clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

La Liga: Pessimism, Optimism, Celta and FC Barcelona's Quest

Barcelona's fanbase is stuck in a seemingly endless struggle between the "optimists" and "pessimists," but who is right?

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Is this how it feels to win?

Barcelona won and the team is top of the table, but it wasn't pretty. Away to Celta, it took another Jeremy Mathieu goal off a set piece to settle the match, 1-0.

The Blaugrana were not dominant, and often, it was Celta who had the mighty Catalan team on the ropes.

After the match, the fanbase split into two camps. One accepted the performance away to a difficult opponent after an international break as below-par, but more than acceptable given the result. The other, which saw a team that was truly awe-inspiring a few seasons ago fail to really get it going, going full on savage on the squad and coach.

There is a more philosophical debate at the heart of all this, with coach Luis Enrique the main wedge between the two sides.

There are the "optimist" and "pessimist" fans, or so they are called. This is a simplification of course, but it's becoming more evident.

In the end, sport fandom is an illogical thing, and often it is emotion, and essentially personality, rather than reason, than drives these arguments.

It also might be time for all of you to dial it back a bit, yeah? (I may be asking for the impossible.)

The caricature of optimists as cheerleaders, willing to accept any and players, is silly. So is the idea that they think Barcelona is invincible or incapable of putting up less-than-inspired moments.

Pessimists aren't secretly anti-Barça, either, nor do they hope for failure. They simply want the team to always do better, even if the criticism becomes extreme or even unfair sometimes.

(Well, mostly.)

Let's face facts. The playing style Luis Enrique has chosen is more pragmatic than that of Pep Guardiola's era, but then again, many have a fantasized recollection of that era. The truth is Pep wasn't somehow "above" playing a midfield destroyer like Seydou Keita as a winger in a tough away match.

That comparison is obviously unfair. Not every team can match a historic team, less so midseason. And the team has improved in many key facets from even the Pep era in areas such as set pieces.

But then again, somehow lost in the shuffle is the fact that players are human. They're not robots, and that they did not perform to standard doesn't amount to their failures as human beings.

We're back to that old, strange beast: personality.

Players that seem calm and effortlessly cool when winning look like they don't care enough when losing (Gerard Pique might spring to mind). Fun-loving players such as Neymar look like they spark life into the team when their tricks are coming off, but look like they're not taking things seriously enough when out of form.

Perhaps the only personality type that gets constant acceptance from the fans is the zealous type. Fans identify with that level of intense emotion, even if it's not necessarily the most helpful. For example, while his fighting spirit can be an asset, Luis Suarez's outbursts can become a huge problem.

The need for self-criticism from even the best of teams is obvious. Often, managers will typically be hard on a team when its riding high, to prevent overconfidence.

The fans aren't the coach, however. There really is no need for disciplinarian fans. I've yet to hear of a professional athlete who thinks their own crowd booing them helped.

On the other hand, writers and bloggers have to showcase the truth, even if it is painful. Lifting team spirit is at least not usually the main motivation. Criticism in this arena is necessary, but it must be fair and realistic.

When the need to be negative for not living up to an almost fantastical standard exists, we are left with an analysis that isn't simply pessimistic, it's almost useless.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Barca Blaugranes Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Barca news from Barca Blaugranes