Tag Archives: carles puyol

Trophies & transfer bans: What’s happening at Barça?

This week, FIFA announced that it had banned Barcelona from signing any players for the next two transfer windows for breaking the rules on signing international players under the age of 18. The Catalans have also been fined 450,000 Swiss francs (around €370,000) but have, perhaps unsurpringly, confirmed they will be appealing the ban.

The news stunned football fans, but more importantly to Barça, it shocked the club and their “more than a club” image has no doubt been somewhat damaged by this.

In my experience of going to the Catalan capital over the years, it seems that Sandro Rosell is something of a bad guy. Or at least he is somebody who the fans can blame. Rosell was President of the club from summer 2010 until last January when he resigned following investigations of alleged misappropriation of funds over the signing of the Brazilian player Neymar.

It was also Rosell who came to the agreement with Qatar Airways to allow the airline’s logo be carried on the Barça jersey in a deal worth around €30m per year. It was the first time a commerical logo has been allowed on the club’s shirt in their history. Previously Barça paid UNICEF to carry their logo. It strengthened their “more than a club” image and suggested that they were morally superior to their rivals – especially Real Madrid. The Qatari deal put an end to that in the eyes of many.

rosellqatar

“His obsession is money,” one fan told me at the Camp Nou last January, speaking about Rosell mere days before his resignation. “All he cares about it money. I have no pride with Qatar Airways on the blaugrana (Barcelona’s traditional colours)”. Many people, I must admit, seem to share that opinion.

The Madrid-based press are, naturally, very speedy in denouncing the club’s negative actions – such as that of the Neymar deal. While much, if not, all of the Catalan press, and indeed Spain’s Sports Minister Miguel Cardenal, have all stated that Barça are hardly as reprehensible a club as they are being portrayed by certain sections of the media.

Unlike many other clubs, FC Barcelona is owned by it’s 160,000 members. And their opinion matters. Current President and former engineer Josep Maria Bartomeu (who was previously Sandro Rosell’s second in command) could see his presidency come to an end quicker than he would like.

The series of off-field events are not ideal for the club’s reputation or their image. The transfer ban could make like incredibly hard on Barcelona. With Victor Valdés and captain Carles Puyol leaving at the end of the season, they won’t be able to find suitable replacements for the two World Cup-winning stars. The off-field problems are becoming on-field problems and that, as any Barcelona fan will tell you, is the biggest problem of all.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Whatever happened to the player-manager?

Player-managers, eh? Whatever happened to them? They seem like an enormously rare thing now, don’t they? I mean I hardly expect Sir Alex Ferguson to put on his old boots and join Wazza and Ferdinand in Man United’s starting eleven. And the thoughts of José Mourinho becoming a Real Madrid galactico player would be entertaining to say the least. I doubt he’d still be “special”. But they were a glorious thing of the past.

Current Liverpool manager “King” Kenny Dalglish is held in the highest regard by the Anfield faithful. A phenomenal player in his day, in 1985 he was appointed player-manager and Liverpool’s success continued. His Liverpool team-mate Graeme Souness was also quite the player – and quite the manager. He wasn’t half bad at both. He won win three titles and three league cups in that role with Glasgow Rangers before he departed to manage Liverpool in 1991 – taking over from King Kenny.

King Kenny: Nevermind the player-manager, whatever happened to those old-school football caps.

Chelsea have a history of player-managers too. Ruud Gullit was the Blues’ player-manager bringing his self-described “sexy football” to Stamford Bridge – earning him an FA Cup winners medal in 1997. He was sacked by Chelsea’s then-owner Ken Bates in 1998. Bates further displayed his fetish for player-managers when he appointed Gianluca Vialli straight after Gullit’s dismissal. The Italian played only another year as player-manager but won the 2000 FA Cup as manager. And Chelsea legend Dennis Wise. He famously guided Millwall to the FA Cup Final in 2005 as player-manager. The result didn’t exactly go his way but what an achievement.

Other great player managers include Trevor Francis at Sheffield Wednesday in the early to mid 1990’s and Gordon Strachan at Coventry City. Not all great players became great player-managers however – ask Bobby Charlton and his forgettable tenure at Preston North End.

But it is a very rare thing these days. And something I’d personally love to see more of. I could picture Jamie Carragher being Liverpool’s player-manager. Or the same role for Carles Puyol at Barcelona. Or Rino Gattuso at AC Milan. Or even, dare I say it, Roy Hodgson at West Brom. Okay, scrap the last one. Football is changing. No doubt about it. But there are some old-school things about the beautiful game I never want to see die out. This is definitely one of them.

Champions League semi-finals preview (part 1)

And then there were four.

Manchester United travel to Gelsenkirchen where they face Schalke 04. It’s the fourth time in five seasons Sir Alex’s men have reached the semi-finals while the Germans have never before seen this far of the competition. Schalke’s Raul has found a new lease of life since moving to Germany and the all-time Champions League leading goalscorer will be looking to help make even more history for the Royal Blues. However, with fantastic Champions League and Premier League form, United will be pulling out the big guns – though they will be missing Berbatov and Fletcher. The rest of the Red Devils will have to be wary of Ralf Rangick’s men who put five past current holders Inter in their own back yard in the previous round.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JT8Cnr6zDT0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Barcelona face bitter rivals Real Madrid a total of five times this season – this being the fourth. They have both won a game each and drew the other in the previous three encounters. Madrid recently beat Barça in the Copa del Rey final (though the celebrations with the trophy got ‘out of hand‘). Madrid have improved massively as a team since Barça’s demolishing of them in November by 5-0. If there is one team that can stop Barça from dominating Europe once more – it is definitely Real Madrid. Carles Puyol was doubtful at the weekend but has travelled with the team to Madrid. The Catalan captain was badly missed at the cup final in Valencia. The Special One is confident after the cup win and can be even more confident with a full strength team all fully fit to face the Madridista’s rivals. The tie can go either way in reality – though I predict it to be extremely tight.