Here at Barca Blaugranes, we are trying to bring you the best coverage of FC Barcelona and La Liga that we can. Now, this includes new writers, fresh ideas, and interviews with big-name journalists. These are guys that have forged a living from writing about the beautiful game, and have extensive knowledge on a breadth of subjects. They have connections with club officials and players, and can provide that insight that we would love to bring, but have not got.
The first of hopefully many interviews was with Tim Stannard who is better known for his work with La Liga Loca. He works for FourFourTwo and guests on many other sites, as he lists later on. I hope you enjoy the interview, it was a pleasure to work with him, and talk a little football along the way. Oh, and this doesn't mean he is a Barca fan, just to clarify :)
Let’s start with the most controversial topic of the season so far: Of course, we are talking about the unsavoury brawl that marred the end of the Supercopa. Barcelona fans are still aggrieved about the "finger" incident, so what is your take on how the Spanish Football Federation handled the whole ordeal?
Not unsurprisingly, the whole affair was handled appallingly. When the eye-poke took place the feeling was that Mourinho was looking at a huge ban and even assault charges, should Tito Vilanueva wanted to go down that route (which he should have). The pathetic and untimely response from the Spanish FA was sadly predictable, as was the inability of either Mourinho or Florentino Pérez to attempt a ‘it was all the heat of the moment /not normally that kind of manager’ apology. I can only imagine how Marca would have responded if Pep Guardiola had jabbed Karanka in the eye or tried to give him a wedgie.
Apart from trying to start a war off the pitch, there is some battle on the pitch, and how would you rate the chances of Barcelona claiming their fourth consecutive La Liga? Equally, could Barca’s reign be coming to an end this season?
I think it will swing in Barça’s direction this season once again. As Real Madrid have shown already against Levante, Racing and in the first half against Betis, they still have trouble finding their way past parking-the-bus teams. Barcelona not having a greater lead over Madrid is more to do with carelessness rather than an ‘end of an era’ vibe as some in certain sections of the press like to claim over and over again.
Either way, La Liga is effectively a two-horse race, and much of that is down to the distribution of the TV rights. Do you envisage either the Blaugrana or Real Madrid making any concessions when a new TV rights deal is negotiated?
Not a chance. Both clubs rely on the cash to pay for players like Messi, Villa, Ronaldo and Ozil - which benefits la Liga and Spanish football as a whole, some might say. Their budgets would be set for the next few years and it is hard to imagine either club volunteering to give up a chunk of their money for the greater good.
And a quick side note, in one word, how would you describe Ian Ayre for pursuing such a deal for the Premier League?
Back to La Liga and Barcelona, and the academy is still churning out prodigal talent after prodigal talent, though the B team has really taken a hit. Languishing in the bottom half of the Segunda, what exactly would you pinpoint as the problem at the Mini Estadi?
I must admit that I don’t get to see too much of la Segunda, but I can guess that the success of the ‘B’ team last year means that a lot of those players who are good enough for top flight football jumped ship - Nolito, Edu Oriol, Abraham, Fontás, Thiago, Oriol Romeu, so the squad has to start again with new players and, of course, a new coach.
Also, it seems all is not well behind the scenes at Barcelona, with Guardiola intervening in the court case, Laporta coming back to the fore and now Bojan getting involved yet again. Do you think any of this will affect the team? It also seems ironic this is happening just as Real Madrid have ironed out all of their boardroom squabbles...
I genuinely don’t think most footballers give a flying one about anything aside from getting paid and getting games, so I doubt there is any problems with distractions for them. The problem could be with Pep Guardiola who is not exactly best mates with Sandro Rosell and the current board. If there is continued action taken against Joan Laporta - and he certainly has a case to answer during his spell at the Camp Nou - this may well affect his willingness to extend his contract.
Champions League winners for this season?
Best signing from the summer?
Malaga picking up Santi Cazorla.
Overachievers (from the season so far)?
Benzema or Higuain?
Young players to keep an eye out for?
Raphael Varane at Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano’s Lass.
Ballon D’Or winner?
Where can we find more our your work?
FourFourTwo website and magazine, Football365.com, Sabotage Times and various podcasts and shows scattered about the infosphere (including Extra Time, the twice-weekly chat show on Real Madrid TV)
Thanks to Tim for taking the time to work with us, and hopefully we can get him to contribute again one day ;)