Worst. Week. Ever...
Ok, maybe not ever. But definitely one of the worst weeks in recent FC Barcelona history.
FC Barcelona ended its week from hell with a 2-1 loss to their eternal rivals Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey Final on Wednesday night. Madrid was the better team on the night, and we can't say that they did not deserve it. Congrats to them.
Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale were stellar on the night. What a golazo by Bale. Yes, Marc Bartra was not 100% to try and chase Gareth down and Marc said he pulled up during the play, but let's be honest, Bale is much faster than Bartra and the Welshman still would have beat Marc to the goal. It is was it is.
Barcelona was very poor on the night. Dani Alves was an absolute disgrace. I couldn't stand his crosses into the box. Completely useless. Lionel Messi seemed out of it. I don't know if he's disinterested or if it's something else, but it worries me. I'm not implying that I think he wants to leave, but I do believe he knows this current FCB era's run is over. A shame that Jordi Alba got hurt; there goes another defender. Cesc Fabregas has faded away late in the season, as usual. Overall, the team was poor. Nice to see Bartra get the goal, but Bale's golazo against a challenging Bartra will take away some of the kid's shine.
Neymar hitting the post in the final minutes summed up the season for Barcelona: Oh, so close, yet so far.
The columnist in me is not ashamed to write critical articles about Barcelona. But please do understand that the fan in me hates writing these kinds of articles. It's too easy to praise your club all of the time, but unlike so many so-called columnists out there who are never critical of their team, I am always honest and fair-even if it calls for saying this FC Barcelona era is all but over.
Time for some to accept reality. Barcelona still has a bright future, but the curtain is coming down on this 2008-14 era.
It all went wrong so fast, yet, this was coming all along
Lack of creativity on offense, no depth on offense or defense, lack of discipline, an aging back-up goalkeeper, and a manager who is simply inept in his tactics are just some of the reasons the wheels on FC Barcelona finally fell off. Yes, injuries played a major part as well. But I don't want to blame FCB's entire downfall on that. And no, do not even try nor let anyone blame Lionel Messi for the team's downfall. Team/FCB board downfall, not Messi's downfall.
Go home, Tata
Gerardo "Tata" Martino is a good manager, overall. But as I've mentioned in my "Fin De Ciclo" articles these past few weeks, this job is too big for Tata, his tactics are now useless, and he is not disciplined enough to lead this team. Frankly, Tata is not tough enough, I mean, disciplined enough to manage in Europe, and he's better off going back to South America and manage there. Tata does not know how to manage a game with this team, he lacks creative ideas, he's late on substitutions, and he relied too much on the four-midfielders-at-once lineup. Even if Tata got another job in Europe, I doubt he'd find much success there. He's better suited to go back to South America or even Mexico and manage there. Tata is just not Europe material and there's nothing wrong with that. Some things are just not meant to be.
Sorry Tata, but I wish you the best, and enjoy your last few weeks in Barcelona. It's business, not personal.
The FCB Board has to be on the brink of destruction, right?
As much as we'd like to put all of the blame of Tata Martino, it's obviously not. Yes, in hindsight, Tata was a bad hire-despite last-minute circumstances due to Tito Vilanova's health issue. But Tata didn't have much to work with when it came to defense and depth on the bench.
I don't know how the FCB socios can allow this current FCB board continue on after this season. They have destroyed this team with their incompetence. Most Culés and I don't trust or believe in Josep Maria Bartomeu, Andoni Zubizarreta or any other board member, and the time has come for them to be put to the fire (figuratively). New elections are needed now! If the transfer ban sticks, it will further solidify how the Sandro Rosell/Bartomeu/Zubi leadership destroyed the greatest era in FC Barcelona history. Yes, all eras must come to an end, but with good, well thought-out planning and signings, this era could have lasted much longer.
FCB socios: Do the right thing and demand new elections now! Stop this board from further destroying the club! Fight to bring back the soul of this club to the front office, because this current FCB has no true Culé soul. All they care about is money and business.
A sad end to the Ciclo
While I would have loved to have seen Barcelona win one more title before this ciclo ends, it was not meant to be. Unless a dramatic turn of events happens in La Liga, FC Barcelona will go this 2013-14 season without one of the top three trophies of the Copa del Rey, the Liga title or the UEFA Champions League title. The Spanish SuperCup is the only reward on a season that many fans expected more, but in hindsight, perhaps we should have seen that this season's downfall was coming all along.
No, Barcelona fans don't expect their team to win every trophy out there, but they do expect their team to perform well and/or put up a good challenge every game. Let's be realistic. But this season there were too many games where Barça looked incapable of even putting a good shot on goal, and that is unacceptable not only to fans, but to the entire club.
For me, the saddest part is that Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes will end their FC Barcelona careers without getting a trophy in their last season with the club. Sure, they have won plenty of trophies during their time at FCB, but it would have been great for VV and Puyi to raise a trophy just one more time. Such a shame.
So now what?
Barcelona will continue on in their Liga campaign, but let's be honest; much of what happens the rest of the Liga season is of concern only to the squad, but not for the club as a whole. The transfer ban and the search for a new manager is already on the minds of many people at the club. It's important for all Culés to continue supporting the squad, but I know many fans' minds will be thinking about this summer.
I know some have not wanted to say nor admit this, but can we all finally come to an agreement that it's time to rebuild FC Barcelona?! Please! It's time to build it around Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Alba, and Bartra. Some of the current FCB players have got to go, obviously. It may hurt the club to cut ties with a player like, for example, a Dani Alves, Cristian Tello or Pedro, but the team is in need of changes, and this is business, not personal. We know changes are coming at goalkeeper and centre back. With Rafinha and Gerard Deulofeu coming back from their loan spells, and if Marc-Andre ter Stegen is able to join, this FCB team will have a new, youthful energy next season. We all hope and pray that the transfer ban is suspended, thus bringing in a chance to truly change the team. If not, Barcelona B will have to be the source where changes come for the first squad.
But the rebuilding of FC Barcelona starts with a new manager to lead, discipline, mentor, toughen up, and bring out the best in Barça in 2014-15. This summer, we will all wait to see who will be the new manager to lead the new era of the club.
Ronaldo and Messi: Respect
The embrace of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after the game is one of the things that makes football so great. Fans and the media have made these two "rivals", and yes, each wants to be the best in the sport. But Ronaldo and Messi have never been nor will ever be "enemies." They respect each others game. And after the game, Ronaldo and Messi showed the world that respect always overcomes "rivalries."
The heart of Football is not rivalries.
The heart of Football is love and respect. Love for the game, and respect for the game and the competitors.
Respect to Messi and Ronaldo.
Proud to be a Culé
This was one of worst week for FC Barcelona and all their fans in recent history, as the Champions League, Liga, and the Copa were lost all in the span of a week. But it's the tough times that make us stronger because it makes us appreciate the triumphs even more. And it's during the tough times when true FC Barcelona fans stand by their team.
Stand up Culés, brush yourselves off and refocus. We may not like the club's board, the manager, or even some of the players. But we will always love Futbol Club Barcelona-in the good times and in the bad.
Michael Jordan once said, "Nothing of value comes without being earned."
Barcelona didn't have enough nor deserved to earn a major title this season. It's tough, but that's the truth. This 2008-2014 FC Barcelona era was one hell of a ride, and we've all enjoyed it. We will never forget the great moments that it brought us, and we were all truly blessed to have witnessed it.
The future is a bit uncertain right now, but do not fear it. Instead, embrace change, embrace a new era and let's face it together, standing strong as a Culé family/familia. Trust me when I say Futbol Club Barcelona will lift itself up, learn from this disappointment, regroup, rebuild, and fight to reach the top once again.
ser del Barça és
el millor que hi ha!
Xoel, The Voice of Culés