There is probably, I am sure, someone around who would like the sitting board of FC Barcelona gone more than I.
There is probably a person somewhere who has disliked Bartomeu since childhood, who once upon a time had the board collectively kick their puppy in a conga line of canine disdain.
Which brings us to today’s CAS hearing on the appeal of the two-window transfer ban that was handed down to Barça for violations in youth player registrations, errors that the board has copped to in calling them benign-sounding things such as “administrative oversights.” And there is a vile, evil part of me that, if you listen very closely, you can just make out a faint sound as it screams, “Lose the hearing! They will be brought to account for their actions, and it will be one more nail in their coffin. Die! Die!”
But I love this club far too much to ever, ever wish anything bad for it. I love this club enough to apply objectivity and see that the board has done many of the things that it has done for reasons that are valid to them, even as they rile me to my culer core. (Well, except the horizontal stripes … that crap is just bonkers.)
I also know the damage that a two-window ban would do to the ambitions of the club and team that I love, which means that I can’t in good conscience do anything except root for the club and its lawyers, even as there are voices out there in the world who would prefer the opposite, whose views are in alignment with my Dark Side. Sometimes you have to take some healthy tissue out to remove a tumor, goes the logic, and I understand that. I just can’t in good conscience personally support such a thing because of the potential damage it might cause.
Anger is sometimes good. Rage rarely is. Anger can clear your mind, just as rage invariably blinds. We see but we can’t see, because all that we see is what our rage is telling us to see. Perhaps that explains a lot of my stance against being a fan of a certain player. For as you are a fan of a player it is just as easy to dislike a player, to not see something even when it’s right there in our faces, because of the blindness that is an aftereffect of rage. I”m not mad at Douglas. I’m mad at the situation that means a fast-diminishing Alves is still our best right back.
But even there, looking around at the footballing world makes you wonder where the quality RBs are on the market. They seem to be even more scarce than that “world-class” CB that everyone talks about. As the team failed to get Cuadrado and Enrique didn’t want a purely defensive RB, problems arose. Someone, somewhere who knows a lot more about football and assessing talent than I do, decided to take a shot on Douglas. Okay. He’s here. Now let’s see what happens.
It’s a weird thing rooting for a club. There’s so much that you have to put aside as a consequence of that allegiance. I hate that the club I love signed a player who troubles me morally. I hate that the club I love has, as one of its best players, a man who stood accused of calling an opponent a monkey. I hate that it kicked iconic players to the curb as said player sat weeping at a press table. I hate sold shirt fronts, surreptitiously sold stadium naming rights and all of it.
But when our players stride onto the pitch wearing those famous colors, even if those colors are highlighter yellow, I want nothing more than success for that entity.
This makes it a struggle for me to understand things, not only wanting an appeal to fail, but the almost obsessive dislike of players.
I watched Douglas play in the Copa match on Wednesday, and thought, “Hmmm … not as bad as his first time out, and he is actually trying to DO something this time. Better.”
And it was weird to think that because out in the world of social media, predominantly Twitter, the steadfast belief that Douglas is the worst footballer on God’s green Earth has been pre-sold with such vigor that it is seemingly impossible to imagine him even completing a pass, never mind actually not comprehensively sucking. So when you say “There were positive things in his game,” it becomes the same as saying that Douglas is the second coming of Dani Alves. He isn’t.
Reality is that I, like most observers, still have no idea WHAT Douglas is, but I know what he isn’t: He isn’t as bad as his detractors make him out to be. He can’t be. Because if he were, every pass would have been intercepted by opponents leading to goals, he would have knocked in a couple of own goals to boot … and kicked a puppy while snatching Thiago Messi’s binky.
Douglas, however, is just the latest. Alex Song has been on that list. Alexis Sanchez spent a long time on that list, and even now, many say that he is playing well because it’s easy to shine at a lesser club, and he still isn’t “Barça quality,” whatever that means. Pique is a dimwitted, unfocused playboy, Sergi Roberto is a waste of oxygen who cost us some player or another. What they all have in common is that they are (or were) Barça players.
And there is a perception gap that is often attendant to that worldview. When Sanchez ran at three players and lost the ball, it was often, “He can’t beat anyone 1v1.” But when Messi makes a run at 3 players and loses the ball, it’s “Oooh, man! Almost! He’s so brilliant.” We have to strive to see everything, instead of what we want to see.
There is a seeming craving for the failure of the Undesirables that is odd to me because if they fail, the team fails and the club is damaged. Champions League failure means less prize money means the bottom line is affected means less money for transfers means more whoring out of the Barça brand and a return of the color copies moratorium. No, I want and need for every one of our players to succeed, including the ones with a taste for human flesh and who hurl invective at wild-haired Brazilians from behind the safety of a cupped hand. Everyone. I don’t have a choice in that, really. I don’t want to be right when it comes to the failure of my club.
Yet the silence when a detested player performs well is deafening. One of those players can not put a foot wrong for 89 minutes and 58 seconds, misplace a pass in the last seconds on injury time and it will start: “A-HA! Told you. He sucks. Can’t even complete a damn pass on the ground. Anybody who defends him is stupid.” Can you really see everything objectively then? Good question. But in many ways it becomes like the person who says to you on social media, “Your an idiot.” Applying a bit of perspective sometimes makes a picture clearer as we put our short-term happiness in the hands of 11 millionaires in short pants.
Even when culers circle the wagons, it’s sometimes for good and bad. In a recent commentary piece by Paul Scholes, he said that the team looked “bored,” for lack of a better descriptive. There is much to agree with in that piece, even if the reasoning behind why it is occurring is wrong.
Someone said that Thomas Vermaelen will never play a match for Barça. I hope that isn’t the case, because he’s one of our players, who was signed for a reason and can be a help to this club. I hope that Douglas continues to improve, loses that deer in the headlights look and develops into something other than a punt of a transfer. I have to hope for these things, because of how much I love Barça.
Nobody, but nobody can tell anyone how to support a club. People can love the club deeply even though they find nothing but wrong in everything that the team and organization does. Being a supporter isn’t about blind loyalty or always seeing the bright side. I don’t know that it’s even about wanting the best for the club. I can’t even adequately express what it’s all about, except from my worldview, from my very personal side of things.
And from that world it’s about seeing, not being blinded by pre-sold notions, about expecting the best and being saddened when that best doesn’t come without losing hope that next time, it will. It’s about expectation and heartbreak, tears and exultation, about wanting the best for every player on the team no matter how they came to the team. It’s about pride and history, traditions and beauty. It’s also about going your own way in how you show the love for that team.