and Guardiola’s bloody-minded side doesn’t get enough of an airing in the English-speaking fanbase. But the fact remains that Manuel Preciado has been widely referred to as Mourinho’s La Liga nemesis, because Guardiola has entirely refused to get involved. He has remained respectful to a fault, occasionally sarcastic and ridiculously self-depreciating. For many La Liga watchers, this last quality is as exaggerated and as open to parody as Mourinho’s wilfulness and egotism. It leaves him open to charges of being disingenuous. Too cute by half.

While it’s hard to credit the impression Guardiola sometimes gives off of marvelling at his incredible fortune in success, given that he’s been groomed for this role since a very young age, that part at least reads as genuine. What seems more studied is his politeness. You get the impression that it would take effort if he weren’t brought up to face the press every week. Mourinho even has a point in his alleged complaints about message discipline, Real’s lack of, and Barça’s mastery of it. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our players often sound like they’re talking off the same script. “We don’t like to discuss referees.” “This next game will be very difficult.” “We don’t care what Mourinho says.” When the risk of even innocuous statements being twisted in the never-ending media wars becomes acute, as in the week before a Clasico, Pep simply bars the players from giving interviews. The objective is to offer the opposition no cause for offence.

On the other side, Jose has been the lone man railing against perceived enemies inside and outside the club many times this season. If anything has surprised him about Real, it might be the battle he’s had to fight inside the club. No matter. Even if his is the only voice setting the agenda, it’s a powerful one. We can argue about the actual effect of his complaints of injustice and bias versus the perceived effect, but they are at the very least a boost to the Madridista press. Put it this way: the Barça press have to work at creating their beloved victimisation narratives without much support from the players and the coaching staff. The Madridista press are being spoon-fed. No wonder they like Jose more than Pellegrini.

Style and Substance

But let’s go back a little further. In 2007, Fabio Capello was dismissed, it was said, because the manner in which his side won the league (from under a Barça side who had won the double the previous season, don’t forget) was not up to standard.

Everyone knows that Barça have been committed to a particular style, broadly speaking, since the coming of Cruyff. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t. When it doesn’t work, the popular reaction ranges from derision to pity to genuine appreciation for sheer commitment. Most common, though, is that insipid strain of isn’t it a pity, how sad that their obsession with style has blinded them to the guts/nastiness/[insert other quality] necessary to win. If you’ve read even two articles about Arsenal written in the past five years, at least one of them will have been along those lines. I could write one in my sleep, not least because Barcelona have similar silliness fostered upon them when they aren’t successful.

But those arguments are no longer used against Barça, or at least not as often. Guardiola has changed the picture. He insists on not only style but its compatibility with systematic effort and grand achievement, and has to his credit managed to get his team to think of themselves as a machine that produces consistent results by applying their own style. It’s been fascinating to watch the press/fan narrative of this team change from ‘fragile artistes who will never quite make it and are therefore worthy of pity’ to ‘frightening bullies who inflict death by a thousand cuts’. The latter perhaps sits uneasily with Barça fans, who are used to thinking of themselves as underdogs from times past.

Along the same lines, it’s been curious to watch Real develop the identity of the underdog, the permanently victimized, the one in a position of weakness who has to resort to unpalatable tactics against the feared enemy. I would argue that this narrative, promoted heavily by Mourinho with the help of certain sections of the media, is a gross distortion of the relative position of one of the biggest clubs in the world. But don’t listen to me – Real’s perception of itself has long been one of self-conscious power and glamour, a perception generated by the club’s prestige and the victories of its great teams. The Camp Nou is not the only arena in which the attending public expect to be entertained for their troubles.

As Sid Lowe wrote earlier today, there has been a backlash amongst senior Madridistas, including former coaches and players, at Mourinho’s tactics on Saturday. Chief amongst them were the comments made by the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano to the effect that Barça had a style and imposed it while Madrid were stuck fearfully reacting.

“Barcelona were a lion, Madrid a mouse,” he wrote. And by doing so, he unconsciously echoed the comments made by Johan Cruyff in his own column on the game. The point here is two-fold. First, Madrid have an identity. It involves scaring other teams, instead of letting other teams scare them. The grumbles emitted by the greats of the past are perhaps indicative of the status Real held in their own glory days, a status they believe should not be lightly surrendered to the upstart Catalans.

Second, a means to an end is all well and good, but when the result doesn’t go your way you just look silly. I tend to believe that claims of superiority of style are empty without victories to back them up, and this applies even more to ‘negative’ styles than ‘positive’ ones. If winning is your only aim, and you don’t manage it, then what’s left?

(Linda is hoping to make it through the next 3 Clasicos with sanity intact. Madridistas reading, no offence was meant. If you perceive any, please forgive it as an expression of an honestly held opinion. If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sorry about your feed.)

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Written by:

20-something Chinese Kiwi Barrister. Enjoys short walks on the beach, Argentinian players and Pep Guardiola. @blackwhitengrey for hot takes on all three.


  1. April 18, 2011

    Linda pooooooooost! Yesh!

    This ties in with my rant in the past thread, but it’d be quite presumptuous of me to copy and paste it here, wouldn’t it?

    • April 18, 2011

      No, go right ahead! 🙂

    • April 18, 2011

      The “you presumptuous comment thread spammer” goes without saying. 😛

      (Jk, jk)

  2. April 18, 2011

    Watching the first half of Saturday’s El Clasico again and I have a couple of notes:

    –It’s a meh match. Clasico? Try another league game. We didn’t play any differently than when we played any other team away.

    –I’m a bit disappointed with our team. We were passively negative.
    Every time we decided to go forward, we were full of danger, but we rarely did. I know why–the short squad = energy conserving thing–but I admit I lamented Bojan’s injury all the more. I’d have liked to see him instead of Villa and I firmly believe Pep would have did that sub had Bojangles been fit. He’d have had more drive to do something.

    After the 0-1, we looked to defend our lead, and kill off the win, with possession . That should be nothing new. It’s EE fault they just let us have the ball. And the ball runs more than the man. Still, it wasn’t pretty from us.

    Puyi went down 5 or so minutes after we got the lead. No surprise. He’s fine and will ready for the CdR. This match served to give him some match fitness.

    –It is shocking to see just how far EE have fallen. It really is.

    Weren’t Benzema, Ozil, Thong Boy, Kaka’, Xabi Alonso etc–nearly half a billion dollars worth of players–bought so they could fight toe-to-toe with us? I know some Madridistas are saying that because of the 5-0, and the other 4 losses, they just didn’t want to lose, but this was the match EE needed, and admittedly could have, won.

    We didn’t need to win this match and were uncharacteristically lazy and loose with the ball. Villa was in his rut, Messi was sleepwalking, Iniesta did his Ghost-impersonation and I have to pay close attention so I can see Pedro!. We didn’t make much effort to create space with movement (For example, I saw Messi standing, standing on the right touchline instead of asking for the ball into space) with energy conservation in mind, and make no mistake, we were doing it (again, because we didn’t need to win)

    Every time EE went forward, they creating danger. With us being like we were, the excuse of “how else are we supposed to play this Barca” is just that–an excuse. You could have attacked us. Yesterday Saturday, I just saw a more expensive Almeria.

    It’s no secret we struggle with teams that try to attack us. Obviously, if we’re on, a team that adopts an “open” approach will get killed–but so will a team that defends with 10.

    Attacking us doesn’t mean you have to have more possession than us–it just means that you don’t concede possession to us. Think Chile against Spain during the WC. EE essentially said, “here, have the ball. We’ll just sit back here and absorb the pressure.”. Great plan, except what pressure? We had no intention of attacking. Barca was passively negative, particularly after the 0-1. EE gave us possession and we weren’t really interested in doing anything with it.

    EE aren’t Inter. The system isn’t based off a defensive one. However, EE was like a pseudo-Inter yesterday, with Pepe in the Motta bully role. People seem to think Inter is the way to go after last season, but here’s the thing: we’re used to 10 men behind the ball. The whole of the 2009/10 season was 10 men behind that ball and us having to deal with it, that’s why it was the least “flashy” season in the Pep era so far. You can even go further and say that we’re more comfortable against 10 behind that ball since we play them so often.

    Had EE attacked for the majority of this game, we’d have been in trouble, like we were against Shakhtar. Puyi was just coming back from injury; he could have been tested more. Instead? “Here, have the ball.” If EE do this again, they’ll be in trouble.

    What did Mou do that was different from what Preciado and Olabe (Almeria coach) did? And this is with more expensive squad.


    (I have a cold, so my mood might be crappier than usual. Damn you, weather change!)

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 18, 2011

      I’m gonna move my answer here too, then… 😛

      I don’t believe with : “the only way to win against Barça is to park the bus a.k.a defend with all your life”

      Arsenal beat us at Emirates with their own style, surely we won the possession, and they were more with counter attacking style… but they didn’t defend with 10 men…

      another example is how close Villareal to stole 3 points from us…
      it was Valdes’ miracle who saved our asses…

    • Ryan
      April 18, 2011

      Valencia as well did very well against us by attacking – in the first half they were ahead and it should have been even worse than 1-0!

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 18, 2011

      yes, them too…

      that’s why I said before… Valencia, Sevilla, and Villareal (who don’t have quality as much as EE billion dollars players) they created more real dangers from open play than EE in the last El Clasico…

      even at Mestalla our ball possession didn’t reach 60%, only 56% I think…
      that was very low by our standard…

  3. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 18, 2011

    As reported by FC Barcelona’s official site:

    “FC Barcelona have this evening submitted an appeal to UEFA against the proposed imposition of an additional game suspension for Andrés Iniesta following the yellow card he picked up against Shakhtar at the Camp Nou on April 6th.”

    “The proposed sanction comes as a result of a report from UEFA match officials at the game, who have alleged that the yellow card was deliberately incurred so that the player would be suspended for the return leg. The UEFA disciplinary committee will make a decision on the case on Wednesday.

    “FC Barcelona believe that the arguments outlined in their appeal, based on the good faith of the player and the disproportionate nature of the proposed sanction will be sufficient to rebut these allegations.”

    • April 18, 2011

      Urgh. The Alonso/Ramos precedent was not a good one to set. This could be bad.

    • Nav
      April 18, 2011

      Alonso and Ramos only served one game ban+fines I believe, as should be the case with Iniesta. He has already served his ban so should be cleared for the away leg.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 18, 2011

      should be

      unless UEFA people are EE fans… *rollingeyes*

    • Nav
      April 18, 2011

      Eh, let’s not blame this on EE, that gets us nowhere. There were calls of ‘deliberate yellow’ form everyone after Iniesta pulled that stunt.

    • April 18, 2011

      Not possible, BarcaGirl_Indo. Everyone knows UEFA are Barca apologists and have routinely selected Barca biased refs in Europe.

      In any case, I still doubt that Iniesta will miss the first leg, but if he does, the Barca-UEFA conspiracy will make even less sense–and it didn’t make any in the first place. It will also be very unfair.

    • April 18, 2011

      Okay, now I’m worried.

  4. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 18, 2011

    Lindaaa… nice to see your post! 😀

    • April 18, 2011

      Thank you! 🙂

  5. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 18, 2011

    I tend to believe that claims of superiority of style are empty without victories to back them up, and this applies even more to ‘negative’ styles than ‘positive’ ones. If winning is your only aim, and you don’t manage it, then what’s left?

    this reminds me of Brazil and Holland in the World Cup,
    “defeated and leaving a very bad image for the world to see” like Cruyff said…

    I surely hope that’ll happen to EE, too…

    KARI, LINDA, and ME? where are the boys? 😛

    • April 19, 2011

      I support Argentina, so it was amusing to see Brazil get found out, but I was genuinely pissed about the way Holland ended up. What a pity.

  6. xavi
    April 18, 2011

    Kari, please shift my comments from the previous post to this too(like you did with yours)… I know you’d do it, you are the most beautiful & likeable lady in the world! If I were a mod on this awesome site, I’d dedicate one post a day to you and two on matchdays!!
    And thank you for the effort 🙂

    • April 18, 2011

      Just comment again, but don’t reply to me. A simple “hi” will do, and I’ll replace it with your previous comment. And you’re welcome. (The comment you want me to move is the “Mou big fish/small pond” one, right?)

  7. messi_fan
    April 18, 2011

    Really great article. One really has to wonder what will happen if Mourinho doesn’t win anything this season.

    Hey, in light of his strategy of letting the grass grow in order to slow down our passing, do you think we should play our “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” midfield on Saturday?

    • messi_fan
      April 18, 2011

      Oops. I mean next Wednesday

    • April 19, 2011

      Well, let’s hope we find out! Thank you.

      I’m guessing the grass won’t be an issue any more – Valencia actually maintains theirs, and Real will have to cut theirs now things have become this ridiculous. (Or I hope so anyway…)

  8. xavi
    April 18, 2011


    A person who’s capable of such am awesome will surely make it through all the classico madness, just saying. I’m sure Kari will too, she will be busy with the mod duties a.k.a., shifting the comments 😀

    Yeah Kari, that and the apology to ‘missing page’ too if you can… Thank you again.

    • April 18, 2011

      I can’t move your comment with your name under it–I can only edit it (in this case, replace words). I need you to comment on this thread, so I can replace whatever you said with the Mou comment. (If you also want the apology, comment a second time).

      Here, I’ll show you. (Look at your comment asking me to move your comment(s))

    • April 19, 2011

      Aw, thank you. I’m going to try, at least, even though attempting to revise for exams (grad school, sigh) and stress out about football at the same time is proving difficult.

  9. xavi
    April 18, 2011

    I’ve always said & would repeat it again… Mou’s specialness comes only with the under-achievers! The same tactics that he is being criticised now for implementing in the last match, were lauded as the masterstroke when he did with the low level clubs that he managed previously in Porto, Chelsea and Inter(mind you they were under-achievers in the CL) Now he comes to a club famous historically for it’s achievements and style and he gets caught! Not only his bus-parking tactics but also the mindset that he likes to impart into his players, that every body is against them, that everybody wants to curb them, that none gives them the true credit, etc… And the way he keeps moaning about the referees. Not working with Madrid(even if they go on to beat us in the rest of the fixtures he has already done the damage to the reputation of the EE!), won’t work if in case he’s managing say Utd or us!! I’d like to cite one example here… judging by their players’ reaction apparently not everybody was sold to his tactics last night, not everybody was celebrating their ‘draw that tastes like victory’ last night!!

    I say Mou is a bigfishsmallpond case for managers

    • April 19, 2011

      I agree with you to a certain extent. Not that Chelsea or Inter were small, but that Real is uniquely demanding in a way those teams weren’t. I think he must have known that going in.

  10. xavi
    April 18, 2011


    Sorry miss/mrs(I know there’s a word representing both but my memory always lets me down AHH!) Didn’t mean to hurt/mock you… just that I felt it is not such a huge thing to bother such a well established player as Iniesta for not one but two whole games, who as we all know has had his own share of tough times lot worse than this. Also it’s not yet official(or so I thought, turns out it indeed is and the club has filed an appeal against it) so felt you were thinking too much into it, my bad shrugs and raises hands in submission

    Please take my word when I say I didn’t mean to hurt you. Not my first language English, and I generally end up conveying the wrong message

  11. SoccerMom
    April 18, 2011

    Polished, insightful, well-researched.
    With references from everyone from the la Saeta to the Bard.
    Linda’s post is easy on the eyes.
    Thank you!

    • April 19, 2011

      You’re very welcome! I get reference-happy a lot – call it a grad student thing. 🙂

  12. April 18, 2011

    What, nobody’s posted this yet? 10 seconds in is much goodness.

    –The grass at the Mestalla is going to be 25mm long. The Camp is between 20-24, and the Lair of Evil was at 28-29 on Saturday.

    “The latter perhaps sits uneasily with Barça fans, who are used to thinking of themselves as underdogs from times past.”

    This line from Linda beautifully sums up The Way of the Cule. Even with the best club on the planet, the perpetual status will forevermore be that of underdog. This joy is fleeting, to be snatched away at a moment’s notice. We’re all going to die!

    • April 19, 2011

      The grass issue is a weird one – I’m not sure how much importance it should be accorded. At least it’s not the potato patch from that 2006 Chelsea game?

      And I agree about the natural pessimism of the Cule. It’s one of the things I find most endearing about my fellow fans, actually.

  13. beeeef
    April 18, 2011

    Great post. It’s too bad you don’t contribute to this space more often, but I guess such is the life of a busy grad student. For those of you looking for yet another excellent blog with Barcelona-related articles, I would recommend you check out Linda’s site (which can be accessed conveniently by clicking on her username).

    • April 19, 2011

      Thank you so much! I’ve had a case of writer’s block, as well as finals coming up. But if I didn’t write something about the Clasico my brain was going to explode, so. 🙂

  14. April 18, 2011

    As Soccer Mom points above, its a delight to read your article. Even though as a Madrid fan I don’t agree with everything that has been said (or rather implied), i do enjoy your very unique style of writing. It’s simple yet expressive at the same time. I really like that. Great work!

    So from a Madrid perspective, I have a couple of opinions about what you wrote. The first is over this comment:

    “Along the same lines, it’s been curious to watch Real develop the identity of the underdog, the permanently victimized, the one in a position of weakness who has to resort to unpalatable tactics against the feared enemy. I would argue that this narrative, promoted heavily by Mourinho with the help of certain sections of the media, is a gross distortion of the relative position of one of the biggest clubs in the world. But don’t listen to me – Real’s perception of itself has long been one of self-conscious power and glamour, a perception generated by the club’s prestige and the victories of its great teams. The Camp Nou is not the only arena in which the attending public expect to be entertained for their troubles.”

    While this might have been the case, and probably will be the case, in the last and up coming Clasico, this has not been the case all season. Or ever of that matter. What i feel is being left out is how any team would approach a game in which he has lost 5-0 to the same opponent around 3 months ago? Would it be a position of power? AS Kxevin pointed out a couple of posts ago, if the shoes were on the other foot, Barcelona fans would be delighted and joyed with the draw. Especially with 10 men on the field (which was our own fault, mind you).

    Add to the 5-0 a 4 game losing streak against Barcelona, and no team would go in as the favorite against Barcelona. One of the biggest problem that happened in the Manita game was that Madrid went in thinking they are superior. They went in thinking they can do minimal work and end up on the winning side. Who is to blame for that? Mourinho. He didn’t set out the players to go and play. Their mentality was wrong and their position on the field was wrong. Mourinho wanted to make sure that this mistake does not happen again. And since feeling superior didn’t work the first time, the opposite was tried. While it didn’t earn the team a win, it didn’t put them on the losing end.

    My second point is about this part:

    “But let’s go back a little further. In 2007, Fabio Capello was dismissed, it was said, because the manner in which his side won the league (from under a Barça side who had won the double the previous season, don’t forget) was not up to standard.”

    That is true. Fabio Capello was fired due to lack of playing style. While the league win against Barcelona at the last day was brilliant, it wasn’t enough since the fans didn’t enjoy what they were seeing. A highly counter attacking side that failed at controlling the game.

    Now when you compare that to Mourinho and the whole idea of Madrid’s philosophy: its very different. The game against Barcelona on Saturday was the first defense minded formation the team has seen this season. Against Lyon, Milan and Tottenham, the team went out and played their game. They dominated the game and played the usual direct football the fans are used to. And the results were all satisfactory. This is what made Mourinho and Capello different. Mourinho was praised by Di stefano himself for finding a balance between defense and attack while keeping the style the same.

    My third point is about Di Stefano. I was disgraced by the Madrid fans that got pissed at what Di Stefano said. And i took it more of a motivation than a set back. He did say along with the praise for Barcelona that Real Madrid showed its usual fighting spirit. And he mentioned that a personality less Real Madrid was able to tie with a full throttle Barcelona. One of the Barcelona supporters at my University, who is a spanish teacher, read the article for me in english. I don’t know if he was selective or not, but he was very pissed at Di Stefano. Apparently he thought that Di Stefano insinuated that Barcelona full throttle could not beat Madrid. (again, this is not my opinion, this is the opinion of a Barcelona fan.)

    For those who are wondering about if Mou doesn’t win anything will he be sacked. The answer is no. A big reason why Pelle was sacked was because of the CDR humiliation and the CL and the inability to progress past the round of 16. Mou set out objectives at the start of the season and he said that my goal is breaking the CDR jinx, getting past the round of 16, and putting up a fight with Barcelona for the league. While the last one didn’t work, he exceeded expectations in the first two. And i believe that has earned him the spot to stay.

    I completely agree with the last paragraph that you said. Style with no result is not good. Because that means you are not performing the style that you have well enough to earn victory. And changing your style for no result is even worse. But here is what i think. I don’t agree with people that label defense as anti football. Or counter attacking as anti football. In the end, each one of them is an art. To an italian fan, defense is the way to go. And he tried to perfect that style of play as well as he can. In the end, each person chooses the style of play that his heart desires the most. If i enjoyed defensive football, then i would follow Juve or Chelsea. Teams that lay the foundation on defense first, attack later. If i liked possession football, then i would have enjoyed Barcelona. But i enjoy direct football, and hence why i support Real Madrid. That doesn’t make direct football any better than possession or defense. Its just the one i enjoy the most. It’s like taste in food. Some people enjoy a certain type of food while others can’t smell it.

    As a highlight, i fully enjoyed your article. In particular, i agree with your point about presidents. It was spot on in my opinion. I am not much involved in Rosell and his management style, but you echoed a lot of my concern about Perez and his management style.

    In regard to your last paragraph about Mou and Pep. I also agree with what was written about Mou. His tactic is to create an us against the world. And it seems like it works. I personally don’t enjoy it one bit, but it does work. The players have matured enough to stop talking in the press, but Mou makes up for their silence no? Anyways, it might be coming to an end. Marca and AS are starting an anti Mou campaign after he refused to answer their question in the post clasico interview. He asked the AS reporter if he was the director of AS. The reporter said no and Mou said: Since you didn’t talk to my second hand man, I’m not going to answer any questions unless the director comes and asks the questions himself. Woot someone standing up for AS and Marca!

    I will end my enormously long post by repeating how i started it. I am a Madrid fan (or misguided as soccermomof4, god bless her soul, likes to call me) but i am a huge fan of La Liga, and enjoy debate on this board. Keep up the good work, and once again, love the style of writing!

    PS: Sorry for nitpicking. I wrote a lot for an article that i disagreed with just a couple of lines in. 😀

    • momo
      April 18, 2011

      Your posts are so… long.

    • April 18, 2011

      haha, Linda had a great article. I feel like if I’m going to comment, i should at least put some effort. Plus I’m trying to put off studying for an exam, so let me be 🙁

    • momo
      April 18, 2011

      Just making an observation.
      Good luck on the exam you poor poor misguided football fan 🙂

    • Eklavya
      April 19, 2011

      The longer the better! We used to have those everday a few years ago!

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 19, 2011

      I have to disargee with your point regarding players to the press: here in Germany Özil gave an interview to the german TV regarding the 4 games and what he said was: no problem, we are superior and we will win (might you win, not try to or aspire to, but will like 100% certainty) the 4 games easily.

      He did the same thing before the last classico or like S.Ramos in the CL last year, but it seems they just do not learn to respect their rivals in any way. But how should they as their coach is not respecting rivals either (you just have to think about the way he is always having a go at Iniesta)

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 19, 2011

      yes, defensive football, possession football, kick and rush, there’s no right or wrong style… it’s a personal choice…
      one of my my friend see defensive play as a beauty, because he plays as a defender in his football team…

      eventhough Barça hasn’t won anything yet this season, but it’s a fact that right now most of the people around the world choose Barça as the reference of how football should be play… even Capello tell his players to learn about pressing from Barcelona…

      for that reason, I’m very proud of my team… 😀

      and I’m very flattered with what Alfredo di Stefano said, that Barça shouldn’t be watch with eyes, but with your soul… he’s becoming my favourite Madridista, besides you, Bassam… 😛

    • Ryan
      April 19, 2011

      Don’t tell Xavi that – he’s very sure that there’s only one way to play and that’s the Barcelona way. 🙂

    • Blow-Grenade
      April 19, 2011

      Hey Bassam, Love your reply. Your writings are one of the reason’s why I sometimes go to the Madrid blog and get a view there of what is happening with the Barcelona protagonists.

    • April 19, 2011

      Love seeing you here, as always, and thank you for the long, thoughtful reply.

      1. And since feeling superior didn’t work the first time, the opposite was tried. While it didn’t earn the team a win, it didn’t put them on the losing end.

      It’s weird, to a certain extent I sympathize with Mourinho’s decision-making here. He must have concluded it was the best way to get a result – I’m not so sure about that, but he’s absolutely entitled to make that call, and in a better position than me to judge – and yet any result other than a win would be a big step for Barca towards the league title, and he must have known that too.

      I think – and I hinted at this in the post, although I didn’t discuss it outright – that some of the prominent figures complaining are being a little unrealistic. Maybe another manager would have done things differently, but give Mourinho this set of circumstances and this set of resources and he’s going to make this kind of call in order to maximize results. It’s all well and good to talk about going for Barca in theory but how do they know it would work better?

      2. Against Lyon, Milan and Tottenham, the team went out and played their game. They dominated the game and played the usual direct football the fans are used to. And the results were all satisfactory.

      Interesting point. You’re right, Real has played most of their games as the superior side, and self-consciously so. Which is right and proper, because they are superior to those teams. (No offence to Spurs fans, but that game was hilarious.) Barca are a different case.

      3. My third point is about Di Stefano. I was disgraced by the Madrid fans that got pissed at what Di Stefano said. And i took it more of a motivation than a set back.

      I can understand why fans might be annoyed. I get annoyed when Cruyff says something that I think is unhelpful. And I do think as much as he’s entitled to speak, those comments were a little unhelpful, at least in the media war. The real battle, I’m not sure.

      4. It’s like taste in food. Some people enjoy a certain type of food while others can’t smell it.

      Agreed. There’s a certain pleasure in a perfectly played offside trap, no? And even Xavi will admit that it’s not a matter of better or worse, it’s just preference.

      5. Intrigued to hear that Marca and AS are turning against Mourinho. The latter has been showing signs of rebellion all season, I think, but this would be a bit of a break from practice for Marca, no? Not gonna lie, I will be watching developments with great interest.

      Thank you so much for your thoughts, and do visit again soon! 🙂

  15. Ryan
    April 18, 2011

    Nice article, Linda!

    One question though: am I the only one who isn’t seeing everyone’s avatars anymore? Where’s everyone’s faces??

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 18, 2011

      I thought that’s just me and my lame connection!

      I wanna see my Malena-Puyi’s gravatar, Kari’s haters gonna hate, and everyone’s faces… 🙁

    • April 19, 2011

      Thanks! I believe we’re working on the avatar issue. Guess even the blog is having Clasico fever.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 18, 2011

      yep… I’ve posted it in previous thread… he’s a neutral, I think… 😀

    • April 19, 2011

      Oooh, interesting, thanks for the link!

  16. K_legit
    April 19, 2011

    ok why has the gravatar thing disappeared?

  17. OSBAG
    April 19, 2011

    @kexvin. Your link looks like interesting news but I can’t translate on my handheld. Don’t know if I could get a lowdown of what it says.

    Linda’s post contains some marvelous links that are educating especially the one sid wrote which explains how matches are scheduled. Everyone should read them

    Seems aliens have reached in here to remove all

    • April 19, 2011

      It’s a short video of the lads working out, that includes Abidal doing ball drills. As noted before, that almost certainly means that the tumor was benign. And man, did he look good, like he’d never left.

    • April 19, 2011

      The match scheduling article is amazing. Actually, everything about the Spanish FA is amazing, but I mean that in a totally different way than I do about Dr Sid. What a mess.

  18. Diego
    April 19, 2011

    Where are the avatars ?

    I met some German tourists yesterday, I asked them if they know Helge and Humphrey Bogart, They said No. That means someone is lying, either those tourists weren’t from Germany or Helge and Humphrey Bogart aren’t from there.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 19, 2011

      oh, Diego… 😆

      and where are the gravatars? 🙁

    • Helge
      April 19, 2011

      lol 😀

      Germany, that little village in the middle of Europe… but how could they not even know Humphrey Bogart?!?

    • Eklavya
      April 19, 2011

      Lol, deinen Stadt exesitert nicht! (My sloppy Bernadeutsch).

    • K_legit
      April 19, 2011

      Ahh aber kannst du Deutsche sprechen Diego?

    • outerspacedout
      April 19, 2011

      I laughed so hard at this:

      In 1999, five years after the myth started to spread, the city council released a press statement titled Bielefeld gibt es doch! (Bielefeld does exist!). However, the statement’s publication date — April 1, 1999 (April Fools’ Day) — was ill-chosen as it gave conspirationalists yet another piece of material to put into their speculations.

  19. gogah
    April 19, 2011

    i dont understand why madrid fans are pissed off at di stefano.
    Is it because he presented them with the harsh truth. if anything, they should understand that it pains di stefano and other madrid supporters to see their beloved madrid showing such poor attitude. Attitude is the key, not the style so much and mou is the man manager.

    • April 19, 2011

      I think the problem is not so much what he said as the fact that he said it at all, at a time when everyone was trying to present the draw as a win for Real. Which I can understand, a little.

  20. Jnice
    April 19, 2011

    Off Topic:

    I like how the British media are all in love with Yaya now. All of a sudden everyone is on the bandwagon. When he first went to City and Mancini used him in advance role, I had an argument with The Times journalist, Oliver Kay on twitter after he insisted Yaya couldn’t play there. Lazy journalism with very little research done.

    Before he came to Barça, he was used in an advanced role for Monaco and Olympiakos. Proof ( And for Ivory Coast before Erikson came in, he played ahead of Zokora who was the DM.

    Now everyone is acting as if they knew all about Yaya’s abilities. Stuff like that annoys the hell out of me.

    K, now back to your regularly scheduled programing. Thanks for indulging me lol. 🙂

    • April 19, 2011

      Pfft, research, what’s that? Yaya was magnificent in that game and I’m glad his value is being recognised.

      (It’s like how Abidal/Busquets/Masche are regularly cited as the bad footballers chancing it in a good team. They’re really very exceptional footballers, actually. Just not as flashy.)

  21. Eklavya
    April 19, 2011


  22. 145culegirl
    April 19, 2011

    Nice article.I dont know whether it is me or does smoeone feel that being called one of the greatest football clubs took a toll on our players?.And all this media hype too is affecting the team.But it may be wrong.

    • Jnice
      April 19, 2011

      Don’t know if it is taking a toll on the players, but I know I hate when we are called that. I actually enjoyed when all the media considered Man Utd favorties in the 2009 CL final. Now everyone talks about greatest ever this, greatest ever that.

      I find it to be extremely premature and very annoying.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 19, 2011

      agree with Jnice…don’t know if it affecting them, but I definitely don’t like it…

      I mean, not for now, in the middle of a season… if we win UCL again this season, then people has a right to talk about the best team evaaah…

    • April 19, 2011

      I don’t enjoy it either. And any comparisons between us and other great teams makes me uncomfortable. Let’s wait 10 years and then see. 🙂

  23. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 19, 2011

    update from Pep’s press conference…

    Guardiola: “Tomorrow, the team is Pinto and 10 others. He played all cup games. It would be a lack of respect if he didn’t play.” #fcblive

    Guardiola: “Tactics Mourinho? I would never judge the work of a colleague. He’s a great coach, has won a lot and caused us problems.”

    Guardiola: “Rough play Pepe? The referee is in charge. Our task is to move the ball quicker so the defender arrives too late.” #fcblive

  24. soccermomof4
    April 19, 2011

    I’m gonna have an Alleke moment…

    Where’s Xavi?…and Iniesta?…and Messi? Where have all the avatars gone? Went over to lurk on Bassam’s site and they still have avatars; the account still works. On a better note, I’m gonna see me some Xavi in July, hooray!

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 19, 2011

      ugh… I envy you… 🙁

  25. April 19, 2011

    Guardiola’s class continues to impress me. The press conference quotes above are just one example. I have no doubt that Krkic would be starting as well, if he were healthy. Guardiola has always stuck with his “Guys that brought us here,” even in the Cup Finals. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see Afellay in the starting XI, as well as Mascherano and Keita. I’d be surprised if he did a “best available” lineup.

    • blitzen
      April 19, 2011

      All B players who took part in the cup will travel with the squad to Valencia, except for Bartra and S.Roberto who have U20 friendly.

      Also a nice touch. Even if they don’t get to play they will still be part of it with the first team.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 19, 2011

      yes… love him, love his class… I can’t see any other coach who can represents this club image as good as him… the perfect coach for us…

      I’ll be happy to see Ibi and Masch as starters…
      kinda worry about Pinto, but he deserved to be the starter…
      he brought us to the final…

      but of course, IF we lose, people (even some cules) will say that’s because Pep disrespect EE for not playing the best team available and blame him…

    • April 19, 2011

      Can’t lie, I’m worried, but at the same time I really wouldn’t have it any other way. In Pep we trust.

    • April 19, 2011

      Ahaha, I love Offside Chris. He’s hilarious.

  26. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 19, 2011

    Cesc (Arsenal): “It seems I’ll never leave if I stay this summer. But I’m only 23. One has to be patient and wait for the right moment”

    my thoughts exactly…

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 19, 2011

      good… I like it when we’re the underdog… 😉

  27. April 19, 2011

    New post up, kids.

  28. Miguel
    April 19, 2011

    I like da way you talks, Linda. 🙂

    • April 19, 2011

      Thank you very much, sir. 😀

  29. Para
    April 19, 2011

    I know I kind of missed the boat on this, because I saved it to read ‘for later,’ and there have already been two other posts put up…but thank you! Was certainly interesting.

    I went back and read the post you had written about Guardiola, as well as the runofplay article that someone posted (and that I believe you commented on?). It’s definitely interesting. I think it was Blitzen who said it a while ago, but Guardiola’s attitude when speaking to the media is not bourne out of anything resembling naiveté. I’m not saying that the humbleness is entirely an act, but he is creating a particular image for himself (and thefore the club) for a reason.

    Up until this end of the season, I found him and Mourinho’s use of the media interesting. Now one of them (Guess! Guess which one!) makes me want to shove my head in a hole.

    Anyway, thank you.

  30. yelèna
    April 19, 2011

    an absolutely well written article! engaging from beginning to end. Thou art a very skilled one Linda. keep em comin…

  31. ak
    April 20, 2011

    excellent article…you really should post more often.

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