January 11, 2015 / / La Liga


In retrospect, we all should have seen this coming.

The vileness, infighting, backbiting, rumors, nastiness and savagery, a fanbase turned on itself in seeking something or other all conspired to create something extraordinary, something that to repeat, we honestly should have seen coming. In a post from earlier today, I wondered which team would show up and I guess it was the latter, a unified, angry bunch who will for the first time this season face the team that kept them from so much last year.

As a team comes together a lot of things have to happen, from players understanding what their coach wants to the coach understanding how to deal with the players under his command. Through it all, supporters need patience, the kind of patience that has been sorely lacking in every way. #LuchoOut hashtags fly around Twitter, people express vehemence about notions of Enrique staying on as FC Barcelona coach, saying that he is over his head, fit for a mid-table side, etc, etc. Some even said that they wanted Barça to lose today, to force the departure of Enrique.

What all of the stuff, all of the … crap … seemed to do was unite a football club in that “us against the world way” that in this case is actually true. It isn’t just the Madrid-based media that is turning on Barça. It’s also the Barcelona-based media, club supporters, everything that comprises a vile entorno that wants to rip and tear at this football team. Sprites can only take so much, after all.
Read MoreBarça 3, Atleti 1, aka “It’s family, and it’s personal”

January 11, 2015 / / Analysis

To say that today’s match against Atleti is huge would be an understatement. Is it even bigger than the last time Barça faced them at the Camp Nou, with the Liga title at stake?

Quite possibly, because there is more at risk than a championship here as you get the feeling that the club is tottering on the brink of an abyss. A loss to Atleti is the absolute last thing the team needs right now, as well as the last thing that the club needs right now.

Diego Simeone is relishing the challenge.
Read MoreEverything to play for

January 10, 2015 / / Barcelona
January 9, 2015 / / Elections

I did a recent Barça roundtable discussion and one of the participants, Nando Vilar, likened Barça’s fundamentally self-inflicted turmoil to citizens taking a very active role in their government. Following that, a commenter here, AllasFCB, Tweeted this:

How funny is that a fan/club member of Barca (Jordi Cases) took down Rosell and a player (Messi) took down Bartomeu. Only at Barca…

I would suggest that at Barça, and it’s a suggestion that is fundamental to the way the club positions itself and is believed in by its supporters, Messi is just as much a citizen as Cases. In many ways in both cases, the situations present interested parties with a quandary.

Cases was, many suggest, backed by anti-Rosell factions, enabling him to have a greater effect than if a mere soci were to have taken such an interest in proceedings.

Messi had what has been characterized by many as a “tantrum,” a child flinging his toys out of the pram. In fact it was a player reacting to a difficult situation at the club in a way that was presumed would have a real effect on proceedings. The complexity, obviously, is whether a player should have that much power at a club and just what is acceptable as a player takes a stand for what he believes to be a good reason. Completely aside, obviously, of what that reason might be.
Read MoreCitizens, to the ramparts!

January 7, 2015 / / Analysis
January 7, 2015 / / Analysis
January 5, 2015 / / Analysis

These are worrying times for our football club, when the din is threatening to shut everything out.

The people who want Enrique gone are screaming the loudest right now, and people who might be considering a different view retreat in the face of vehemence. People who say the wrong things are being attacked, and it’s getting personal.

Meanwhile, rumors fly about practice rows. Messi and Enrique had a fight because Messi wanted a foul called. In a practice match. The player who doesn’t go down, who gets chunks kicked out of him with equanimity, decides to draw the line. With his coach. In practice. Neymar and Mascherano had a fight. That they are the kinds of rows that happen all the time in a competitive situation is immaterial. Right now, they are different. Why? Because they need to be?

Labels abound. “Cheerleader.” “Gloomy.” “Negative.” “Bandwagoner.” And everyone rushes to have the last word.

And that’s just among the fanbase!
Read MoreVocational training, aka “Be a reporter”

January 5, 2015 / / Analysis


I was watching a TV show called “Fool Us,” featuring the magic duo of Penn & Teller. The premise is that magicians come out to do their thing in an effort to find a trick slick enough to fool two of the best magicians ever.

It’s pretty hard to fool Penn & Teller. The question will be, now that the magic trick of getting rid of Andoni Zubizarreta has been performed, whether this board will be able to fool us.

I hope not.
Read MoreThe first shoe drops, aka “Don’t be fooled”

January 4, 2015 / / Analysis


The match between La Real and Barça today was one of the strangest I have seen in some time, for a number of reasons.

Most noteworthy for me is that this was the match that assembled every last dysfunction that this club has, and dumped it into a cauldron. We can talk about mitigating circumstances, chances created in the first vs second half, etc, etc, but the fact that Barça is a dysfunctional team linked to a dysfunctional club is, for me, beyond dispute.

But in a way, there is beauty in all of that failure in the same way that not being able to complete that last rep in the gym makes you stronger. Pain and misery, self-flagellation are party of any process that improves anything, because you have to fail before you can succeed. The problem, of course, is that you have the right clothes and all the instructions. It should be easy, and what if at the end of all of this failure is … more failure? Who wouldn’t opt for the ease of success and the comfort of the familiar?

You see it in the gym all the time, the people who do the same workouts with the same weights, always completing the sets and strutting to the locker room with a grin. “Another one rocked.” I always seek failure. Put another way, if I get to the last rep of a set in an unruffled state, THAT is when I have failed, because I didn’t push hard enough.
Read MoreReal Sociedad 1, Barça 0, aka “Choosing your path”

January 3, 2015 / / Analysis
December 26, 2014 / / Analysis
Photo courtesy of FC Barcelona
Photo courtesy of FC Barcelona

The challenge of holding a minority opinion is whether it stands up to the litmus test of logic.

A popular worldview, supported by many an intelligent football chronicling voice, is that Barça under Luis Enrique is a team that is losing its identity. The latest piece, and an excellent one from Sid Lowe, makes the case as eloquently as any I have seen before and will likely see even as for me, the team has been losing said identity since before Guardiola’s last year, and that loss isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So in the struggle to reconcile ideas that apparently need fingers on a keyboard to wrap a mind around, here’s a view from an outlier on judgments of Enrique and what/how he is doing in the here and now. It’s a question of not only what you see when everyone sees the same thing, but what is affecting your field of view in how you react to what you see.
Read MoreEnrique and life on the fringe, aka “Stuff is happening, but why?”

December 20, 2014 / / Analysis


Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha (pant, pant!) bwahahahahahahahaha!

Whew! Now that I am composed, Barça put the hammer down on Cordoba 5-0, to roll into the holiday break with a bang. This was a match was either wasn’t very interesting or fascinating as can be, depending on what you were looking for.

Prima facie Barça did what it was supposed to do in stomping a relegation side in Cordoba. 5-0. So what. Couldn’t they score any more? They put eight past Huesca. Do these guys suck, or what?

What was interesting for me was that Cordoba had 8, sometimes 9 in the box, determined to prevent Barça from scoring. Once Pedro stamped that first notion with a giant FAIL, their plan B was to stay close and maybe nick one on the counter. Luis Suarez’s soft shoe nutmeg put paid to that, and the rest was history.
Read MoreBarça 5, Cordoba 0, aka “Does it matter how the chef stirs the pot?”