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Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’

Barcelona are the envy of the footballing World, their brand of high line defence, relentless pressing and audacious attacking is unrivalled, the most beauteous spectacle of the beautiful game. Couple that with a World Class first team nucleus born and bred from their highly acclaimed youth academy that is also unparalleled and I would argue they are undisputably the best club in the World.

The club’s structure off the pitch also manages to emulate and sustain the superior standards set on it. They are light-years ahead of the competition with regards to their whole club infrastructure, one that many English Premiership teams could benefit immensely in replicating. Barcelona have a Worldwide membership scheme (one of the largest in the World of its kind) where millions of fans are registered members and with that status receive unique benefits.  They are actively seen as a core component in deciding the club’s direction, members are not ony free to express their opinion on club matters, with the club happy to offer various outlets as sounding boards but they actually listen and response to feedback which then effects decisions at the top level of the club.  Presidential elections are held every four years for presidency of the club and the members are allocated a vote for who they think is the ideal candidate.  All this means the club is unlike those in England and the rest of Europe in the fact it can never be sold to an outside party or foreign billionaire sugar daddy and if the fans don’t like the guy in-charge they can choose to exhibit their power and elect a new president every four years and vote on a change of directors every two years, leading to very much a democratic form.

Some might argue that that’s all great but football is like any other business, it’s about making money, well Barca are also one of the richest clubs in the World. To compound matters further they do all this without ever receiving any money from shirt sponsorship, in-fact they currently choose to do the exact opposite and instead pay the charity UNICEF to sponsor them!  Can they do no wrong?

Barcelona’s structure differs from Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid etc. Who may have success backed by mammoth transfer spending but in comparison any win is a hollow win as they have exclusively bought the success by allowing millionaire business men to make the club their plaything. Manchester City haven’t bought well and with all their spending ripped out the beating heart of the club by allowing their talented youth products to become bit-part players . This is a hefty price to pay, especially given their failure to achieve the minimum pre-season objective of 4th place in the Premiership.  Stephen Ireland who was fantastic the season before last has been completely overlooked since Mancini arrived. Fellow youth player Wright Phillips who has always been good value and the club’s creative force has also been displaced by new signing Johnson. Youth defender Richards is solid and has shown huge promise also outed. Youth striker Daniel Sturridge who is a very promising player was also let go off without being given enough game-time and has since gone to Chelsea who also continue to ostracise him.  Chelsea and Real Madrid are just laughable clubs really, like something out of a football manager game, you lose something when your club have little or no youth or club identity and just import in player after player after player. With the club now being dictated by some random foreigner , a club that used to be a local traditional club, where fans had a voice.

I hate everything about Chelsea in particular, the players arrogant attitude on the pitch, Drogba’s diving, Terry and co. harassment of referees, and Ashley Cole and Terry’s antic off the pitch. They are rightfully champions and I usually would adore any team that wins and plays/scores as they have done this season but I just feel nothing but contempt for them really, as they are such an easily hateable team. Given the players character, the smugness of the average Chelsea fan and the way they have acquired their wealth and trophies. It’s not honourable they have not won by playing on a level playing field and by fair means. They have won purely because a random billionaire chose them over another club, it all feels so soulless.

Barca’s is the surely the pure ethical way to run a club, they have a more pronounced club identity/unit than any other club, don’ t poach the stars of tomorrow like so many others but create and mould them in their own image. Highlighted more recently by promoting ex-player and Barcelona Guardiola from B team to first team manager, Pique’s immensely impressively return and Fabregas’s clear desire to return home after deciding to depart Barcelona’s academy at 16 in favour of Arsenal’s fast tracking system for talented foreign youth. This kind of relationship with Barcelona’s graduates is testament to the bond. No pre-madonnas, no egos, no me! me! me! like some *cough* Real Madrid/Ronaldo*cough* they all play as one knitted compact web that attack as one, press as one and defend as one. They are taught to be humble, and play as a team, expressive themselves and be tactically and technically aware. If you analyse the first team games this is exactly what you see, and it is enstilled right through every level of playing and coaching staff, blue prints handed down by Barca’s dream team of the 90’s marshalled by Johan Cruyff. They don’t just want to win they want to entertain and be universally accepted as the best irrespective of results.  It runs so much deeper than your average player-club connection they don’t just enjoy being at a club environment they almost feel an obligation to go back and an affinity to stay.  This family like relationship is further highlighted by the Catalan identity embomied by the club motto mes que un club (more than just a club) which amplifies the fans viewpoint on what Barcelona means to them. It is a way of life, a Catalan philosophy that differs from the rest of Spain and is the mirror image of Barcelona’s arch rivals Real Madrid style. Barca are the Luke Skywalker to Real Madrid’s Darth Vader.

Even Barca’s kits for next season look like World beaters, love these new designs and unique colours:
Barcelona 2010-11 away kit
Barcelona 2010-11 Home Kit
Barcelona 2010-11 Goalkeeper Kit

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Jose Mourinho
Fortune, good luck and knife-edge decisions are as much of a decider in the outcome of games as any tactical or technical ability.  To start with everyone is praising the tactical genius of Mourinho and yes Inter defended extremely well considering they were away to a free scoring Barca and a man down for 60 minutes blah blah blah, but as I’m sure the always modest Jose will tell you himself luck had just as big a part to play in Inter’s aggregate Champions League Semi win as any managerial genius. There’s not many things I detest more than show offs and attention seekers. Well Mourinho is not only both of them but his arrogance post beating Barca is very much misplaced .
Barca’s 1-0 2nd leg win would have been enough if either of these 3 key decisions were to have rightfully gone Barca’s way, it should be Barca in the final right now.
  1. Milito’s definite offside goal in the 1st leg
  2. Bojan’s missed point-blank header unmarked from a few yards out in the 2nd leg
  3. The wrongly awarded hand-ball decision against Toure just prior to Bojan’s clear goal in the 2nd leg, it was either not handball, or ball to hand as the Inter defender smashed it at him from a yard away and Toure’s hand was in a very natural position, tucked into his chest.
Mourinho is a very adept manager but Inter are so much better equipped than the rest of Serie A that there is no skill or merit in winning Italian league titles with them and lets not exaggerate things he got VERY lucky to beat Barca and has a very average overall Champions League record after his win with Porto in 2004.
Mourinho’s obviously more tactically astute than most, but you have to ask yourself whether it’s a good advert for football when these defensive tactics (with literally no desire at all to attack) overcome the expansive football of Barca, albeit with a large dose of luck.
Some of the more recent examples I can remember of luck playing a pivotal role within The Champions League include:
  • Barca’s win away to Chelsea last season after the ref dismissed two clear-cut penalty claims
  • Terry slipping a fraction before his crucial decisive penalty v Man Utd in the final
Yes you want great players and managers at your club in-order to achieve but given the choice I’d rather be lucky than good and Morinho’s fortunate in the fact he seems to have both angles covered!

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cruyff1

Johan Cruyff “There is no greater medal than to be acclaimed for your style”

I fail to understand why teams don’t encourage attacking football and aim to entertain, by bringing in expressive flair players and making the game a true spectacle, as there are only a handful of trophies to be won every season, so only a few teams are ever going to win anything.

So why not attack, entertain and let the players be free rein and liberated to enjoy their football and play as they would wish. That way the fans will be happy, as will the players.

The problem in this country is English players aren’t coached to be creative and have flair, they are encouraged to boot it hard and long, and with that be fast and strong.

Which brings me on to my next point, why are British youngsters technically inferior and lack the flair of the rest of Europe and South America? One definitive reason for this is the fact English coaches favour physical attributes as opposed to technical ability when assessing youth players. For example Shaun Wright Phillips was rejected after going on trial with Nottingham Forest as they thought he was too small and would never make it.

Whereas Ajax, Porto, Sporting Lisbon, River Plate, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, Claire Fontaine and the other world class youth academies offer an opposing view encouraging technical grace and agility rather than pace and brutality. A club like River Plate or Barcelona do not discriminate against the smaller player, in-fact they often base their teams around the diminutive players e.g. Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan at Barca and Aimar, Saviola who started at River Plate. They prefer to assess purely on natural ability and do-not see the smaller stature as a weakness or hurdle that can’t be overcome by the development of their raw talent. In-fact Barcelona were willing to invest in an unproven 13 year old Messi paying for his necessary growth hormone treatment, his previous club Newell’s Old Boys were not willing to make the £500 per month investment.

Within Britain youngsters are taught to play long ball football and win at all costs. Abroad youth football isn’t about winning or how fast or strong you are it’s about personal development and improving technical and tactical ability. These coaching methods encourage creative “no.10” players to flourish that comparatively the English game has lacked.

The England football team has suffered from a dearth of left footed and technically adept players over recent years, and has failed to win a major International trophy since 1966. British training methods and coaches don’t encourage skillful or inventive players, the few who have slipped through the net have been more by accident than design. Hoddle and Le Tissier were outstanding creative flair players who were largely outcast from the England team as they were seen as luxury players, that don’t fit into the team structure. Whereas abroad they embrace these inventive mavericks and build the team around their abilities, not ostracize them for being unique. Further highlighting the flawed English viewpoint that favours physical attributes, those players that tow the line and fit within the narrow minded and rigid English 4-4-2 formations and playing styles.

Barca have shown the way, beautiful football and winning aren’t mutually exclusive, you can be both.

At the end of the day football is meant to be a form of entertainment, escapism from mundane everyday life.

Let’s entertain!

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