Pugs and Rock ‘n Roll

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We just witnessed the most insane night our beloved football club has ever experienced. The impossible required 95 minutes to be accomplished, and we only did so because of the union between our players’ heroic efforts, never, ever giving up; and the support from the 96 thousand at the Camp Nou who instead of leaving on the 85th minute, decided to actually stand from their seats and support this team that has given us so much over the last decade.

And we won.

Every single culer who believed, who cheered, and especially went insane and are now unable to speak properly. We all did it. Our collective energy to achieve this seismic achievement made it happen.

Most of us could not sleep at all after this historic night. Everyone was still on twitter, talking about it, watching celebration videos and sharing photos. But, mainly, just sharing how happy we all were.

But then the night turned bittersweet. Sour. Sad.

I was informed by my dear friend @maria_ines6 that her brother, best friend and roomate, @corsario_N had just passed away.

Words left me completely. I had just talked him 2 days ago, as we often had since late 2013.

His real name was José Luis. He was Chilean, loved his pugs, was crazy about our team and Messi, and we grew closer on the months leading the the 2015 elections. He was just as anti-Rosell and Bartomeu as I am.

Not only was he a culer, but an actual soci. That’s the reason I’ve actually only learned his name after he passed away. He didn’t want to risk losing his membership in case Rosell and co found out he was part of the group of people we had organized to act against the board back then. So, to me, during the 3 years we knew each other, he’s always been just… Corsário.

And we had so much fun together. From talking about Robot Chicken Star Wars Especials, to bowing before Bergkamp each chance we had. We shared the same views about our club, Cruijff, Messi and La Masia. He’s never been a fan of Sampaoli (and most of the chilean players, by the way), but had a soft spot for Berizzo.

We were so much alike, we actually spent two Copa Américas supporting Argentina, despite our home nations being there. That’s how much he cared for Messi.

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He was also an experienced (and hurt) Gunner:

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José Luis really understood how FC Barcelona works, as well:

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But, besides all that, he was a great friend.

Not only did we get to talk about all the interests we have in common (like friends that actually know each other personally do), but he would always ask about my views on brazilian politics, movies and music.

Oh, music. He surely loved his rock and roll. We just lost a really honest culer, pug lover and head banger. What a unique guy José Luis was.

His last tweet before passing was about… Iniesta. And Bergkamp.

He was watching the match yesterday, like all of us, and after the 2nd goal happened, he had this so say:

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Yes, my friend. That backheel strike from Iniesta was something Bergkamp would have been proud to have produced himself.

Just as I would have loved to have actually met you, José Luis. But we’ll catch up in due time.

It’s not yet clear what caused his death, but we do know he was watching the game, and was found after it had already finished. He most likely passed during the match after some sort of heart issue. Corsário was only 34 years old.

He was a caring friend, and sent me this a few days before the end of last season:

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Don’t you worry, my friend. Us culers that had the honor to get to know you will all have a drink on your behalf to celebrate our 6×1 miracle.

And we’ll win this Champions League for you. And drink on your honor yet again.

Rest in peace, José Luís. I’m certain there are loads of pugs and good classical rock music where you’re headed.

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16/17 and beyond

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15/16 is over, and even though the inevitability of La Undecima looms, no one should believe the noise from the Madrid/English media: we had a superb, historic season.

Not only did we win 4 titles, but we did so with one of the worst benches imaginable. Spending a whole season relying on the conquerors of Berlin was heroic, but only Sergi Roberto added anything of value this season, other than the 12 players responsible for us winning everything in 14/15.

We won these 4 titles because Pique, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi and Suarez held us together, specially after those 4 straight losses that almost led to utter disaster.

The “sporting planning” did not help us achieve anything this season, in fact, it’s responsible for our failure at the UCL, which was the trophy these players wanted to win the most, as they’ve said it themselves several times.

Even though Bartomeu and his board do not know a thing about football, even though useless professionals like Braida, Robert and Rexach are responsible for our sporting decisions, and even though our coach has a few obsessions, like Mathieu and Arda, and only used Barça B players for 70 minutes this season, I decided to write this article with my views on how we should plan for the 16/17 season and beyond that, so what happened at the Calderon doesn’t happen again.

UTMOST PRIORITY: RENEWING BUSQUETS

Imagine a player as vital as Busquets having to go before the press FOUR TIMES during the season to say he’s still waiting for the President to keep his word and give him the renewal/raise he was promised.

Busquets already had a glorious 14/15 season, and after Xavi’s departure, he, just like Iniesta and Messi, had to take on  an even bigger role on the system to make up for his absence. He kept the same absurd performances during this season, and only a fool cannot see Busquets is extremely vital to our future.

FCB will never thrive with CDMs from outside La Masia. Forget your wet dreams about Weigl or Verratti.

The system may have changed under Lucho, but the pausa, vision, calmness and adaptability Busquets brings, and Sergi Samper will eventually follow, cannot be found elsewhere. And since it seems seeing Samper on the first team won’t happen any time soon, renewing Busquets should be the very first thing we do now that the season is over.

There’s simply no one close to his abilities, and a catalan Masia boy who has won everything many times over deserves to have his greatness recognized.

GIVE THEM ALL THE MONEY: STEGEN, PIQUE, INIESTA, RAKITIC, MESSI AND SUAREZ

After renewing Busquets and giving him the salary he deserves, now that Nike will shower us with money, we should renew all the players that will surely keep us winning titles on the coming years.

Stegen has all the abilities and potential to be our starting GK for the next decade, and even considering sending him away to keep a 33 year old like Bravo is so demented, so near sighted, I won’t even talk about it. Making sure Marc Andre stays, and is given the role he deserves is vital to a proper sporting planning.

Pique was lost before Lucho came around. Even a fool like me predicted Pique would either get back to his best or leave the club under Lucho. The rest is history. Pique has kept our defense alive on the toughest matches, and his Cup final performance against Sevilla was simply epic. Even though he will retire at the club, he deserves recognition for his importance on the team.

Iniesta. Saying anything about him about his magical Cup final performance is too easy. What isn’t easy is reading several culers attacking him during the whole season, at any opportunity they see to be able to say he’s “not regularly good”. Andres, alongside Busquets, hold the keys to our ability to keep the ball and dominate rivals through posession and fast thinking. Iniesta deserves it all.

Rakitic is far from being the absolute beast he was for Sevilla. He rarely gives assists, through balls, even though he scores a decent amount of goals. But Ivan is absolutely vital to our system. Messi has only scored 99 goals on the last 2 seasons combined because Raki is working hard to allow him the freedom and the space to do so, on whichever position he chooses. Rakitic balances a right side were Alves and Messi are handed the battering rams. He deserves more for all he’s given us, especially after Berlin.

Messi will already get a huge salary bump this season. But if Nike is giving us that much money, surely we should given him more. No offering is enough for having the greatest of all time around. Pay him. Even if he hasn’t asked… just pay him.

Forget the 59 goals or the 22 assists. Suarez deserves to be renewed due to the simple fact no other 9 in Europe is as complete as him, to our system. Supernatural work rate,  a true team player, and a desire to win at all costs that makes everyone around him perform better. Suarez has to feel like the second most important player in the squad, and we should pay him as much. It’s that simple.

THE HARD CHOICES THAT WON’T BE MADE

SELLING NEYMAR

Yes, he will be renewed soon enough and stay. Doesn’t mean I agree with it.

We played 29 matches in 2016. Neymar scored 15 goals and gave 8 assists, which is laughable when compared to Messi, and especially Suarez, but that isn’t the point. It’s his 3rd season at FCB, and he always has a considerable drop on his performances after December. The UCL goals last season made people forget it, but Neymar was also just as irrelevant on the League and Cup then as he was this season.

The fact of the matter is: this wet dream people have that “Neymar will take over for Messi”, or that “Neymar will be the best in the world” won’t ever come to fruition. The biggest brazilians players to have ever played in Europe all had just a few short years at the top, then simply broke down.

Romário left because he couldn’t live without his beloved Rio, even if that mean playing Regional matches. Ronaldo became a fat mess 3 years after becoming the best, and kept that farce going for years, since Nike would not let their poster boy be forgotten. Ronaldinho had the 3 best seasons any brazilian has ever had in Europe, then became a party animal in 2006, never coming back from that. Kaka burned his last few quality years to keep earning truckloads of money in Madrid’s bench, knowing very well he would not be a starter.

The only brazilian star to escape this rule was Rivaldo, who was a true professional, a competitive animal that only went away after coming across Van Gaal, a specialist in making the lives of South American players a living hell.

Neymar is 24 years old. His numbers have been bad in 2016, yes, but his behavior has been worse. It’s been 3 years, and he stills holds on the ball way more than he should, always slowing down our play during build up, or simply dribbling/running back, only to give the ball to the nearest CB, so we start again from scratch. Unlike Suarez, he does not improve our system, he slows it down. The only time he flourishes, and even that happened rarely this year, was during counters.

A professional player would keep his head down and work harder to overcome his shortcomings. Pique did that. So did Iniesta. Even Messi. But Neymar asks for EXTRA DAYS OFF DURING CARNAVAL (!!!). And he was given just that, for the second season in a row! Even if that had worked (it did not), that’s now how a pro should act. Fans may say what they usually say, but of course the rest of the squad hated that. You don’t go partying while the rest of your team mates are busting their ass off in training.

Neymar is treated differently, by either the coach, or the board. While Messi almost got an actual suspension after an altercation with Lucho, and Aleix Vidal never played a single minute after getting injured during a basketball match in one of our training sessions, which pissed Lucho off monumentaly… Neymar comes to Brazil to party with his sister. Then performs even worse than he did before leaving!

A few minutes before the UCL match at the Calderon started, he was liking some random girl’s pictures on Instagram. That sums his professionalism so well, that I’ll just remind you how shitty his performance was that day. He doesn’t care.

Neymar will never match Messi’s dominance, let alone surpass it. Right now, he’s way behind Suarez, who will soon have scored more goals than him, having played way less matches, and even CR, who is the biggest asshole in world football, but works harder than anyone to reach his (selfish) goals. And I honestly don’t see him changing his ways and focusing on achieving his full potential.

He literally just posted a “Be silent” picture, after being gifted yet another tap-in by Messi on the Cup final. You had a laughable 2016, kid. You don’t get to take “bad ass” black and white pictures to shut anyone up. And that kind of behavior won’t go away, because he’s surrounded by fools that feed his delusions, and a father that well… I won’t even waste my time.

I would sell Neymar and buy a player like Dybala, or even Martial. A serious sporting planning involves focusing on having the best and most professional players around, and Neymar simply won’t ever be one, just like the vast majority of brazilians hasn’t.

But a few days after I post this article, Neymar will be renewed, will get a huge pay rise, and we’re setting ourselves up for failure, sooner or later. He cannot be trusted to lead this team neither in the long or short term.

BRAVO, IT’S TIME TO PACK

Claudio Bravo was a regular GK during his years at Real Sociedad. No big team ever chased him, and he simply was never listed on the best GKs in La Liga. He was average, with few great matches here and there. That’s why when we signed him, me and several other culers were stunned, especially after we had just signed a gem like Stegen.

Naturally, Bravo has been vital on both Liga titles we’ve just won, especially on 14/15, the best season he’s ever had. He hasn’t been as great in 2015/2016, even though the 0-4 at the Bernabeu only happened because he was, by far, the MOTM. I won’t ever forget that.

But that won’t change the fact he’s 33 years old. And when you have someone like Stegen, who will be one of the very best GKers in Europe for many years to come, your planning has to be intelligent: give the younger, more promising player what he wants. And Stegen wants all the minutes possible, he wants to be the Liga goalkeeper.

If Bravo accepts playing only the Cup, like Pinto did, I would have no problem keeping him around. But I don’t think that’s gonna be the case, both him and Stegen are proud players. A serious club would make the obvious choice and let the chilean go so the german can actually shine. Let’s hope this hard choice is made, and soon…

I’ve been told the club has received offers from England for Bravo. The way is clear, and both parties need to do is take it.

ARDA TURAN WAS A TOTAL FAILURE. ACCEPT THAT AND MOVE ON.

24 matches (1.151 minutes), 8 yellow cards, 2 goals and 4 assists. A complete lack of understanding of our system, even though he literally spent over 6 months only training with players like Busquets, Iniesta and Messi every single day. Non-existant work rate, way to aggressive to be trustworthy, and a very poor passing range, besides being awful in defending, especially counters.

Arda Turan was a signing made to win an election, and that worked for Bartomeu quite well. But he’s been an utter failure where it matters: the pitch. His skill set does not add anything to our system, and that’s clear for anyone who isn’t biased. There are many teams where he would fit way better, and there are many other midfielders that would suit us better.

So let’s hope the board, the sporting director and especially the coach don’t act with arrogance and simply accept it’s best for our club and Arda to simply part ways. Insisting on this mistake would be a massive planning error, and Arda himself would be throwing his last few good years away.

YES, LUCHO, WE KNOW YOU ADORE MATHIEU. BUT KEEPING HIM WOULD BE RUINOUS.

Jeremy Mathieu will soon be 33 years old. He’s the worst passer on our squad, his “superb” pace is completely useless, because he cannot read the adversaries runs, and his lack of vision has literally cost us 4 Liga points this seasons, in 2 matches we were easily winning 2-0.

Yet, he’s literally played more minutes than Bartra and Vermaelen combined. The coach likes the height he adds, and he must be a very hard worker during training sessions. But he’s simply not young enough or good enough to be trusted as our 1st choice backup CB.

Our team is based on having CBs that can easily play at a high line, and who are great passers. Pique is a superb passer, and Mascherano is one of the best long passers in Europe. Mathieu cannot hit a 10 meter pass if he’s being pressured. Smart planning would be selling Mathieu for whatever price, and finding a much younger, more versatile CB who dominates passing and is clever enough to not rely only on pace to beat attackers.

Personal preferences should not exist on a club this big. Logic says Mathieu’s time has come.

TIME TO GET RID OF THE DEADWEIGHT: DOUGLAS, VERMAELEN, ADRIANO, SONG, TELLO

There’s not much to say here, right?

Douglas has been a great joke, one of the best FCB memes, but.. enough. The man wasn’t even good enough for the Brazilian League, let alone the best club on Earth. Should be allowed to leave for free if we can’t sell/loan him.

Vermaelen has been injured for 90% of the time after signing for us, just like he was on his last few years at Arsenal. Another one that has to be let go urgently.

Adriano knows he’s a goner for months now. Just hope we can sell him for at least 3-4mi.

Alex Song remains a FCB player. Please let end this nightmare this summer.

Tello cannot dribble, relies on space to run into and has an awful first touch. That hasn’t changed since he left, so we should sell him for good, and wish him the best of luck wherever he goes.

LA MASIA AND HEARTBREAK: BARTRA, SANDRO, MUNIR, SAMPER AND DENIS SUAREZ

Sandro has already left. His contract was just terminated, so he’s leaving on a free. I wish him all the very best. Having to compete with Suarez, when you can’t possible also play as a LB/RW is a total nightmare. I sincerely think he’ll have a decent career.

Bartra is also leaving. Unlike Sergi Roberto, he’s never been given an actual run of games (700 minutes this season, while Roberto had over 2.300). It’s a shame to see a catalan Masia player leaving, especially a CB that can pass the ball superbly well. But he’s 25 years old, and just spent another season watching a player like Mathieu play way more than he ever did at the club.A loan/buyback doesn’t make sense given his age, but I’m sure he’ll prove to be one of the best spanish CBs in a few seasons. All he needs is the trust he was never given at FCB.

Munir isn’t going anywhere, will get a renewal soon. He can play both as a LW and a 9, and that is important for us, especially during the MSN Era.

Samper, if he stays at FCB, will remain on Barça B. A journalist I trust told me he will not be promoted to the first team this summer, which does not surprise me one bit, since the coach has used Barça B player for only SEVENTY MINUTES this season….

Denis Suarez. Yes, he’s coming back.
But a journalist I trust keeps telling me the club plans on selling him for good. I mean, after the Bearded Disaster, it would make sense to get rid of Turan and give a chance to a Masia boy like Denis, who actually had a great season at Villarreal.
Bartomeu doesn’t see these matters like we do, however. He sees a bag of money, not a potential starter…

Luis Enrique was one of the best Barça B coaches ever. People who follow Masia daily, people I trust, all say so.But since becoming FCB manager, not a single B Team player has been promoted. Not one.Only Samper and Gumbau had minutes this season, but combined it reached.. 73 minutes. Even Tata Martino gave hundreds of minutes to youth players during his disastrous tenure.

I do not lay the blame only on Lucho, however.

The board has “organized” the club in a way that Barça B and Juvenil A are run by certain people, the rest of Masia by others, then the first team by yet another set of “leaders”. That is literally insane.

You cannot expect a club to seamlessly develop, use and promote it’s youth players if you don’t have a clear strategy and way ahead planned, like we did during the Alexanco Era.
Barça B is treated like a team where only the results matters and not getting relegated (once again) is the focus. That’s why the last La Masia player to become a starter was Busquets, over 8 years ago. Something is deeply wrong at the very roots of our club, and it doesn’t seem to be worrying those in charge, especially not the coach. We’ll keep winning because we are blessed with the likes of Pique, Busquets, Iniesta and Messi, to keep the Masia flag high. But in 5 years? The future seems very bleak…

OK… SO WHO ARE WE SIGNING?!

Well, I think this is gonna be our squad after the expected/logical departures:

GK: Stegen, Masip
RB: Alves, Aleix
CB: Pique, Mascherano, Mathieu
LB: Alba
CDM: Busquets
CMs: Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto
LW: Neymar, Munir
9: Suarez
God: Messi

17 players.

We would need: 1 GK, 1 CB, 1 LB, 1 CM, maybe an attacker.

If we’re signing a GK, there’s only one we should consider:

If we’re lucky to see Arda leave, Pjanic should be the name (since Gundogan keeps getting injured):

But we are DEFINITELY signing a CB (maybe 2) and a LB.

After digging into both Whoscore and Squawka (I did make a huge comparison table, but cannot possibly fit it here, so I won’t be able to share it), my personal 3 picks for our CB targets are:

Other names that should be considered: Stones, Laporte, Christensen.

Our main LB target should be Jonas Hector:

Ricardo Rodriguez should also be considered:

And if we are in the mood to deal with PSG… Kurzawa as well:

Blind and Alaba would fit us like a glove, but those are impossible transfers.

Oh, the club/coach wants a 4th attacker so “MSN can rest”. Coach insists on Nolito, and even Gameiro has been heavily rumoured.

I think such signing would fail just as Turan did. Either we buy someone younger with the potential to be world class, or we do not settle to 29 year old forwards. That would be very short sighted.

Either trust Munir completely (I know…), or let him go somewhere and sign a player who can actually force Neymar to focus and act like someone who cares more about his job than looking like a bad ass on Instagram.

 

UPDATE – 26/05/2016: Since Alves is gone and Lucho doesn’t trust Aleix as an RB (only used him for 543 minutes this season), we are gonna need to sign at least one RB.

After analyzing Whoscore and Squawka, these are the highest rated players:

Celta’s Hugo Mallo, who doesn’t have YouTube scouting videos… weird.

 

Lucky

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Anyone who’s ever looked for it, knows that finding videos, especially full matches, with Pelé and Garrincha is pretty much impossible. A fired happened in Brazil, and most was lost forever.

Cruijff played in the 70s, but you can only watch one of his FCB matches in color.

Zico has scored over 100 free kick goals during his career, but you simply cannot find most of them nowadays. Zico played in the 80s, mind you. The same can be said about Platini, especially his years in France.

Only in the 90s, most away matches were broadcast in Europe, which means we are the luckiest generation of football fans to have ever lived. We are spoiled, even more so those of us who support FC Barcelona.

People who lived during the Pelé Era did not watch all of his matches, especially not the away ones. The same goes to Garrincha, Di Stéfano, Puskas, Muller, Beckenbauer, Maradona (especially his first years in Argentina). Hell, brazilians missed a lot of Romário matches during the 90s.

Nowadays, not only do we get to watch every single match imaginable, even friendlies, in Full HD, but immediately after they’re over YouTube gets full of “Messi vs Certain Team Home/Away” videos. A few minutes after we won the Cup against Sevilla yesterday, there was already both a “Messi vs Sevilla Neutral”, and a compilation of all of his 41 goals and 23 assists in 15/16.

We are extremely lucky. Actually, we are spoiled.

Messi has played 638 official matches so far. That’s over 950 HOURS. All the great players I listed earlier played more than him before retiring, naturally.
But the fans from each of those eras never watched them as frequently, or as much.
The luckiest ones got to watch all home matches, at most. Pelé owned Vila Belmiro, Di Stéfano the Bernabeu… but not even the most devout fan got to watch these players for over 950 hours. It was simply not feasible.

We do.

We get to watch Messi, Iniesta, Busquets, Pique and Suarez write history twice a week, and to top it off, we can spend hours on YouTube watching every pass, every ball control, every assist, every pre-assist, every dribble and every single time they refused to dive. Over, and over again. We are constantly exposed to greatness.

We are lucky to be living during Messi playing years. But the fact we can watch and rewatch every single move he makes on any football pitch around the world… that is simply being blessed.

Enjoy the goals, and the wins, the trophies. But remember most football fans in History never watched their idols like we currently do.

The Father

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Tragedies sometimes are the reason good things come our way. People who have been through unspeakable tragedies, and are able to grow past them, are usually grateful bad things came their way, cause it made them better. Your history with football started with a tragedy, Johan, when you lost your father.

Had your father not died when you were so young, maybe you wouldn’t have joined Ajax at 10. After all, after his passing, your mother started working at the club and would then meet her new husband, also a club employee. And that opened the doors for you, the skinny little ball who spent most of his time on the streets of Amsterdam, with a ball and nothing else.

It wasn’t long before you were training with their first team, and what happened after your debut, well, it’s yet to be matched by any other football player to date: 3 straight Champions League titles, 3 Ballon D’Ors to go with them. Europe has never produced a player nearly as good as you, and certainly not one who has been able to win so many titles, with so much dominance over their rivals.

1973 is a special year to every single culer alive, especially those who are old enough to have witnessed the change you cause on FC Barcelona. 14 years without a La Liga title, and you landed. The best player in the world set out to win the League the fans craved so much. And you did so after going to the Bernabeu and crushing them 0-5, scoring twice.

You brought a change of mentality around Barcelona, around Catalunya. When you refused to obey what the Spanish authorities told you, and registered your first born Jordi, you made Catalans more proud than you could have imagined. Back then, they couldn’t even register their children with a catalan spelling. And you just ignored what the Spanish were saying and did it anyway.

You also ignored common sense in 1978. You knew the horrors of the argentine dictatorial government, and refused to attend their World Cup. And you were absolutely right: while Argentina beat your team on the final, people were literally beyond tortured a few meters away from the pitch.

Awareness. That’s the thing that had always set you apart from anyone else in football. You played with your heads up, ordering your team mates around, to fill the space you knew would cause danger. It was only natural you’d become a coach, but what happened after you did, the change you brought about… far from being natural.

You also started coaching in the Netherlands. But the 8 years you spent as FC Barcelona coach have rewritten our club’s history for the better. After you left in 1978, we only managed to win one League, and the pessimism reached new heights among culers during the 80s.

La Masia had been founded in 1978, but only when you took over as coach in 1988, and brought the mentality of someone who developed in Ajax’s academy, FCB started to treat football like it should always be treated: something to bring joy to those who play, and those who watch.

That’s exactly what you did on Wembley. And precisely what you said to our players: “Go out there and enjoy yourselves”. And they did. Koeman made sure of that. And us culers have been enjoying ourselves ever since. 5 UCL titles later, and 13 League titles, we are the team with most overall titles in Spain, Europe and in International Competitions.

And we reached said success playing, most of times, the way you pushed us to do during your time as coach. And the success we are currently living happened because people you looked after, especially Guardiola, were actually paying attention to everything you taught them.

Pep did such a good job, that his Barcelona inspired Spain to win 2 Euros and 1 World Cup in just 4 years, using not only the same idea of football, but especially players that developed on the Masia you planned: Puyol, Pique, Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta.

The best number 9 to ever grace a football field, Romário, once said: “Football is supposed to be seen through Cruijff’s eyes”. And on the day those eyes will stop looking at a football pitch for good, all we are left with are tears.

A few weeks back, you said you were winning 2-0 your match against the disease, but you were only at half-time. In the second most important match of you life, that one against Germany in 1974, sadly the opposition also turned the match around. But, just like then, you losing only turned your name into legend, and undying one.

The last I heard from you, was after Messi pulled your penalty. Yes, I’m aware a couple of people pulled it before you did, but every single football fan had it seared on their brains that that was a Cruijff Penalty. You said that had made you very, very happy. Messi, the pinnacle of La Masia, the pinnacle of the change you brought in Catalunya and our club, had made you happy during your toughest fight. We were the ones happy when you said that.

FC Barcelona will win its 14th La Liga title since 1988 in a few weeks.

14 titles after you took over and turned a losing club into an European giant. That’s the best homage we could possibly make, but we’ll try to reach the San Siro and give you an even better one.

Your history in football started after your father passed away, Johan.
And today, those of us who love football, are all orphans as well.

Messi’s Fiscal Case

Lionel Messi appears in court charged for tax fraud

No, Messi is not going to prison. Let’s be very clear about that before going any further.

In Spain, if you do not have prior criminal convictions, you will not get jail time if you are sentenced to less than 2 years. If Messi’s case goes south, he would only get 22 months.

So, no jail, for those worried/excited about that.

Ok, so let’s talk about the last couple of days regarding Messi’s legal case, with the help of my friend @siemprepositifo. You should be following him already, but if you aren’t, start now.

Yesterday, the Spanish Fiscal Authorities decided to only charge Messi’s father and took Messi out of the equation. Proper journalists were tweeting since yesterday that the case was not over for Messi yet, but the usual sport newspapers didn’t care. Messi wasn’t “free to go”.

Today, the District Attorney’s Office ruled they will go after Messi, and, if he’s found guilty, he would be sentenced to 22 months in prison. But he won’t go to prison, as we already explained.

@siemprepositifo, a lawyer, just like me, read the ruling and told me the following: “I think Messi won’t be found guilty, because it seems easy to prove that he wasn’t the one dealing with the actual money management, so he couldn’t possibly have acted with the intent to commit any wrongdoing”.

“As to his father, it is probable that he reaches a deal with some sort of penalty fee and a light prison sentence, one he would not actually have to go through”.

That’s it. The last 48 hours actually are good news to Messi regarding this fiscal case.

If the Spanish Fiscal Authority saw fit to remove him from the lawsuit, it only means one thing: his lawyers were able to convince the court that he had nothing to do with any crime commited.

The same lawyers will now be given the chance to argue before a different judge and the District Attorney to prove this exact point again. If the country’s Fiscal Authority heard them the first time, most likely the DA also will now.

To those worrying/gloating about all this, let’s have a little recap:

  • the money laundering case against Messi has been dismissed
  • The Spanish Fiscal Authorities have found his involvement is so irrelevant he was removed from the main law suit
  • Whatever the DA is arguing now, couldn’t possibly ever land him in jail.

Messi’s entourage fucked up. That’s clear to anyone who spent actual time reading what this lawsuit is about.

But remember we are talking about something that happened 6-7 years ago. They have learned their lesson by now. Or, at least they should have…

PS: No, I’m not “coming back”. But whenever something so out of the ordinary happens, especially when it comes to Messi, I’ll pop up to help make things clearer.

Hope all is well with everyone. (Well, not with Mathieu, who has been fucking us sideways and making Ter Stegen take the blame, but…)

Fish and Sheep

After 5 long years of struggle, of trying to make sure our club’s future would be in the hands of people who actually care about it and not only themselves, after 3 years where I have literally wrote thousands of words on how Rosell and Bartomeu have destroyed everything our club represents, or at least used to represent, I quit.

Bartomeu was already the favorite the win the elections, but after Arda Tura’s signing, a signing what will go down in the history of our club as the one we couldn’t wait 13 days to sign a player that would only actually play for us in 6 months, it’s inevitable.

After kicking Cruijff out of the club, saying we didn’t even have the money to pay our bills, pursuing Laporta and his board for crimes that they would be proven innocent of years later, selling our shirt to a slave country that is Qatar, killing our 80 year old basketball team, signing Neymar in such a criminal fashion the club is now charged for tax fraud and corruption for the first time in its 115 year history, pushing Guardiola out of the club, doing the same with Oscar Garcia and several other La Masia coaches, promising to renew Abidal and kicking him out of the club, bringing the Ultras back to the stadium, selling Thiago for peanuts, getting a signing ban from FIFA after doing nothing about it for 13 months, firing Txema Corbella, signing Douglas, making our club drop from 2nd to 4th richest in the world, destroy La Masia by changing its directors twice, selling our most prized identity to Nike and allowing a horizontally striped shirt… Bartomeu won.

Of course the Triple had given him a lot of chances of winning. But even without it, the support from Grup Godo, the owners of Mundo Deportivo, RAC1 and La Vanguardia would guarantee that Bartomeu would at least compete. But Godo’s support paired with the Triplete and fact that FCB socis are, in their vast majority, conservatives, and now the Managing Board’s final push with Arda Turan’s signing, even though it did not have the authority to make signings… it’s done.

We foreign FCB fans need to come to terms with a hard truth: the majority of FCB socis, the ones that actually choose and vote for President, do not think like us. They do not have access to the same information we do, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care. Being conservatives, they care about keeping the status quo. Changing things does not suit them. That why, since 1978, we’ve only had one President that cared about the club more than his personal interests: Laporta. And he only became President because we were in our worst sporting situation in several years.

People like him, that believe in Cruijff and that La Masia is the key to our success, are not the majority. Far from it. Nunez was kept in power for 22 years because he represented the conservative vote. Then came Gaspart. Then Rosell. And now Bartomeu. The status quo has to be kept, changes are not welcome, and if we are winning, changes are simply not needed. Cruijff “was a moneygrabber”, and Rexach “was the one with all the actual plans”. They are the same people who call Guardiola “the Dalai Lama”, and who wanted to sell Messi last year…

I always knew that. But after the Neymar Case and the tax fraud and corruption, I sincerely thought socis would think of the club instead of focusing on their fears. Not even the fact Bartomeu is the only candidate who will renew with Qatar made them change their minds. Qatar, a slave state where 300 thousand people treat the other 1.4 million people that live there like slaves, will be on our shirts until 2021, and for many more years on our new stadium.

Make no mistake: Qatar Airways (or any other name associated with Qatar Sports Investment, the Qatari government branch which we signed our secretive contract with) Camp Nou will be a reality by 2017. Qatar may even buy the land in which the Camp Nou is currently built…

Now was our last chance, after 5 years where Rosell and Bartomeu made it very clear how inept they were, to put our club back on track. But with Bartomeu’s election (his first, don’t forget it), even if he’s arrested for tax fraud and corruption (something I doubt will actually happen, since bribing judges is common in Spain), Cardoner would step in. These people will not go away until 2021. And I simply lack the energy to continue shouting at the wind until then.

For that, I cannot continue. Democracy has to be always respected, but if the people who vote to decide on my club’s future see fit to give 6 more years to a man charged with tax fraud and who will renew with the country that has already killed 1.200 slave workers to build stadium for a World Cup they bought… then they do not represent me.

Sheep, the lot of them. All I have to say to them is this:
‘You get what you deserve’. It’s an old saying. One that survived the years, because it’s true. For the most part. But not for everyone. Some get more than they deserve. Because they believe they aren’t like everyone else. That the rules, the ones people like me and you, the people that work and struggle to live our lives, just live, don’t apply to them. That they can do anything and live happily ever after, while the rest of us suffer. They do this from the shadows. Shadows that we cast. With our indifference. With a pervasive lack of interest in anything that doesn’t directly affect us, we, in the here and now.

May they enjoy Bartomeu, and whoever Grup Godo tells them to vote for in 2021.

I can only say thank you to the over 13 thousand people who decided to read my daily rants on twitter, and to the 280 thousand people that have read my longer rants on this blog over the years. I never thought people from 190 countries would read what I had to say about football. Thanks for that surprise.

Guardiola, the best culer we have, said goodbye to us in 2012 saying: “Keep your seatbells tight. I’m leaving, but this all continues without me”. I’d like to say to same, but just making it clear it’s due to the people who will drive the car for the next 6 years. I’ll keep loving the ride, from a distance.

Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya.

Cruijff: “Philosophy, not signings”

cruijff laporta

Johan Cruijff was interviewed by Marca after announcing his support to Laporta: http://www.marca.com/2015/07/01/futbol/equipos/barcelona/1435739482.html

Here’s the full interview in English:

How are you seeing the elections campaign?
These are things that are hard to talk about right now, because we need to see who will present themselves and how everything will turn out. Barcelona is very ambiguous and there’s something for everyone. In my opinion, values should come before money, which is something which should never come first. Before everything else comes the principles, the values, this is the most important thing, money is secondary.

Do you think it was necessary to call these elections?
Of course, it was really important. In the sporting side it has been an exceptional year, with good football and titles. But it wasn’t all that happened, we also lost values, like La Masia.
In the other hand, FC Barcelona has won by a landslide the world record for tweets regarding judicial matters and that cannot be. We need to be serious. The boost from Barcelona to help the world with UNICEF has been the biggest there ever was. With that choice UNICEF gained a lot of social presence. And that no longer happens.

Does what happened to La Masia hurt you the most?
When Barcelona wasn’t doing well, there were two very important choices in its way of playing and thinking, that were the signings of Rijkaard and Guardiola. Both stayed 8 years in the first team, putting in place a project where La Masia was a magical word, and now that no longer happens.

What has happened?
I don’t know, but it’s a problem. Everything regarding the signings looks good to me, but everyone else does that. The values are basic stuff not only during elections, but also in life.

Solving this issues if responsibility of the next President?
These are 2 or 3 of the basic questions. That’s why I’m glad there will be elections where some are leaving and others are coming in. In Laporta’s time, it’s was advised that all good players from our various teams should study.
Masip was an example, I know because he was in my school. The objective was for him to study and prepare himself so in the end he could help our sporting teams keep their good level. The idea is that these kind of players, with this formation and studies, could eventually manage one of our teams. Now this formation no longer happens.

What do you think about the FIFA signing ban?
I haven’t got the slightest clue about such matters, but there are several rules that you cannot break. It’s been years since we’ve heard anything from La Masia, I don’t know why they did it.

Does it affect the club’s prestige?
Everyone is glad by the way Barcelona plans, but each passing time there’s less people. Signing players, all clubs in the world can do that. I want to set things apart.

You are proposing a change, then?
That will be decided by those who vote. One thing is how the first team works and another is how the club works. These are very different things. The first team has won everything while Barça B has been relegated. That is a problem.

Every day there are news about Neymar’s signing. How badly was this operation handled?
I don’t have the slightest idea about what they did regarding this matter, but it’s a shame for the player because he’s always in the eye of the hurricane for subjects off the field. Neymar has to play football to get better and grow in several aspects, which will only happen if he plays football. Nevertheless, he’s always associated with negative stuff.

You didn’t trust in the understanding between Neymar and Messi, and now Suarez is with them. Did it surprise you?
It isn’t a question if it was expected or not. All 3 are excellent footballers coming from a year without winning anything, which always helps in managing things in a different way. All 3 had a perfect year indeed.

The change that occurred in January was due to what?
Those are details that people don’t ever realize.

What details are you talking about?
It makes no sense to talk about them. They are very important details and before January RM was going to win everything and at Barcelona it was the complete opposite. If you pay attention, it’s easy to notice, but if I say it myself people will say it’s because I’m in favor of one and against another. There were details on each side, and one was going up while the other was going down.

You signed Luis Enrique. What did you see in him?
He was a winger and we played with wingers, it was a very important position for the team and it required a great physical preparation. He was 2 in 1 because he could handle both the prototype of an offensive fullback and that of one defensive winger. With Goiko we had the same situation. He had a character that always made him give 100% on his play.
These are the kinds of things you look at when you sign a player. Signing a name does not make any sense, that’s stuff for newspapers, you have to bring someone to the group who brings something to a deficit the team may have. In the end you sign to improve the people you have around you.

Right now Luis Enrique is a hero, but in January he was almost fired.
I see things differently, this about going up and down comes from the press, there’s very little knowledge from a high level of football. He has done a great job.

And he counted with a Leo Messi who has surpassed himself yet again.
Look at his statistics and look at his personal life. All of that influences in any professional sportsman, because everything has to be perfect so one can be at 100%. And if that isn’t the case, you need to see why it doesn’t work. Why was so he so great during the season, and right now, not so much with Argentina? I don’t want to say he isn’t doing well, but he doesn’t have the success he had in Barcelona. The details mark the difference.
Again with the details. Which?
I don’t dare to say it, it wouldn’t make sense because I’m not there. If I say anything, it would be just be what I think is happening. And then everyone is gonna talk about what I say.

Why are you campaigning for Laporta?
I’m with Laporta above all due to the values. First we need to see how Barcelona was in 2003, before he came in, and then see how it was after he left. You see what he did and you can see his worth. In all the teams, in how the players were studying, helping the kids around the world by giving the shirt to UNICEF, how La Masia was spreading around the world… These are values and I’m with them.

It’s clear that the Barcelona from 2010 was better than the one Laporta got in 2003. Is the 2010 team even better than the current one?
Seven court cases. La Masia does not exist, UNICEF does not exist… you tell me. To each his own. I do not say what they have to do, I say there were some values in 2010 and now there are none.

Would you work in the club if Laporta asked you?
I wouldn’t accept it. I’m his adviser, I don’t want a position. I’m never going to enter the club because for that you actually need to be there. But, yes, I’ll give my opinion when asked.

And if they gave you the Honorary President medal again, would you accept it?
No, I have so many medals from so many countries that it wouldn’t miss it. That’s why, when they (Rosell) talked about the matter, I gave it back.

Can one win the elections without signing Pogba?
I talk about the philosophy, I don’t go about signing names. It’s not even worth the time to talk about it, it would be useless. It’s just a circus that is assembled by the press, something that does not impress me or interest me. The only thing they want is to sell newspapers. And of course Pogba is very good, I know him very well and he’s easygoing. How can anyone say that by signing a player you win an election if a President stays in power for 6 years?