Tag Archives: la liga

A Voice in the Wilderness: Sid Lowe

24 Aug

Madrid and Barcelona, whose stranglehold on the league and other clubs is absolute, have no intention of redistributing talent, wealth or opportunity. There is no concept of the league as the product; the LFP is a loose, disparate collection of clubs with wildly different interests, each looking out for their own in which two clubs beat the rest every time.

Perennial State-of-La-Liga mourner Sid Lowe reaches the saddest realization of his career, which is the ominous curtain that we at nosrslr have never dared pull back: the LFP does not market La Liga; it markets the Big Two. How else to explain the constant catering to the Big Two when it comes to TV scheduling – not to mention the week-in/week-out suddenness of schedule finalizing? Let the lesser clubs squeal and starve all the day: Mother LFP only has two teets.

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Who thinks about $$$ when you’ve got bad decisions to make!?

31 Mar

Sid Lowe’s newest article on La Liga stands as yet another surgical entry point into La Liga’s recent years.  Lowe continues to pull apart the fleshy exterior of La Liga, clamping it down and leaving the innards bear.  After his three part series on La Liga’s TV revenue sharing debate earlier this year, in which Lowe opined about the fate of La Liga in a thesis-dense explanation of his position, we are once again confronted with an occasionally disputed fact (mostly by their fans): Barcelona spends tons of money on players.  Sid’s article brings to light the reality that, gosh, Barcelona actually spend a ton of money on players they didn’t plant and water themselves.  Barcelona and fans like to conclude that, since they’ve spent less than Real Madrid has in recent years, they are not a big money-spending club.  They’re not incorrect that Real Madrid spent/spend more than them, but spending less than RM does not an angelic club make.

Check it.

Talking with Barcelona Fans, Part 1

17 Jan

Barcelona fans are a strange lot. They are understandably proud of the accomplishments of their team in recent years, but unlike pretty much any group of fans in the world, they like to insist that their success is borne not of financial advantage or the continued assurance of legacy, but instead out of some innate goodness which resides in the heart of every fan and player who has ever worn the jersey (or merely visited the Camp Nou). With this in mind, we at no, srslr present a guide and list of important facts to remember to aid in talking with this group of people. Here is part 1.

La Masia, being a morally superior method of player development, is free.

Most teams raise the talent level of their team by purchasing players from other teams. This is extremely common, but there are a select number of teams that can and regularly do spend outlandishly to buy what they believe to be the absolute best talent in the world at any given moment (Barcelona is actually one of these teams, but we’ll get to that at a later date). Barcelona fans will tell you as soon as they can see you (even if you’re not in earshot yet) that their team “does it the right way” because they develop their talent in-house and don’t rely on money to buy players. When a Barca fan mentions this to you (and he/she will, inevitably, within the first 60 seconds of your conversation), it is important that you realize that the fact that Barcelona spends LAVISHLY on their cantera system is irrelevant. Do not attempt to point out that the 40 million euros they spend on their cantera every year is more than the entire annual operating budget of fully half of the league in which they compete. Implying that their precious home-grown talents are in fact products of the luxury of financial advantage they enjoy over the rest of the league (which the club itself perpetuates, to the detriment of the league–more on this later) will likely be met with blank stares, or worse, blind rage. Further, do not suggest that other teams spend proportionally more of their budget on in-house player development, and that if they had more resources other teams would conceivably spend more money on their cantera than does Barcelona. Remember: to a Barcelona fan their success only means something if it was accomplished in what they believe to be a morally superior way, so stating the simple fact that the financial reality they enjoy creates, enables, and ensures their success (and prevents other teams from even competing with them) is like implying they never won anything at all, or worse, cheated to win and still failed. Understanding this is key, and leads to a similar, but separate point:

Because La Masia is free, the players it produces are also free.

This might seem like a moot point (and indeed to the Barcelona fan it is not a consideration at all), but to the savvy football fan it is important to consider. As Soccernomics points out, transfer expenditures are usually not the greatest financial concern for teams–it is salaries that often either limit the amount of talent a team can hold or drive a team hopelessly into debt. The Barcelona fan scoffs at Real Madrid’s bloated roster of overpaid superstars and laughs that their team only wins games because of the money that is poured into it. This same fan will then boast about how Barcelona produced all three finalists for the player of the year award, and that the world XI this year has 5 of their players. This fan will not see a conflict in these stances, because in the mind of the Barcelona fan, players who grew up in their system don’t count on the books. You should therefore never suggest that Barcelona’s roster is impossibly expensive to keep around, and could only exist in a system of debt-driven finances and TV revenue duopoly. Mentioning, for example, that the salaries of just 3 or 4 of Barca’s best players would sink clubs that aren’t blessed with enormous financial resources will likely only lead the Barca fan to respond “but those players are ours”. Attempting to restate your position might elicit a series of Youtube videos of Messi’s breathtaking footwork. “But…he’s ours!”

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful. It is imperative to note that understanding all the quirks of Barcelona fans is useless, however, if you don’t understand the simple overriding fact hinted at above: that these fans only enjoy their success if they believe it was not bought or paid for in any way. Let’s say, for example, that you are not bothered by the increasingly commercial aspect of the world game. You understand that a certain handful of teams have achieved a level of fame and fortune that assures that they will always be in the title hunt and never actually suffer calamity (bar the year or two per decade when one of them might suffer the indignity of playing the in the Europa League). Feeling a swell of pity for the Barca fan’s neurotic need to be seen as completely free of the influence of money and therefore superior to all others, you may feel a desire to assure one of them that they need not be so wrapped up in these trivial concerns. DO NOT DO THIS. The typical fan has invested so much pride in “the Barca way” that the trophies themselves are actually meaningless. Suggesting that the fan has plenty to be proud of for the style, success, and talent of their team, and that there’s no shame that it was built by having millions more dollars than their competitors, is a grave insult to the Barca fan, and will likely lead to ranting and insults directed at Real Madrid (who they will assume you support, even if you’re wearing your team’s jersey right in front of them).

More to come in the future, including how Barca fans decide who they can claim as “theirs”, how Barca fans can believe they don’t spend a lot in the transfer market when they obviously do, what “more than a club” can and cannot mean, why a shirt sponsor matters until it doesn’t any more, why the Barca fan believes choosing to root for Barcelona is different than becoming a Yankees fan, and much, much more. Stay tuned!

Smells like a 10

3 Nov

“This team smells like the tenth!”

Do they?  Really?

They certainly smell like something familiar!  Like…like certain lofty expectations?  Whose weight will eventually break their backs?  Thus determining the next year of buy high/sell low economics?  That DOES smell familiar.  Marca and Real Madrid have spilt so much blood around the altar to their 10th Champions League trophy that, at this point, any beating heart is worth the eventual double-digit glory.  The buy high/sell low transfer policy of Real only continues to stoke the furnace of recent failures, and yet…and yet…Marca just can’t help but swoon over every step that leads to the eventual cremation of its beloved.

Just 12 months ago, Pelegrini, Cristiano, Benzema and Kaká were toasting Florentino “Sad clown” Pérez in his ballroom.  Showered with kisses in Eduardo Inda’s Florentino’s Real Madrid’s “Marca”, the team managed a spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the Nth straight season.  It was all a blur of French je-ne-sais-quoi last year when the Merengues crashed out of the first knockout round for the 5th straight year.  Thank god the conglomerate has not been fazed.  Some things are constant in this world:

“No, srsly you guys!  *THIS* time!  *THIS* time we can win it ALL!”

Two probable conversations about the Champions League:

(2009-10)

Pellegrini: “The project needs a little more time to gel.”

All RM fans, Marca, Pérez: “WE WILL BUY YOU GEL LATER!  WIN NAO!!!!!”

(2010-11)

RM fan #1: “Let’s hope we can make it to the second round this year lol.”

All other RM fans, Marca, Pérez: “GAHHHH!  MOUGASMO!  We bough so many players (AND A COACH, DIDN’T YOU HEAR?!?!) obviously we will win!!!!!!”

And now AC Milan had to go and tie Real.  Why, AC Milan.  Why.  Why did you let this Mou-sterbation continue.

Manuel Pellegrini: Man or Goat?

17 May

“You’re fired, Manolo”.  Pellegrini defied the odds today and was crowned on Marca’s final cover of the season as Madrid’s newest fired coach.  This has no bearing on whether the club actually will fire him, of course, but Marca have now submitted their official vote.

We had our best bets on a picture of Barcelona celebrating the title with a thousand Marca praises for being far superior – thereby lessening the blow on Real Madrid.  This was Marca’s tactic last year, claiming that “the best always win”.  The blog was also pretty spot on in that 1.) Rafael Nadal’s victory over Federer in the Madrid Masters would warrant a mention, and 2.) Mourinho’s Italian success wouldn’t go unnoticed.  Too bad there wasn’t a “we realize that we at Marca are terrible people” headline, but there is hope now as we’ve heard that Marca will tear down Cristiano’s statue and build one to the eternal virtues of common sense and decency.  –At No, Srslr we can make stuff up, too!

Back to the cover: you can almost see Marca editor Eduardo Inda lean over his desk, push his Cristiano paperweight to the side, look Manolo straight in those sad, sunken eyes, and pull out his best Donald Trump.

Of Failed Saviors and False Prophets

16 May

Yes, Marca.  It was impossible.

With Real Madrid having had their fill of comebacks this season in the battles for La Liga, they have called on super human powers to try to win the war.  Javier Clemente, a former Atlético Madrid manager, is currently coaching the only team that could have stopped Barça from crowning themselves the kings of Spain.

Less surprising than Clemente gracing the cover of this morning’s edition in a superman outfit (I mean, srsly…Superman wears azulgrana, Marca! What were you thinking?!?) is the relegation of the most surprising result of the weekend (Sevilla’s dramatic, heart-stopping, best-game-of-the-week, last-minute goal against Almería to claim the 4th Champion’s League spot) to a 6-word phrase.  They’ve tucked it away underneath Getafe’s Europa Cup qualification, also won yesterday in Madrid’s whocares?-derby against Atlético Madrid.

Pellegrini found himself in an uncomfortable place today, after months and months of Marca twisting his words into those of a fool, berating him for lineup changes they have clamored for oh-so-loudly, and generally acting like full-fledged babies, they have rested their case: “The ‘gentlemanly’ chilean fires off his goodbyes at Florentino, Valdano and the club.”  (Readers, you may proceed to roll your eyes)  Marca has weighed the club down all season with their arrogance and grumbling, and yet, today’s editorial highlights Pellegrini’s “lack of professionalism” for, among other completely rational quips, saying that it wouldn’t make much sense for Madrid to fire him when his two-year contract means they will be paying him next year anyway.

Tomorrow the debates will start, but first, let’s consider the team that Pellegrini has coached: 96 points earned – a total that would have made them La Liga winners by 9 or more points in any season of the last decade.  The team scored 102 goals this season – 4 more than Barcelona did.  They tied (along with Barcelona) the most ever victories (31) from a 38-match season.  They had two Pichichi (top scorer) contenders in Gonzalo Higuaín and Cristy Rhonda.  They sold two players who have been anchors for their new, respective (Champions League finalist) teams (Robben at Bayern Munich and Sneijder at Inter Milan).  It seems clear that Florentino has spent way too much money on this team to be so impatient as to fire his new Engineer after one season.  Marca sees this as the only course of reasonable action, obviously, but they have exposed their short-sightedness in a million tiny ways this season.

Clemente, instead of “doing what he needed to do” to beat Barcelona today, crumpled motionless on the bench for most of the game.  Except for in the 79th minute, with the match all but lost:

We here at no, srslr have become, over the years of Marca-appreciating (-hating), quite good at prognosticating the portada. It’s admittedly pretty easy (duh, if CR does anything good in a win the cover will be of his face, and if RM loses, it’ll be of Pelle’s face), but tomorrow’s case presents an interesting dilemma for the Photoshop monkeys who work at the tabloid. The conjunto of 98 points is now the (failed) conjunto of 96 (losing) points. So they can’t do the “proud loser” approach they’ve been building to for the past several weeks. They could go for the “Edad de Oro del Deporte Español” approach by celebrating Nadal’s win over Federer. They could of course announce the end of Pellegrini’s career, and produce a quote or two about his replacement. Speaking of Mourhinho, how can they resist a sidebar celebrating Inter’s Serie A title as if it were their own (see, they DIDN’T go trophyless!)? Or they could go for the slavish overpraise of Barcelona, trumpeting about how they broke all the records and are the best team ever and how there’s no shame in losing to…not so much a team, as a supernatural force of nature that will soon pass. Or maybe Marca will take this opportunity to consider the Empire’s money-hemmorhaging, superstar-grabbing transfer policy. Maybe they’ll point out that they just spent a quarter of a billion dollars and have no titles to show for it, and maybe they’ll try to learn something from this. It could happen. Instead of picking today, we’re going to place odds on some of the most likely choices:

FIRE PELLEGRINI! IT’S PELLE’S FAULT!!!: 4/1

We didn’t win, but look how good our season was!: 10/1 (5/4 they mention how many goals they scored this year)

Nadal wins! We have no idea what this “Liga” you speak of is.: 3/1 it takes up WAY more space than it should on the last day of La Liga.

Mourinho’s success, our success (because we’re totally going to hire him! Isn’t he dreamy?!?): 50/1, 2/1 as sidebar

Barca, a champion so good we’re not at all embarrassed to lose to them (no, srsly): 3/2

We, Marca, are completely wrong about our approach to football, team building, and transfer policies. We know absolutely nothing about the sport we cover, and we apologize for the way that we have contributed to the destruction of this team we pretend to care about: Hahahahahaha. no, srsly, you guys.

As the Marca turns…

7 May

April 29th edition: “Mou[rinho], you’ve earned it” – gushes a breathless Marca after Mourninho’s Inter Milan finally broke through Barcelona’s winning ways in the Champions League.

It’s odd how conceited Marca can remain while simultaneously bowing low before the Portuguese coach.  The cover explains what the headline means (in case we couldn’t tell – or haven’t already pointed it out on this blog): “…Passage to the final” and “…Your signing for Real Madrid”.  Let’s consider the initial headline in this light.  Yes, Inter Milan has “earned” a trip to Madrid to dispute the Champions League crown.  Very true, Marca!  But for them to then so pompously announce to the world that Mourinho has won their approval is quite ridiculous.

It’s not even their approval, though – they are already talking about him like he is currently the new coach.  Before he was just the coach they were wanting to sign, but now he’s earned the right to be speculated upon at length?  Good job, Mourinho!  Before, Eduardo Inda (Marca’s editor) was only pretty sure he wanted to stroke you gently in a very private way.  Now, though, after slaying the giant, he smiles up at you and says, “You’ve earned it, big boy…  I’ll be putting your ‘Oh face’ right on the cover.”