Força Barça!

Lonely Valdes

Another league match, another draw for Football Club Barcelona. Anyway, they’re 11 points clear of Real Madrid and Valencia at the top. Odd they’re having trouble finding the net recently with a +43 goal difference, but the quality is still there. Which is what I wanted to mention in the first place. What really drives me mad with Barça isn’t the team, it’s the afició.

The biggest difference between the supporters of Barça and supporters of English clubs, is that they can’t really be called “supporters”. Support is not what they give back to the players. They just demand that Barça play a certain way and to a certain level. Even Ronaldinho, about as close to a de facto example of football quality as you can get, isn’t immune. Hardly anyone in the world would argue with his skill, the tricks (which actually achieve footballing aims, rather than just serve as party tricks) and level of commitment to winning. Except Barça “fans”. On the night his perfect touch isn’t perfect, or the outrageous flick over the head of a defender while looking the other way doesn’t quite come off, he’s rubbish. He’s just trying to do daft stuff when he should be playing football. Seriously: you hear what people watching Sky think of a FCB match and you agree that they were unlucky to not get several. Sitting in a bar or even to an extent inside Camp Nou, you realise how fickle the fans are.

For other reasons, you’d think a player like Gabri could get some sort of support from the Culés. Born in Barcelona, he came through the youth system and has played in various positions. A classic utility player, he’s Barça through and through, and spent 8 months recovering from a knee injury last season to get back just in time to be part of the Liga-winning side. But if he just starts warming up on the touchline, you can hear the groans of the miserable lot that come to watch Barcelona. He can’t do anything right it seems. Then people here wonder why some players lack confidence sometimes. I’d say I haven’t seen Gabri do anything particularly wrong any time in the recent past. He’s not going to keep Deco out of the side or anything, but how many players could?

I’m not asking for sycophants, but what do you want from your team? 11 points clear, in the semi-finals of the Champions League. In any case, I think I’ll have to give in and get Canal+ to watch the matches at home before I get into a discució calenta in the bar.

Oh, José. Shut up.

Mourinho has to moan. It’s the law. But moaning about Del Horno’s red card is pointless. He probably shouldn’t have been on the pitch anyway, after his previous studs-in-the-knee challenge on Messi. At the very least both were worth a yellow. Ergo, he has to go.

Why, Madrid?

Why, Madrid?“Oh dear.”

That’s how the BBC News website put it, when trying to be polite about Madrid’s Olympic website. I feel kind of bad for them, even though I’ve not exactly been forgiving myself, when commenting on the state of Web Española.

Unfortunately, there’s no arguing with the BBC’s point of view (“Right from the start, the technology breaks down.”) The fact that this is highly representative is frankly depressing. I still haven’t worked even once for a local internet client who had the right perspective: cheap is king here, thinking small the norm. Currently I’m working for a Spanish company but not one member of the staff, founders included, is from anywhere near Spain (I’m from the closest location, come to think of it – it’s only a thousand miles to Manchester!)

And that’s the way it is. When I came to Barcelona in 1999 I was mildly surprised at the state of affairs, but then again that’s why our Barcelona-based client had chosen a London agency to take it into new web territory. I kept telling myself and others “oh, it’ll catch up, things’ll even out.” I still find myself stuck with that mantra, although I don’t bother to trot it out anymore. I don’t think things will catch up or even out. When the opportunity to make some strides came, in the shape of the high take-up of mobile here, I had believed this might be it. But no, it’s been the same old story: no imagination.

[Update 2005-05-25: looks like they actually took the time to listen to some opinions as the site has been slightly spiced and they seem to have got rid of the “Why Madrid?” slogan… doesn’t anybody involved with their campaign speak English?]