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No treats on Halloween as Barcelona miss a trick at Alaves

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Sergio Busquets had another nightmare

Deportivo Alavés v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Where do you even start after what can only be politely described as a disjointed showing at Alaves...

Let’s begin with Sergio Busquets. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever now that Busi should not be first choice in the midfield.

We got rid of Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal because they were supposedly no longer of sufficient standard to wear the shirt. Busquets isn’t quite there yet, but he’s getting close.

The old guard can no longer be cosseted by the club because of their glory days. If they’re not doing the business, either haul them off or don’t start them in the first place. That applies to Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba too.

We are in the business of football success, not the business of keeping under-performing employees happy at any cost.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-ALAVES-BARCELONA Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images

Busi’s performance was, frankly, embarrassing and if Koeman can’t see that, then maybe we’ve a problem on the bench too.

That’s no league wins in four now, for the first time in two years, and our worst start since 2002 when another Dutchman, Louis van Gaal, was at the helm.

Koeman deserves kudos for the way in which he has been rotating and also allowing most of the youngsters - with the notable exception of Riqui Puig - to get game time, however, the need to play a 4-2-3-1 religiously is beginning to look like the manager doesn’t have a clue as to how to implement other formations, when they could prove decisive.

Messi certainly cut a frustrated figure in Vitoria and was lucky to still be on the pitch after aiming the ball at the referee.

The No.10 incredibly still hasn’t scored from open play this season, (though he did come close on Saturday), which suggests that the system isn’t working for him either.

Whilst it’s refreshing to move away from ‘Messi-dependence,’ we still need to recognise that Barca are at their best when the captain oils the wheels.

Deportivo Alavés v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

On another night, with Lady Luck on our side, we may have scored five or six and the frustration was that the aims of our strikers weren’t true enough despite Alaves being down to 10 men for half an hour. That and an outstanding performance from Pacheco in goal - unlike Neto’s disasterclass.

All of the above said, let’s end on a positive note. Antoine Griezmann showed enough last night to prove he’s worth sticking with. He is the hardest working of the front line at the present time, with little reward to show for it.

If a suitable system can be found which plays to his strengths, he has the nous to be a hugely important player for the club.

Barca just have to stop trying to shoehorn him into a role that doesn’t suit him in order to accommodate others.