Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The daily football mood: The tale of two leaks, FC Barcelona in trouble.

Ten years ago, the third of December 2003 to be more specific, Valdés walked off the field knowing that he should not read SPORT for the coming days. A 5-1 defeat against Malaga, added to the queue of bad results that sucked the club down all the way to the 20th position after 14 La Liga matches. Yes, you guessed it right, a relegation territory.

There were huge concerns about the future of the club without a world class goalkeeper.

The center backs were Mario and Cocu, and the fullbacks were Gabri and Giovanni van Bronckhorst, none of them were known for being defensive rocks though decent going forward.

The tactical structure was far from what current generation may call "The philosophy", a 4-4-2, with Motta and Xavi at the center, flanked by Luis Garcia and the young (gigantically talented) Quaresma on the other flank.

And there they are, Saviola and Kluivert rambling upfront.

Most importantly, on the bench there was a Rijkaard, with one hope in mind: To be invisible.

If any of the mentioned above concur in your mind with any features you witness at present, I'd suggest that you watch the goals of that game:


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In a more relaxing lounge rested young Sando Rosell in a leather couch, some may assume he got as a gift from a brazilian friend. For him, there was no two ways to look at it, Rijkaard out. He already has a Scolari in mind, a name he tried to promote in the boardroom for a while now but in vain. Now, no one will dare to oppose what is as obvious as his intelligent foresight!

Or so he thought… On the other side of the equation there were some board members who felt skeptical concerning the continuous changes in technical department that took place for over a decade. They wanted stability, an environment where the manager grows and develops with his squad learning from mistakes and fixing flaws. That was the lobby led by Laporta and his sport director Txiki Begiristain. Seeking consistency won the battle this time.

Of course, that was one of many conflicts between the two wings of the board. Another example was the fight whether FC Barcelona should buy the Cameroonian Eto'o (Txiki's wish) or the Brazilian Adriano (Rosell). All led to the final crack in the ship, where Sandro Rosell departed, for a while.

We all know how things went from there on… So lets move on.

There is no doubt that the first thing every new president at FC Barcelona tries to do is to whip off any achievement his predecessor did. So, there was no surprise that Sandro Rosell used the economy card to blow thick smoke over Laporta's era of football achievements. Yet, things went way far with time that the alarm bell is banging a terrifying tone.

The most recent episode was the comment made by Graham Hunter yesterday in @revistadelaliga, suggesting that Sandro Rosell has Solari in mind to replace Tata Matino at the end of the season. That was not the first interesting statement Graham made this month as he mentioned in a post earlier that Messi is not an element of Rosell's plan for the future.

I won't suggest that Graham will making such stuff up, he is one of few left to consider as honest journalist. He heard it all somewhere. Yet, we need to be careful about who leaks what and why. There is always a chance that people who want to destabilize Rosell's position in the club are leaking such stuff to reliable journalists knowing that they -by nature- can't resist pulling a possible scoop that lands on their laps.

In Messi's case, I mentioned on Twitter back then that it is highly unlikely for Sandro Rosell to be that naive. Messi is the strongest man at FC Barcelona right now, and he can blow Rosell out of his royal position as president with one tweet - even without having a twitter account.

Yet, knowing enough about Rosell, the second possibility is more likely. Nothing he will enjoy more than hiring Scolari to prove his previous point being right - that the Brazilian coach is the right choice for Barcelona. It may sound like a long stretch, I admit. But in many situations you feel Sandro's issues with Laporta got him mentally unbalanced with the decisions and reactions he made.

I still believe this is not something to be over concerned about. After all Tata Martino is Rosell's man as well (In the context that he hired him as a coach). But if it happens that Rosell changes the manager next summer, that will permanently close the era of success of FC Barcelona for a while.

Because it gets us back to the time where the club used to change more managers than players' socks.

It gets us to the time where the president used to consider changing the coach as his periodic popularity boost.

And because it gets us back to the era where picking the right manager was a dream never to come true.
FC Barcelona now has concerns about future goalkeeper, has issues with center backs, and attacking fullbacks which leave the team exposed to counters.

FC Barcelona is in a big debate about philosophy and identity, and it is in a process where brave changes are required concerning the starting lineup, and the roles of the players on and off the field. Reminds me that in that 5-1 loss against Malaga, Luis Enrique and Overmars were on the bench.

FC Barcelona's performance is far from being perfect. But they are yet to lose 5-1 against Malaga.

FC Barcelona is not the same team that won everything in Pep's first season, but they are on the opposite edge of the table compared to being the 20th ten years ago.

While ten years ago, the squad consisted of either aging or expiring players, the squad now boosts some of the best talents in the world.

And to be honest, in my opinion, the club now has a way better manager than the legendary Frank Rijkaard of that game. A coach who had no preseason, coaching a team that spent the summer riding a plane with safety standards equivalent to sailing in a paper bag across the ocean, and barely had any technical department for two years. Still, a manager managed to stay at the top of La Liga, defeating the strongest rivals so far, and standing at the top of his Champions league group.

Ten years ago, a brave decision that went against all the rants of the mainstream trends in a catastrophic moment led to all the glory that happened afterward, and took the club to a new height that it never reached before.

So I'd just say: Rosell, stick to your guns, and stop being silly!

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