January 14, 2015 / / La Liga

espmess

These days, the State of Messi is absurd. It is the worst part of the entorno as a player becomes, depending on who the person blabbing:

— Someone headed to England, just you wait …
— Like a bauble nobody deserves, so everyone worries about losing it
— An avatar for the Revolution
— A self-centered brat

Every statement is parsed. The day after … the VERY day after he said on Barça TV that he has no interest or intention of leaving Barcelona, he responded to a question posed at a Ballon d’Or event, a query about his eventual future with a reply that featured some existential uncertainty … and it started all over again, most dimwittedly of all, from many of the same culers who breathed sighs of relief after his Barça TV declarations.

Meanwhile the player himself, fresh off a performance that should have left precisely zero doubt about his happiness and commitment to the team and city, had to again explain what he meant. All Messi wants to do what he always does, which is strive to play the game of football better than anyone else alive, even better than himself.
Read MoreStrange days, aka “Legends goin’ cheap. Get yours today.”

January 13, 2015 / / Analysis
January 12, 2015 / / Analysis
January 11, 2015 / / La Liga

atmtrio

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 8, 2015 / / Barcelona
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

zubi

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”