"They should be ashamed of themselves"
It's been quite a week. It began with a 6-0 trashing of Valencia, had a 1-4 trashing at the hands of Madrid in the middle and concluded with the surrendering of a 2-0 lead at home to Mallorca, losing 2-3 in the ninety-third minute (Defeat 'in extremis' was the headline on the FCB website. They're not wrong...) Oh and Frank Rijkaard is stepping down as coach, making way for Pep Guardiola.
The only one of the three games I caught was the 'clasico' on Wednesday night, which was an embarrassment for all involved. Henk ten Cate called it correctly on Sky Sports when he said that the players ought be "ashamed of themselves". Barcelona were abject in Madrid. Victor Valdes, who had to pick the ball out of the net four times and Leo Messi, who had to do just about everything himself, were the only players to emerge with any credibility intact. Gudjohnsen was pulled off after a mere twenty four minutes (why I don't know, he was no better or worse than the rest of them and his replacement Gio dos Santos was hopeless, the sooner he gets gone to Manchester City the better, he's simply not good enough). Xavi was sent off after ninety, getting two yellow cards in quick succession for mouthing off. Real's first gol was as a result of a blatant foul on Rafa Marquez by Guti, the second came from a free kick that never should have been awarded. Not that any of that really mattered. Real were given a helping hand by the referee but they hardly needed it, the blaugrana rolled over.
It was painful viewing, hapless defending coupled with ineffective and wayward attacking play. This team are sooo past finished it's not funny. They didn't even try. Rijkaard is, one would imagine, happy to be shot of them. After all he has given to the club and this group of players, he deserves better.
The season ends next week, away at Murcia and honestly, it can't come quick enough. Major surgery is required on the squad and the coaching staff. After watching 'el clasico' on Wednesday my mate Peter and I came up with a list of players worth keeping for next time out. There are eleven:
Valdes, Puyol, Milito, Abidal, Iniesta, Xavi, Toure, Deco, Bojan, Eto'o and Messi. The rest can get lost.
Hilariously I read today that Lillian Thuram, 36, wants to sign a new deal at the Camp Nou. I'd sooner put Gaby Milito, anterior cruciate ligament injury and all, on his crutches in beside Charly, than see Thuram line out for the blaugrana again. Good god. I don't envy Pep, he has it all to do. Not least how do you solve a problem like Thierry Henry, who's scored four gols in the last three matches (like it matters now), but who has generally been about as effective as a cardboard cut out of Thierry Henry. He's said that he wants to stay and I can't see anyone descent wanting to sign him (the likes of Newcastle et al have of course been mentioned but like he's going there) Not to get all "I told you so" but I was very much against the signing of Henry from the beginning, it was a real galactico move and it's been a disaster for all concerned. Whether he can step it up next time around under new management, perhaps playing through the middle I don't know. It's not like he's crap but his mind seems to be elsewhere (Ashburton Grove perhaps?) and he's been incredibly negative in interviews. I'd ditch him, but as I said, where?
I'm away to Milano for the rest of the week so it'll be all quite on the blogging front until I get back. There'll be a review of the season up next Sunday or Monday though. Until then.