It has been a undeniably wonderful season for Barcelona. They have not only won three competitions but won over the hearts of many football fans. I certainly adore them, but do think there’s a little room for improvements and here are my (rather obvious) thoughts.
Improve the squad
This current team are constantly being called the greatest in the world. I disagree. I think they may have the greatest starting 11, but if you ignore those 11 and concentrate on the rest of the squad it’s actually rather weak. Barças rivals Real Madrid have a far superior squad with a very good reserve player in nearly every position. The Catalans on the other hand have an assortment of over priced aging players and various young Spaniards from Barcelona B that have occasionally proved unreliable.
Barcelona’s fabulous 11 is almost too much of a team. If one of them is missing the system is prone to breaking. In fact, the 11 didn’t even draw a game in La Liga last season. All draws and loses occurred when at least one backup player started. Of course it sounds obvious that a backup player isn’t going to perform as well as one from the first team and that’s to be expected. But the problem is that, as I said, the 11 rely on each other so greatly to function as the ‘best team in the world’. They are a mind-blowing system of players whose styles compliment each other in an exceptional way. (That’s why Lionel Messi scores almost half as many goals for Argentina as for Barcelona.) When a new player comes along they seemingly struggle to be part of that system. Even the youth (La Masia) players, raised the Barça way, occasionally stick out when alongside others from the 11. And the likes of Milito and Mascherano look alien alongside them. And this brings me onto my next point…
Shrewd transfer dealings
Maybe it isn’t surprising, considering their reliance on players coming through La Masia, that Barças purchases in recent years have often been so poor. But is is odd considering nearly every other aspect of the club is so well run. In just the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons they spent roughly €140 million on what many consider flops and €50 million on ‘good’ buys. That’s a terrible ratio and if you include wages and fees, they have wasted an awful amount of money in a very short space of time.
Barça also never seem to bag a bargain and are constantly over-paying. Whether it be for young, unproven players like Keirrison (20, €14M), Chygrynskiy (22, €25M) and Cáceres (21, €16.5m) or aged, experienced ones like Henry (29, €24M) or Milito (28, €17M) and Villa (29, €40M). Naturally, many would rightly argue that investing in young talent is a good thing as they are buying players at the right age, as their wage demands are small and they could be sold at a later date for a similar or greater price. But these young buys never seem to reach their potential and are usually loaned out and loose their value and demand before being moved on. This could be down to bad luck. But you surely can’t have €140 worth of bad luck in two years?! If it wasn’t for the financial weight of the club and the quality of La Masia graduates Barça could be in a very different position in the table.
Aside: does any one else think if Barça had Arsene Wenger as Director of Football they would be unstoppable?
Keep hold of Guardiola
Guardiola’s contract seems to be pretty much extended one year at a time season-by-season. Whether it’s his or Barças idea to do it this way I don’t know. All I know is that ‘Pep’ is often curiously self-deprecating. He insists he’s just steering a very talented ship. Maybe he’s just being humble, but I think deep down he doubts his own abilities. He may just believe he’s advising other managers players and playing with a system inherited from Johan Cruyff. Also, when asked about rumours of moving on to another club he seems open and flattered by the prospect and gives the stock ‘my contract runs ’til 20XX, after that you never know’ line.
He’s been at Barcelona his entire coaching career and most of his playing one and you would imagine that’d would breed the sort of man who would be inherently loyal. But it seems he’s certainly not going to be the Catalan Alex Ferguson and may likely be tempted to prove himself elsewhere.
Anyway, I believe Barcelona need to hold onto him. Not only for the the Ferguson-effect of stability, but of course because he wins trophies consistently. La Liga three times in a row and the UEFA Champions League twice. A sensational record! Just imagine if Bojan’s late goal versus Inter Milan in the 2nd leg of the semi-final in 2010 stood? He could of won it three times in a row by now!
Ignore the critics
Barcelona are loved by nearly all. Even the Manchester United fans seemed content to loose to such a brilliant team in the Champions League final recently. They are known as the good guys in football; financially secure and the best team in Europe. Maybe they should just keep doing what they’re doing! 🙂