Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I've Got a Bad Feeling about This

Don't leave me here!

It's never a good thing when your star striker, the guy whose return is supposed to propel your team back to great from merely good, describes his coach as "bad person" and then defends himself against the team's star player. Samuel Eto'o has a history of being a moody, squeaky wheel, so it's important not to overreact to a comment like that, but he's so good and great strikers are such a commodity that he just needs to say the word and a number of rich clubs around the world are going to swoop in to further unsettle him. Eto'o's frustration might simply be the result of not having played for a while and once he's back on the pitch and scoring goals, everything will be fine. But then again, it might not and Barca might be left with the inconsistent Saviola and the miscast Gudjohnsen at the tip of its spear.

Incidentally, I watched the game on Saturday and there didn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary going on. Eto'o warmed up for much of the second half and then when it looked like he was going to come on for Ronaldinho, Belletti hurt himself tumbling in the box and Rijkaard had to use his third sub to bring on Oleguer. Eto'o was probably upset that he didn't come on much earlier for a misfiring Saviola. In a perfect world, Eto'o gets the start at the Mestalla this weekend, scores six goals, and Barca marches through the rest of their schedule. After last year, though, I don't really feel entitled to demand a perfect world.


LD said...

I have nowhere near the Barca knowledge as you, but I did see the Fiver today in the Guardian had a good bit on this row.

If the coverage it to be believed, I wouldn't be worried about someone swooping in to take Eto'o - rather that Rijkaard's days are numbered.

In the meantime, will all this coming to a boil just as Liverpool come to town? A Liverpool team that always seems to face other teams (in the CL, at least) when they're having a messy time? (And yes, my recent run of soccer predictions should leave you feeling pretty good if I'm thinking Liverpool has a good chance).

Michael said...

The Fiver is generally pretty unreliable, so I wouldn't put too much stock into it. Laporta seems to be playing the role of peacemaker between Rijkaard and Eto'o. Samuel is often uncalculating in his remarks, so I'm not going to put too much into this. We'll see how it plays out in the next few weeks.

The Fiver is totally off in giving Rijkaard no credit for winning two Primera titles and the Champions League. If he was managing an English team, they'd be kissing his perm. He got his tactics just right last year (note that the subs he put on against Arsenal - Larsson and Iniesta - were instrumental in the tying and winning goals), he's put in the perfect formation for Barca's talent (a Dutch 4-3-3), and the young players have developed nicely, especially Iniesta and Messi (when Leo is healthy). The only rap on Frank is that Henk Ten Cate was his tactical mind and he's at Arsenal now, but Neeskens has replaced Ten Cate pretty well. Barca's tactics have been good this year, with the exception of the failure to play Motta or Edmilson as a defensive midfielder against Real.

The Fiver really loses the plot when it blames Rijkaard for the loss to Italy in Euro '00, as if Frank is responsible when his team totally dominates a game and loses in PKs after missing two penalties in regulation. I don't know enough about Sparta to comment.

The challenge with a team as good as Barca is to manage the egos of the best players in the world, especially when those players are the defending Spanish and European champs. Rijkaard has always been good at that. Eto'o presents a challenge now, but I'm hoping that he'll fall into line when he's back in the lineup. I'm really hoping that Samuel realizes how good he has it as the tip of the trident with that supporting cast feeding him.

The intriguing aspect of the Liverpool tie is the Deco/Xavi match-up against Gerrard. If they boss him around, Barca will win easily.

Kanu said...

As a Barca fan, and a Barca fan whose fave player is Eto'o (hell I paid 85 euros for his authentic kit at Camp Nou last year) I was sad to see this story develop, but at the end of the day I think this is much to do about nothing.

I am intrigued by the fact that no coverage of this story has mentioned that Spanish is the 2nd language of both men and there is a possibility that alleged comments might be the result of misinterpretations or 'lost in translations' if you will. It may or may not apply here, but this happens all the time in european soccer.

If you read between the lines it sounds more & more like the Ronaldo named after Ronald Reagan will be moving to Spain this summer, which means either RM or Barca. Myles Palmer writes interestingly about it here

IF he were to end up at Barca, I'm curious to hear your thoughts as to whether he & R10 could play well together or if there perhaps wouldn't be enough ball to go around, or if they would have a bizarro Lampard/Gerrard thing going where their roles are too similar, or if it would be perfect with one on each wing with eto'o back up front and Guily sacrificed...