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!
The legendary Chicago news service, City News Bureau, had a saying: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Its roots were in the diligence that a reporter should apply to his craft. Trust nothing, believe nothing, question everything, even from sources that you KNOW to be good ones. The only thing standing between a good story and a correction is a reporter’s sources.
Supporters are reporters now. The situation at Barça is, like at any time of crisis, bonkers. Lies, misinformation and agendas abound, with some bits of truth sifted in. Within that environment we supporters sit waiting for news, solid information about the situation. Not innuendo, not rumors, not scurrilous bits that suit whatever side of the fence we sit on, but news. As in facts. This happened. We know it happened because official sources said that it did.
All of the rest is, no matter where it comes from, nonsense. This is the fundamental skepticism that governs 99% of what I write here. Enrique is crap. I don’t know that because he hasn’t had enough time to prove it. There is an excellent piece at TotalBarça by Enrique Schloch that makes the most eloquent argument from a culer perspective. It’s worth your time. In it, the writer says that he doesn’t trust Enrique because Enrique hasn’t earned that trust. He doesn’t advocate that he be fired, or that he is terrible, unworthy of Barça etc, just that he doesn’t have his trust, and here’s why. It’s top stuff.
Now I am sure that writer has been accused by now of defending Enrique, because that’s the situation right now. It’s wholesale panic, which makes anything possible. “Don’t hit him with that car.” WHY ARE YOU DEFENDING ENRIQUE??!!
He’s leaving! Oh, no!
Messi is following Chelsea and Manchester City on Instagram. He’s going to leave Barça.”
Yikes. Is this really what we have come to? If you want to have some fun with the absurdity, try this bit from Dirty Tackle. It’s a giggle.
We know that Mourinho said that Chelsea couldn’t afford to buy Messi. But we don’t even know that, right? “Mourinho lies,” or “Managers always deny it right up until the player swaps clubs,” or “What else would he say?” Here again, the only fact is that Mourniho said — and we know this because it is an attributed, direct quote from the man himself — that Chelsea isn’t going to buy Messi. All the rest is panic. Panic creates a vacuum that nonsense is happy to fill. But if you want to choose what to believe, believe nothing.
Messi had a stomach bug. No, he was angry at Enrique. Messi posted on Facebook that he had a situation beyond his control, which was why he missed the open training and the annual visit to children in the hospital. But that’s nonsense too. What else would he say? He’s really behind an elaborate campaign to rid the club of Enrique and the board. Sighhhh … our hero!
And people support that instead of laughing at the idea of it all.
It isn’t even a question of being against Messi or for Enrique. It’s a simple question of common sense and what you choose to believe. Can we scoff at the idea of Messi being a “dictator” who does what he wants, opens cans of soda in a coach’s face and governs lineup decisions and then embrace the notion that he is a wee Machiavelli who uses social media to engineer change? And further that this player would scoff at the annual visit to sick children whose wee lives would be made by a visit from Messi, because he is in an Achilles-like sulk outside the gates of Troy?
Ask what the reaction would be if Ibrahimovic did something like that. Just apply that objective question to the identical situation, and what happens. “Hmph. He tried it with Guardiola, now he’s trying it with Blanc.” “Self-centered ass is stiffing kids because he’s mad at his coach. What an asshole.”
Rumors and nonsense, lies and agendas. Amid all of it, what do we know? Messi didn’t go to open training or the hospital visit. Beyond that, we have no idea what actually happened. Zero. So people believe what suits their needs, but how can we know, if we don’t know? Don’t believe what you want because it suits you. Believe it because it’s true.
Off with his head!
Another rumor is that in this board meeting on Wednesday some will ask for early elections, and that Enrique be given two matches to make things right. The source of this rumor? A person on Twitter. So what to do with this rumor? You can see part of it being true, so why not all of it, right? “Two matches?! That’s more than he deserves. Away with him now!”
The team is a mess. Why is it a mess. Rumor is that Messi says Enrique is too authoritarian. Another “source” says that Enrique doesn’t talk to the players. We’re doomed! In a wide-ranging interview, Xavi said that the players believe in Enrique, and the locker room is fine.
So now what? We have rumors, vs quotes from a player. Ah. “What else would Xavi say? He’s just toeing the party line.” Enrique out!
A brave man on Twitter, Rob Brown, said that Messi should do what his coach says, that no player is bigger than the team. He’s now in the witness protection program, by the by.
Reactions were that an unproven manager is, in effect, inferior to the Greatest Player Ever. Or, when talent is superior to leadership, all bets are off.
But again, it’s worth asking: Why have a coach? If a player can decide that a coach is being a big ol’ meanie and decide he’s had enough, why not just let the players run the team, right? Go for it. Now let’s apply the Ronaldo standard. Ronaldo doesn’t like what Ancelotti is doing, and thinks he’s too authoritarian.
My head hurts even from the fictional culer howls of derision. And yet, this rumor is being treated as truth, because why not? It’s what some want to believe, so it’s true.
So let’s assume for an instant that rumor is truth. Enrique has two matches, Elche and Atleti, both at home, to set his ship right. Let’s say Mascherano and Alves bang in own goals, then Elche grab another while Mathieu is off having a smoke. Barça salvage the draw, but oh, man. Then Atleti come in and manage a 1-0 win. So the club fires Enrique.
Who replaces him? Who do you want to replace him? Who would have better luck with the same players (winter 2016, don’t forget) and further, who would WANT to come into such a chaotic situation? Is there a coach good enough to run Barça, who is lounging about on a chaise lounge somewhere, waiting to be called?
No, it isn’t defending Enrique or anyone else unless you consider logic and tests of veracity to be entities. If you don’t know it, don’t believe it. Crisis loves intellectual laziness and a rush to judgment, even as our need to KNOW makes us clutch at something, anything. Patience is hard. During my days at another newspaper, I had to write a P1 column on the O.J. Simpson trial verdict. I waited. And waited. And fidgeted. And paced. I didn’t dare leave my office because what if it happened while I was gone?! Damn you, bladder, shut up!”
It wasn’t the knowing, but the not knowing. Rumors started to pop out, and my editor said to me, “Relax. Don’t start writing tops based on a rumor. It will come.” He was right. And no matter how much I wanted to know, I didn’t.
Until I did.