We never tire of stating the obvious and of using many words and valuable space to do so. And the fact that Barca doesn’t play its next game till a week later was a good opportunity for a quick dive into the archives to unearth some Pep Guardiola gems that are especially apt for the situation. So here goes.
1. Footballers are people
That’s an old Pep quote. Taken from the Independent. Pep is usually correct, so we will take his word for it that our footballers are actually people and not precision automatons mass manufactured in La Masia underground genetic laboratory. Which usually means a certain degree of fallibility and fatigue however much we like to scream “we want to see 110% every game, against every opposition no matter how good, for the nth year running, irrespective of whether you have a coach or not!”. Sometimes it is hard to invest 110% if you are unsure of the plan and unsure if everyone is in sync in the first place.
2. Other Teams Want Too. Other Teams Adapt.
Here, have a Xavi quote too while we’re at it, a pre-world cup final quote from 2010 taken from a piece by Miguel Delaney in ESPN that fits like a glove for present day Barca.
“Do you not realize how hard it is?” The simple answer is, no we don’t, and that’s all of us, despite talks of plan A to Z, transfers and strategy. We look at the once in an era talent in the lineup and wonder if everything is possible as long as the players really want it and work tirelessly towards it in a myopic view where the other team’s talent and want counts for nothing. Over to Pep again.
So other teams adapt. And Barca has to continuously evolve to stay on top. Does the team need leadership, direction and a plan right now? Sure yes. Maybe Roura just needs to yell at them to get them focused again? Um…no.
3. Delaying the Inevitable. Reducing the Drop.
This is never going to last forever. The current phase could well be a minor blip and maybe the team comes back and wins every other game resoundingly this season, but a drop is inevitable. But that’s what makes it even more captivating. Of course there is going to be drop in form, of course other teams are going to catch up and perhaps even overtake. Then it’s back to the drawing board again to reduce the degree and duration of the fall and bounce back up to the next high as long as the talent is retained. Maybe the aura of invincibility has been replaced by a sudden vulnerability, but losing a few games (albeit important ones) in Hlebruary does not signal a plunge into endless abyss. We do have the same team after all. Even if (emphasis on IF) we get eliminated by Milan next week, there is a very high likelihood that we still end up with the League title. And that’s not too shabby.
4. Aiming for the stars? Or taking the near impossible for granted?
Talking of the league title, Miguel Delaney puts last season’s La Liga second place in historical perspective.
And yet they have bounced back so admirably this season, with a 13 point gap to Real Madrid and 11 point gap to Atletico with 12 games to go yet. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that there is a very real possibility that this team will end up with four league titles in five years. No mean feat that. How can this season not be a success if it ends with a league title?
5. The Presence of a Coach
The situation is what it is. The most important thing is Tito’s health, and he will return when he’s completely back to good health. Till then, poor Roura gets to spend most of his pressers counting the number of days before there is deliverance from all the scrutiny and he can bolt from the hot seat he never asked for. “Well, anybody could win with this team” was the very common sentiment during Pep’s leadership, and apparently Roura can’t. And that’s fine, because if anyone could take over and be just as brilliant as Pep and Tito, what would be the point of that commonplace brilliance? As Ade puts it across so succinctly in her review, “Tito will be back, the players will shake off the funk, and we will win again.”
Over to Pep again. Because he says it much better than we ever could.