Ball and Lowe both deploy grade school analogies to describe this immature team, which is telling. The money graf from Phil:
In the end, of course, the enemy was within. The Dutchman's tendency to indulge certain players' reluctance to train hard, or their tendency to arrive back late from international matches, backfired in the end. As with a decent teacher who has knowledge and kindness to spare, the kids took advantage of the fact that the classroom discipline was nevertheless lacking. Two leagues and a Champions Cup notwithstanding, in the final analysis his president, Joan Laporta, pointed the finger in Rijkaard's direction last week, in a press conference which revealed a lack of self-criticism and a lot of cowardice - two qualities that this president will be remembered for, if he goes sooner rather than later.
Money graf from Sid:
Poor little Football Club Barcelona. It couldn't have been more embarrassing if Mrs Barcelona had joined his mittens with a length of string, tied his sensible shoes in great big girly bows, ironed a nice crease into the front of his trousers and packed a My Little Pony lunch box with cling film-wrapped ponging peanut butter sandwiches, an apple because it's good for you, a couple of cartons of Um Bongo and a note saying "Mummy Loves You". If she'd wiped his tearful, snotty-nosed face clean with spit on a hankie and theatrically waved goodbye at the school gates. Right in front of the cool kids.
I'll try to write more about the side when I get a chance, but here's my preliminary take on the carnage this summer. I'll divide the players into three groups:
Valdes (although a second keeper will be on the shopping list; Victor was not especially good this year)
Yaya Toure (but only because he might want to play with his brother; he was one of the heroes of this campaign)
Almost certainly going:
Note that the group of players who are almost certainly staying are almost all players who came up through the Barca youth system. Those guys all played hard from start to finish. The only product of the youth system who was questioned this year was Dos Santos because he doesn't like passing the ball and thus drew the ire of the crowd. He also has a father who is reputedly looking to move him along. Anyway, the transfer market giveth and taketh away. I'm looking forward to a summer of new players. Karim Benzema and Dimitar Berbatov, come on down!