Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Take a bow, Sandro Rosell


Looks like it may all be okay after all.

'dinho and Eto'o at training this morning. Picture: Guido Manuilo for AP

A good article on the current situation at Barcelona by Sid Lowe in today's Irish Times:

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard and the club's sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, will today decide what action to take against Samuel Eto'o after the striker sparked a crisis at the Nou Camp a week before the crucial Champions League tie against Liverpool.

Eto'o last night followed up his refusal to go on as a late substitute against Racing Santander on Sunday by launching an astonishing and thinly-veiled attack on Rijkaard and his team-mate Ronaldinho. He also blew the lid on the profound divisions within the squad when he claimed that Barcelona was a club where there are "two sides at war". It is a war in which Eto'o and Ronaldinho, Barca's biggest stars, find themselves on opposing sides.

The Cameroonian striker, who has been out of action with a knee-ligament injury since September, was due to make a substitute appearance against Racing as he continues his rehabilitation. But, having warmed up for over 15 minutes, he returned to the bench with seven minutes left, furious that he had been offered so little time on the pitch. Asked during the post-match press conference why Eto'o did not make an appearance, Rijkaard answered simply: "He decided not to play." Ronaldinho, meanwhile, implored the Cameroonian to "think of the team".

The following day, Eto'o avoided both men when he decided to train alone in the gym and last night he hit back with a vengeance. "Anyone who comes out in the press room and says that I refused to play is a bad person," Eto'o snapped, clearly referring to Rijkaard, with whom his relationship has long been strained. "I have always fulfilled my obligations with my team-mates. They can say whatever they want, but I can hold my head up high. "Rijkaard said what he said. It's up to him to explain that. I don't have to give any explanations to anyone except the club - if they ask for them," he added. "He should think about the fact that I always go out and train with my team-mates, even if I have injuries and knocks."

The "unlike Ronaldinho", whose absenteeism is legendary, went unsaid as Eto'o also responded to the Brazilian's post-match comments. "If a team-mate says I should be thinking about the group, he's the one that should think about the group," said Eto'o. "That's the only thing that annoyed me." Eto'o also accused the former vice-president, Sandro Rosell, of fostering a civil war at the club which has divided the dressingroom. Rosell was forced to leave Barcelona after his relationship with the president, Joan Laporta, collapsed, but he maintains a close relationship with a number of players, especially the Brazilians.

"(There is) a war with two sides," said Eto'o. "It is not my war but I am the one taking all the hits. (If Rosell has anything to say to me) he should have the balls to say so to my face; he never said anything to me when he was my boss. "He didn't even say hello to me and now he is attacking me from behind my back. That's the behaviour of a bad person." And if Barcelona were already reeling last night, the threat of even more serious revelations hung heavy in the air.

"If I come out and talk, you'll see what happens," Eto'o warned. © 2007 The Irish Times

There was more on this last night from Eto'o, saying he had more of a problem with his team-mates (read Ronaldinho) having a go at him as opposed to Frank Rijkaard. "I'm not criticising Rijkaard, him and me aren't going to have any problems," he said. "But what I am not going to accept is that someone comes out and says that everyone knows what they should do for the team."

Where this goes I don't know. Firstly 'dinho needs to keep his opinions to himself. Secondly Rosell, a man who was agitating for Rijkaard's removal while he was on the board really needs to get over himself and start to act in the interests of the club. Sammy could do with shutting up too.


linda said...

It's probably a bit unfair of me, but I've disliked Rosell ever since Ten Cate's rant revealing Rosell's agenda against Rijkaard. He wanted Scolari instead. Scolari! Great coach, but can you see him at Barca?

Rosell is a bit like Van Gaal in that Van Gaal filled the team with Dutch players, and Rosell attempted the same with Brazilians. Not that I'm complaining about the presence of those players - they're great, everyone knows that - but it doesn't exactly lead to happy families at the club, which is after all not Dutch or Brazilian.

Sorry, rant over.

Mal said...

I've heard that this hug picture was a stage managed afair as both players were under orders to make up in front of the cameras.

Thomas said...

Rosell always struck me as being more interested in furthering himself as opposed to having the best interests of the club in mind. I don't know if you've seen the BBC's Storyville documentary on Laporta's first year as President of Barcelona but it deals with the split between Rosell and Laporta very well, you can see it almost from the beginning, how their relationship begins to strain. Rosell likes the limelight and he's likely to take a run at the presidency when Laporta's current term ends. It's not something I relish.

Mal, that hug was staged but not in "hug or else" sort of way, it was more to give the press something to hang their Eto'o-and-Barça-make-up stories on. Linda's blog has some good quotes from Deco about it.